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Active Matters

This is our corner of the world to discuss all things active. You can read up on the latest fitness, lifestyle, nutrition, and mind and body news here.

Latest Articles

Getting to the bottom of lower back pain

Head of Beyond Movement Strand, David McGinness, on how to turn your back on pain.

Stand Corrected

Why you need forrest yoga

Jambo Truong is a Forrest Guardian, what does that mean and how can it make your desk chair more comfortable?

Sitting Pretty

Train like a boxer with these 3 ring-ready workouts

Speed, power, fitness – you’ll build all three with Punch. This workout is the perfect way to make sure you come out swinging.

Ready for punch

Meet one of our star PTs Ross Hanbury

A lot can change in 13 years, especially in health and fitness. So when a personal trainer as good as Ross Hanbury has gone the distance, it’s something to shout about.

meet Ross

Yoga for: Cycling

Yoga instructor and avid cyclist Chloe hall shares her expertise on why practising yoga is helping you go faster and further on the bike

Round the bend

Cycle 200km and do the 9 to 5

Start cycling and one of the first milestones you’ll aim for is going a really long way. But unlike the pros who pour endless hours into prepping for the Tour de France, you have a job to do.

Work round the cog

Results from the Swim Gala Series 2017

Find out how your club got on at the June’s Swim Galas in Fulham and Sheffield and explore the best photos from the day.

Gala Results

Sports Massage, not just for athletes

The savvy gym goer knows that as much effort should go into your recovery as your training.

There's the rub

Train for altitude

The benefits of training at altitude are cycling gospel. And whilst it may not have the allure of an Alpine retreat, altitude simulating studios are a sure fire way to see a peak in your fitness.

New Heights

Cycling: What is a Criterium

The aggressive little sibling of pro bike racing, ‘crits’ are all about going quick through city streets.

City Slicker

The netflix binges good for your health

Binge watching TV shows on Netflix might not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think about your wellness regime, but education is often the best weapon for change.

Health flicks and chill

Triathlon Training: The Run

The final leg of triathlon should, on paper, be the easiest. But after the gruelling miles that precede it, even the simplest things start to look a lot more complicated.


becoming a cyclist in a month

Five things every new cyclist should know

Long Road
Tough Mudder at Virgin Active

Obstacle course fitness, up to the challenge?

Your workout schedule is always going to be full of hurdles but more and more of us are trying to overcome them. Take on the fitness world's latest trend.

Obstacle, of course

The best running holidays this summer

If you just couldn’t stop running after the marathon and are craving doing so in slightly warmer climes this summer, here’s how to run from all your problems.


Killer moves for brides to be

Plough ahead in preparation for the big day and get yourself wedding-ready.

marries boot camp

train for your election push

Running for office is a tiring task, but with our election workout you can be fit for purpose come June 8.

Vote Red

High tech wellness tested

There's no doubt that traditional spa treatments can help to relieve stress, decrease muscle tension and restore that ‘infamous’ glow we’re all searching for, but if you need an extra special boost perhaps some of the more ‘out there’ techniques might be worth trying?

fit future

Ultimate Running Tips and Tricks

Making a few changes to that most intuitive of movements will see you setting PBs and watching the kilometres tumble.

Run for it

How to have a fit and healthy pregnancy

Keeping fit is one of the best ways to stay healthy and happy during pregnancy. it's easier said than done, but if Serena Williams can win a Grand Slam while boasting a bump...

bump pump

Build a strong core

From running to lifting, strong core values will help you in all areas of your fitness. Time to tone that tummy.

fab ab

Make mindfulness work for you

How can you make mindfulness work harder for your health and happiness than any gym routine?

Mind over matter

The Masters Swim Gala April 2017

Chiswick Park win out in one of our largest ever Masters Galas. Find a full breakdown of times and results and the best photos from the day.

Gala Results

Your workout for athletic upper-body strength

Use functional and compound moves to get strong, ripped and functionally fit.

top heavy

fitness at your fingertips

When you need a taxi, want directions or fancy something to eat, your smartphone is your first port of call – but its uses can be far healthier. Here's how to turn your furious finger tapping into fully-fledged exercise.

