Getting into a leotard for a workout can be intimidating enough, but imagine doing your entire gym routine in the buff. ERIN KELLY went to Rio's to get fit au naturel 'It's difficult trying to sneak a sideways glance when you're concentrating on not getting your bazookas caught in the pec-dec' 'After two minutes of chaffing my thighs on the running machine I'm in agony'
The interior of the club is like a cross between Club Tropicana and your local Fitness First. Only with lots of naked people in it.
As I parade through, I'm not too fussed about people seeing my boobs, arms, tummy or even my bottom. However, I do wish everyone who witnesses my thighs from behind would be forced to sign the Official Secrets Act.
The first thing I notice is the club isn't full of perfect muscle-bound bodies. Then again, it isn't wall-to-wall Pauline Quirke lookalikes either. There really is no such thing as an average visitor. The clientele ranges from skinny young mums to chubby old men.
Once in the gym area, Rio's friendly general manager Colin Cushion (yes, that's his real name) talks me through working out in the nude. Basically, you have to put your towel on the benches for hygiene, but otherwise it's the same as any other gym. Oh, and if you've got your period you're allowed to wear knickers.
It's Wednesday morning and I'm relieved to find there are only three other people here. I'm told mid-afternoon is the most popular slot but there's also an after-work crowd who like to swap their office suits for their birthday suits and have a quick dip in the pool before dinner.
I decide to hit the treadmill first and instantly discover that naked running is an entirely different sensation to my usual gym warm-up. I keep my jiggly-jogging going for two minutes, but with bouncing bosoms and chaffing thighs, I'm soon in agony.
Apart from the discomfort, I'm worried about long-term damage. The last time I had a bra fitting I was told not to even think about exercising without a sports bra because gravity constantly tugs at ligaments holding your breasts up and once they're gone, they're gone.
Byline: ERIN KELLY
I don't know about you, but one of my favourite things about going to the gym is checking out people's leotards. Sadly, Rio's Health Club in Kentish Town, North London, offers no such fun pastime.
A small, intimate establishment, it has all the features you'd expect to find in a private gym. There's a bench-press, treadmill, bicep-curl machine, pool, and so on. But there's one major difference to your common-or-garden health club. Everyone is stark staring naked.
This is the country's only all-nude gym. It's the kind of thing you'd expect in, say, France or Holland – somewhere more sexually liberated than here anyway. But in little old Blighty, home of the flabby white bum and Great British prude, it'll never catch on. Or will it? Well, that's what I'm here to find out.
So I steel myself, before leaving my inhibitions at the reception desk and my clothes in the ladies' changing room.
It seems odd that a gym full of men and women walking around naked together has separate male and female changing rooms. But I'm glad it does as the hardest bit about being naked is getting naked in the first place.
I'm nervous about whether my behaviour will expose me as a first-timer. And will I get caught staring at someone's bum?
I spend five minutes getting used to walking around in the buff while I wait for my bra-strap marks to fade. Then I emerge in nothing but my earrings, a slick of St Tropez fake tan and trainers (even nudists have to obey health-and-safety rules).
I could run holding my boobs up, but I'd have to let go of the handrail and I'm frightened of being propelled backwards and ending up on the floor in a crumpled nudey heap.
I decide to move on to the step machine. It's hard work but at least there's no jiggling. However, I do have to stick my naked bum out at a 45-degree angle.
I'm relieved to notice there are no mirrored walls. It's unpleasant to catch a glimpse of your red, sweaty face at the best of times – I certainly don't want to see my red, sweaty butt-cheeks as well.
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