Where? LA Fitness, Bayswater
What? Body Conditioning
I was lucky enough to attend what turned out to be the last Body Conditioning class at LA Fitness led by a perky elfin brunette called Berta, who was positively effervescing with encouragement and vitality. LA Fitness across all branches are sadly taking this class off the schedule. This seems an odd decision to make based on its evident popularity, it was in fact allegedly fully booked on the morning that I snuck in – utilising a combination of stealth and ignorance.
The first task involved constructing my step up platform, for some reason I strongly associate ‘step ups’ with 80s aerobics and do not take it seriously. If the free weights I was required to select did not curb this arrogant preconception, the level of coordination required once the class began did. To make matters more pressurised a professional photographer had come in to document the class- presumably for Berta’s portfolio, this meant that should I stop for a moment to say steady myself from tripping over backwards during the flamenco inspired footwork section or simply go slower than my classmates I would ruin the photos. Berta seemed so lovely that this potential guilt kept me clinging on.
There wasn’t quite the sense of camaraderie as I have found at other fitness classes. These women were here to work out, and minus an apology for accidentally kicking someone in the head with my flailing limbs I failed to engage anyone except Berta in a dialogue.
The rest of LA Fitness was…rustic. Please know that I really go to this places in an affable disposition wanting to like it! The Bayswater branch of LA Fitness made this challenging. Unfortunately it is often the case that once you have noticed a flaw – such as a broken rowing machine- other niggles start to unveil themselves, such as the wobbly treadmills, the half-hearted slogans on the walls and the club volume music in the changing rooms.
At one point I spotted one of those BMI body fat measuring machines and in a moment of low blood sugar decided to pay the severely overpriced machine to tell me things that my scales at home could. As I stepped onto the platform I briefly thought I’d mistaken it for a Bosu ball. The sensation was similar as I desperately tried to balance. Already feeling self-conscious as the machine shouted instructions at me I now drew further attention to myself by adding an involuntary shriek and a precariously and percussively swaying bit of metal machinery into the equation. The machine’s only redeeming feature was that very flatteringly it seemed to think I was 5’ 11’. I have been eating more healthily but I don’t think a daily dose of raw almonds is going to do much about my height now I’m 24.
I then treated myself to a luxurious shower, with the hand soap generously provided. Minimalism is key here, it’s all very Zen… Egalitarian too, with provision for all potential members, for instance the showers were set up for a woman well over 6 feet tall. I gave myself a bit of a bonus stretch, employing all my cheerleading experience in the worlds most ungainly heel stretch – all in the pursuit of clean feet. On my exit from the shower I was treated to a very ‘Carry On’ meets Fawlty Towers scene involving a woman who had had her towel stolen running around nude accusing people of towel theft whilst trying to maintain her dignity and modesty, a tall order. It was this time the manager had selected to show off the facilities to a potential member. The potential member seemed traumatised by the whole pantomime.
Before I left I thought I would tell the kindly receptionist that one of the rowing machines was broken, the manager interrupted to ask me my name aggressively and to bring up my late arrival at the gym that morning with impressively judgemental eyebrow raising. On my way out I took a moment to read the wall of complaints from member’s and LA Fitness’ responses. One member was wondering if the music in the pool area could be turned down a bit. LA Fitness replied ‘the music is set at a standard volume in all LA Fitness branches’ this I think unfortunately sums the chain up. Here is a gym in a beautiful location tucked away in peaceful Moscow Place with the a community based membership and the opportunity to harbour a little health haven, which is as inflexible and as standard issue as they come, yet lacking the basic equipment maintenance and facility upkeep which is the redeeming quality of identikit gyms.