Fit Fingers

booty boosting workout

When it comes to your butt, your workout needs to include a variety of movements that hit your glutes from multiple angles.

Twerk Out

Fight yourself fit with boxing classes

Professionals have been bobbing, weaving and fighting themselves to peak fitness for years but now with the growing prominence of boxing classes, there are new challengers for the title.

Rings a bell

Make Your Training More Functional

So, you can lift 160kg and your HIIT classes are a breeze, but when it comes to real life situations like lugging around a suitcase or climbing a steep flight of stairs, how much are your gym sessions really paying off?

Move Your Body

Triathlon Training: The Bike

The bulk of your tri time will be spent in the saddle so it stands to reason that this should make up a bulk of your training too. Here is how to keep the cogs whirring come race day.

Easy Rider

What is Reformer Pilates?

The equipment looks like a spring powered catapult, but people can’t shake the allure of the rack. With celebrity endorsed promises of toned tums and strengthened buns what is Reformer Pilates and should we all be doing it?

Spring in your step

Nike Releases Plus Size

Nike becomes the first of the major sportswear retailers to release a range of plus-size apparel for women. 

Nike Plus-Size

Triathlon Training: The Swim

Hopefully you have a little time before you tug on that wetsuit and hit the water for your first triathlon. Triathlete and PT Lucy Hurn shares her experience so nothing will take you by surprise come race day.


Yoga for: Running

Being a runner is all about going fast. But what if the you could go even faster just by slowing things down a little?

Stretch your personal best

Five Wellness Retreats to Add to Your Bucket List

The right wellness retreat can be life changing. But the process of finding the right one can just add to the stress. Here are our five picks that should get your freshly-squeezed detox juices flowing.

getting well
Virgin Active and The Color Run

The best runs for people who hate running

Outdoor running – we all know the benefits, but it can be hard to find the motivation before a gruelling 10k.

Find your fun run

Wakeup your fitness routine with coffee

Making sure your body is properly fuelled can be a real grind. But if you really want to give your workout the beans you need to park the pre-workout and get better acquainted with your barista. 


Best Bikes for the Everyday Athlete

Joggers may think they run the commute, but the thinking man gets the cogs turning. Here are a few of our favourite bikes so you can be prepared by the time the weather is actually bearable.

Five of the best

Mapping Your Wellness Journey

With one in ten Britons making New Year’s resolutions they’ll abandon by this time each year, perhaps it’s time for a change of direction. This year, instead of setting unrealistic goals that are destined to lead to failure and self-loathing, why not change the game and focus on smaller ongoing changes instead?

Take Note

Your Wellness Festival Guide

Each year, the much-anticipated festival season provides revellers with the chance to break free from the constraints of their everyday lives and enjoy a healthy dose of escapism.

But, if the thought of spending the weekend drinking flat beer, queuing up for dirty porta-potties and demolishing greasy food doesn’t quite do it for you, you’re not alone.

Healthy, not Hungover

Can yoga really help you detox?

Can yoga poses that twist and stretch your insides really help to detox your body? We ask the question now that yoga is becoming more 'kegstand' than 'handstand'.

Bending the Truth

Boost your training with bouldering

As the back-to-basics approach of primal fitness continues to gain momentum, city dwellers are embracing ways to escape the fast-paced lifestyle and connect with their animal roots. Fusing strength, endurance and a heavy dose of adrenaline, bouldering is one of the most primal workouts there is.

Bigger, Better, Boulder

Make your PT do the heavy lifting

No matter what stage you are at with your fitness journey, working out with a personal trainer is one of the most effective ways to push you out of your comfort range and onto new levels of performance. All you have to do is turn up, right?

maximise your pt

Go There in 60

Fast lifestyles, sprint workouts and an impetus on the immediate have left our gym time moving as fast as we do. Even so, if your circuit-strengthening has stalled or your progress on the treadmill is slowing down, then take the hint and do so yourself.

It’s what you’re not doing that is holding you back.

