I tried the intense ‘skinny’ workout that supermodels and celebrities are doing

A rigorous exercise regimen followed by models and celebrities like Ellie Goulding, Nicole Scherzinger, and Suki Waterhouse 

Chloe Pantazi
Wednesday 15 June 2016 19:42 BST
Inside an SBC class
Inside an SBC class (RussellSBS/Instagram)

It's shortly after 7 a.m. on a Friday, and I'm wrestling a tiny yet muscular blonde woman in a dark room in central London.

For most people, this isn't a commonplace weekday activity, but for members of the Skinny Bitch Collective - a rigorous exercise regimen followed by models and celebrities like Ellie Goulding, Nicole Scherzinger, and Suki Waterhouse - it's just part of a regular workout.

The SBC, which describes itself as a "wellness and lifestyle project" on its website, is the creation of personal trainer and fitness expert Russell Bateman.

"I was bored of 'conventional' ways of training," Bateman told Business Insider over email. "I wanted to develop something to push people into different areas and out of their comfort zones."

With classes in London, New York, Los Angeles, and Ibiza, Spain, SBC has gained worldwide attention, but Bateman is set on keeping the club underground. “I've never swam with the mainstream and never will,” he said. Despite the club's renown, it's difficult to get a spot in an SBC class, and there's a lengthy waiting list.

Business Insider tried a class to find out what a Skinny Bitch Collective workout really entails.

The workout

When I arrive at the Fitness First gym on Baker Street - the surprisingly unglamorous location for SBC - it's just before 7 a.m., and a trainer points me to a room at the end of a long corridor where a few early gymgoers are flexing their muscles on exercise equipment.

The class has already started when I walk in, so I rush to find a vacant spot amid the other students - a small group of very toned, thin women who lift themselves off the floor and rest on their hands as they fling their legs in the air, one at a time. Sometime during the next 50 minutes, I learn to identify this leg-flinging movement as “can-can legs,” and, in addition to doing this in one spot, I'll attempt to “can-can” my legs as I pivot in a circle.

Already exhausted during the warm-up, I await the next move from the instructor Russ, who wears all black and stands at a speaker that emits thumping, wordless music.

Once we're done with can-can legs, Russ tells the group to do jumping jacks, followed by various other types of strenuous exercises including burpees, lunges, sit-ups, press-ups, and moves with names like “frog legs.” Later, we repeat many of these exercises with a resistance band tied around our legs, moving the band from our knees to ankles to vary the intensity of the workout.

The class setup is different from that of others I've been to - the most exercise I do is a couple of spin classes a week - and this feels more like a boot camp, with Russ giving orders and his SBC followers carrying them out in unison after a brief demonstration by a seasoned SBC-er.

Then it's on to some light wrestling. For this part of the class - which we return to at intervals - the group splits into pairs and everyone crawls around the floor opposite their partner. The aim is to try to tag your partner's shoulder as many times as you can without the person tagging you; you have to be quick on your feet. I find it incredibly tiring, but at least the competitive aspect is enough to keep me motivated, and I'm able to tag my opponent a few times.

Next the class moves on to focus on arms and abs, throwing weight bags onto the floor (demonstrated in the video below) as we squeeze in our stomach muscles.

Now, it's time for a few laps around the room - not running, but crawling. Much of the class has an animalistic element, and though I feel a bit ridiculous crawling around the floor, I try to keep a straight face and focus on the killer abs this will surely give me.

To make this routine more complex, Russ introduces side-jumping along a piece of rope on the floor, which makes the group look like frogs hopping about the room, followed by a run on the gym's indoor track. We do this several times throughout the class, and while it feels promising to be out of the room each time (a reminder that I will make it out of this class), it's still a run.

On one run, I catch a woman lagging behind the rest of the group and watch as she stops her sprint short and makes her way back to the room. Jogging alongside her, I ask if it's her first class. “I've been coming here for over a year,” she tells me with a hint of a smile. “It gets easier.” But I don't believe her.

At the end of class, we're directed to take places around the edges of the room, where we do handstands with our legs leaning against the wall, clenching our core muscles as we kick our legs downward. While I'm doing this, I'm against the door and worry that I'll fall, but I surprise myself by just about keeping my balance.

Finally, the group joins hands around the pillar in the middle of the room, and we're instructed to shimmy down to the ground with our hips, and then bring ourselves up again while, for the first time in the class, a song that I recognise plays: Dr. Dre's “The Next Episode.”

Though I'm trying not to laugh as I move my hips to the floor with the rest of the group, I also feel as if I'm beginning to get what SBC is all about. It doesn't matter what the group is doing, or how strange it might look - what matters is that everyone is doing it together.

Leaving the class, I feel a rush of accomplishment but am too exhausted to enjoy it. I need coffee, but instead I drink a green juice that tastes vaguely of kale and cucumber that Russ gives me from a healthy breakfast place next to the gym.

Sipping my green juice on the bus, I feel wonderfully light, but when I get to work I struggle to stay focused and feel as if I need to lie down. Clearly, I'm no athlete, but SBC wore me out. Though it was a thoroughly effective workout - the class certainly tested my limits and showed me that my body could do more than I thought it could - I don't feel as if I've really had fun.

An SBC class costs £40 ($57), which is pretty hefty for an exercise class - but then, this isn't your average workout. So if you're looking for an extreme, athlete-level routine, it's worth the money. If you're looking for a fun, motivating exercise class, though, this probably isn't for you.

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Read the original article on Business Insider UK. © 2016. Follow Business Insider UK on Twitter.

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