WF’s digital editor, Bec, got sweaty inside 1Rebel’s nightclub-like St Mary Axe location where customers are called “Rebels” and the brand is set on challenging the outdated approach of typical, large-scale gyms. 

Live music, chilled towels, cocktails at the gym cafe and DJs spinning the decks in your cycle class, these are just a few of the things you can expect from boutique gym, 1Rebel.

Head of brand Lewis Parkinson tells me that the gym has a mission to fight back against the fitness industry, he refers to the brand as the “anti-gym” and explains that they have no contracts, no fine print and no lock-in terms. The downstairs area of the gym has two brick walls that are covered in chalk, tallies and motivational quotes. “It’s called committing to a brick. We ask our customers to write down how many sessions they want to commit to and they tally them off,” says Parkinson, “as if they’re in jail, tallying the days,” he adds with a smile.

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The gym itself is impressive. With two fitness studios it’s clean, minimalist and packed with the latest equipment. The spin studio features disco lights, high-tech stationary bikes (with seats that feel like cushions) and in the handles, a set of hand-weights for what I can only assume is some hard-core spinning. The best bit? In the corner of the studio is a DJ deck. “We have live music and DJs who come in for classes sporadically,” says Parkinson. “We actually held an event with stand-up comedians a few weeks back. It was completely booked out. We called it an ‘ab workout'”.

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Downstairs is the ‘Reshape’ studio. This is where I would be doing my class and the studio, dimly lit with pink and orange lights, reminded me of a nightclub. Set up with specially designed 1Rebel benches (a med ball hid in a draw up one end, six sets of dumbbells resided in racks beneath the bench and up the other end, a resistance band was waiting) and treadmills lining each side of the room, Parkinson explained that these classes were a mix of cardio and weight lifting fun. When Parkinson explained that the treadmills also worked as “deadmills” (i.e. you could use your legs to push them along yourself for extra difficulty) I knew I was in for a sweaty 45 minutes.

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So I set off to the change rooms to prepare myself for my Full Body Reshape class. Inside I found a fridge labelled “Chilled Towels”, heated benches, dressing tables complete with Hollywood lit mirrors and all the post-workout essentials (deodorant, hairspray, bobby pins and moisturiser). After a quick spray of deodorant, I was ready to go.

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1Rebel’s Reshape class

The class is a circuit-style workout with a twist. Alternating in groups between the treadmill for sprint intervals and your bench for resistance work– while you’re running you’re referred to as ‘Rebels’ and while on the bench you’re referred to as ‘Shapers’.

The treadmill work included steep incline running, flat sprints and “deadmill” work, i.e. you switch the mode on the treadmill so that the belt stops moving and you have to push it along with your feet. Once six minutes was up on the treadmill we switched positions to the bench where we spent six minutes working our legs, our upper bodies and our abs. We went through three rotations in total (three treadmill rounds and three bench rounds) and by about the 7-minute mark my hair was beginning to stick to my neck. The sweating had begun.

While this class is seriously hard, the lighting, the nightclub-style music and heavy bass really make you feel amazing. While I may have been cursing mountain climbers and tricep dips at certain points during the class, I was having a lot of fun while I was at it.

1Rebel is certainly a gym with a difference and while I didn’t hang around for a post-workout cocktail this time, after a workout like that I can tell you the “Rebels” who do these classes on the reg have seriously earned one.