Girls just wanna be strong

This year the term ‘strong not skinny’ is key in fitness, from the classes at your gym to the Instagram stars to follow.

HITT Boxing

YOU can’t get away from high-intensity cardio anywhere these days. New-generation boxing classes keep the traditional technique work for strength, definition and coordination, but weave in high-intensity circuits.

Power Of Boxing ( has launched in three locations across London. Its sessions are run by ex-pro boxers and reformed offenders, and have been created by former fighters, special forces soldiers and elite athletes. A one-hour class is made up of a circuit of 12 reps combining technical pad work in a ring, upper-body strength drills using weighted bags, skipping, lunges and squats, core and some machine work.

Plenty of gyms are embracing the combo. Rumble at 1Rebel ( will have you throwing punches and kicks, jumping, running and lifting weights at a seriously fast pace with no resting. FightKlub at Gymbox (, meanwhile, will have you kicking, punching, kneeing and elbowing boxing bags, before hammering out a circuit of plyometrics, intense bursts of exercise that are jump squats. Get your gloves on…

Lessen your stress: Calm By Candlelight is yoga in slow-mo.

Yoga with extra calm

IF high intensity can get extra intense, yoga can get extra calm. It’s all about extremes. Virgin Active ( recently launched Calm By Candlelight for the super-stressed. The moves are focused on stretching and breathing awareness with the goals of restoring the body and refreshing the mind. Prepare to be in near darkness, with just the hypnotic flicker of a few precarious candles. Think floating rather than flowing. Compared to other yoga, each move is done in slow motion with most poses held for as long as five minutes, which means you won’t fit in many during a 60-minute class. Still, you’ll be so relaxed, you won’t care.

All the right moves: Zumba Strong brings dance to your exercise routine.

Zumba Strong

THIS class from the makers of Zumba ( injects high-intensity intervals into hot dance moves. The key to the workout is the music: one minute you’ll be hammering out burpees, high knees, press-ups or some other explosive movements to pumping house tunes; the next, those deliciously smooth Latin tunes kick in and you’ll be sidestepping to the rhythm, throwing in a few knee-to-elbows as you go. The psychological effect of synchronised movement to music is said to push you past perceived limits.

Bodyweight exercises such as press-ups and planks build muscular endurance and definition, while the high-intensity routine movements will up your heart rate so you’ll consume more oxygen and burn more calories after you finish. Be warned, this may cause an urge to burpee on dancefloors everywhere.

Now showing: the fitness maestros to inspire you


Instagram followers: 153,000

ZANNA VAN DIJK, 24, is a blogger, vlogger, Adidas and Fitness First ambassador, and author of the book Strong. She’s transformed herself from unhealthy and inactive by lifting weights and wants to get the message out that resistance training improves everything from bone density to osteoporosis.

Van Dijk doesn’t sell fitness plans but her feed is a peek into the way she lives her life, with training sessions and holiday snaps. She’s less about telling you what to do and more about inspiring you to do it yourself. She’s a co-founder of the #GirlGains movement, which isn’t about being über-muscley but having a strong and lean body.


Instagram followers: 1.9million

Australian-based personal trainer Emily Skye, 31, used to be a model with terrible eating habits. Now, thanks to her no-nonsense approach to training, she’s an ambassador for both Lucozade Sport and Reebok. She sells online FIT plans that give you all the info you’ll need to transform your body with fitness videos, nutritional advice (she caters for everyone from meat eaters to vegans), motivational tips and weekly shopping lists. Her social media feeds are littered with exercise suggestions (she’s a fan of free weights and body weight moves) and she doesn’t take herself too seriously — we love the funny faces she pulls!


Instagram followers: 75,900

These 23-year-old BFFs grew up in the Alps and are ex-ski racers. They now live in London and were snapped up last year by sports supplement brand Multipower as ambassadors. Abby Carpenter works as a personal trainer and bikini competitor, while Lucy Plenderleith is a financial services consultant in the City. Together they’re trying to spread the message that a work-life-gym balance is possible. They both blog about fitness, food and lifestyle, and post dual workouts (exercises where they use each other for resistant and support). Don’t miss their honesty shots (posed and reality photos side by side).