W10 Performance Review:
W10 Performance pride themselves on their signature ‘semi private’ group class…having been a Personal Trainer myself for 10 years I was keen to check it out and see how they juggle the quality of content and coaching with participant numbers that average around a handful at a time.
What I discovered was…
…a series of systems that enable the trainer to coach more than one person at a time a structured session whilst also diversifying the session to suit the individual where appropriate. With this combination of group energy and bespoke consideration where relevant it is easy to see why people are touting this formula as the future of PT.
The content of the session is very similar to that of a Personal Training session in that it builds up to the main exercises/working-sets via a series of progressively more challenging prep sets. For me these prep sets revolved around a kettlebell complex of Romanian deadlifts, goblet squats and kettlebell swings. Integrated into this was a sequence of mobility moves that focussed on a long serving problem area of mine…my adductors.
Once my groin was mobilised, my glutes were firing and my core nice and tight we moved onto the main working sets…some heavy lifts on the trap bar. A massively energy sapping compound movement that challenged me within a strength rep range of 4-6 for 4 sets.
I’m not ashamed to say I was feeling slightly wobbly by the time this was over. Just as intended.
…the session took me into some shoulder exercises that were completely new to me. Using a battle rope I had to press both ends above my head without the rope touching the floor as it looped around the base of a power rack and back towards to me. This had the effect of working my posterior shoulder muscles as I had to pull backwards whilst pressing above my head using the regular shoulder press muscles. To add a third dimension the pressure was always on as I had to keep the rope off the floor throughout the rep. Being a W10 Performance workout there was another twist. Counting down from 10 rep sets to 1 rep sets I had to perform 5 pull ups as ‘recovery time’ for my shoulders between every shoulder press set. Or was it the other way round and my shoulder sets were a rest from my pull ups?
It was hard to tell at this point as everything felt like it was working in overtime as each muscle group screamed at me for a little more rest.
It’s a little bit easier to dig deep when you know you’re onto the finisher exercises but equally likely that pure fatigue will have the final say as I repeatedly hit failure on my last 2 rounds. I was coached and encouraged through this. Tom would suggest 3 deep breaths before another attempt and each endeavour only counted if it was a full rep displaying complete range of movement. Needles to say I collapsed over the finish line with that heady mix of emptied-tank disorientation combined with deep satisfaction at what I had just achieved.
As for the quality of coaching…
…okay I may be a little biased with this one. Some of you may know that I am a good friend of lead trainer Tom Eastham, in fact we were housemates at university and have played rugby together since we were 19. I haven’t allowed our tight bond to distort my admiration for his work…it is impossible to deny the facts when you see a man in his prime delivering coaching sessions in the top 10% of what you will find in London. If you think I am exaggerating then become one of his clients…you will soon thank me.
To keep some consistency within my series of reviews on London’s top group fitness venues I have devised a rating system that I will apply to every experience I have – hopefully this will help you to decide what venues would best suit you. I love being a ‘fitness tourist’ myself and would encourage you to have a little exercise roaming in your life too…
With that in mind, here is my rating system being applied to W10 Performance.
1: Training Environment/Atmosphere:
The environment is an honest one with a raw but clean feel to it. The proactive atmosphere is achieved by gritty rock beats on the sound system coupled with purposeful body language from members and staff.
2: Coaching Style:
The first thing I noticed when I attended my class was the manner in which members started going through their prep exercises prior to kick off. They weren’t simply going through the ‘warm up’ motions you see in so many gyms but were in fact performing varying movements specific to their personal requirements. For instance, I had a lovely chat with the lady next to me as she got to work on the foam roller. To me these are all clear signs of a well coached and well informed group of people. When the session itself started it was clear that there were eyes on my every move and yet I had plenty of space and freedom of practice. When I needed direction it was there, when I needed encouragement it was there, when I needed space in which to work it was granted. As a PT myself I understand the requirement for the appropriate doses of each, it was a delight to receive such attention and consideration in a group training environment.
W10 kit their gym out in a style not too dissimilar to a good Crossfit Box although that’s where the comparison should stop (It’s a lot cleaner than most Crossfit Boxes for a start). Appearances can be deceiving and while they make the most of the benefits that can be found from training with Olympic bars, power racks, kettlebells, gymnastic rings, SkiErgs, etc, there is a very different feel at W10 to that of a Crossfit Box.
4: Bedside Manner/Customer Service:
These guys are seriously welcoming and warm. You really get the sense that they want everyone, of all levels of ability, to feel at home and comfortable in their training environment. If you’re starting out you will be guided with respect and encouragement, likewise if you are an old hand you will find an open atmosphere to develop strength and hone your skills.
5: My ‘Knack Factor’:
How knackering was it? As you can see on my Instagram video I was taken to full fatigue with my pull ups on my ‘finisher exercises’ (just the casual 50 pull ups in this instance) this was of course done via some heavy sets around 150kg on the Trap Bar…you do the math! Knack Factor was a deep anaerobic 9/10. (ie lifting or pulling anything else would have been rather impossible when it was finally over. I left just about enough in the tank to walk to the tube and refuel).
In summary – Quality coaching combined with efficient programing systems in a clean and honest training environment. You WILL make progress with W10 both in terms of physical development and training knowledge.