For those with goals to get fit and healthy in 2019, there has never been a bigger choice of gyms and fitness classes to try in Manchester city centre.
Many of the newest gyms launching in Manchester are using high intensity interval training (HIIT) methods to get the best possible results in the swiftest amount of time – with boasts of being able to burn up to 1,000 calories a time.
But where can you really blast the most blubber in Manchester?
Armed with a fitness tracking device on my wrist, I headed out around the city to try out a range of Manchester’s most popular workouts to see just how many calories you can burn.
And while I’m hoping I’ll eventually look like one of the fitness models pictured at the top of this page, it’s worth noting I’m actually just your average 42-year-old woman desperately trying not to burst out of her size 14 clothes.
Here’s how I got on…
American fitness phenomenon Barry’s Bootcamp – and its “red room” of fitness pain (or pleasure depending on how you view extreme exercise) – has arrived in Manchester, with the promise of blasting up to 1,000 calories a session.
The glossy studio on Lower Byrom Street is a bit like walking into a nightclub – but one where just shuffling your feet in time to the music is really not going to suffice.
The red-lit room with its wall of treadmills is where my workout started with a 12 minute session where you are encouraged to up your incline and your speed until you really can take no more.
You are then released on to the floor section for a variety of weights before heading back onto those treadmills for another 12 minute cardio cruncher.
Verdict: This workout was tough but fun with pumping rave beats, and while I didn’t clock up those 1,000 calories, I have to admit on the second treadmill session I may have pretended I was adding incline while actually reducing my speed instead. Whoops.
Calories burned: 704 in one hour
Price: classes £18 when booked individually, reducing in price when block booking sessions.
Ultimate Workout at Kor
The Northern Quarter’s newest gym Kor is also all about the HIIT sessions at their hip basement studio on Newton Street.
Trainer Tom Melody takes us through what to expect and merrily gives you a high five if he can see you’ve been working particularly hard on a brutal section of burpees in the neon-lit studio.
They say you can burn up to 850 calories in their 45 minute “Ultimate Workout” sessions. I managed a respectable 670.
Verdict: I particularly liked the smaller size of studio here as it didn’t feel daunting – you build up a bit of a friendship with the two other fitness fans on your “section” during the workout and trainer Tom brings the banter.
Calories burned: 670 in 45 minutes
Price: classes £15 a session when booked individually, reducing in price when block-booking sessions.
Box ‘n’ Burn at V1be
Another hip Northern Quarter basement gym, V1be opened last year on Dale Street with bold aims to offer Manchester’s best workout. The sign outside says you can burn up to 1,000 calories a session. It also has the unique selling point that you get to wear a heart rate monitor strapped around your chest so that you – and everyone taking part – can see exactly how hard you are working out on big screens on the walls throughout the workout.
I headed to try their Box ‘n’ burn workout, where everyone works in circuits, swapping between the treadmills (with increasing inclines to sprint up), floor-based weights exercises and then a good old session on the boxing bags. And repeat.
Verdict: It was another tough but enjoyable workout here, and I did really like the fact that at the end of the workout you could see not only how many calories you had burned, but how much effort you had put in according to your heart rate percentages. So, for my part, I could clearly see that I really should have been pushing it a bit harder. While I burned up 400-odd calories, I could see that others in the class were burning 600, 700 – and one man even notched up 800 calories burned. Lesson learned. Increase that incline!
Calories burned: 435 in 45 minutes
Price: classes £15 when booked individually, reducing in price if you block-book sessions.
Spin classes remain one of the most popular ways for gym bunnies to blast the fat, and are a mainstay at many gyms.
To test this one out for calories burned, I headed back to Kor in the Northern Quarter where they have a private spin studio, complete with state-of-the-art video technology where you watch a video simulation so it’s a bit like cycling up a very scary-looking mountain throughout.
Verdict: I’ve always thought of spin as one of the toughest workouts, but here it was also quite motivating thanks to the colour-coded bike screens which monitor your heart rate and let you know when you are in the red zone for the most effective workout.
Calories burned: 470 in 45 minutes
Price: £15 for individual sessions, reducing in price when block-booking sessions at Kor.
Outdoor training at Tribe
There’s nothing like a bit of fresh air to add to your workout.
At the innovative TRIBE.MCR classes in Manchester and Didsbury you get to join a group training session all in the glorious outdoors (come rain or shine). Luckily for me, when I headed along to the Didsbury session it was sunshine all the way.
That being said, Dr Jessicarr certainly puts us all through our paces – we sprint around the park, do frog jumps and boxing among the energetic and fun one hour session.
Verdict: The aim here is about all the positive things that come from exercise – and making new friends along the way. And there really was a great community feel about this workout, with everyone seeming to know each other from previous sessions.
Calories burned: 390 in one hour session
Price: classes cost from £8, booked on eventbrite.
What better way to burn calories than with your own personal trainer whipping you into shape? To test this out, I headed over to the Nuffield Health Printworks gym to meet up for a session with Greg.
I told him I wanted to burn as many calories as possible, but, being a responsible personal trainer and all, Greg tried to manage my expectations.
“I could beast you into oblivion, but that’s not a good way to do things,” he said. This being our first session, it was more important for him to know what my goals are – and to test my limits rather than push them right over.
What followed was a really good mix of weights, squats and jumping on a big rubber wheel which got my heart rate up (and a few funny looks).
I thought I’d manage to avoid any hard-core cardio in the session, but at the end of the session Greg got me on a spin bike for a hellish five minute interval sprint to top it off.
Verdict: If you are wanting a workout tailor made to you, then obviously there’s no beating a personal trainer. However, I was surprised I didn’t burn more calories as this was a pretty tough session.
Calories burned: 380 in 50 minute workout session (10 minutes induction)
Price: It costs £48 for a one-off session with a personal trainer, which goes down to £36 if you’re on a direct debit with three sessions a week. Membership at Nuffield Health costs from £38- £58.
Yoga at Lululemon
If you’ve never tried yoga before, then the new Lulemon store on St Ann’s Square is a great place to start as they do FREE sessions on Sunday mornings, which are proving exceedingly popular if the packed room I entered is anything to go by.
Not being much of a yoga devotee, I thought I’d struggle a bit but the yoga instructor was friendly and helpful to us novices in the room, and this felt like a very mindful experience.
Verdict: Not much of a calorie burner, but this one is brilliant for its stretching and toning benefits for your limbs, as well as mental well-being.
Calories burned: 115 in one hour session
Price: Sunday morning 10am session is free – other yoga sessions are available throughout the week. All must be booked in advance.