Barrecore, Chelsea

After approximately three minutes I was in agony, I hesitated, what have I signed myself up for?

My mum, a ballet dancer in her youth, had been repeatedly recommending the challenges of Barrecore, a new concept in the UK which aims to improve the physique and quality of life through unique and effective fitness, nutrition and wellness programmes.

Their motto… “where change happens” is important in every phase of the exercise regime, as your body adapts and learns to be stronger and healthier. Don’t go to lose weight, go to Barrecore to become toned and healthy.

Barrecore is described as “intelligent exercise, integrating the fat-burning format of interval training with static stretches after each major muscle is worked. The Barrecore workouts use the fastest and most effective methods of achieving unparalleled results. The classes are high-energy and low impact, utilising the ballet barre and other proven dance techniques to perform isometric movements using your bodyweight as resistance.”

There is something instantly welcoming about the boutique fitness centre. Located just off the King’s Road, it is central and easy to get to, especially if you live around the corner, which I suspect many of the 6.30am class members do! Selling healthy snacks and coconut water, and a range of fashionable fitness-friendly clothes, you could easily spend a fortune before even entering the studio. The centre has great shower and changing facilities, plus a huge range of toiletries for class members to use.

Each instructor teaches with encouragement and friendly discipline, commending us all as we continue to work through the pain. This helps Barrecore members to value themselves and feel a real sense of achievement as the muscles begin to strengthen and the exercises become (slightly) easier. The beat of accompanying music helps you get through the exercises. Classes are pricey but there are lots of packages and membership options, and results are obvious almost immediately.

I sampled a month of Barrecore membership. Founder Niki Rein recommends you try to attend three or four classes a week for a noticeable improvement in fitness and health. I managed two, sometimes three, classes a week, fitting in the hour long sessions in between work, reviewing and the occasional gig. It was tricky, but I found my energy levels soared on the days I managed to get along to the studio, invigorated by the intense exercise. Barrecore also offer virtual online classes which I ‘enjoyed’ on holiday in France.

The different instructors bring their own personalities to the classes, and with a wide variety of classes on offer, Barrecore never becomes a boring routine. I tried mixed level with Peri, Charlotte, Nicky B and Gemma. All are motivating in different ways: tiny but powerful Peri, smiley and encouraging Charlotte, disco Nicky and approachable and kind Gemma.

My muscles miss it already. If I could save up enough money I would be back in the Barrecore studio in a flash.

Be brave and book your first class here now!

Hellfire Consortium at Barts

Barts is almost impossible to find, located inside the Chelsea Cloisters behind several hidden doors. Once you discover it though you’ll find it hard to leave, it’s a fun and exciting little bar with superior cocktails and friendly service.

I was invited here to discover the world of Sipsmith, the very special boutique distillery in Hammersmith. Our select group was treated to a very passionate and enthusiastic speech from brand ambassador and sales director James, interjected by tastes of the various spirits they make. Gin, vodka, and a summer blended fruity gin syrup (a better version of Pimm’s) was poured out, refreshing our parched palates.

When the presentation was over we had the chance to put our mixology skills to the test, bossing the bartender about for more lemon or less mint. An assortment of Sipsmiths gin cocktails were created, totally bespoke for that night!

These ‘Hellfire consortium‘ evenings we be held regularly, each time a small group will be invited along to try and taste the wonders of the Barts bar. It was great fun and even a little bit educational!

More information here. Next event on 17th September.

No. 11 Pimlico Road, Chelsea

I’m not quite sure how we managed it but both my cousin and I, independently, managed to go to the wrong restaurant. No.11 Pimlico Road was previously called The Ebury, and just up the road is another place called The Ebury… which I’m sure most will agree is confusing. The staff at the wrong Ebury are rude and unpleasant but I’m glad to report that at No.11 they could not be more welcoming, and we were delighted to settle (half an hour late) in the correct restaurant.

This gloriously spacious modern venue is “a reaction against the typical gastropub trend which is engulfing London”. Stylishly designed, it is the ideal destination for ladies who lunch – smart and sophisticated but relaxed. The menu follows the same concept, brief but brilliantly tempting classic dishes to suit every appetite.

Small and sharing options are available as well as sandwiches, salads and several more substantial mains. We skipped starters in favour of indulging with a larger main course: House Burger with homemade fries for me and Chicken Schnitzel with remoulade for my guest. And I couldn’t resist a Rhubarb and Apple Rum Punch to quench my thirst.

Both mains were delicious, thinking back now I can’t fault any aspect of the food. The No.11 burger was truly scrumptious: a genius idea of using two thin patties instead of one fatter version makes the ground beef extra flavoursome and juicy (I’d recommend ordering rare or medium rare). Accompanied by Montgomery mature cheddar, thick cut tomato, lettuce and red onion, with an extra helping of dry aged streaky bacon, it really is the whole package. House made fries were great too, crispy but perfectly soft inside served with tangy aioli. My guest was kind enough to let me taste the Schnitzel, which was very tasty, tender thin chicken breast coated in an addictively yummy crunchy crumb layer.

Our waiter convinced us to share a dessert, and it was the Roulade No.11 which made the cut from a selection of naughtily extravagant puddings. The homemade meringue, roast rhubarb, candied ginger and orange blossom cream work surprisingly well together, the sweet and sharp flavours balance deliciously. Needless to say it didn’t take us long to polish that plate off!

If only I lived nearer, and had nothing to do at lunchtimes, I would be eating here every day. No.11 is No.1 in my book.

More information here: