Real talk: I've always suffered with my mental health. And while I've always been honest about the fact I've struggled with conditions such as anxiety, OCD, and depression, but I've never really spoken about what I do to deal with them. While treatments can range from medication to different forms of therapy, or a combination of both, many people would likely agree that incorporating some form of exercise into your routine is a good idea for a healthy body and mind. And there are some great fitness classes that boost your mental health.
The problem is that, when you feel low, it's often hard to get out of your funk and head on over to the gym. Attending a class is, IMO, a way better idea as there's a sense of community and (when you've booked and paid money for it) a sense of obligation. It's all about finding what works best for you; I've been attending Ride classes at Psycle for about a year and a half now, and I find that committing to two a week keeps my mind far more balanced and makes me feel good. But, along the way, I've tried out a bunch of really great fitness classes that gave me a bit of a boost. Here are my top picks.
1. Aqua at Bannatyne
For water babies, there's nothing better than going for a swim, and there are plenty of classes that can take your sesh in the pool to the next level. Designed for all levels, the Aqua class at Bannatyne gyms uses noodles and aqua gloves and will leave you feeling totally energised and ready to face the day. Plus, being in the water with others is always a bit of a giggle!
Aqua at Bannatyne, prices for monthly membership range, find your nearest gym (all over the UK) on their website.
2. Reshape at 1Rebel
I'll be 100 percent transparent with you: this class is bloody HARD. It combines cardio on a treadmill with weights and you alternate between the two throughout the 45-minute session. The truth is you'll most likely be in pain, but you feel so amazing afterwards and I guarantee you a real sense of achievement will wash over you.
Reshape at 1Rebel, £22 per class (packages are cheaper), available at 1Rebel studios in Bayswater, Broadgate, South Bank, and St Mary Axe (all in London).
Ride at Psycle
My chosen workout, Psycle has become a part of me in the past two years. The instructors are friendly and inspiring, the facilities are top notch and the workout is challenging but accessible. Walking out of a Psycle class fills you with a sense of pride — and I guarantee you'll be made to feel like part of the family from the moment you step in. The brand has gone from strength to strength in the past year, opening a brand new studio in Clapham, and extending its OG Mortimer Street branch to provide more space and class options (including more Ride as well as Barre, Strength and Yoga). Psycle is also set to launch memberships later this month, meaning more bang for your buck.
Ride at Psycle, £22 (cheaper in bundles, memberships coming soon), studios in Clapham, Mortimer Street Soho, Canary Wharf, and Shoreditch (all in London).
Rebounding at Frame
Probably the most fun I've ever had in a class, rebounding sees you working out on a mini trampoline in front of an instructor. Not only is it different and a laugh, it's also a serious workout. That's right — two minutes of rebounding is the equivalent to six minutes running, according to ReboundSA. So if you hate running but want some high intensity cardio, give this a try.
Rebounding at Frame, £10, at a range of studios around London.
Yoga at Nuffield Health, Fitness & Wellbeing Gym
Yoga is the ultimate workout for anyone who suffers with anxiety or stress-related conditions. Not just about the body, yoga concentrates the mind and allows you to fully relax and let go. Nuffield gyms are located all over the UK and offer three types of yoga (Ashtanga, Vinyasa, and Hatha) for all abilities and preferences.
Yoga classes at Nuffield, as part of monthly membership, find a gym near you on their website.
While the above classes worked well for me, if you or someone you know is experiencing difficulty with mental health, it's important to speak to a doctor or a healthcare professional about what will work best for each individual. You can also check out the website for Mind, which has lots of information about dealing with your mental health.