A perfect way to boost your spring health

Spring Health gym in Belsize Park Gardens

Spring Health gym in Belsize Park Gardens - Credit: Archant

BRidget Galton is converted from gym refuser to fitness fan at a Belsize Park health club.

When a fire broke out at Spring Health last summer, staff evacuated everyone swiftly.

An electrical fault in the sauna had decimated the men’s changing rooms, but within 10 days the Belsize Park health club was once again welcoming members through the door.

Six months on, the refurbishment is complete. Male gym members have been paying half price while having to shower in a temporary Portakabin but now have gleaming new facilities to change in.

Club manager Helen Gruntz says they have always prided themselves on “the personal touch” at the club where Daniel Craig, Helena Bonham Carter, Chris Martin and author Fiona Neill have all been spotted working out.

“We know our regulars by name. Because it’s in a residential area we see people of all ages, from families to senior citizens. It’s very local and friendly. Everyone lives within two miles.”

When The Specials drummer John Bradbury died in December many staff attended his funeral.

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“We really care about the member journey, it’s not just a quick induction then forget them, we check regularly to see how they are doing, if there’s anything we can offer to improve their experience and benefit from the facilities.

The club’s café is a real hub where members socialise after a workout.

On my visit, mums were feeding kids after their ballet lessons and there was an array of healthy homecooked fare emerging from the tiny kitchen; juices and shakes, homemade vegan treats, protein omelettes, salads, and for me delicious bbq chicken, with sweet potato wedges.

The onsite crèche for under fives allows new mums to keep up with their fitness regime – many also come after the school drop off for a workout.

As well as a cardio, weights and stretch rooms, there’s a small swimming pool and Jacuzzi (no kids) and sauna and steam rooms in both the male and female changing rooms.

With 60 classes a week and a spa with four treatment rooms – offering everything from massage to pshysiotherpy with Hazel who sees referrals from the Royal Free, it’s a fabulous facility on the doorstep.

I was there for my first ever personal trainer session with Jesh Robinson, who first took my blood pressure and asked about training goals, physical injuries and medical notes.

I told him I want to exercise to be healthier - to feel stronger and fitter, not out of breath if I take the stairs too quickly. Many of course come to lose weight, but while that would be welcome, it wasn’t my prime objective.

We talked about how hard it is to fit in exercise with a full time job and three children. Then he put me through a few tests - a deep squat and a lunge - to see whether I had any posture faults that needed taking into account.

After some stretches and a five minute warm up - power walking on an incline as I didn’t want anything too high impact.

Happily Jesh is no drill sergeant but belongs to the quietly encouraging and empowering school of personal training. He took me through a short circuit of strength training involving pushing a weight away with my legs, working out the arms and shoulders and - hardest - the plank; lie parallel to the floor on your toes and elbows and hold for the longest 30 seconds of your life.

We finished with High Intensity Interval training on the bicycle; five minutes broken down into 20 seconds of frenzy then 10 of slow pedalling. Jesh explained it gets the heart rate to peak and tricks the body into thinking the intense exercise is continuous.

It’s unsuprisingly popular with those who don’t want to spend too long in the gym but want results.

Afterwards he made some motivational suggestions: get a gym buddy, incorporate exercise into your weekend routine (buy a bike to go cycling with the children) or sign up for a weekly class. After my session I felt energized and clear headed. From being something of a gym refuser I could see the benefits of being encouraged and motivated by a personal trainer, and the need for a bit of science and technology behind your workouts to get the result you want, whether for health, heart or happiness.

Spring Health, Belsize Park Gardens’ Ham&High readers quoting HAM0 can join by Feb 15 with no fee and the rest of February free. springhealth.net