For an ancient Indian spiritual discipline, yoga sure is popular with today’s tech-addled, time-poor urbanites. By offering a winning package of improved physical fitness bundled with a rare moment for calming headspace, this five-thousand-year-old practice is currently in rude health worldwide. And where the contemplative postures of the East meets the keep fit dynamism of the West, things really start to get interesting.
A little further into north London, Centric 3Tribes in Crouch End is pitched as this kind of next wave fusion workout experience. It’s a place where meditation mat meets disco dancefloor. And as unlikely as that marriage may sound, it’s a strikingly fruitful meeting of opposite forces.
The ambitious team behind the venture have expanded from their first, traditional studio (Yoga Centric, just around the corner), as demand for innovative yoga-infused classes only seems to grow stronger. As the name alludes, they have divided the 3Tribes studio into three distinct zones; powerful infrared heated yoga and ballet-inspired barre classes in one area, competitive full body cycling workouts in another, and a signature thing called Warrior in the final space. By mixing up the routines on offer, regulars should end up with one hellava comprehensive fitness regime.
Touted on the website as ‘the 1000 calorie workout’ and taking place in a room with a thumping soundsystem and only red and blue lighting, the Warrior class is, inevitably, the one they ask me to try out, and it’s about as far from a hilltop eco ashram in the forests of Mysore as you can get. I’m a regular practitioner of some fairly physical yoga, but treadmills, dumbbells and flailing about on TRX straps are disciplines I’m not at all versed in.
So, somewhat gingerly, I reveal my incompetence to Tom, our highly motivational host for the next 60 minutes. True to type, he’s gee-ing me up in no time, explaining how to boost the treadmill to sprint speed upon his commands, which are soon to be amplified over the booming commercial dance tunes. Apparently we’re going to alternate between bursts of running, weights and crunchy stretchy activity, non-stop.
We’re off. The alien purchase of fast-moving rubber underfoot takes a bit of getting used to, especially during the bits when Tom barks we should “take it up to 15, 16 or 17!” After realising just how fast those settings are, on the second round I opt for no more than 14, holding my pace long enough to notice that others along the row of machines don’t seem to be running anything like as fast. Perhaps I’m showing what a novice I am for actually attempting to hit the lower reaches of Tom’s ambitious speed targets. The regulars seem to know their limits. I get the sense this is going to hurt in the morning, but I’m beginning to quite enjoy exploring my full-throttle Warrior regardless.
The TRX feels more familiar, the plank exercises working my screaming core like airborne yoga sequences. Meanwhile adding weights to floor work immediately makes me realise how many different muscle groups I can discover by approaching balances in slightly different (aka wobbly) ways. So, despite a soundtrack more suited to the necking of lurid green vodka shots in a bar in Kavos, I’m really starting to feel how all this hoopla can supplement and enhance my regular yoga practice, and overall health.High fiving strangers as the class comes to a merciful conclusion, I take a breather at the large on-site juice bar. The facilities are impressive, gleaming, even. And the community is genuinely welcoming so overall, I’m left as impressed as I am sweaty and dishevelled.
Later, over at Yoga Centric, I also try Hot Pilates with Hanna, and the place is packed for an 8pm session. There’s the usual female bias to the room, but this is an uncompromising class for anyone who likes to get deep into their body work, and another new system for me. The heat and core work are right up my street, and the more intimate studio space has a nice ambiance about it, clearly much-loved by the Crouch End crowd.
The next day, to balance out some of the more frantic cardio work, I pay a visit to Yoga Centric’s third local location, a new pop-up space in the basement of Muswell Hill’s branch of sportswear chain Sweaty Betty. It’s candlelit and uber-peaceful, as a class of only three of us hold the long stretches of Yin yoga for minutes at a time. Instructor Jessica Stewart is one of the main teachers across the group, so is excited to hear about the other classes I’ve chosen to road test. She does a great job of adding a dose of zen meditative calm into the overall mix, letting the class overrun so we can drift further into mid-morning contemplation.
I’ve enjoyed my forays up the road to explore the dynamic fitness fusions at these three very different studios. Despite the wildly diverse experiences of each, it really does add up to a holistic approach to kicking asses into beach-ready shape and quietening the drama of London life. Next time though, my still aching legs inform me I may want to work more slowly towards cranking things up to 16 when expressing my glorious treadmill Warrior.