The social life and habits of most young(ish) adults in this town involve plentiful consumption of alcohol, long hours and late nights.
Burning the candle at both ends is a breeze when you're nineteen. Then it starts to hurt. In your mid-twenties you begin to wake up after heavy nights feeling like a microwaved bag of chardonnay. I await my thirties with apprehension.
So something's got to give, and as I do not treat my body as a temple I've got to budget for some damage control. IF you're going to get physical you may as well do something that will supply you with amusing anecdotes. Such aaaaaas....
This isn't London specific, in fact it's imported from LA. But it's all OVER the city nowadays. Bikram is a form of hot yoga with a series of 26 postures designed by a talented ego-maniac called Bikram Choudury. He is ridiculous. He wears very small shorts and tried to copyright yoga. He sues people. He has hair on the sides of his head and none on top. Fellow Yoga gurus sneeringly refer to Bikram as McYoga. Bikram laughs in the face of Zen and sticks his shiny lyrcra-clad arse out at the yoga establishment. He is deliciously silly, but here's the rub..it works. He is the Kanye West of the yoga world (and Lord knows they needed one)
Classes last an hour and a half in a mirrored room heated to around 105° The teacher stands at the front of the class wearing a head-mike like Madonna circa Vouge tour and guides you through 26 poses in a voice alternately peppy and soothing (like a cheerleader moonlighting as an aromatherapist) . Bring a towel and a bottle of water and stand in the middle or back row and near a window in the beginning. At the end of a class I feel wrung out, energised and smug. Which is what I expect of my exercise.
It is expensive, £13 for a drop in (£10 with concessions). Most of them do fantastic introductory offers like £30 for 30 days unlimited classes in the hope you'll get hooked and then you'll overlook the crazy prices. In fairness, it worked on me.
You can find classes all over London
Balham - http://www.hotbikramyoga.co.uk/
Canary Wharf - http://www.bikramyogalondon.com/
Chiswick - http://www.bikramyogachiswick.co.uk/
City - Old Street - http://www.bikramyoga.co.uk/
Fulham - http://www.hotbikramyoga.co.uk/
North, Chalk Farm - http://www.bikramyoga.co.uk/
Soho - http://www.bikramyogasoho.co.uk/
Queens Park - http://www.bikramyoga.co.uk/
You can find amusing waffle about Bikram here
Gyms inspire commitment phobia. I have been suckered into a 12 month contract more than once. Despite my occasional insistance to the contrary the truth is I go when in the midst of a self-improvement drive (which can last anything from an afternoon to several months), I go when I have something on the horizon to look good for and I go when I feel especially fat. I don't go when I'm too tired, too busy or too hungry, I don't go when it's raining outside and I don't go when anything more interesting presents itself as an alternative. Each month the direct debit would sigh and saunter patronisingly out of my bank account shaking it's head in faux disbelief at the lazy gullible fool that I am.
So I got over my penchant for the swanky gyms I used to frequent, ones with pictures of girls with lovely hair in flattering sportswear, gleaming chrome and steamy pine changing rooms with special hairdryers. I embraced the council gym. Cheap as your Mom (sorry) and none of these nonsensical joining fees and ongoing contracts. You pay by the month, or by the visit and there are usually substantial discounts for students and the unemployed.
What they lack in glamour they make up for in efficiency. Get the job done and get out, save your money for fabulous new attire with which to drape your council-gym honed derrière
These too are all over London. Google your local council websites. (if...y'know, you feel like it)
If money 's too tight to mention and you're near Guildford, Hounslow or Vauxhal THIS genius idea, http://www.thegymgroup.com/ , will change your life. £14.99 a month, no contract. There is a £20 joining fee which is annoying but not hugely so. I've only seen the Hounslow one, I snuck in when a member was coming out and copped an eyeful of their set up. I really wasn't expecting much for those prices but it looked perfectly clean, well equipped and not too crowded ( it was a Sunday though).
Dance Dammit Dance
Should you prefer to dance your ass and thighs off, for a mere £10 you can indulge in this fabulousness http://www.tangoat33.co.uk/ and learn to tango by candlelight. This would also make a good domain for a goat-related enterprise, if you're into that sort of thing.
Pineapple studios in Covent Garden also run a whole heap of dance classes http://www.pineapple.uk.com/ which profess to cater for everyone from beginners to movement artistes. Unfortunatly it tends to frequented by the kind of people who refer to themselves as movement artistes with a straight face.
Disclaimer: You don't actually have to do what I tell you.