The overground is no longer the primary source of commotion when you’re walking past many of London’s railway arches.
Instead, a mixture of clamorous noises rule the sound waves; think barbells dropping, people gasping for breath and music pumping amongst the reverberation of passing trains.
Because CrossFit gyms are slowly converting many railway arches into what is commonly referred to as a “CrossFit box”, serving as the perfect space for large warehouse-style gyms that busy Londoners can quickly get to as they hop off the train.
And one of the latest boxes to pop-up in South West London is CrossFit Shapesmiths.
Housed just underneath Clapham Junction, Shapesmiths is the CrossFit commuters dream.
Completely refurbished, Shapesmiths is as close to a ‘CrossFit boutique’ as it gets. Think slick new digs to get your WOD (workout of the day) on.
But while a shiny new gym is great to look at, there is a lot more than meets the eye with Shapesmiths.
For starters, co-founder and Shapesmiths Head Coach Lee Steggles is a CrossFit veteran, and he’s got fourteen years of fitness and wellness knowledge under his weightlifting belt.
His credentials are impressive, but Lee began CrossFit just five years ago, after deciding to do a 30 day CrossFit challenge, igniting his passion for the sport ever since.
Fast Forward to 2016, Shapesmiths is making headway, and it’s only a matter of time until Shapesmiths evolves from newbie CrossFit gym to an established contender amongst London’s most renowned boxes.
How do I know this? It’s pretty obvious if you get a chance to speak with Lee and his coaches. His gusto and love for Shapesmiths and its 70 plus members makes the continued success of Shapesmiths inevitable.
Read below for my interview with Lee and you’ll quickly see how his philosophy on nutrition and fitness will set Shapesmiths apart from the rest.
You seem to have a pretty impressive list of credentials within the health and fitness industry. What do they include?
After receiving my Advanced Personal Training Certification, I went on to receive a Sports Science Degree at University. I then spent a year coaching and boxing in Ghana, West Africa before returning to the UK to get my Master’s Degree at Kings College London in Human and Applied Physiology.
What prompted you to try CrossFit?
In 2011 I was looking to wind down my boxing career. After spotting CrossFit online curiosity got the better of me, and I decided to try CrossFit for 30 days straight. Needless to say, I’ve never looked back.
And what about starting your own gym?
It was a long time coming. I remember chatting through the idea with a friend at the 2012 CrossFit Regionals and the idea just stuck. It’s a tried and true sport, and I was keen to do it my own way.
A lot of your members thus far are completely new to the world of CrossFit. Do you think this is an advantage or disadvantage?
At Shapesmiths, it’s all about context. New gyms like ours typically start with members that are new to the world of CrossFit, and they almost instantly fall in love with it. We want our members to grow with us, but we’ve got our fair share of CrossFit veterans as well. No matter the skill level of each client, our coaches are trained to ensure that the workout remains relevant to everyone on an individual basis.
What does Shapesmiths offer that other CrossFit gyms don’t?
The transient life of Londoners means CrossFit gyms regularly see people come and go, but we’re hopeful that our location in Clapham Junction means that we can capture locals that will stay with us and help to create a friendly community based environment. We are more than just a gym. Our clients deserve to have the best of everything at their disposal, so we aim to add value to every aspect of their experience. Whether it’s working out with us, using our osteopaths, or coming to one of our social events, it’s all about giving our members an authentic and well-rounded experience.
What are some of the most common questions you receive from new clients regarding nutrition? What advice do you give them?
A lot of clients believe calorie restriction will help them reach their goals, but if you’re doing high intensity workouts like CrossFit, you need to fuel your body properly. We want our members to reach out to us with any questions they have. However, I tend to refer my clients to a nutrition company like Buff Box when they want to delve deeper.
How would you describe the community at Shapesmiths?
It’s great seeing a community form at the box. Friendships between like-minded people is inevitable, and having a support system within your gym is so important. If you have fitness goals you are trying to achieve, there’s no one better to lean on than your fellow box-goers, whereas, in an office environment some people might not understand why you are taking your health and nutrition seriously.
Do you recommend meal-prep companies?
Definitely. Especially for people with time restrictions. Waking up, heading to work, going to the gym at 6 or 7pm and then coming home, the last thing some people may want to do it cook. Companies like Buff Box take the guess work out which is why we recommend them to our clients looking for a simple and reliable way to fuel their body with the proper nutrients.
To learn more about CrossFit Shapesmiths, visit their website here.
Images by Joshua Bond