Tucked away down a small alley in Clapton is East London’s best kept secret. In fact, blink and you might just walk right past the tram depot turned fitness space ‘Blok’.
Blok’s unassuming outer appearance compliments its minimalistic interior. Unlike most gyms, this one is as on point with its aesthetic as it is fitness.
The space, which doubles up as an art gallery, boasts high vaulted ceilings, brick walls and refreshingly dim, moody lighting. It’s enigmatic charm might have something to do with its founders consisting of a partnership between fashion photographer Max Oppenheim and property developer Ed Stanbury.
The duo previously claimed that they wanted to create a gym that felt comfortable and homely to its users – somewhere people would want to linger in after working out.
This comfort is achieved through what is officially London’s first in-gym bone broth bar, situated by the reception as you enter. The cafe features a large communal bench and a hefty pile of independent magazines where both pre and post gym-goers can relax, unwind and enjoy a delicious healthy juice or snack.
Compared to fast-paced gyms we’re used to, everything about Blok is calming and restorative; it raises your heartbeat whilst simultaneously slowing your mind and allowing you to breathe.
And despite receiving rave reviews from the likes of ‘Harpers Bazaar’ and the ‘New York Times’, class numbers remain small and are dispersed between two modestly sized studios, reinforcing an intimate, secretive feel.
Because of this, instructors have time to spend one-on-one time with members enrolled in classes and all teachers are well attuned to quickly recognising those in need of extra help with specific areas. It feels like you are valued as an individual rather than just a number, and the small nature of classes bridges the gap between having a personal trainer and working in a class environment.
This attentiveness also means that slacking is a big no-no. If, like us, you are guilty of managing to get away with doing the bare minimum in classes, this might be a shock to the system. No wonder we had not seen results when we were shuffling at the back of dance classes, safely hidden from the teacher’s view…
At Blok, if you are not holding a pose correctly, expect to be told. If you start to lose momentum, expect to be pushed! We might have silently begrudged this at first, but it is refreshing to leave a class feeling like you have achieved all you could. And we were shocked by how much more energy we had for the rest of the day.
With over 100 classes to choose from, the diversity of classes is something that makes Blok stand out against its competitors. Classes range from traditional yoga to boxing to dance, to the less well-known ‘circus training’ and ‘primal movement’ classes. Our favourite was the aptly named ‘Blok-Party’ which had the class forgetting we were in a gym, instead transporting us to the dance floor of a nightclub.
Like with everything in Blok, it is all in the details. After working out you can take full advantage of the underfloor heating in the changing rooms and the heavenly showers equipped with botanical shampoo and conditioner.
Rather than rushing off the treadmill and straight home, relieved that the work-out is over like many of us do, Blok is designed to make fitness an enjoyable part of your day from the moment you enter to the moment you leave.
The biggest problem won’t be motivating yourself to go to a class, but trying to get yourself to leave once it’s over.