I tried Manchester’s newest gym classes for 2 weeks…

I've never ached like it, I felt muscles I didn't know existed and sweated enough to fill a bath.

If you’ve been living under a rock you may have missed possibly one of the biggest openings to grace the city in the last year or so.

And if you’ve not, you already know I’m talking about Ducie Street Warehouse. Stuck as some crappy apart-hotel rooms for years, it’s fab to see such an impressive building be transformed and life breathed into it.

There’s all sorts in there, you can get some delicious booze and food in BISTROTHEQUE, watch a movie at CULTUREPLEX and of course – do some exercise at BLOK.

The last one certainly caught my eye recently, possibly because I felt like a beached whale on my holiday in September. BLOK is a brand-new fitness space that offers about a million different classes to take part in. Well, maybe not THAT many but there’s certainly a lot.

During the new opening and the buzz about it, BLOK put a whopping big offer on for unlimited classes for 2 weeks for just £25. This truly is an absolute bargain as a single class is priced at £15. It’s only available until the end of October so be quick if you want to try!

To kick off my 2 weeks, the first class I thought I’d have a go at is BLOKFIT. After I jogged my way down there I was immediately hit in the face with an intimidatingly cool space.

Something to do with the poured concrete floors, exposed brick walls and shelves of water in a tin (?!) and Malin+Goetz products (which I have to say smelt delicious when I nervously fumbled around with them before the class).

For the interest of knowing how fit I am, I go to the gym about 4 times a week and do a lot of walking for work. But I’m probably the most unfit I’ve been in my life. I have one thing to blame for that, and that’s starting my job here at Finest and the introduction to Crazy Pedro’s Pizza and the Pies at The Bay Horse. Both equally irresistible.

BLOKFIT

Anyway, the BLOKFIT class is an hour long with 12 stations for the circuit. You work on each exercise for around a minute.

What I would just like to stress here, is there is absolutely no rest between each one. You work solidly throughout the 12 stations on the first round and then around a minutes rest follows.

For the next round the time does decrease to 45 seconds but fear not, that extra 15 seconds is not rest – it’s time to burpee bitch.

My heart rate has never been so high and according to my watch I burnt well over 500 calories in one hour. And it felt like I did. There really was sweat in places I didn’t know existed. But this is by far my favourite class. It pushes you beyond your limits and makes you realise that actually, you won’t die. Probably.

Calisthenics

Calisthenics is the next class I tried and I have to say it isn’t for me. It’s about slow movements, targeting each individual muscle to give you that seriously defined look.

I did enjoy attempting my first ever chin up in this class but I do think it might be more beneficial to people who already have enough body strength to hold themselves up, unlike me. Maybe I’ll give it another go after the 2 weeks.

BLOKStrength & Yin Yang Flow

This just might just be the best yoga class I’ve ever done. I did this class the evening after doing the BLOKStrength at 6am. Between you and me, I actually teared up in the strength class.

I can safely say that’s never happened before, but it did teach me that I’m clearly not pushing myself anywhere near as far as I should be when I’m on my own in the gym. Anyway, following this morning’s tearful strength training, I could no longer even lift my coffee cup.

So as I’m trying to hold my arms up in warrior 2 in the evening Yin Yang Flow, I pretty much immediately regret my decisions of two classes in a day. But I pushed through it and actually found myself incredibly stretched and seriously relaxed.

Yin Yang Flow is split into two parts. For the first half there’s the usual dynamic vinyasa flow, holding poses and getting a deep stretch all with that delicious incense smell.

The second half sees holding poses for 5 minutes. It does sound hard but most of these are on the floor and you are accompanied by blankets and pillows if you need them. So you probably could quite happily fall asleep. Which I very happily did.

Classes are intimate, so intimate in fact the instructor took her time to learn our names, which I thought was a very nice touch. It was also seriously relaxing, not just because of the welcome. I would 100% consider going to the class every week.

Power Yoga

I also gave Power Yoga ago one evening, which was definitely a lot busier and definitely a lot harder. The flow is faster but really fun. Once you finally get it, it’s actually really great wiggling about, it’s the first time I’ve ever felt like a true yogi. Sort of anyway.

There are 15 different types of yoga classes to try, I’d love to give them all ago but I have a job and a life and whatever else. But based on reviews of BLOKLondon, the yoga classes are all equally fabulous and there’s something for every skill level.

Boxing

As I’m writing this I’m struggling to move my hands because I did the boxing class this morning. It’s something I’ve always wanted to try and as someone who regularly gets angry at inanimate objects, slow walkers and my boss (hi BB), it’s great to let it all out on an actual punch bag.

It’s fast and surprised me just how much of a full body workout it is. It also massively gets your heart rate up so it does feel like a good cardio sesh too.

BLOK Sculpt

The latest class I’ve given a go at is BLOK Sculpt. The class began with 2 rounds of pyramid HIIT. I was so tired (and therefore grumpy) in this class from all the early mornings that I really struggled with this one.

Again after the HIIT came slow movements with small weights and resistance bands. A good way to introduce weight training into your life if you’ve never done it, but also good for getting the heart rate up.

My initial idea was to go to BLOK every day for 2 weeks and see if I felt a difference or could see one. So far I have failed on that, but one reason was because I was so hungover, I was in bed with a flannel on my head until 2 in the afternoon. That night was spent eating Camembert in my pyjamas so I was in no state to almost die in a class.

But I will give myself credit for getting up most mornings at 6am. I’ve now tried 9 different classes and I have to say it is actually amazing. I’d lost a bit of motivation for getting myself up to go the gym before work, but have found myself heading to BLOK on most mornings.

What I will say is 1. it’s easier to do these things with a friend and 2. BLOK cleverly charge you if you book onto a class and don’t turn up. So as my 6am alarm goes off I debate if it’s worth losing 8 quid or not, and every time so far, it hasn’t been.

I’m also going to put it out there that I have not done any of the Barre classes because I am the worst dancer in the entire world – I actually have an award for it. But if anyone wants a laugh, maybe I can give a go with a Go Pro on my head.

These are not the types of classes where you chat to Sandra about her new puppy. If you’re doing a BLOK class, you’re there to get fitter, push yourself to your limit and improve your skills.

I actually can already see a difference in my body and I do mentally feel better. I’m also pretty proud of the things I’ve achieved, I’ve never done a chin up and I’ve never burnt over 900 calories in one day.

So I may have felt pain like never before, struggled to literally wash my hair but I do have a renewed sense of my own strength. And my left hook is cracking.

If you’re feeling deflated about getting up in the dark, dreary and cold months and getting to the gym, I do urge you to give BLOK ago. The rest of the class, the instructors and the fact you may lose money are all great motivators.

If nothing else, go to enjoy the design of the changing rooms – it’s bloody gorgeous.

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BLOK Manchester

Date: Open now
Cost: Introductory Offer of UNLIMITED classes for 2 weeks – £25

Sign Up

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BLOK, Ducie St, Warehouse M1 2TP
www.bloklondon.com/manchester

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