High altitude training in Central London?

I’m not fully settled in a new city until I have found My Gym. THE Gym. In other words, my Second Home.


In New York, I was lucky enough to have access to an Equinox gym about half a block away from my apartment. Spinning classes, spa services, excellent cardio equipment, juice bar, pool, and — the best — ice pools right next to hot baths. After a workout I would plunge my legs into the ice bath for 2 min, followed by 2 min in the bubble-less jacuzzi (for two cycles). It is one of the best ways to flush the lactic acid out of the muscles and help promote recovery.

…But alas, it is tough being spoilt. As I’ve quickly learned, the gyms in London just don’t compare to the gyms of NYC…

Except for ONE: the Third Space (www.thethirdspace.com). Now, as I’ve learned using my highly refined wikipedia research skills (is this what I learned in law school?), the term “third spaces” refers to social surroundings separate from the “first space”, being the home, and the “second space”, being the workplace. Third spaces are thought of as the “anchors” of community life that facilitate creative interaction. Author Ray Oldenburg, in his book entitledThe Great Good Place, argues that the defining features of a true “third space” are that it is (1) free or inexpensive, (2) highly accessible, (3) welcoming and comfortable, and (4) usually has food and drink. Does the Third Space meet this definition?
  1. It costs 115 pounds a month to join and you must sign up for a minimum of 12 months. Okay, perhaps not free or inexpensive, but how can you put a price on health and happiness?? For what you get at this gym, it does start to look affordable.
  2. Highly accessible? Well, it is near Piccadilly, which is rather central…Okay, I’ll give them this one.
  3. The very muscle-bound trainers were extremely welcoming when I came for a tour, and I felt very comfortable walking around in my spandex. Although I must say, doing situps on top of a glass floor above the pool was rather stress-inducing…
  4. There is a lovely juice bar by the entrance.
I’d say it measures up pretty well!

I tested out the gym on Thursday morning. Specifically, I spent an hour cycling and climbing in the Third Space’s HYPOXIC CHAMBER!!! I have not seen anything like this. It is a room in which the oxygen content is lowered in order to simulate high altitude training. From the website:

By reducing the amount of oxygen in the air, it forces your cardio-respiratory systems to work even harder to deliver sufficient oxygen to your working muscles. The result? A harder workout, and faster results. In addition, the body adapts to the reduced oxygen by stimulating the production of the hormone Erythropoietin (EPO), which in turn leads to an increase in the level of haemoglobin and red blood cells (those that carry the oxygen). Synthetic forms of EPO do exist: they thicken the blood and are consequently banned by the The International Olympic Committee. However, the level of EPO naturally generated by exercise at altitude and in hypoxic facilities is not considered dangerous and is therefore legal.
SWEET. After trying that, how could I possibly go to another gym?

For those of you in the London area, I HIGHLY suggest you check out the gym. In addition to the high altitude chamber, it has the following facilities:
  • climbing wall
  • pool
  • boxing ring
  • pilates studio
  • dojo room (don’t ask me what this is…)
  • top of the line equipment
  • juice bar
  • integrated medical facility on site
  • glass floor
  • table tennis!!
I’m going back on Monday for some more mountain training!

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