Sweat IT + The Barbary
Serious work for some serious food.
START: Sweat IT - Aldwych Fitness Gym, 4 Kean St, WC2B 4AS, London.
FINISH: The Barbary, 16 Neal's Yard, WC2H 9DP, London.
TUBE: Covent Garden.
THE WORKOUT: 18:30pm on a Friday night “Guts and Glory” with Bobby. The perfect class to really kick you back into gear if you’re motivation to train has waned or the last few workouts you’ve done have felt flat. Simply the name of this studio “Sweat IT” is enough for you to know what kind of class to expect. Yes its sweaty, and yes it’s high intensity. And if the name isn’t enough of hint then as soon as you walk through the door you know these guys mean business. The studio has got the boutique fitness style dialed in, with its dark lighting, industrial feel, slick protein shake bar, hang-out area and promises of hardcore workouts for high achieving Londoners. Classes have been given super ‘gym bro’ names like “Machine Guns” that targets shoulders and arms, “Pillar Killer” for the core and “Engine Room” to build legs. The class on Friday is sixty minutes of a signature style workout that targets the whole body and is a firm favourite of the regulars who come here. The class is divided between the treadmill and floorwork. Think Barry’s Bootcamp and 1Rebel Reshape sort of style, but done better; the tread is super-tech touch screen and the floor you each get a ‘rig’ stacked with bars, weights and a shelf for your dumb-bells so there is no faffing about when you need to get them out. On the tread you move through a warm-up, sprint intervals and hills. On the rig you move through exercise circuits with the equipment. For instance, it could be a landmine with squats and lunges, or dumbbell weights with squat thrusts, weighted burpees and killer russian twists and sit-ups. The variety and challenge of this class means that time flies. You’ll leave class on an enviable high that quite possibly sparks a renewed workout love; the kind of feeling you only really get after those super sweaty intense sessions.
FYI: We also loved the fact the studio is plastic free and has a fridge full of reusable water bottles you can fill up and return, which means nothing but good vibes here.
THE FOOD: A few minutes walk across to Neal’s Yard will take you to The Barbary for some delicious food that actually lives up to the hype. Taking inspiration from the Barbary Coast (Atlas mountains area across Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya if you didn’t know) the food reflects the seasonal fusion of Mediterraneon, Atlantic and Mddle-Eastern flavours. Usually, we find a menu where you have no real clue of what is really on offer. For instance we don’t blame you if you have no clue what mashawsha, sharabik, tcheba, zuzu or nishnushim is. But The Barbary is different and you have to trust the process and just go for it - because what gets served up is pure joy. The mashawsha is a giant tentacle of octopus chargrilled and coiled around sweet pomegranate molasses and garlicky, lemony chickpeas (described earlier on the menu as msabacha, just to confuse you more). Onglet steak smartens up a shawarma dish and is cooked exactly to your liking. The fattoush salad add freshness with sweet tomatoes balanced with whipped, salty feta and crispy croutons and a sharp dressing. Aubergine is a beautiful thing here; baba ghanoush is as silky and smoky as Kate Moss was modelling in the 90s, and rich with tahini. Plant-based eaters can also delight in the cauliflower dish. It comes deep-fried and scattered with a coriander-laced tomato salsa. The beetroot with labneh is also another dish that cuts through the richness of some of the other dishes and incredibly tasty. The baked goods are also delicious and if you don’t mind living a little and undoing some of your hard-work at “Sweat IT” then the “Jerusalem bagel” is doughy heaven; chewy, warm white bread, boiled and baked, with za’atar for dunking. Order with house zhug, a green chilli sauce, (especially if you love spice) for extra dipping. If you have got room for dessert, first of all well done and secondly the Baklava is really the only way to go. Wash everything down with a glass of Lebanese rosé and you’ve pretty much created a Friday night you will never forget (or at least for a couple of weeks).
FYI: Flat iron is around the corner too if you want something more casual.
THE PRICE: Sweat it is £20 drop-in class. Barbary: Baba Ghanoush £5.5, Fattoush £8.5, Cauliflower £7.5, Beetroot and Labneh £6.5, Onglet £16.5, Octopus £17.5, Jerusalem bagel £4.5, Zhug, harissa and pickled chilli £4.5, Baklava £3.5. Drinks: Glass of rosé from £8.75, red and white wine from £6.75, mint tea £2.5, and Turkish coffee £4.
BEST FOR: A Saturday to remember for all the good things; a good sweat and good refuel.
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