Even from the street, Lanserhof at The Arts Club looks like no ordinary gym - the Georgian brickwork and sash windows are enough of a giveaway, but step inside and you enter a whole new world.
First there's the plush lounge, serving a lip-smacking light lunch menu, and then the futuristic changing rooms (below), each one like a tunnel carved from light, but the piece de resistance descends from the ceiling, between the high-tech treadmills and weight machines: an ornate crystal chandelier.
A new arrival, it's the first city-centre outpost of Lanserhof, the Austro-German company renowned for medical spas secluded in acres of middle-European forest. This time they've gone for the opposite extreme: a prime slice of Mayfair, just across the road from The Arts Club, their partner in the project.
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It comes at a price, of course: full membership costs £6,500 per year (plus a joining fee of £1,500, waived for existing members of The Arts Club). Non-members, however, can also make use of an extensive range of medical treatments, including osteopathy, vitamin infusions, MRI scans and cryotherapy.
Those who do join up will benefit from an unusually rigorous approach to personal training. Styku scans, which measure body fat, muscle size and posture, are used to keep track of progress, and ensure that training programmes are optimised. An array of ultrahigh-speed cameras provides full gait analysis, while a spine lab measures core strength and assesses recovery from injuries, using machines more usually employed in astronaut training.
The gym equipment is suitably high-tech too: several of the machines can be linked to a member's smart card, automatically loading the programme and weights prescribed by the personal trainer. Information flows in the other direction too, letting trainers know whether exercises have been carried out safely and correctly.
There's room for fun too alongside all the exertion. A virtual-reality Icarus machine allows you to swoop through the Alps as you build core strength, controlling your flight by clenching your abs and tilting your body in one direction or another.
The illusion is utterly convincing, and distracts from the effort involved in maintaining the pose. You’ll flinch as you clip the treeline on a treacherous mountain ridge, but as you soar through the Alpine valleys you could almost believe that you’ve left London entirely and transported yourself to one of Lanserhof’s original rural retreats.
Lanserhof at The Arts Club, lanserhof.com/en/london, 17-18 Dover Street, London W1
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