Go There in 60

get the most from your fitness tracker

It's time to get that fitness tracker you got for Christmas out of the box and actually use the thing. Here's how to best use your forearm flourish to take your fitness from limp-wristed to strong-arm.

Wrist Assessment

Maximise Your Rowing Session

When it comes to utilising the equipment in your local gym, the rowing machine is often overlooked in favour of the treadmill or bike, but this powerful piece of machinery shouldn’t be underestimated any longer.

In the Same Boat

Go There in 45

Getting that Go There feeling in 45 minutes means maximising your time and using a few tips to minimising time spent changing around equipment. That’s why this is super simple stuff – take a barbell, start big and take off weight – it will really help you raise the bar.

Go There in 45

21 days to feel it

Helping you get that amazing feeling ­– whether it’s energised, exhilarated, or totally relaxed – is our mission. And we want to help make it happen every day, not just every so often. So, how do you create the long-lasting habits which means you can Go There again and again?


Your one month fitness bible

Here we are again. End of another year: 'Resolution Time'.

You might want to change or improve some parts of your life. You might want to eat healthier. You might want to be fitter. You might even want to be slimmer, leaner or more muscular.

It’s easy to say but It’s hard to do!

Your Fitness Bible
Skillmill treadmill at Virgin Active

Your 30 minute Metcon Workout

Nothing quite comes close to metabolic conditioning when it comes to burning calories and getting fit – fast. But you don't need to fret if you can't make it to a class. All you need is a treadmill and an iron-will.

Go There in 30

Yoga for Every Body

Yoga can stop you feeling stiff after a heavy workout or a taut day at the desk, as well as providing general enlightenment – you just need to be a little more flexible with your thinking.

Stretch Yourself

Yoga Lunch Break Benefits

Yoga is a great way to stay relaxed, supple, healthy and strong. And getting away from your desk for an afternoon yoga class will make a huge difference to your midweek grind. With more classes available throughout the day than ever before, you can discover these five benefits of afternoon asanas for yourself.

Discover Lunch-Time Yoga

Your Ski-Ready Workout

Before you slope off to the mountains for a week in the snow you might want to consider putting in a little ski specific training. Perfecting your parallel is a big ask in the gym but with these exercises you will be better prepared when the going gets cold. Here are the moves you should be doing before you hit the slopes.

Piste Prepared

Your Christmas Fitness Gift Guide

Whether they’re a running pro, a yoga fanatic or just starting out, these gifts are sure to push them that extra mile. And, if you don’t have anyone to buy for, pop them on your own list and give Santa a helping hand.

Fitness Gifts

First Time: Lifting Weights

When you first start pumping iron, not knowing what you are doing can really weigh heavy on the mind. But weight training is rippling with benefits – increased strength, health and fat burn to name a few. Try this workout to lighten the load.

First Time: Lifting Weights

Beat Gymtimidation

Stepping into the gym is like being the new kid in school. You’re thrilled and terrified in equal measure and not quite sure where you fit in. Seeing someone lift twice their bodyweight, or running 10k without breaking a sweat, can be more than a little intimidating for the uninitiated – so here's how to feel confident when you step into your new playground.

Beat Gymtimidation

Lanarkshire and Northampton Collingtree make the biggest splash in Championships

In our biggest swim gala ever, held in the iconic London Aquatics Centre, 20 teams took to the water for a chance to claim the title of National Swim Gala Champions 2016.

Swim Results

Feel Good, not better

Episode Twelve of Harry’s journey – The Lazy Man Got Fit. 

Feel good not better week twelve

Give Your Mornings A Health Injection

Winter is coming, and that means one thing; the clocks are going back. But, while the nights are drawing in, the brighter mornings could make all the difference when it comes to prioritising your health.

Give Your Mornings A Health Injection

Eat Healthy All Week: Think Inside the Box

If your idea of a meal-in-a-box conjures up images of your local fast-food joint, you might want to think again. Today, for busy Brits searching for a quick, convenient and healthy way to eat, the surging popularity of meal kit boxes is solving an all too familiar problem.

Think inside the box

The Wellness Worker

Outside of the office you can easily find everything you need to help you eat well, train well and live well, but during those other 40+ hours per week, your wellbeing shouldn’t have to suffer.

