Guest reviewer Kasmira is tough to please when it comes to exercise classes. Will this old-school Swedish favourite, recently launched in the UK, win her over?
What: Swedish Fit
Where: Archer Street, Soho and Old Street
Duration: 1 hour
Cost: £5 for single class, first session free. Three month membership £65, annual membership £195
When it comes to fitness classes, I’m a tricky customer. I’ve really struggled over the past year to find a class that I enjoy and want to return to regularly. Classes I’ve trialled either don’t inspire, are too expensive to continue, difficult to follow or just don’t leave me aching in the good kind of way.
Then one evening a few weeks ago I met three Parisian girls – all glowing like models in a Clarins skincare ad. They were instructors of something they called ‘Swedishfit’, a workout class that originated in Sweden, is a hit in France and is now being launched in London.
Wanting in on the dewy-cheeked action, I checked out their website. Hmm, it was a bit primitive and didn’t really explain the class concept in great depth. The basic idea though is that classes last one hour and include a warm-up, stretching, strength, cardio and running, and finish with relaxation.
While the website wasn’t particularly inspiring, the Parisian girls’ bouncing enthusiasm was enough to convince me to give it a try. And anything with the word Swedish in turns you into a long-legged Scandinavian goddess right?
I went along to a midday Saturday class in the hall of a small school in the heart of Soho. There were around 25 of us gathered around the instructor who stood in the middle – part of the Swedishfit teaching mantra.
The hour-long session essentially took the form of an 80s-style aerobics class. Think Jane Fonda but with Usher rather than Duran Duran playing. The moves are quite old school too, with lots of jumping, knee lifts, squatting, clapping and hair flicking going down – all Swedishfit moves have been conceived by a Physiotherapist to protect the joints and back (well, maybe not the ponytail flicking).
At one point I think the hard work is almost over and stretching replaces cardio. But the music picks up and we are once again bouncing around and doing a kind of squat jump that includes a bit of thigh slapping. It all felt a bit daylight rave. This high- followed by low- intensity interval style continues throughout the class, which mixes things up a bit and makes you work.
By the end of the session, I felt tired and sweaty but not overly exhausted. There are definitely tougher workouts out there. But I did feel that the exercises targeted my core muscle groups and left me well-stretched and energised. The floor exercises were challenging and my abdominals and glute muscles could definitely benefit from going back. If anything I felt I had let loose and came away feeling ready to face the day with a bounce in my step and a grin on my face. Unfortunately though, I am not yet a Swedish goddess.