In recognition of our new year’s resolutions we spoke to our LDNERs this week, Ed, Reema and Max, the co-founders of BLOK about their gym and living in East London, as well as the perils of juggling work with a new child and where they go for both nice (and naughty) treats…
Where do you live in London and what do you like about the area?
Max: I have lived in Hackney for 18 years so it’s home. I like the way it is constantly evolving with new restaurants, bars and other businesses opening all the time. The pace of change is fast.
Ed: I live in Clapton, one of the last corners of Hackney where there is still potential for new and interesting small businesses to grow up and thrive. It’s where BLOK has found its first home, but it is also home to dozens of interesting independent cafes, restaurants, bars and other small businesses. Chatsworth Road is booming and there is no doubt that Clapton is very high on the list of the most interesting places to be in London right now.
Reema: Ed and I live at The Tram Depot in Clapton where BLOK is situated. It’s such a vibrant and creative place to be and a brilliant environment for our daughter Ava to grow up in. There are so many interesting characters here and Clapton itself is such an exciting area – constantly evolving. Every week we see new bars and restaurants. We love hanging out on Chatsworth Road on Sundays and watching the world go by and having lived both in both East and West London, I don’t think there’s anywhere else I’d rather live right now.
BLOK is housed in a converted Victorian tram depot. What do you think makes it stand out from other gyms in the area?
M: With BLOK we have successfully created a space where fitness meets design. This resonates with our customers and has gained the attention press and brands worldwide. The classes are personal, offer focused attention from the instructors, and are challenging and results driven.
E: We really wanted BLOK to transcend the niches that other fitness studios tend to pigeon hole themselves in. We aren’t a boxing gym, or a yoga or pilates studio, we aren’t a dance studio or a HIIT studio. We try to offer the very best of all classes that our customers might want, and for every class to be different to the last, so it’s never boring, never stale. I think what really makes BLOK unique though is the way it feels like a home from home. Most gyms are places that customers dread going to and want to get in and out as quickly as possible. BLOK on the other hand is the kind of place people hang out both before and after class, whether to do some work, have a coffee or a bite to eat, or to chat to the trainers about the progress they are making in the classes and what they have learned that day.
R: I can honestly say I don’t know of another gym like it, not just in Clapton, but in London. It’s not just somewhere to workout but a beautifully designed space to spend time at and I think our backgrounds in property, design and nutrition has allowed BLOK to offer something that stands out from anything else around at the moment.
Max, you have been a still life and fashion photographer for several years and BLOK places a huge emphasis on its aesthetic, including hosting your first artist in residence Arran Gregory. How do you think art and fitness fit together?
M: When we found the space that became BLOK it became clear that we needed to fuse a luxury fit out with the beautiful original features of the space. The gallery space evolved out of the design decisions we made, and is made up of a permanent lighting installation and the exhibition of Arran’s work. It is now integral to our strategy. As a photographer I have always felt the benefits of exercise as a stimulus to creative thinking and a means of stress relief. Many of our customers share this view. Arran is the ideal choice of artist as his work embraces motion and is very graphic and direct. It’s hard to imagine a better choice for BLOK!
Being healthy is about more than just fitness however, which is where BLOK’s bone broth bar comes in. Where else do you like to go to eat well? And where do you like to go to indulge?
M: For a healthy meal I would go to Mildreds in Soho. For an indulgent treat I would head to Beagle next to Hoxton station.
E: Well we now have a full range of food at BLOK from BLOK Rooted, our collaboration with Rooted London. If I’m honest this probably accounts for 9 out of 10 meals I eat outside of home as I’m so busy, and it is so convenient and I always feel great after eating it. On the occasions that Reema and I do find time to venture further afield then I Will Kill Again, our favourite biker hangout/roastery/cafe is always high on the list for a healthy brunch, or if we fancy something more indulgent then cocktails, steaks and oysters at Beagle in Hoxton is hard to beat.
R: The launch of the BLOK Rooted Range in collaboration with Rooted London has answered all my prayers as a working mum! I am constantly on the run and BLOK Rooted allows me to eat healthy ‘guilt free’ meals without having to think. Balancing motherhood and a pretty hectic work life means I need to keep my energy levels up and the café at BLOK provides me with nutritious, nourishing meals to keep me going throughout the day. I also absolutely love Tiny Leaf – the organic, zero waste vegetarian pop-up restaurant currently at Mercato Metropolitano. This eco-friendly restaurant was founded by my good friends Alice Gilsenan and Justin Horn and their laksa is the best I’ve ever had! For indulgence I like to head to The Palomar in Soho for small plates and champagne. The drinks always flow until late, the music is loud and the food is delicious.
Describe your perfect day in London…
M: A morning boxing class, followed by a walk in the sun, a trip to an art gallery, and a movie and a bite in the evening.
E: This year, as well as starting BLOK, my wife Reema and I had our first child. Our daughter Ava is now nine months old. BLOK is incredibly time consuming and hasn’t left much time for anything else, so I guess my perfect day would be a day with just Ava, Reema and I. We recently went to the Frieze Art Fair and then walked through Regent’s Park to London Zoo before going and meeting some friends in a pub for a roast and several bottles of wine. That was a pretty perfect day.
R: Waking up to the sound of my daughter laughing followed by brunch at I will Kill Again in Clapton, a wander around Dover Street Market, neons at Lights of Soho and a cocktail at Swift on Old Compton Street.
The Tram Depot, 38-40 Upper Clapton Road, London E5 8BQ