Detox your desk space

Masters Gala 2016

The Chiswick Riverside team take the swim crown in an event that is quick becoming one of the most popular in the Virgin Active calendar – feel like taking a swim?

Dive in

Feel Good, not better

Episode Eleven of Harry’s journey – Riding with a Famous YouTuber. 

Feel good not better week eleven

Exercise away your winter demons

A downturn in mood as the weather gets gloomy effects one in five of us. But rather than hiding under the duvet, getting up and going should lighten your mood.

Exercise away your winter demons

Meet our Squad for that: Matty

Every member of our dream squad is a real-life Virgin Active star ­– someone you can actually work with at clubs across the country. And we thought you might like to get to know Matty the tennis pro!

Meet Matty

Feel Good, not better

Episode ten of Harry’s journey – The Fitness Phone Call. 

Feel good not better week ten

Meet our Squad for that: Pamela

Every member of our dream squad is a real-life Virgin Active star – someone you can actually work with at clubs across the country. We thought you might like to get to know them, so here’s Pamela the group Exercise Manager and Yoga Instructor!

Meet Pamela
Hydro class

Swim to supercharge your fitness

Nothing beats swimming for an all-body workout that's low on impact by high on results. Time to take the plunge.

Swim to supercharge your fitness

Feel Good, not better

Episode nine of Harry’s journey – mountain climbing. 

Feel good not better week nine
Virgin Active Squad

Meet our Squad for That: Amanda

Every member of our dream squad is a real-life Virgin Active star – someone you can actually work with at clubs across the country. We thought you might like to get to know them, so here’s Amanda the Swim Manager!

Meet Amanda

Liquid Assets

As Oktoberfest draws to a close there may be more to celebrate with a beer than you first thought. Researchers have found that indulging every once in a while can actually boost your health – we’ll drink to that.

How beer can boost your health
Virgin Active Squad

Meet our Squad for That: Duke

Every member of our dream squad is a real-life Virgin Active star – someone you can actually work with at clubs across the country. We thought you might like to get to know them, so here’s Duke the Junior Activities Manager!

Meet Duke

Feel Good, not better

Episode eight of Harry’s journey - getting hench

Feel good not better week eight
Justin at Virgin Active

Meet our Squad for That: Justin

Every member of our dream squad is a real-life Virgin Active star - someone you can actually work with at clubs across the country. And we thought you might like to get to know Justin the PT and Active Crew leader!

Meet Justin

Meet our Squad for That: Lottie

Every member of our dream squad is a real-life Virgin Active star - someone you can actually work with at clubs across the country. And we thought you might like to get to know Lottie the Swim Manager!

Meet Lottie

Feel Good, not better

Episode seven of Harry’s journey - going vegan

Feel good not better week seven

Meet our Squad for That: Geoff

Every member of our dream squad is a real-life Virgin Active star - someone you can actually work with at clubs across the country. And we thought you might like to get to know them, starting with Geoff the Personal Trainer!

Meet Geoff

How to get Tough Mudder ready

Tough Mudder, isn’t known as one of the toughest events on the planet for no reason.

Get Tough Mudder ready

Feel Good, not better

Episode six of Harry’s journey - halfway there

Feel good not better week six

Exercise your way to productivity

We all know the impact that regular exercise can have on the body, but aside from the physical changes, there’s another huge benefit that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Exercise your way to productivity

Your new healthy commute

For Brits, the average daily commute totals 1 hour and 38 minutes. But, while we travel our lives away, what affect is heavy traffic, pollution, and packed-out trains having on our wellbeing?

Your new healthy commute

Feel Good, not better

Episode five of Harry’s journey - reflecting on how far he’s come

Feel good not better week five
Skillmill treadmill at Virgin Active

Your treadmill workout

The treadmill, it’s that piece of equipment many of us dread, yet we find our way back to it, time and time again.

Your treadmill workout

Feel Good, not better

Episode four of Harry’s journey and we’re off on holiday.

Feel good not better week four

The Sleep Revolution

Thanks to Arianna Huffington, the importance of getting a good night’s sleep has never been taken so seriously.

