1Rebel: Rumble boxing class

Joanna Reeves is hooked on1Rebel's Rumble boxing classMonday, April 8, 2019

By Joanna Reeves
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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