1Rebel: Rumble boxing class

Joanna Reeves is hooked on1Rebel's Rumble boxing class

By Joanna Reeves
Published 8 Apr 2019, 23:55 BST, Updated 7 Jul 2021, 12:41 BST
1Rebel boxing
1Rebel rumble boxing

In the darkness, shifting silhouettes are illuminated briefly under the spotlights. A strobe light flickers across the glistening face of a woman with clenched fists a few steps to my right.

Gritty music pounds out from the speakers, building the anticipation crackling through the basement room. No, I'm not in a grimy London bar, I'm at 1Rebel's Rumble, the high-intensity boxing class taking uber-fit Londoners by storm.

Styled as the ‘gym for people who hate gyms', 1Rebel is the brainchild of James Balfour, son of Fitness First owner Mike Balfour. Pay-as-you-go sessions do away with membership fees, while high-intensity, ‘no pain, no gain'-type workouts aim to achieve visible results, faster.

“Jab, hook, uppercut,” Daniel, our trainer, shouts from his punch bag in the centre, a spotlight picking out a physique that wouldn't look out of place on the cover of Men's Health — inspiration for persevering with the gruelling workout, if ever there was one.

The 45-minute Rumble session involves fast-paced boxing and martial arts combinations, mixed in with explosive rounds of HIIT (think one-legged burpees with a right hook to finish), crunches, heavy bag work, squat-jumps with glove taps, planking on our gloves (don't even think about giving up – an extra 60 seconds is the punishment). Sweat trickles down my back, but there are no breaks. Not that I notice. Fuelled by adrenalin, I punch and kick on an endorphin high, releasing pent-up day-to-day stress with my fists.

Jab — a hefty blow to my ever-growing office in-tray; hook — I smash away the stressful house move that's been keeping me up at night; upper cut — KOing the dull date the previous evening.

Attempting a roundhouse, I'm thrown off balance as I strike out with my right leg. All around me, punchbags hanging from the ceiling swing wildly from the group's kicks (it's just you against the bag — great for me, as I hate the awkward pairing-up of sparring). If the bag spins too much it means your punches and kicks are off-target. As my bag resembles a spinning top, I'm glad Daniel is constantly flitting around, giving newbies like me one-on-one attention.

Suddenly, the lights are switched off, and we have two minutes to do our worst. Although tired, adrenalin kicks in, and I launch a fresh — and final — attack on my bag.

Emerging from the dark room, I squint as I eye the cluster of fresh-faced 20- and 30-somethings seated in the brightly lit waiting area, busily wrapping their wrists ready for the 8.30pm Rumble. Beetroot-faced, I pass through the Roots & Bulbs cold-pressed juice bar to the changing room, an industrial-chic mix of stone walls, exposed piping and mirrors with light bulbs around their edges. A chilled-towel cabinet, straighteners, hairspray and Natural Spa Factory cleanser help transform my sweaty face into something approaching presentable, before I head out into the buzzy streets of Broadgate Circle. Hate gyms? Try 1Rebel. I'm hooked — excuse the pun.


1Rebel offers Rumble (boxing), Ride (spinning) and Reshape (HIIT) sessions at Broadgate Circle and St Mary Axe. Package prices: 1 session: £20; 5 sessions: £95; 10 sessions: £180; 15 sessions: £255; 25 sessions: £400. Wraps: £4 (yours to keep), gloves: £1 to rent.


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