U Energy, Hazmieh, Lebanon
The best gyms around the world for design buffs in 2018
Ever wondered where the design-minded go to relax, work-out and punch things? It turns out they’ve got quite the option list – stylish concept gyms are getting pulses racing everywhere.
But which are truly inspirational? London to Los Angeles, here’s all you need to know about the world’s best gyms, from shadowboxing in New York City, to stretching out in Singapore...
Equinox Kensington, London, UK
Equinox Fitness has been around since the early Nineties, but the performative health culture of social media has certainly given the luxury company (which also owns Soul Cycle and Pure Yoga) a boost. Equinox Kensington is the first branch of the gym to open outside of the United States, and – as in other cities – it occupies prime real estate.
It’s organised around the art deco dome of the historic Derry & Toms building, a seven-storey department store fixture of 1930s Kensington. The building gained even more notoriety in the Seventies when it was taken over by Biba, which drove many of the decade’s most beloved fashion palettes and silhouettes. Today, wrought-iron deco windows illuminate yoga studios and all the best of the space has been preserved.
5th floor, The Roof Gardens, Kensington High Street, London W8 5SA
Another_Space, London, UK
Launched as a sister club to luxury British fitness brand Third Space, Another_Space is a stylish, light-filled work-out zone in the heart of Covent Garden. London-based Goldstein Ween Architects were enlisted to create the breezy, loft-like interiors, conjuring a pared-back palette of warm wood flooring, sweeping skylights, marble basins and plenty of soothing greenery. Helmed by Colin Waggett, founder of Psycle and CEO of Third Space, Another_Space brings together the golden trinity of fitness in the form of yoga, cycle and boxing-based HIIT studios, sure to attract the most serious of gym-goers looking to work on cardio, flexibility, strength and conditioning training.
4-10 Tower St, Covent Garden, London WC2H 9NP
1Rebel St Mary Axe, London, UK
1Rebel’s first boutique gym at London’s St Mary’s Axe was designed by Studio C102 to woo fitness lovers frustrated with the current gym model. Pay as you go? Check. Music you actually want to workout to? Check. And did we mention the chilled towels?
Industrial architecture at every turn exudes the philosophy that it’s about pushing limits, not looking pretty. Copper piping snakes up the changing room walls and the gym’s personalised playlists pump throughout.
63 St Mary Axe, London EC3A 8LE
One Hot Yoga & Pilates, Melbourne, Australia
One Hot Yoga in Melbourne is the creation of husband-and-wife team, architect Robert Mills and yogi Lucinda Mills. It’s no wonder the space is extremely design-driven in addition to emphasising environmental wellness. The studio is especially proud of the architectural features that lower its carbon footprint. A custom water-heating system uses ‘one third of the energy [compared to] commonly-used electric heat systems and is one third as costly to run.’ Shower and cleaning products at the studio are all organic.
36 River Street, South Yarra VIC 3141, Australia
Karen Lord Pilates Movement, New York, USA
Former fashion stylist Karen Lord has created an eponymous pilates studio in NYC’s Tribeca. The space reflects the serenity that seduced Lord out of her previous hectic lifestyle. Unsurprisingly, the minimally branded program has drawn loyal fans from among the fashion set. The studio store stocks wellness goodies, like BKR water bottles and Sandoval aromatherapy spray.
137 Duane St, New York, NY 10013, USA
Pure Yoga, Shanghai, China
While living in a penthouse may be just an aspiration, working out in a penthouse doesn’t have to be at Pure Yoga Shanghai, which is set atop the IAPM mall. After enjoying city views, yogis can breeze through the likes of Miu Miu and Muji on their way out. Pure Yoga began in Hong Kong and has since spread across Asia and been exported as far as New York. Its Shanghai outpost uses clean lines and soft lighting to create a calming space that echoes the brand’s commitment to body and mind.
999 Huaihai Middle Rd, Xuhui Qu, Shanghai Shi, China
Blok, London, UK
BLOK Shoreditch is designed by Daytrip Studio (Iwan Halstead and Emily Potter) and lighting design studio There’s Light. The latter have made the whole space feel like one, long corridor animated by light, colour and reflections, which mingle with the smell of coffee and Malin & Goetz bespoke products, alongside photography by Oppenheim and installations by Ben Cullen Williams.
The designers have used a combination of materials (concrete, glass, steel, wood and fabric) to create contrasts between hard and soft surfaces, light and shadow; illustrating the divide between the hectic London urban environment and the relaxing energy of the practice rooms.
The Tram Depot 38-40 Upper Clapton Rd, London E5 8BQ
Virgin Active, Singapore
Virgin Active gyms cite being a ‘force for good’ as one of their main principles. Despite the luxury quality of their offerings, they also began the affordable Virgin Active RED gym model in South Africa, where they hope to attract and benefit the growing middle class. At Virgin Active’s Singapore location, the Relax & Recovery Zone is a huge draw. Despite the delights of foot soaking and steam, the real highlight might be the glowing, pink wonder of the Himalayan Salt Inhalation room.
Raffles Place, #06-61, Tower 2, 1 Raffles Place, Singapore 048616
Soho House, Chicago, USA
Soho House Chicago is housed in a historic early 20th-century belting factory, and its 17,000 sq ft gym is no exception to the club’s preserved industrial loft aesthetic. Appropriately, the last tannery in the city designed the leather boxing equipment. When the season’s right, don’t forget to check out the beloved hotel rooftop and bar and treat yourself to a post-cardio cocktail.
113 N Green St, Chicago, IL 60607, USA
The Burrow, Kuwait City, Kuwait
Local firm Lab100 are behind Kuwait’s most stylish boxing gym. The Burrow puts their boxing ring theatrically at the centre of the action. Skylights ensure that the space becomes even more dramatic at night. It was the first studio of its kind in the region.
Photography: Nelson Garrido. Jaber Al Malik Al Sabah St, Kuwait
Shadowbox, New York, USA
Boutique boxing gym Shadowbox is a sleek alternative to the gritty stereotype of the sport. The luxury facility, started in NYC’s Flatiron, has been so popular it’s opening a Brooklyn branch next. ‘We found that clients will form lines out the door if you distil the very best of boxing into a 45-minute workout incorporating rounds of heavy bag work, thumping curated music and a welcoming ambience,’ says founder Daniel Glazer, who trained with professional fighters. In addition to the club-like grid of boxing bags is a vintage-style boxing ring in rope, wood and canvas. All of which were designed in-house.
28 W 20th Street, New York, NY 10011, USA
U Energy, Hazmieh, Lebanon
Designed by Rabih Geha Architects, U Energy gym in Lebanon encourages connection and interaction – the 1200 sq m space is completely open, divided only by structural concrete pillars. Underground, atmospheric, high energy; the gym features skylights to allow beams of light from above, while neon lighting taps into the ‘gym-cum-club’ trend gripping fitness fanatics everywhere.
The lighting does more than make the space look ‘trendy’, however. The architects argue that ‘light travels through neurological pathways and affects the pineal gland in the brain’. Green has a healing effect and boosts satisfaction, which (apparently) can make your workouts more enjoyable. Red can invigorate you, adding zest to keep-fit sessions. While the colour blue can actually increase productivity; research shows weightlifters can lift more in blue rooms.