Dogpound gym: Hollywood’s hardest workout has landed in London—are you tough enough?

·7-min read
Workout buddy: Jasmine Tookes and Josephine Skriver, the Biebers and Rosie Fitzmaurice takes on a supermodel-approved strength sesh.   (Evening Standard)
Workout buddy: Jasmine Tookes and Josephine Skriver, the Biebers and Rosie Fitzmaurice takes on a supermodel-approved strength sesh. (Evening Standard)

What do Kaia Gerber, Hugh Jackman, Sofia Richie, Ashley Graham, Jasmine Tookes, Usher, Steve McQueen and the Biebers all have in common? Hint: there’s a waiting list to join and it’ll make you sweat (a lot). The Dogpound is one of the most celebrity-frequented gyms in the world — these are just a few of the A-listers known to be evangelical about working out at the personal training facility which opened in New York in 2016 and has steadily built a cult following.

The man behind the Dogpound — so-called because in the early days his clients would always bring their pups along with them to train, “and to this day, we usually have one or two dogs in the gym most of the time” — is Kirk Myers. Originally from Kansas City, he moved to New York having undergone a total lifestyle overhaul after recovering from congestive heart failure twice. “In high school, I weighed over 300lbs (21 stone) and when years of an unhealthy lifestyle landed me in the hospital, I knew I had to make a drastic change. In about two years I lost 130lbs,” he says. Now, he’s dedicated to helping others look and feel their best — and opened a second outpost in LA in 2019. Whether it’s helping Hollywood royalty transform physically for a role, prepping models for fashion week (he is the go-to trainer for virtually all former Victoria’s Secret models, veterans Romee Strijd and Adriana Lima are clients), working with musicians or athletes, Myers is the man on speed dial.

As his client base is so varied, training programmes are highly tailored to each individual’s needs. “When a client trains with us, they don’t only have one trainer, they work with a team of trainers to ensure they are receiving diversity in their programme and it also helps build a sense of community which makes clients more comfortable in feeling like the gym is a second home,” he explains. “Our methods are unique, too. Battle ropes, sledgehammers and oversized tires are only some of the things we have that you might not see at your neighbourhood gym.”

A quick scroll through Dogpound’s (@dogpound) Insta and you’ll quickly become transfixed by the synchronised resistance band buddy workouts, Hailey Bieber’s booty-building curtsy lunges and Alexis Ren’s hypnotising glider splits performed with hand weights.

Lighting is low, a live DJ plays hip hop beats in the background and the dress code is (mostly) black with the occasional Dogpound logo emblazoned across oversized hoodies. There’s a waiting list to join in New York and a single PT workout will set you back anywhere from $200 to $500 depending on your trainer, while a session with heavily-tattooed Myers is rumoured to cost up to $1,000, though he didn’t confirm an exact figure.

On a past visit to New York, I stumbled across the gym by accident and was politely asked to refrain from taking selfies outside. So when I heard that Dogpound was launching a London pop-up at the recently unveiled Mondrian Shoreditch this month (read our full hotel review here), I was keen to get a taster of the workout for myself. One-on-one and group sessions are taking place at Beyond The Curtain, the nightclub space in the member’s club beneath the hotel, costing £50 to £120. For my one-hour session, I asked my trainer, Viktor Cortese — who is usually based in New York — to take me through one of Dogpound’s signature strength workouts beloved by supermodels that I’ve admired from afar on Instagram.

I quickly notice a recurring focus from the signature moves: balance. It’s an often overlooked element of fitness, Myers later tells me, but well worth incorporating into your workout. “It activates more core muscles and keeps the client engaged and it’s a great way for people to see their progress.” (I’m sold on its ab-building powers alone).The bosu ball, which looks a bit like half a rubber stability ball, is a firm Dogpound favourite for testing your balance (and much harder to navigate than it looks). We begin with single-leg knee drives on the bosu, moving from a reverse lunge position, keeping my weight on one foot and stepping up into a standing position driving one knee up towards my chest. We progress onto squat jumps on and off the bosu and weighted goblet squats with each foot on a separate bosu ball that really works the inner thighs. Next it’s on to spider planks that fire up your obliques, starting in a forearm plank position and alternating, bringing the right knee up to the right elbow and left knee up to the left elbow, which leaves my core shaking violently. After some slam balls, it’s on to “monster walks” with a mini-band.

Resistance bands are Myers’ “go to” as they’re “so versatile”. His clients like to use them for partner workouts and they’re also handy for when they’re on the go. We start with a straight leg lateral walk, taking side steps with straight legs and toes slightly pointing inwards, followed by “half-squat lateral walks”. This is a killer combination and particularly great for runners, Cortese says, “because the first move really isolates your piriformis, which is a major hip stabilising muscle, and the second move works the rest of the hip stabilisation muscles, activating gluteus medius and gluteus maximus.” Done right, these really burn (for days afterwards). After some dumbbell bicep work on the bench — with one leg raised to engage the core, of course — we finish off with a game with the stability ball in which each of us has to push as hard as you can against the other, which feels like it’s working every single muscle in my body. The hour is up and I collapse onto the floor before Cortese leads me through a series of deep stretches which I suspect are to thank for being able to walk the next day.

It’s not hard to see why Dogpound is so adored by the celebrity elite; it was easily one of the most efficient PT sessions I’ve ever had but I’m ecstatic by how much of it I can do from home. Fancy having a go? Here are five signature Dogpound moves you can do from your living room.

FIVE SIGNATURE DOGPOUND MOVES

Straight leg lateral walks

Take a mini band just below the knees, then with your toes pointing slightly inward, take side steps to the other side of the room keeping legs and knees straight. Once you reach the end of the room move back towards the other side.

Donkey kicks

Begin on all fours, knees hip-width apart, keeping your right knee at a 90-degree angle. Lift the leg as high as you can while ensuring your core remains tight and your body stays still. Repeat on left side. Progress to a straight leg kick adding ankle weights a la Bieber to intensify.

Bird dogs

Start on all fours, then alternate slowly extending your right arm and left leg, followed by your left arm and right leg. Keep your core engaged. Again, you can add ankle weights to intensify.

Spiderman planks

Start in a forearm plank with your elbows underneath your shoulders, then alternate bringing your right knee up to touch your right elbow, before repeating with the left knee and left elbow.

Chest-to-floor burpees

Start in a squat position, lower your hands to the floor and jump your feet back so you’re in plank position. Lower the body to the floor and push up again to plank, before jumping back up to standing reaching your arms overhead.

Dogpound Mondrian Shoreditch will run until October 31

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