Have a gas as you blast

Fitness is bringing the fun this autumn. Helen Croydon and Janelle Butterfield pick the offbeat classes to get you going

Silent disco fitness

Silent disco used to mean either a 3am rave at Glastonbury or a highly demonstrative PR stunt at a train station. Now it’s been reinvented as a fitness class with dance-based workouts using high-quality headphones (so the music doesn’t blare out across the park), and it’s popping up in city spaces around the country.

Flippin’ great: Try Matt Boyles’ class to Britney tracks

Matt Boyles runs a weekly class on Clapham Common in south London. Expect fitness moves choreographed to a delightfully cheesy playlist — during Britney’s Stronger, it’s press-ups for the first verse, a plank in the pre-chorus and then, for the chorus proper, everyone flips on to their backs for bicycle crunches.

‘The more choreographed the session, the more people stick to the beat and the harder they work out,’ says Matt. ‘The classes give people confidence. The headphones turn their focus inwards.’ HC

FitterYou.net runs at the bandstand on Clapham Common, London, Mondays at 7pm, £10. Ouside London, try bathmums.co.uk, avonvalley.co.uk or some silent disco yoga at oceanflowyoga.co.uk in Newquay

Handstand fitness

What we did so freely against a wall in the playground has become the epitome of fitness. The handstand (or ‘inversion’) is considered the pinnacle of achievement. Now there are classes based on this one move — and more.

Good with his hands: Sammy Dinneen

Positions include the planche (a plank but with legs off the floor), the crocodile (balancing on one hand) and handstand press-ups, while you can also try balancing on your hands in different shapes. Don’t panic — there are beginner, intermediate and advanced options.

One new class in London is run by Sammy Dinneen, professional handstand artist and Olympic gymnast trainer. He says: ‘Being on your hands, you’re engaging stabiliser muscles all over your body.’ HC

Sammy’s classes run at Urban Kings, King’s Cross, Fridays 1pm-2pm, £20. Or try acrolibrary.com in Bristol and Bath, aerialedge.co.uk in Glasgow or formastrength.uk in Gloucestershire

Gym for the brain

Always meaning to sign up for that evening course but never have time? This autumn, the Open University has teamed up with David Lloyd Clubs to launch Brain Gym, an exercise class to help the time-poor among us learn and work out in tandem.

Learn and get fit: A Brain Gym class

Lasting an hour, the alternative spin session combines high-intensity workout blasts with an online learning course taught lecture-style on a screen as you pedal (when we went along it was a money-management taster). There’s even a quiz at the end to see how much you’ve learnt.

While it may not burn as many calories as a standard workout class, you might just learn something — if not, at least there’s no time wasted. JB

For more info on Brain Gym classes, go to open.ac.uk