I'm a London based journalist and Managing Editor at Get the Gloss, with a penchant for good earrings and colourful makeup. If it's green, I like it; if it's glitzy, I like it even more. I'm on a mission to find decent skincare for sensitive skin types, because we should be able to enjoy beauty too. I love to chat about all things health and beauty, lifestyle and entertainment, and can usually be found doing so on Twitter or on my blogs.
Having recently moved to Balham I decided to try this place for a Shellac manicure before a holiday. At just £15, it was amazing value and I can't recommend it enough. Sure, it's not a fancy salon - the nail and hair part is at the back of a barbers, in a small room with just one chair for nails and one for hairdressing, but the staff and treatments are fantastic. I was all done in 30 minutes with a professional, immaculate gel mani and it lasted for 2 weeks with minimal chipping. My manicurist even finished the mani with some Vaseline for my hands as I had recently had an allergic reaction and my skin was very chapped/sore - a really thoughtful added touch!
I then went back to have it removed and it's the most gentle removal I've ever had (I usually put it off as I've had sore nails afterwards before!), all done in 15 minutes. It would be good if they had a larger range of colours, but what they do have is a mix of brights, pastels, nudes etc so there is something for everyone and they told me they regularly swap a new shade in. Will definitely be booking again - they have great availability/opening hours too.
I went on a Sunday for afternoon tea and a spa day and was really pleasantly surprised. I worried that as it was a weekend it would be busy, especially when I saw that the facilities were quite small - a decent sized pool (but you wouldn't want more than 8 or so people in there), 3 varying types of steam/sauna rooms, and an experience shower. However, not only did we pretty much have the place to ourselves but it was laid out in a way that meant though it was small, you didn't feel like you were crowded or bored. We unfortunately booked our tea for 3pm and having been there since 12 were starving - I'd say 2 hours max is best for the spa. Just make sure you have your voucher ready before you go in - there's no signal downstairs and the staff seemed a little put out at having to look on our phones!
I've been going to this Zumba class since January and I really, really love it. Bar Rumba is just a bar/club so be warned you won't be in a glossy studio with mirrors and air con, but instead you're on the dancefloor area which is generally big enough for the classes. I'd recommend getting changed beforehand though as the toilets are tiny and not ideal for using as changing rooms!
The teachers are generally really good - I now go to the same one each week and Nadia is brilliant. She uses a lot of the same routines so regulars can learn them and feel less lost, but she also adds in new moves and tracks to keep it interesting. I've only had one teacher who I thought was a bit rubbish but really, you get out what you put in - if the instructor is being a bit limp and not energetic enough you still can be, it's just harder to motivate yourself!
It's great value and they do regular offers with both Wahanda and through their own site for regular clients. The classes are really fun, they have a really handy online booking system and I've never had any issues with them. Highly recommended!
I went along to this salon for the two week manicure - they offer Jessica GELeration and after having Gelish last year I was keen to try a new brand.
The salon is tucked away down a side street just off Regent Street so is really easy to find. It's small but very nicely decorated, clean and has a really good atmosphere - I was told there were only 11 staff and that they all get on very well which came across in the chatter going on while I was there.
The nails took just over an hour, and I had them shaped and filed to start with before the gel nails were applied. It's safer for your nails than acrylics and the colours were really lovely - I went for a bright pink shade.
Katrina the therapist was lovely and really chatty while painting the nails, and applied the polish perfectly. I did find the UV lamp a bit hot at times but your hand is only under it for 2 mins at a time. She was very knowledgeable about the whole process and how to get the most wear out of them, and I was so pleased with the results as they're incredibly glossy and she filed my nails to be the same length and shape which makes a huge difference.
All in all a lovely salon and great staff, and I can't fault the treatment!
I decided to give Zumba a go because I need to enjoy exercise to keep it up and had heard nothing but good things about it!
After seeing a deal online myself and a few friends signed up for 20 classes with Zumba Fitness. With a few locations to choose from, we initially went for this Islington one.
It's a bit of a walk from the station and the building itself is like a little community hall/social club. The changing rooms are ok (reminded me of PE at school!) and the toilets could do with a cleaner floor but really, as a venue it does what it needs to.
The classes were an hour long and I absolutely LOVED it. The soundtrack was amazing; think reggaeton and Latin American style music - for me, music is the most important part of exercise so this was vital for me to keep motivated and go back.
The instructor was brilliant - the steps were easy to follow, but fun to do and really dancey rather than like plain old aerobics. We would start learning a routine slowly (but the steps were mixed up nicely so you didn't feel like you were trying to follow a complex dance) and then the music would up tempo and we'd do it quicker.
It was so much fun, I felt really worked out afterwards (and the only downside, it was boiling by the end of it in the small and packed hall, despite it being December) and I can't wait to go again. Highly recommend!
I popped into Earth to have a fringe cut in, and was really pleased that they could fit me in on the same day and it was only going to cost £5.
The salon is really nice inside - black, glossy and small but it never seems too packed when I walk past (could be a good or bad sign!).
I asked for a side fringe but also asked her to be very gentle with me as my scalp is sore at the moment - Iris, my hairdresser really took note of this and was very careful when combing which I really appreciated!
I don't love the fringe - I've had it done elsewhere and got a perfect, heavy-ish sweeping side fringe before which is what I asked for. However, she cut it a little too short and didn't bring it over far enough so I'm asking a hairdresser friend to play with it a little to make it more to my style.
