Work it! (for £1,000 a month): A guide to London's most exclusive and expensive gyms

Work outs at the exclusive Surrenne (Surrenne Gym)
Work outs at the exclusive Surrenne (Surrenne Gym)

You heard it here first — premium gyms are the new members’ clubs. Amid all the brouhaha about the Garrick Club, which has now voted to allow women as members, no one ever stopped to think about who the true power players are. And, more crucially, where they really go to network. It’s not Hugh Bonneville or Michael Gove and the answer is not 15 Garrick Street. Consider who really pulls the strings in society: the chief executives, billionaires and savvy technocrats; those in the City who took one look at the mini-Budget in 2022, said a simple No, and ended Liz Truss’s premiership.

The cultural power players (such as Kate Moss) might still elect Annabel’s to launch their wellness ranges, but the moguls are increasingly cutting their deals somewhere less obvious — the treadmill. Though they may, of course, still be rubbing shoulders in the weights area with the A-list glamazons.

They might take a client out to Maison Estelle for a meet-and-greet but the quiet chat happens somewhere much louder: the oontz-oontz-powered training floor. “Lift!” the instructor commands, while electronic dance music blasts through the gym speakers, providing the cover for one investor to whisper to another: “Let’s negotiate.”

Nowhere are the dealmakers more naked, in every sense, than in the sauna, where “the conversation” typically happens. I know this, because I’ve witnessed it: in Third Space, a gym so plush that the sauna has a rose quartz wall. Much of this gym-networking phenomenon is an inheritance from Covid.

The boundaries between where we live and work have all but dissolved and it is now common for corporate stooges to talk business while on the erg. It can be hard to navigate the complex web of London networking: so, a word of advice to you bright young things.

Rather than splurging on Soho House or Groucho membership and hoping to rub the right shoulders at the right bar, you’re better off getting into a luxury gym: to meet the true power players and plant the seeds of future partnership. A spin class (hello, Rishi Sunak!) or a steam are far more conducive to a seemingly unstaged, candid introduction; friendships forge there far more organically than they do in more contrived, overtly network-y spots. Farewell then to 5 Hertford Street: for London’s one per cent, the place to be is Lanserhof. Elevator pitches in the cryotherapy chamber, anyone?

KX, Chelsea

KX Gym, Chelsea (KX Gym, Chelsea)
KX Gym, Chelsea (KX Gym, Chelsea)

For: Art dealers, royalty and fashionistas.

What the gym says: A club where “elite athletic performance meets holistic wellbeing”. A “state-of-the-art gym, spa and health restaurant”. Offers “a complete health investment” and “tranquil retreat from city life”.

What the patrons say: “All the women have legs that go up to my shoulders”; “It’s a niche dating playground”; “I’ve heard of one marriage from it”.

Who’s a member: Girlfriends of investment bankers, art dealers, Europeans, and Prince Harry before he headed off to California.

Price: from £615 per month.

Exclusivity rating: 3/5

E by Equinox, St James’s


For: Tech bros and hedgefund managers.

What the gym says: “Located in a converted historic bank building in London’s Mayfair” (the bank was Lloyds and it’s actually in St James’s). “Where luxury and fitness meet.”

What the patrons say: “Quite Made in Chelsea”; “Kiehl’s products for everything”; “They also do your laundry for you” and “There’s a smoothie bar in the building”.

Who’s a member: Americans, tech entrepreneurs, hedgefund managers, and people who work for Christie’s.

Price: £425 a month, with PT sessions priced at £125 for 50 minutes. For comparison: £270 a month for Equinox Kensington and £240 a month for Equinox Bishopsgate (more gym bunny-heavy). Members of the Bishopsgate or Kensington branches have been known to show up to E by Equinox in St James’s and be unceremoniously turned away. There were plans for an Equinox in Shoreditch which never materialised.

Exclusivity rating: 3/5

Bodyism, Notting Hill

For: Music executives and media buffs.

What the gym says: A “bespoke, holistic approach”. A “home away from home”.

What the patrons say: “The gym equivalent of Australian brunch”; the classes are “small” and “make you feel seen”; “it’s like a soft hug” and “actually calms my anxiety”; “lots of Lululemon”.

Who’s a member: Women aged 20-35, chief executives including the CEO of Universal Music Group David Joseph. Early clients also included Elle Macpherson and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.

Price: £3,600 annual baseline fee. PT packages start at £1,450. A PT member pays £15,000-£30,000 per year on top.

Exclusivity rating: 4/5 for PT members.

Third Space, Multiple locations

Moorgate Third Space (Moorgate Third Space)
Moorgate Third Space (Moorgate Third Space)

For: Sharp-elbowed lawyers.

What the gym says: “Luxury health clubs” and “world-class facilities”; the instructors are “intelligent, inspiring”.

What the patrons say: “Great amenities” and “sleek aesthetics” in “top locations”, but the clubs “can get very busy”.

Who’s a member: Anna Wintour (in theory: we’re told she’s never used her membership), high-end lawyers, and the bi-curious (apparently).

Price: Starting at £210 a month; £245 gives access to all clubs bar Mayfair and Islington. Individual rates vary — the Mayfair club, which has an on-site doctors’ surgery, will set you back £280. There is a £100 joining fee that goes onto credit for stash, salads and smoothies.

Exclusivity rating: 2/5 for standard membership but 4/5 for the Mayfair gym (the staff will clean and iron your clothes while men with trays of eucalyptus-scented towels are stationed outside every class).

Harbour Club, Multiple locations but only Fulham really matters


For: Budding bankers.

What the gym says: “Championship-quality tennis courts” and “expert coaches”.

What the patrons say: “Well-heeled”, “international”, “friendly”, “basically David Lloyd but I like the people”.

Who’s a member: Stormzy, older actors, Wimbledon season ticket holders, chic ladies — and west London’s poshest bankers. And Princess Diana used to go, of course.

Price: Starting from £319 a month (£439 a month for access to tennis and paddle courts). Family-friendly packages are also available. The joining fee stands at £2,000.

Exclusivity rating: 3/5

Lanserhof at the Arts Club, Mayfair

Lanserhof gym (Lanserhof gym)
Lanserhof gym (Lanserhof gym)

For: Private Equity partners.

What the gym says: “The LIFE Integrative Fasting Experience is a structured fasting programme designed to rejuvenate the body and optimise metabolic function.”

What the patrons say: “People here want to live forever.”

Who’s a member: Burnt-out bankers, longevity obsessives, the generationally wealthy and Victoria Beckham

Price: The joining fee is £1,500 and membership starts from £4,000. Basic health screening costs £750; initial consultations begin at £550 and a typical week-long treatment plan starts from £2,500.

Exclusivity rating: 5/5

Surrenne, Knightsbridge


For: Billionaires’ wives.

What the gym says: “The intersection of modern innovation and timeless wonder”. “A transformative journey for all the senses.” “A new paradigm for wellbeing”. “Tracy Anderson.”

What the patrons say: There’s “an isokinetic band system on the ceiling originally designed to train Madonna”.

Who’s a member: The super, super rich — and probably Tracy Anderson’s long-time client Gwyneth Paltrow, when she’s in town

Price: The annual membership fee is £10,000 with a joining fee of £5,000.

Exclusivity rating: 4/5