I always get a bit excited when a new gym or studio opens up in London. I get even more excited when it’s a place that sounds like they’re being creative with how they’re delivering fitness. Manor, thankfully, falls firmly into the latter category with their class, Yard Work.
Manor do a load of different types of workouts across their four London locations, ranging across boxing, yoga, conditioning and strength sessions. I’ve been over to their Old Street location to do their Force class and thought it was a really good session, however I was told implicitly that whatever I did, I needed to give Yard Work a go. So last week I nipped over to their main location in Victoria (the only place they run the class), to see why people keep talking about it.
Now, I’d seen a load of pictures popping up on Instagram of various people down at one of the sessions and all I could clean from it was that there were a load of road signs there, and it looked like a sort of fake car park. I had no idea what the workout itself would actually entail, I just assumed it was some sort of HIIT class. When I got there I realised the fake car park was actually an enormous real car park, and the session was most definitely not run of the mill HIIT.
What is it?
The basic gist of Yard Work is that you’re in a massive yard. And when I say massive I’m not lying. The car park you start in leads outside onto a big hill which takes you too the outdoor car park above. The distance between the points is 150 meters. That’s important because you’re going to need to carry heavy objects back and forth across that distance.
Although the weights are scaled based on your ability, it’s largely focused on strength training, or at least the one I did is – the sessions change all the time so the concept may differ slightly. Through walking with weights and performing a set series of exercises, the format means you’re doing a fair chunk of cardio and strength and conditioning at the same time.
What’s the format?
The workout I did was relatively simple. Around the yard were a number of stations that included a weight plate, a kettlebell, a medicine ball and a dumbbell, all of which got heavier as you moved into the different allocated areas. Each person had to find a set of weights that they were comfortable with and join a team with others of the same ability. I went in the second highest group because frankly, the top weights were ridiculously heavy.
Each person picks up a weight and together they header out of the car park, up the hill and onto the upstairs car park. At this point a set of reps are carried out with whichever object you’ve got: kettlebell swings, snatches, floor to overhead with the plate and lifting the ball to a press or chucking it over your shoulder. Simple. Once you done your allotted number of reps, you swap your weight with someone else and head down the hill to do a set with that. Each group of four repeated this until everyone had done two lots of reps on each object.
How tough is it?
If you choose weights that are hard to do, obviously it’s going to be hard, but that’s entirely up to you. In the second group down I found the weights really tough, but I could still do them, some of us just had to take longer breaks between reps if we were really struggling.
The thing that makes it really hard is the walking whilst carrying the weights. 150 meters is actually quite a long way when you’re lugging a massive object with you, and by the time you’re done you’re heart beat is racing. Suddenly doing 40 kettlebell swings becomes considerably harder. But as I say, there are fairly light weights there, so go easy on your first go and gauge it. Just make sure you push yourself.
Who’s it for?
As classes are concerned, you’re going to get a hell of a lot more out of this than you will doing some general HIIT class designed to burn calories. It’s an all round functional workout that’s predominantly made up of big compound movements, so it’s best designed for people who want to train hard and train efficiently.
It’s scaled, so anyone can do it, and there’s a load of camaraderie in the class so it’s actually a really friendly environment.
How much is it?
£85 for two sessions a week, or £130 for unlimited (at the Victoria location only).
The addition of the 150 metre carry takes Yard Work from being a general strength training workout to a really interesting class format. The closest you’re going to get in London is a Crossfit box, but I haven’t seen any locations in central London with anywhere near as much space as this class has to play with, save for the Foundry down in Vauxhall.
Head over to the website here to sign up and book yourself into a session. Yard Work is only on Tuesdays and Saturdays at the moment, so don’t hang about.
Picture Credits: Manor