The White Room is a private gym on Ebury Street in Belgravia. No membership is required, but the gym is by appointment only with a personal trainer. I had signed up for an introductory six-week package involving four hour-long sessions a week: two with my allocated trainer Alex, and two Pilates sessions with Susanna.
With a commitment to discretion, there are usually no more than two people training in the gym at any one time. Clients range from new mothers to diplomats and company CEOs, but all have a desire to increase their general fitness and health, or achieve a new fitness goal. On arrival, clients are shown their own personal limestone shower room with individual radio system, which is theirs for the whole gym session. Complimentary Valmont shampoo, shower gel and body lotion are on hand to aid relaxation and recovery after sessions. Towels and chilled Evian water are complimentary, so there’s no need to bring your own. So far so good. But now for the real work…
The idea of signing up with the White Room is to benefit from a truly focused course of exercises, tailor-made to each client’s requirements. Just as every individual is unique, each programme is specially designed for the client – there is nothing off the peg about this training. On day one, after some general questions about my fitness, Alex asked my likes and dislikes. I explained that I’m not a runner, so we pursued some vigorous uphill walks on a steep incline. Generally spreaking, sessions involved 25-30 minutes’ cardio followed by another half hour’s weight training, either with free weights or on the machines downstairs. Then there are regular squats across the gym or squats jumps (“remember to jump like there’s a sleeping baby next to you”), followed by some core work on the mat. The idea is to burn calories and fat for as long as possible after the session. Always cheerful, Alex is a master of distraction with lots of good stories and catchphrases to make the hour fly by. (When I would complain about being hot, he’d remark: “Remember, sweat is just a sign that your body fat is crying!” An unpleasant thought, but it did push me to work harder.) Having been a Personal Fitness Instructor for 10 years, he has a wealth of experience in customised training regimes, fat reduction, injury rehabilitation, weight management, core stability, strength, nutritional planning and preparation for short or long distance running. He has worked with all types of clients, from professional athletes to post-operation older adults. Always on hand to advise on nutrition (…please text me if you’re looking at a menu and are unsure what to eat,”) Alex is 100 per cent committed to his clients. Continuously thinking of new and innovative ways to help with my programme, he signed me up to an app — My Fitness Pal — to log in my food (and drink) consumption, so he could monitor my progress. Be warned: at the White Room, you won’t get left to your own devices but will be watched, coached and encouraged through every minute of your fitness hour. It is no wonder that some of Alex’s clients have been with him for years.
Largely, I’ve enjoyed it all. But I’ve learnt not to show it. Alex will assume I’m not working hard enough and demand another set! If a session was particularly agonising, it was usually self-inflicted, because I had indulged too much at the weekend.
Having done a lot of Pilates over the years, I was more confident in this area. But I shouldn’t have been. Susanna took me back to basics and rebuilt my knowledge of the discipline. With Italian as her first language, there’s less small talk, but Susanna will soon have you twisting and contorting your body into positions you could never imagine. On days when I had a tight back and sore muscles, I would leave the session feeling like a new person. Sometimes very challenging, it took a few sessions to get into the groove, but the results were undeniably complementary to Alex’s training, particularly aiding stiffness and recovery.
The trainers at the White Room have expertise in so many areas: weight loss, body change, pre- and post-natal, fit at 50, injury rehab and fit at 70, to name just a few. There really is something for everyone here. With so many exercise fads around at the moment, the White Room is the real deal. Dedicated and professional, Alex and Susanna were there to talk me through every minute of the personal training sessions, week after week.
Its partner property is the White Room Beauty Room on Walton Street in South Kensington, established to work alongside the gym. Together, these two properties have the powers to resolve issues that you didn’t know you had. Training and treatments are not cheap, but they do get results. After six weeks, I’d lost over eight per cent body fat. Furthermore, the various pressures of life have become far more manageable. And I’m starting to see the physical benefits – I’m fitter and stronger and so much healthier, all things that have made a marked change on my appearance – clothes feel looser and people have commented on how my skin looks so much better. So to stop after six weeks didn’t seem like an option. I’ve now signed up for another six months. This is just the beginning…