Is this VersaClimber class the best workout ever?

London gym BXR’s VersaClimber class is a low-impact, full-body cardio workout that burns more calories per minute than using any other machine. But its real benefit is in your mind

VersaClimber class at BXR gym in London
(Image credit: BXR)

The VersaClimber class at BXR, the luxury London gym, just might be the best workout you ever try. Why? It offers a full-body cardio workout that burns more calories per minute than using any other machine (up to 800 in a 45-minute session) and strengthens muscles in a low-impact format that doesn’t leave your body feeling stressed and sore.

VersaClimber machines and lighting at BXR gym

(Image credit: BXR)

Those benefits come at a cost, though – this class is hard, even for the fittest among us (I’ve seen a man bulging with muscles get off his machine halfway through and rest on all fours, and people walk away after a 45-minute class with puddles of sweat collected under their machines). ‘The VersaClimber is a notoriously difficult machine, on which most people, when using it in a normal gym setting, won't last two to three minutes,’ says BXR’s director, Alex Nicholl. ‘However, as we have seen over the years, our climbers have managed to complete the 45-minute classes.’

The secret to the endurance of BXR clients is an atmosphere that makes it easy to forget that you are pushing your body to the limits of what it can handle. Going into a Climb to the Beat VersaClimber class is, in essence, like walking into a club, with a nearly pitch-black room illuminated by pulsating lights and filled with thrumming, beat-driven music. But, as with the best clubs, the sound and the presentation of this workout room are expertly curated.

Alex Nicholls using VersaClimber machine at BXR gym

BXR director Alex Nicholl in 'Climb to the Beat' class

(Image credit: BXR)

‘When creating Climb to the Beat – our signature group class on the VersaClimber – I was already working with some of London’s best DJs on the style and speed of music to find the perfect beats per minute [BPM] for climbing,’ says Nicholl. ‘We went the extra mile by contracting a lighting company to work alongside the music and BPM to create effects that would elevate the climbing experience.’

‘In a nutshell, Climb to the Beat is, as the name suggests, stepping or climbing in time with the music. To create more intensity to the climb we use the crescendo and drops of the music to push you to longer steps. [As the volume] of the music and the instructors’ voices and the [level of the] lights go high and lower, so will the commands of the climb,’ explains Nicholl.

Versaclimber being used in Climb to the Beat class at BXR

(Image credit: BXR)

‘The dance and nightclub worlds have shown how the correct music and lighting can help with allowing yourself to find your own space,’ he continues. ‘And that is precisely our endeavour in our classes.’ 

If this all sounds intimidating, it shouldn’t. Ironically, the most appealing thing about the VersaClimber class is that it is so hard. For me and others I spoke to, it is more a psychological workout than a physical one: once you push yourself to the edge of what feels physically possible in that context, you quickly realise that it’s your mind, more often than your body, that is holding you back. When you jump that mental hurdle and keep going, the satisfaction feels better than anything else.

‘We hope people have had a 45-minute class experience like never before,’ Nicholl says. ‘I know those who found their rhythm in the class just had one of the most physically effective cardio classes out there; moreover, we also hope they would have had a sensory experience that mentally can do things for people on so many levels – listening to amazing music, being motivated and leaving with a well-earned endorphin rush.’

Writer and Wallpaper* Contributing Editor

Mary Cleary is a writer based in London and New York. Previously beauty & grooming editor at Wallpaper*, she is now a contributing editor, alongside writing for various publications on all aspects of culture.