HIIT class at The Gherkin: A morning with Clean Eating Alice

Connor McGovern reviews a HIIT class with Clean Eating Alice at The Gherkin

Published 7 Dec 2016, 09:55 GMT

I make my way to the lifts feeling rather out of place in my tracksuit bottoms and trainers, trying to look like I know exactly where I'm going. I'm sure the smartly dressed office workers are throwing a glance my way, wondering what the stream of gym gear-clad individuals are doing passing reception this early on a Thursday morning.

We're in the Gherkin, the giant twinkling bullet in the heart of the City, my ears popping as we race up in the lift to the 39th floor, to Searcys The Gherkin, the building's exclusive dining space. A swish spiral staircase takes us to the very top, opening out onto a black, glassy space beneath the building's crowning latticed dome. The views, though blanketed by a thin veil of cloud, are quite something, taking in nearly all of London's landmarks. Even with my bleary morning eyes, I can just about make out the faraway North Downs.

Gliding around the room, as if she's been awake for hours, is Alice Liveing, or Clean Eating Alice: personal trainer, best-selling author and Instagram icon. Smiling, laughing, and immaculately made-up in her violet top and trainers, I can hardly believe she's the one who'll put us through our paces in a HIIT session. Yet without further fuss, Alice cues the music and throws us headfirst into fiercely fast circuits. I can just about hear her over the Rihanna songs blaring out, and just about keep going through a gauntlet of squat jumps, mountain climbers and lunges.

“You can't complain with this view!” Alice cries as we bear crawl towards the glass wall. She may well be right, but I hardly have the time or energy to look up and admire Tower Bridge right now. Some of us are flagging at this stage, red faces and clammy hands pressed against the cold floor, willing Alice to cry ‘time's up!' Beaming away, our instructor is so infectiously enthusiastic, however, that I push my weeping muscles right up until the very last second. I'm glad there is a lift; my thighs would've given up far earlier had there been stairs to contend with.

Exercise aside, I'm here for a look at Alice and Searcys' latest venture, the Saints and Sinners pairing menu. As we tuck into a refreshingly fruity post-workout breakfast, it's a snapshot into Alice's world of clean, fresh, healthy food, and what she and Searcys — fronted by head chef Barry Tonks — have got in store for the New Year. Barry will be taking Alice's deliciously nutritious dishes (the ‘Saints' half) and giving them a haute cuisine twist, even paired with skinny Prosecco and desulphurised wines. A true test of any New Year's resolution, however, is being able to resist Barry's own decadent menu (for the ‘Sinners'), offered alongside it. No-holds-barred, this is all-out indulgence, fitting for such an exclusive venue.

For now, I stick to my mint and mango smoothie. The chocolate fondants can wait for another day.

I take in my surroundings once again. The views from this lofty London spot are sublime, and I leave somewhat thankful for the dreary grey weather. If it'd been sunny, I'd have certainly been even more distracted from the exercise.


The ‘Saints and Sinners' menu at Searcys The Gherkin will start taking bookings from 4 Jan 2017, and will run from 16 Jan to 13 Feb.

Alice's book, Eat Well Every Day: Nutritious, Healthy Recipes for Life on the Go, is out on 29 December and is available to pre-order from Waterstones for £10.99.

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