Type of facility: Personal Training/MMA gym
Membership costs: Around £120 (call for info)
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 6:30-22:00 / Sat-Sun 9:00-16:00
Address: 4 Bravingtons Walk, Kings Cross, London, N1 9GA
Telephone: 020 7837 7774
Located right next to London's insanely busy Kings Cross station, Urban Kings is one of the best-kept secrets in the capital. It’s hosted seminars with everyone from pound-for-pound great Anderson Silva to UFC hall-of-famer Chuck Liddell, but it’s no spit-and-sawdust fight gym – with a sauna, pilates classes and nice showers, it’s equally welcoming to businessmen (and women) who just occasionally want to hit something. Manager Gyp Tessier breaks it down.
What’s the story behind Urban Kings?
Well, the gym was founded Pierre Andurand – he’s a very successful hedge fund manager who has a passion for kickboxing, and he found that most London kickboxing gyms are a bit…dingy. He wanted a gym where people could train in a friendly, high-end environment – and so he created Urban Kings.
What’s the general ethos of the gym?
The idea is that it’s somewhere for people to train in a good environment, with good trainers, where everyone is welcome. The training’s of a very good standard – we have guys like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Jude Samuel, boxing coach Gary Logan and MMA veteran Ash Grimshaw on the staff, who are all very respected in their styles – but it’s also a very friendly environment. We get a lot of guys who want to fight, but if you don’t, that’s okay – plenty of people just train and have fun.
What are your most popular classes?
Most people go to Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, but boxing’s also getting more popular – a lot of people are interested in white-collar boxing at the moment. We also have classes like yoga and pilates, and we’re about to start a class in hand-balancing and calisthenics with Sammy Dineen. It’s all about balance and coordination – it’ll be very interesting.
Is there much crossover between the people who fight and the people doing pilates?
Yeah, a little bit, but I think there should be more. I know from experience - when you’re young you want to fight and you’re not interested in taking care of your body so much, but when you’re older you tend to turn away from the heavy sparring. Yoga and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, for instance, complement each other really well – and yoga can get pretty tough…
We know. Okay, last question: if someone’s never fought before and wants to, how long before they can get in the ring?
Ah, it really depends on the guy. It’s really about how much you train and how much you understand it. In Thailand you get guys who go train every day, twice a day, and they fight after three months, because they’ve worked the basics so hard. Here, guys can’t train that often, but still sometimes we get guys who can fight after six months – but other guys spend years getting ready, or don’t want to fight at all. It’s really up to them.
Get the Coach Newsletter
Sign up for workout ideas, training advice, reviews of the latest gear and more.
From 2008 to 2018, Joel worked for Men's Fitness, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Though he spent years running the hills of Bath, he’s since ditched his trainers for a succession of Converse high-tops, since they’re better suited to his love of pulling vans, lifting cars, and hefting logs in a succession of strongman competitions.