The Sleep Revolution

How to pack the perfect kit bag

Packing the perfect gym bag isn’t as easy as it sounds. In fact, the reality is that getting ready for the gym is half the battle.

The Perfect Kit Bag

Feel Good, not better

Episode three of Harry’s journey and we’re cooking up a storm in the kitchen.

Feel good not better week three
Walbrook salt room Virgin Active

The Latest Innovations

Technological and health advances are shaking up the fitness industry, enhancing our ability to take every aspect of our well-being to the next level.

The Latest Innovations
Iron Zuu at Virgin Active

Failure is an Option

We're excited to launch Iron ZUU, a revolutionary new workout that combines heavy lifts with primal moves.

Discover Iron Zuu

Feel Good, not better

We know that sometimes sticking to a fitness journey can be really tough, especially when you feel like you’re on your own. So we’ve teamed up with award winning photographer, filmmaker and YouTuber, Harry Hitchens who is embarking on his own fitness journey. We are a week into Harry’s journey and you can be a part of it too...

Discover Harrys Week Two

London's Secret Running Spots

In the summer months London comes alive as the once gloomy, smoggy streets transform into a picturesque playground.

London's Secret Running Spots

How to make the most out of your cycle workout

If you like to sculpt, tone and burn calories in our group cycle class The Pack, then you’ll know just how effective the supercharged workout can be.

Make the most of your cycle workout

Feel Good, not better - follow Harry’s journey

Looking after yourself is all about feeling good, and not just better - and that goes beyond what exercise you do. But we know it’s sometimes it’s hard to start on that journey and keep motivated. And it often helps when you know that someone else is on that journey too.

Feel Good Not Better

Workouts for festival season

As festival fever grips the UK, we've got a few tips to help you music lovers cope with all the physical challenges ahead.

workouts for festival season

Delivered To Your Desk

If abs really are made in the kitchen, then grabbing a pre-packaged sandwich to eat at your desk might not be the recipe for success - nor will it power you through one of our high intensity Grid classes after a long day at work.

Delivered to your desk

#MyWorkoutFor Ibiza

Are you heading to Ibiza this Summer? We’ve got a workout for that.

My workout for ibiza
Virgin Active Health Clubs & Gyms

#MyWorkoutFor Single Life

Single, in a relationship or it’s complicated? We’ve got a workout for that. 

My workout for single life

Swim Gala 2016

The 2016 Virgin Active Swim Gala Series is now under way with all our clubs competing across the country at 12 Virgin Active Health Clubs.

Discover Swim Results
Gym Floor at Virgin Active

Global Wellness Movement

Global Wellness Day, taking place 11th June this year, is a social movement to raise awareness and drive participation in all activities which promote our individual and collective wellness.

Discover global wellness movement

HIIT your summer body

Long summer nights are very nearly upon us and the vortex of winter that has engulfed us all for months has dissipated and paved way to the seasons we favour the most.

HIIT your summer body

Welcome to The Pack

Prepare to experience our exhilarating new cycle concept “The Pack”, launching in May across selected clubs. 

Discover The Pack

Tennis Tips

Need a reason to pick up the racquet? You’ll be glad once you do, as tennis is one of the most enjoyable and effective ways of staying active and keeping fit.

Discover our tennis tips
Virgin Active Health Clubs & Gyms

Welcome Book

Get a head start on the road to activeness with our welcome booklet, giving you all the bits you need in one handy PDF. 

Download Welcome Booklet (PDF)

Reasons to Hiit the pool

You probably don’t think about going to the pool unless you are going to relax after working out; check out the benefits of taking your training to the wet side!

HIIT the pool
Walbrook high altitude training studio Virgin Active

Apex Training

Innovation has always been at the forefront at Virgin Active, and at the new Walbrook Collection club no expense has been spared.  

Discover apex training
Walbrook cycle studio Virgin Active

Your club can be a great place to prepare for bigger challenges

Nick Beer is Master Personal Coach at Virgin Active Walbrook. He specialises in Endurance Training and Corrective Exercise, with a wealth of experience providing nutrition advice for weight loss and performance.

