Ministry Does Fitness: Pump up the workout

Global dance and house music brand launches its first ever gym, bringing together music and exercise


Ministry of Sound has been giving club-goers workouts for years, while their exercise DVDs and albums have sold in their millions. Now they've taken their foray into the health and fitness market a step further with the launch of Ministry Does Fitness, a new gym recently opened next to the club's venue in London's Elephant & Castle.

Forget conventional gyms; Ministry has replaced the traditionally sober act of working out with something more akin to a healthy party. Classes start in the bar, where fitness-ravers are encouraged to mingle and get to know one another and the trainers.

Nor are you limited to tea, coffee and smoothies at the bar. Ministry's nighttime menu also offers prosecco, cocktails, spirits, beer and wine. Although it might be better to wait until after your workout to indulge.

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The gym is located in the old beer cellar underneath the railway arches – you can hear the rumble of the trains going overhead – and looks more like a nightclub than a fitness centre: think moody and atmospheric rather than bright and breezy.

Sixty seconds before the class, gym-goers are taken further into the vaults, down a corridor that general manager Olivia Brafman compares to the tunnel footballers walk through to get on to the pitch, only instead of running out to screaming crowds, "we open the doors, the trainer is there and you're straight into it".

There are six classes on offer - cardio, strength, endurance, core, yoga and the full-body showcase – giving a different fitness focus each day (even Ministry rests on Sunday). Turn up three times a week and you get a complete holistic workout created by Harry Jameson, one of the UK's most in-demand personal trainers. He also selected the equipment the gym uses, opting for TrueForm Runner treadmills, for example, which are self-propelled to encourage better running technique and help burn more calories.

Then, of course, there's the music. The gym is equipped with a state-of-the-art JBL sound system, while the arches act as a natural acoustic, echoing the bass around the building accompanied by a nightclub-like light show.

"The music is designed around the workout," Brafman tells us. "There are genres and BPMs [beats per minute] of music that will physically get you to run faster or lift heavier or go for longer so we tailor the rate specifically around the results we want to get for that class."

The gym's music is updated regularly to make each workout different. "You won't hear the same playlist twice," Brafman says. "We deliver new playlists every single week and it's the Ministry sound creation team that put it all together.

"The coaches are almost like the DJ in a nightclub," she continues. "If you think about the nightclub – they've got the same production, the same sound system, but the DJ is there to create the show for you. If the DJ plays great music, you're going to have a great night. Our coaches replace the DJ. They are the centrepieces of your experience and they are driving the whole thing.

"We've put a lot of time and attention in a few things to really make the fitness product credible. If you're paying a premium for your fitness, you expect the best. That's really important."

That can be seen in the details around the gym: changing rooms include towels, hair dryers and straighteners, as well as toiletries and even hair ties and socks if you have forgotten them.

According to its managers, the same ethos that drives the nightclub underpins Ministry Does Fitness: having a good time and enjoying yourself.

"We're not about pretentiousness," says Brafman. "We don't care what you wear or how many followers you have on Instagram. It's about doing something great for your health and living a good life, a real sustainable life."

Ministry Does Fitness, Arches 80 and 81, Newington Court, London SE1 6DD; Classes cost £14 per session with discounts available when you buy group packages

Check out Portfolio's guide to the best workout clothes for 2017

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