The first thing you need to know about 1Rebel is that it’s cool. The second thing you need to know is that it’s very cool. In fact, it’s too cool for school, but just go with it because it’s great. This is the place to come if you’re part fitness fanatic, part hedonist, and you like the feel-good things in life. From the plush changing rooms to live DJ workouts to post-class Bloody Mary brunches and Tinder-hosted workouts – 1Rebel knows that pain should always come with pleasure.
It’s a purpose-built “fitness boutique” that offers two types of workout: Ride, indoor cycling, and Reshape, bootcamp-style treadmill and strength work. The gym, next to the Gherkin, is all breeze-block walls, exposed copper piping, blacked-out studios and retro signage – a slick slice of industrial Manhattan in the City of London. And the changing rooms. Oh the changing rooms. The lockers are brushed bronze, the benches are covered in white tiles – heated, naturally – the mirrors are framed with theatre-style bulbs and accessorised with GHD hair dryers and straighteners, Aromatherapy Associates facial products, hairspray and cotton pads. (I can only vouch for the ladies, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the men’s had the same – metrosexuals are welcome here). In one corner is a mini Smeg fridge with chilled, scented towels to cool your sweaty self. You get a free bottle of water and a sweat towel before your class. And afterwards you can refuel with a cold-pressed juice or a healthy snack from the in-house Roots & Bulbs bar. 1Rebel likes to give its rebels the 5-star treatment.
But, most importantly, the workouts are equally impressive. I did the Reshape class. Arriving a few minutes early, the instructor (shout out to Richard @Hartpulsefitnes) explained what we would be doing, how we would be doing it and he demonstrated how to use the equipment; unlike at my chain gym where, if you’re new to a class, you’re often left to flounder at the back, expending more energy trying to keep up than actually working out. For 45 relentless minutes we alternated sprints and climbs on a treadmill with plyometrics and strength exercises – burpees, medicine ball push-ups, wood chops, box jumps, squat presses, you name it – on a bench. “I just nearly threw up”, said my fellow rebeler, about half way through.
The equipment is new, high-end and super functional. The treadmills have grippy caterpillar-style tracks which run like a normal treadmill and also work in “dynamic” mode, where you use your feet or hands to get them moving. The benches each have racks of dumbbells on each side and draws with medicine balls and resistance bands at each end, and your area is marked out with white strips on the floor. When you book, you can choose your position in the studio, so you can be on the end to avoid distractions, or next to the speaker to feel the beat. Everything is designed to be functional and effective. This is fast, intense, results-focused exercise. No messing. You’re able to take it at your own pace, though: the instructor always offers a choice of three speeds on the treadmill and lower-impact options on the bench, so you can choose how hard to push yourself. But push yourself you will. At 1Rebel there’s nowhere to hide, and it might just be the best 45 minutes you’ve ever spent.
1Rebel, 63 St Mary Axe. First session, £10; single sessions thereafter, £20; cheaper if you buy a package. Coming soon to Broadgate Circle.