All in all, lovely staff, nice venue, and I probably would go back for a full cut, though nothing drastic in case they don't get what I'm going for - I'm quite fussy! Great value though and fab location.
Recently I asked a question on Wahanda about meditation and how to get started with it; I've suffered with anxiety over the past few years and also find London quite stressful - I want to slow down! Inspired by the film/book 'Eat Pray Love' I thought meditation sounded perfect for me and luckily Julie at Nature Meditations offered for us to go along and try out one of her free sessions.
Firstly I think this is a great idea, as in my experience people find meditation quite mysterious so it's great to try it out to see if it's for you before you buy into it. Julie started by explaining how she got into practicing meditation in the first place which was really interesting, and a lot of the points she made were things I could relate to.
We then tried a short meditation exercise, which simply involved closing our eyes and focusing on a word that made us feel good, breathing deeply and then exhaling the negative emotions. This was a good intro to what meditation is all about and was very calming!
We then had a 'de-stress tip' which Julie includes in all her sessions - in this case it was just on breathing properly, and a little technique to help ease anxiety. I found this so helpful and have already used it in the week since the session; it also broke up the class quite nicely.
We then finished with a much longer meditation, where we had to close our eyes, sitting comfortably and focus on one part of our body - the bit just below our nose! - which was surprisingly difficult to do. Julie's voice was very calming and helped keep us focused; any time a thought came into our head (there were a lot trying to surface in mine) we just had to acknowledge the thought but bring our focus back to this one body part, while breathing nice and deeply. I found it interesting that meditation was more about focus than just 'letting go' as I had previously thought, but it makes sense since most of the group were talking about wanting clarity and using meditation to focus the mind.
This was a great introduction to meditation and I can't wait to learn more through the membership - Julie's explanations really made sense to me and it's definitely something I will be continuing!
I bought the MobDeal for three sessions of power plates for £10, which I thought was a great deal as power plates are notoriously expensive. I hadn't heard of the venue before but it was pretty easy to find and is right on my way home so perfect location for me and my friend.
Booking in was easy, a quick email and we were in for the next night at half seven. We got there in plenty of time to get changed and so saw the class before us while we waited and got a good idea of what we were letting ourselves in for. Everyone seemed to know each other and get on well with plenty of chatter going on in the small room.
The venue is literally a room in the basement of this non-descript building, with four power plates in it and a few other bits of equipment. Sectioned off is a small changing area with lockers - a bit basic with not even a ladies or gents to be seen but for such a small venue it's all you really need. Jane also admitted to being obsessive about cleanliness which is always good to know! Jane was running the classes and she brings the place to life - chatty, bubbly and friendly she put us at ease right away, had us fill out a quick medical form and then we were ready to go with just the three of us in the class.
The classes are only 20 minutes long and so I wasn't expecting it to be too hard, having done power plates before. The best thing about this session was something I have never had elsewhere - Jane asked us what we wanted to work on. Most places just make presumptions and continue to do the usual squats and crunches but Jane asked us what parts of the body we wanted to work and we all said legs bums and tums.
It may have only been twenty minutes but it was hard work! The killer exercise was the use of straps to pull backwards, something sure to eradicate bingo wings, and another odd one where you tie the strap around your legs and then resist against it while on the plate. I liked that Jane had other equipment to use on the plate - it made it different and I found the stomach crunches much comfier (but also tougher!) using her discs (not sure what they're actually called).
I measure classes by how much I smile during it and how I feel the next day. Jane was so encouraging and friendly that the class was enjoyable and two days later my muscles were still aching. Can't wait to go back next week!
I can't recommend this place enough - after trying out the Water Crew session a month or so ago, I bought the Wahanda MobDeal for three sessions so that I could go back because I loved it so much.
I booked myself and a friend in easily for a Thursday evening and there were five of us in the class which works really well, because the trainer is very attentive and makes sure each and every one of you is using the correct technique and not doing anything that could damage your back etc.
The Water Crew class is so much fun and my friend agreed that the big motivation is the music - they choose the perfect tracks to keep you going. The trainer, James was different to Fabio who I had the first class with, but he combined 'sprints' with lots of bicep curls and crunch work to make it another brilliant work out. I was really impressed with how he continually made sure everyone was doing ok, working to the right level and getting the right technique. I honestly look forward to the class and can't wait to go again!
I went along to Trinity to try out the Water Crew class, which is basically a rowing class. The venue is very quaint, set in the basement of a small building near Baker Street so very easy to get to but never too busy as they are tucked away. They were refurbishing when I went along but it didn't cause any disruption to the classes.
The facilities are small but perfectly adequate for what they are. We changed in the bathroom facilities and then went through to the rowing class room, which is small but airy and has a mirror across the wall so you can check your posture as you work out.
The instructor was fantastic. He was very friendly and explained everything fully, and got us started on a warm up in a way that I didn't even realise the class had started! I love the rowing machine at the gym but find it hard to set goals or keep motivated, so this was perfect for me. The rowing machines use water so are better than gym ones, and the swooosh of the water as you pull back is really satisfying!
The instructor kept the class really varied, so that we worked our arms in different ways, experimented with speed and did turns so that we worked our abs too. We also kept an eye on numbers so that we knew how many miles we were going per hour or how many calories we were burning. 45 minutes flew by and I felt like I'd had a thorough all over body workout, with good aches the next day (rather than pains from classes such as spinning). Definitely my favourite fitness class I've ever tried and the best instructors I've come across - can't wait to go again!