It was such a great day meeting my friend, Oliver Popa, that runs the “A Day With…” column and deciding together to try the facilities of The Laboratory Spa & Health Club Mill Hill. It was a wonderful start to the week I am celebrating my birthday also.
I don’t know if it’s the time of year, or if it’s just what everyone is doing these days, but as it stands I am the only one of my close circle of friends who doesn’t have a gym membership. For me personally, I need more than just a gym. I need somewhere that I feel comfortable and looked after, as well as somewhere with classes to keep me motivated and spaces to relax and unwind. A home away from home. I thought I was asking too much until a friend suggested I spend a day at the Laboratory Spa and Health Club in Mill Hill. They’ve been around for near enough 20 years and offer a membership that covers a spread more than I was expecting.
Within minutes I felt like I was part of an exclusive community
I arrived early and raring to go at 9:30am, to a warm welcome from three ear-to-ear smiles at reception. The sun was shining through the building’s state of the art glass front, and I immediately felt a sense of luxury. I headed to their in-house Juice Bar, which offers a range of fresh juices and salads, as well as hot meals throughout the day. After a brief chat with the barista, she suggested I try out the ‘Vitality’ juice which she made fresh in front of me. Sipping on apple, ginger and turmeric, feeling already revitalised, I sat down to have a flick through the range of newspapers which are provdied. Looking around, members were chatting amongst themselves; a group of ladies were discussing what was ahead in their Zumba class (or was it Body Pump…) and a couple were being brought in to start their luxury spa day. Within 10 minutes, I felt like I was part of an exclusive community.
The machine which measures the body fat percentage, muscle mass and water levels in the body
I had booked myself in for a Personal Training session with one of the Lab coaches in the gym having a read about the varied skills sets of the many that were on staff. Kenny greeted me with bouncing energy and sat with me in their consultation room to go over my goals and objectives of my next few Personal Training sessions. I was offered the complimentary opportunity to use their TANITA machine which measured my body fat percentage, muscle mass and water levels to help me along the way towards my goals. He was kind, knowledgeable and supportive, and I felt as if my summer body goals weren’t as out of reach as I had thought.
After a gentle but effective warm up using their Stretch Cage, Kettlebells and TRX I was tingling with motivation and ready to complete sets of ‘clean and presses’ which he assures me would keep me burning more calories even after we’ve finished. He gave me some variations of floor exercises, resistance workouts and body weight moves, and 45 minutes later we finished with some assisted stretching for my hamstrings which eased that little low back niggle I’ve had from too much sitting at my desk. The session ends, I’m sweating, my muscles feel coiled and ready for more, but at the same time I’m calm, relaxed and confident in the progress Kenny has mapped out for me. Before letting me go, he suggested I see the in-house Physio Therapists in the BodyBalance team to help me with those back tinges I had been experiencing which I will be sure to do next time.
Having worked up a huge appetite, I popped back to the Juice Bar to check out their lunch time menu. I was delighted to find their daily special was a warming sweet potato soup, which I ordered. I was delighted to see the wide range of dishes they offered for vegetarians, vegans, and those with allergies or intolerances. Service was quick and the food was reasonably priced, as well as delicious and undoubtedly nutritious.
I peeped through the glass doors of the Pilates Apparatus Studio to what looked like a torture chamber. A bubbly blonde called Kate bounced to the door, welcomed me in and settled my nerves. She introduced me to the equipment; some that I had seen and heard of but never used. I started on a piece called the Cadillac so she could see how my body moved and from there she selected equipment for what my body needed. We moved onto a reformer where I really got my sweat on and I worked muscles, I never knew I had. We moved around the Studio onto other equipment; after, I felt I had had a complete body workout. The session itself felt customised and tailored to my individual needs – the aim of the game being to strengthen your core and stretch out your spine. I officially have a new obsession with Pilates.
Mediation is good in day-to-day life
Before arriving, I had seen on social media that there was a special meditation workshop taking place on this day so I was sure to book myself in for it, particularly as I’d had such an energetic morning. The class was lead by a wonderful instructor who guided the class through simple mediation techniques (even for a beginner) which I will without doubt use in my day-to-day life. I began to unwind and relax into myself, clearing my mind of everything and allowing myself to be in my own space; an experience I had not had for a long time. However, the relaxation had only just begun.
From the spa baths, to the sauna and the 25m Olympic swimming pool
Before my scheduled Germaine de Capuccini facial and body treatment, I wanted to make use of the luxury spa facilities, from the spa baths, to the sauna and steam, to the 25m Olympic swimming pool. It was tranquil, quiet and peaceful, with the spa baths sitting at a cosy 38 degrees, and the pool at a warming 29 degrees. I spent some time leisurely gliding back and forth down the lanes before soaking out my sins in the sauna.
As the afternoon was creeping up on me, I headed up for my treatments. I was welcomed in by a lovely therapist who told me about the products she was using and how I would feel after the treatments. I experienced a wonderfully calming candle oil back massage followed by a facial for cleansing and moisturising. By the end, I was enveloped by the sensual fragrance from Germaine de Capuccini – Le Jardin de Carmen Vidal, inspired by a garden in Central Park, New York. Not only did I feel relaxed and rejuvenated, but my skin felt as pure as it did the day I was born. Any ounce of tension I had previously felt had been gently massaged away, and the pressures of London life seemed non-existent. I now understand why people get addicted to this lifestyle.
The Laboratory Spa and Health club also has an in-house hairdresser and salon, with manicure and pedicure services, which I will keep in mind for next time.
After a long day I was ready to go back home for a long sleep, but I have to mention that my exercise sessions made me feel particularly confident in my own skin, whilst the body and facial treatments made me feel relaxed and beautiful. I waved goodbye to more gleaming smiles at reception, riddled with excitement for my next day back at The Laboratory Spa and Health Club.
Photo credits: Corina Stoicescu, The Laboratory Spa and Health Club