The headline-grabbing classes at London studio FLY LDN are a series of yoga flows done in front of a cinema-sized screen showing beautiful natural vistas. But, while those sound terrific, our eye was caught by something else on the timetable – a low-impact strength and conditioning class with a maximum six participants at a time. Given the dominance of HIIT-style blasts on the studio scene, this sounded refreshingly different.
“Many HIIT classes today are often packed and noisy, and can be unkind to joints,” says Kat Suchet, coach and physiotherapist at FLY LDN. “Most of our clients at FLY have enough stress outside of the gym in their daily routine, so they’re not looking for their workout to deliver further adrenaline spikes.”
For an example of what you can expect at FLY LDN’s low-impact class, we enlisted Suchet to provide a workout you can try yourself. You’ll need a suspension trainer like the TRX, a resistance band and dumbbells (or kettlebells instead).
This workout puts a lot of focus on the posterior chain so it’s important to fire up your glutes and hamstrings, as well as priming your core and mobilising your upper body. Repeat the following sequence twice, increasing the speed of the bear crawls and squats second time around.
Move forwards and backwards on all fours keeping your legs as straight as possible, like a walking downward-facing dog. You’ll especially notice your glutes firing up when going backwards.
Lie on your back, bend your knees and place your feet on the floor hip-width apart. Squeeze your bottom and core, and lift your hips off the floor to form a bridge between your knees and shoulders. Hold for three seconds, then lower slowly. If you want something more challenging, raise one leg and do five single-leg glute bridges on each leg.
Hold an exercise band at hip level with a wide grip to put tension in the band. Moving from the shoulder, lift your arms over your head and pass the band behind you as far as your mobility allows. Then return the band to the start position. Keep your arms straight and tension in the band throughout.
From standing, lower your body by bending at the knees. Lower your bottom as far as it will go without your knees dropping inwards while keeping your chest up. Push through your heels to rise back to standing.
Strength Block A
This is a ten-minute block of work which aims to develop strength in the upper and lower body. Choose a rep range and weight (when required) that allows you to work consistently for 30 seconds, followed by 30 seconds’ rest. Cycle through the three exercises one after the other, and repeat three times.
This isn’t a race. Aim for slow and controlled reps at a work-rate or resistance that’s challenging – it should get you to near failure when time’s up on each movement – without losing quality.
TRX single-leg squat
Time 30sec Rest 30sec
Hold the straps out in front of you and walk backwards until there’s tension in the straps, then lift one leg behind you. Squat on your other leg as low as your mobility allows. As you squat, move your elevated foot backwards for balance. This allows the shin of your working leg to stay vertical and your knee to track correctly over your toes.
Time 30sec Rest 30sec Suggested weight 4-12kg
Stand with a small bend in your knees, holding dumbbells with your palms facing. Hinge forwards from your hips so your back is almost parallel with the floor and the weights hang comfortably in front of you. Keep your spine and neck neutral by looking at the floor to keep your neck in line with your spine. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, and lift the weights to your torso by bending your elbows. Slowly lower the weights to the starting position. Do not round your back or brace to lift the weights.
If you have back problems, do a TRX inverted row instead. Lean back with your arms extended underneath the straps and pull yourself up, then slowly lower back to the start. Keep your body straight from your feet to your shoulders throughout.
TRX shoulder flye
Time 30sec Rest 30sec
Holding the straps with your hands together and palms facing, lean back until your arms are extended. Choose where you place your feet – the more you lean back the harder it will be. Keeping your body straight and your core braced, pull the straps outwards with straight arms so you form a Y or T shape and your body travels upwards between your outstretched arms. Lower your body under control back to the start position.
Strength Block B
This section is a core and posterior chain crusher. Do eight to 12 reps of each of the two movements, moving immediately on to the next move without rushing and without scheduled rest for three rounds. Take your own rest breaks between rounds if needed.
TRX hamstring curl
Start in an elevated plank position with your feet close to the floor suspended in the TRX straps. Bring both knees to your chest as you breathe out, then extend your body as you breathe in to end in a strong plank position.
Start in an elevated plank position and bring your feet towards your hands, sending your hips directly upwards into a downward-facing dog. Squeeze your abdominals as you move. Return to the starting position slowly.
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For the final section of the workout, set the clock for eight minutes and continuously cycle through the following three exercises. Choose a weight and set a pace that allows you to keep going for eight minutes without rest.
TRX mountain climber
Reps 20 total
Set up the TRX straps close to the floor. Start in an elevated plank position with your feet suspended. Cycle your legs quickly, moving your knees to your chest, while keeping your hips and upper body as still as possible.
Reps 10 Suggested weight 4-12kg
Standing holding dumbbells by your shoulders, palms facing and elbows pointing forwards. Bend at your knees to drop into a quarter squat, then straighten your knees to help generate power to press the weights overhead.
Reps 20 total Suggested weight 6-16kg
Hold dumbbells by your sides. Take a big step forwards, bending at the knees to lower so your back knee kisses the floor, then return to the starting position by pushing through your front heel.
FLY classes always incorporates a warm-down, which is specific to the work completed. For this workout, do a series of stretches and breathing exercises to stretch out the muscles you’ve been working. Spend time on some spine twists and sustained stretching for the glutes, quads, lats and pectoral muscle groups.
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Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.