When you spend most of your time trying out new workouts around London, a lot of them tend to blend together. It doesn’t mean they’re bad, it’s just the fact there are lots of similar ones available. There is the odd occasion however, where something really stands out above the rest as an amazing place to train. The kind of place where you walk out, your muscles whimpering, where you say to yourself “Jeez, I haven’t felt like I’ve worked out this hard in ages.”
The Foundry is a place designed for training hard and properly. Seriously, if you’re the kind of person that wants to burn a few calories and avoid unnecessary sweat during your lunch break, this isn’t the place for you. It’s sole reason for existence is to train people who want to improve, quickly and effectively. And you’re going to know about it very soon into the workout.
There are two locations, one at Old Street and one in Vauxhall. We headed over to the Old Street one, but apparently the Vauxhall space is bigger. The area is a fairly spacious box style location full of some pretty terrifying equipment. Instead of your usual gym equipment, The Foundry is exactly the kind of space you might expect to see Strong men training. Massive weights, massive tyres, massive sandbags and various other massive paraphernalia.
The workout we took on was called City Strongman, a 45-minute intense set of exercises modelled on those carried out by strong men, only with slightly lighter loads to benefit cardio as well as strength. Broken out into a circuit, with teams of two rotating around the space, the workout aims to cover a multitude of body parts.
We started on the sandbag carry. A 75kg bag which we’d need to lift onto our chest before walking up and down the track three times. Now, we’ve done weighted walks before, however we’ve never tried to carry a bag that weighs more than we do (70kg) up and down a track. The exercise starts with the Herculean effort of just lifting the damn thing up, which in itself is almost impossible. Squatting down, we placed our hands under the bag, heaved it backwards with our legs, crouched bag down again, then heaved it onto the chest. Unlike the custom-made bags which can be swung onto the shoulders, the main difficulty here is the logistics of gripping the weight with your arms. The second part is leaning just enough to ensure it doesn’t drop without putting too much strain on your back. It took us about three goes to make the distance. Exercise one done.
The rest of the workout was made up of a ridiculously weighted sled pull – where the trainer decided to sit on top just to make it a bit harder, a log clean, barbel shoulder presses, battleropes, cage deadlifts and tyre flips. Literally nothing was easy or a break. The circuit saw us carry out around 8 reps of each before swapping with our partners to have a rest.
There’s a big difference between a cardio HIIT class and one that combines heavy weights and reps to produce a workout. Yeah, you still sweat. Loads. But your body aches as well in a way that you don’t get from consistent cardio movements. When you finish, the fatigue lasts a lot longer, and you feel like you’ve been in some sort of day long battle.
There’s a lot more to the session than just the heavy lifting. The trainers are meticulous throughout the functional warm-up, watch carefully to make sure everyone is carrying out the exercises safely and ensure the warm-down includes a set of perfectly chosen stretches for the exercises carried out.
So as far as tough workouts go, you’d be hard-pressed to find something quite as taxing as City Strongman. If you were to do it a few times a week it’s fairly clear that you’re going to see improvements in strength and fitness relatively quickly. It’s the kind of intensive, well-planned training session we always dread and look forward to in equal amounts.
A single class at The Foundry will cost you £20, with an introductory set of three coming in at £30 (well worth it). Unlimited monthly membership will cost you £179.
To find out more, along with the other classes and personal training sessions available at the Foundry, head over to the website here.
Picture Credits: The Foundry