SML x GYMBOX

Last weekend I was invited to a fitness staycation at the iconic Saint Martins Lane Hotel in Covent Garden. The hotel is a five star sanctuary in the middle of the busy central London with beautiful bedrooms, an amazing restaurant – Asia de Cuba – and super trendy gym chain Gymbox at the disposal of residents. I was out on my 20 miler last Sunday and so I missed the Dim Sum brunch and cocktails with the other guests. Having seen what Sarah Mei and Bangs thought about it I am now very upset I missed out – it looks GORGEOUS. Might have to treat myself and take a trip back.

The lobby is grand and spacious with quirky touches like gold tooth stools and a big vending wall where you can buy cute mugs and cosy cashmere socks. The rooms are minimal and white with flashes of colour. I arrived to a lovely note and a big bowl of strawberries which was just what I wanted to see having run 20 miles!

The room felt very luxurious, with a huge bed with the softest puffiest bedding, a gorgeous stone bathroom and this big mirror that I loved.

I’m afraid I don’t have many photos as I was generally too enamoured with the room to go around snapping, but you can check out the gallery on their website. My boyfriend took me to dinner at Beard to Tail as a surprise/well-done-for-running-20-miles and I am happy to tell you that I absolutely stuffed my face. I took my tired body and full belly back to the hotel and took a shower in the big power shower, chilled out in my robe and then sank in to the bed.

The main focus of the visit was a VPT (Very Personal Trainer!) session on Monday morning at Gymbox Covent Garden, which is attached to the hotel and is available to hotel guests as well as external members. Gymbox had kindly emailed me beforehand and asked what kind of session I was after. I have been wanting to get more serious with my strength training for a while but, not wanting to have at the olympic bar all guns blazing and end up injured, had been putting it off. This was the perfect opportunity to get my form in check and Gymbox kindly paired me up with PT and natural body builder Chris Beight. As I said, I’d been on a 20 mile run the day before and was a *little* stiff, but I warned Chris and he adapted the session so I only lifted max of 35kg, which was much appreciated!

We started off with back squats and I was pleased to hear that my form was spot on! I naturally build muscle very quickly on my legs and asked for Chris’ advice on weight and rep ranges to prevent me turning in to Quadzilla and he gladly shared his knowledge with me. We then did front squats (awkward arms!) before moving on to deadlifts. I was surprised by how deep you have to get in your starting position and Chris corrected my form throughout which was great.

We then moved on to a classic clean and press, which I learnt in three steps.

(1) Clean – this comes from your shoulders and hips rather than your arms and so it takes a while to get the flick followed by the dip/catch of the bar!

(2) Press – This was my favourite bit! Chris showed me how to take a split leg jump and use the power of the jump to push the bar overhead.

(3) Finish – The final step was to bring your legs side by side with the bar overhead to ‘finish’ the move. I have a couple of hefty bruises on my shins from dropping the bar from a height here – badass war wounds if I ever saw them.

We finished off on the bench press and Chris kindly offered to stay on past the hour but unfortunately I had to run for my 9:15 meeting! I was enjoying my session so much I could have stayed in the gym all day and can’t wait to go and try out my moves again. Chris told me I was a quick learner and he had no concerns about leaving me alone to lift which I was super chuffed with!

After my gym session I went back to have another yummy shower before ploughing my way through the breakfast, which was truly amazing. There was a huge healthy selection of fruits, yoghurt, rye bread and the world’s greatest granola (think huge oaty chunks and whole pecans), continental meats and cheeses and some naughtier breakfast treats like mini pastries and not so mini pastries. Having to rush off for my meeting was heartbreaking (I’m talking Homeward Bound heartbreak level) as I’d have loved nothing more than to head back to stay and eat my way through the entire menu.

I’d really recommend staying at Saint Martins Lane Hotel if you’re looking for a place to stay in central London with style and personality. The food is amazing, the rooms are stylish but cosy and the gym is awesome. Gymbox had a great vibe – it was buzzing (even at 7am!), well equipped, clean and everyone was friendly which is always a bonus. I wish I could afford to join full time! I’d also really recommend Chris – he clearly knew his stuff, was welcoming and accommodating and I really enjoyed my session. He said he’d be happy to do one-off form/technique sessions like the one I had so if you like the sound of it I’d definitely recommend getting in touch with him at Gymbox Covent Garden!