Prepare for bigger challenges
Virgin Active Health Clubs & Gyms

Heading for the slopes?

The ski (or snowboard) season is here and if you’re heading for the mountains, your fitness has probably crossed your mind.

Heading for the slopes?
Virgin Active Health Clubs & Gyms

#Myworkoutfor adventure

Planning a more adventurous holiday this year? We've got a workout for that.

My Workout for adventure
Walbrook cycle studio Virgin Active

Altitude Training - Hitting new heights

Altitude training in recent years has become somewhat of a buzz word within the fitness industry with a number of training rooms emerging to help individuals reap the benefits of training at altitude.

Discover Altitude training

The benefits of yoga

Yoga is not about trying to force your body into a pretzel like position, it’s about creating a healthy lifestyle.

the benefits of yoga

Swim training on the gym floor

Resistance training is an essential part of training to any professional swimmer.

Swim training and workouts

Get race ready in the gym

Surely not? If I want to get better at running, then surely the best thing to do is get out there and run... no?

Race training and workouts

Cycle routes in the UK

In this second installment, Team Freespeed tell us their favourite cycle routes in the UK.

Cycle routes in the Uk

Rowing is the ultimate workout

Ryan Savage is a Virgin Active Master Trainer at Virgin Active Canary Riverside and wants to know: Are you using all that your club has to offer you?

Rowing workouts

Running routes in the UK

In our third and final installment, Team Freespeed tell us their favourite running spots.

Running routes in the UK
Mudder Maker

What is the Mudder Maker?

Read Virgin Active member Kat’s run down of the new Mudder Maker class that’s aimed at getting you Tough enough for an Obstacle Course Event like Tough Mudder.

Discover the mudder maker class

Maximise strength in minimum time

Juggling parenthood and work? If you want to exercise but think it's an impossible task to fit in, think again, try strength training. Workouts can be short so long as they’re varied and there are multiple benefits.

Maximise strength in minimum time
Pulse class at Virgin Active

'Healthy' clubbing has arrived

Throw out the rule book, turn off the lights and hand out the glow sticks, then turn up the volume and dance like nobody’s watching! That’s what happens during a Pulse powered by Clubbercise® class at Virgin Active.

Pulse powered by Clubbercise®

No Crunch Abdominal Workout

Take on some all-body, core-busting exercises with our Hard-Core TRX workout.

Fab abs await

Power up with Kettlebells

If you want to improve power, tone up, better your cardio, keep lean and drop body fat, then a kettlebell workout will help you get faster results.

Kettlebell workouts

Open water swimming

So maybe you’ve signed up for a Triathlon, or simply want to experience the amazing sensation of open water swimming for the first time. But once you’ve committed to the idea, the reality of swimming a long distance in cold, dark or sometimes choppy waters may seem like a grim prospect. But don’t be disheartened because as with everything, training is key. The more you practice the less fearful it becomes.

Open water swimming

Run Better

We all know how to run, right? Not necessarily. Go to your local park and watch people running and you’ll see a million different styles. There’s the shuffler, barely picking up their feet. There’s the twister, their whole upper body twisting with each step. The list goes on. Now watch a 7-year-old run. They’ve probably got it about right because they haven’t learned any bad habits yet.

Run better

Total Body Resistance (TRX) was invented by a Navy Seal. It’s tough, using gravity and your body weight as resistance - move away to increase the load and closer to reduce it. Whatever you do, your core does it too and in a single exercise you use way more muscles, so results sky rocket. Target train or total body workout, your strength, balance and flexibility will thank you.

TRX workouts

Want to burn more Calories? Work out with a friend...

A recent study commissioned by Virgin Active has shown that exercising with a friend can be better than working out on your own.

Work out with a friend

Run a half marathon in only 10 weeks

Want to be able to run a half marathon in only 10 weeks? Follow the advanced plan to get in top shape in no time.

Half marathon training plan

Impromptu Exercise Tips

Long days in the office, long queues at the bus stop – the workweek is full of them. The trick is staying healthy and active, even when your schedule demands the opposite.

Impromptu exercise tips


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