Iron ZUU review: Hardcore upper-body workout at Virgin Active

I run in to Virgin Active Mayfair’s Studio One a sweaty albeit fresh mess, having slightly underestimated my journey time to the gym.

I’m here to review Iron ZUU (Upper Body), a new 45-minute class across Virgin Active gyms which helps build and strengthen the shoulders, chest, arms and back as well as the core.

Created by elite strength and conditioning coach Nathan Helberg, the circuits class combines pre-fatigue weightlifting with bodyweight exercises and unique mobility training.

This incorporates primal movements from the animal kingdom such as crawling and torturous side-to-side push-ups which help to build core strength. It also works your heart and lungs.

Deni Kirkova reviews Iron (upper body) - Bikini Girls Diary

Deni Kirkova reviews Iron ZUU (upper body) – Bikini Girls Diary

A hench Eastern European instructor is shouting at everyone already, with loud rock music blasting through the wide open doors. Hardcore anthems like Saviour by Rise Against, Last Resort by Papa Roach and even some Marilyn Manson penetrate every ear drum at 7am this Wednesday morning.

There’s no room or time for sheepish latecomers, so I get on with it.

I briskly grab a bench and some free weights, load up a Les Mills barbell and join in with exercises like military presses, lateral raises and bench press. The long-term goal with the weightlifting segment is to increase weight and reduce reps.

iron zuu

After weight training we’re on the floor doing those awful side-to-side press ups. Thank goodness I can at least hold a good plank.

I manage to bend my elbows about halfway and go side to side a few times, and I’m grateful that I don’t get shouted at directly for being weak.

Seeing as I never train like this, I imagine I’ll improve as I continue to attend. And it’s always good to adapt your training.

At the end of each circuit we crawl on our hands and feet to the back of the room then high-five each other before the next round.

More animal elements include performing exercises in a pack, facing each other rather than the front of the room.

The class fosters a pack mentality where everyone is pushed to their limits – no-one is let off – but at the same time everyone is supported and supportive

The class involves military press to help sculpt the shoulders - Bikini Girls Diary / SNH Foto

The class involves military press to help sculpt the shoulders – Bikini Girls Diary / SNH Foto

The next time I’m struggling with weird and wonderful push-up variations, our instructor joins me on the floor shouting at me, in a motivational rather than mean way! It really works and helps me get through it.

The class is supposed to help bulk and form muscles, as well as provide functional training.

Walking out an even sweatier mess than when I arrive, I feel strong, powerful, and light on my feet.

The next day’s chest DOMS last three days and I can definitely feel I am making some gains. I’ll certainly be back.

Deni Kirkova
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