From indoor skiing in Chelsea to Electric Muscle Stimulation training with a personal trainer in Central London, try these alternative fitness trends to keep fit
Indoor skiing. It’s a phrase that conjures up vast drifts of fake snow, super-cooled air conditioning and myriad trips up the short slope on the button lift for a brief ski.
Not anymore. In west London there’s a new playground for piste-lovers; Chel-Ski. Using state-of-the-art technology, it’s cut out the need for lifts (and queues) and offers a chance for ski bunnies and fitness fanatics to hone their skills (and their muscles) on a kind of giant ski treadmill.
Catering for all skill levels, from beginners through to Olympic athletes (national teams around the world use this technology to train their ski and snowboard stars) Chel-Ski is all about developing technique.
Instructors look after a maximum of three customers on any slope at any one time, assessing and teaching in an environment much more conducive to learning than the busy slopes of a ski resort in peak season.
On an average day on the slopes, you ski for about 10 minutes of every hour – the rest is spent queuing for lifts, dangling above the slopes or waiting for your slower comrades halfway down the run. Not at Chel-Ski.
You’ll find your muscles getting the workout of their lives as you ski solidly for 15 minute sessions, before taking a break as the other members of your class hit the slope.
One-on-one tuition is available – but take it from me, it’s very hard work. My legs totally gave in after about 45 minutes of solid skiing.
Although the feel of the ‘piste’ takes some getting used to, it’s great for building your accuracy as you have much less room for error than on real snow. The atmosphere is fantastic, too – the largest print of the largest panorama ever made of Mont Blanc (by In2White) graces an entire wall, which, coupled with the alpine café, lends an authentic feel.
Ideal for learning the basics, perfecting your parallel or honing your skills (and muscles) before a ski trip, Chel-Ski is proving extremely popular. Whether you’ve plans to hit the slopes or not, it’s a great workout – mostly because it’s so much fun. But boy, do you feel it afterwards.
Single session £39.95 for adults, £34.95 for juniors (minimum age five – three and four year-olds must book one-to-one lesson), packages available. Chel-Ski, 4 Sotheron Place, Michael Road, SW6, 020 3829 6961; www.chel-ski.uk
If you’re anything like me, any fitness gadget that shaves off time spent in the gym is a godsend. E-Pulsive, a top personal training company, has introduced Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) training to the UK market for the first time – and it’s an ideal workout for time-poor Londoners, not least because you can do it in your own home.
It’s a very clever system. During a normal workout, your brain sends signals to your muscles to bring about contractions. EMS training causes an electrical impulse which contracts your muscles, so in combination with more traditional exercises, it makes a short 20-minute session much more effective than conventional workouts. And if the rapidity of the workout isn’t enough to tempt you, the other benefits might. EMS not only stimulates muscles to a greater capacity than during a standard workout, but it can target a wider range of muscles, working deeper muscle fibres – and it doesn’t strain joints or tendons. Convinced yet?
I was, enough to give it a try, anyway. Anything that helps me avoid the treadmill has my vote. So it was with eagerness and anticipation that I donned my special EMS suit and allowed myself to be strapped in to the special vests and bands. Although a normal session lasts 20minutes, your first will be split – 10mins assigning the correct EMS volume for each group of muscles, and 10mins of training.
The feel of the EMS working takes a little getting used to. How high a strength you prefer depends on your muscle condition, fitness, and pain threshold, and it will vary from area to area.
I manage a much higher tolerance on my thighs than on my arms, for example.
Once I’m buzzing in all the right places, it’s on to the workout. I’m surprised by how challenging simple moves like arm lifts or squats suddenly are – even without weights. One of the most important things to remember during an E-Pulsive session is to breathe – out while the pulse is strong, and in during the rest period. As we progress through the workout, I really notice when I forget to do this properly – particularly during any exercises involving my abs.
After my session I feel pleasantly tired, like I’ve been through a good workout, despite it only having been 20 (or 10, in my case) minutes. My muscles feel slightly wobbly, and I know I’ll be a little sore tomorrow. But it’s made me very aware of the shortcomings of my usual training sessions. I’ll have to up the ante – or book in for another E-Pulsive session or three – which is very tempting.
My trainer (who looks like he spends half his life in the gym) says that he rarely does a conventional workout, and that a few E-Pulsive sessions a week keep him in good shape. I see a wonderful sweat-free, gym-free, in-shape life hovering tantalisingly in front of me. Where do I sign?
£60 per session one-off, packages are available. For more information, visit www.e-pulsive.co.uk