The New Year has come and so have new year’s resolutions. If you feel that you have been eating too much lately (just like us) and you are committed to get back in shape or simply exercise more than the past year, then enrolling to some fitness class or training programme may be already on your list. Why not catching two birds with a stone and picking a dog-friendly gym in London, so you can exercise without leaving your four-legged friend alone? (Cover photo: Reebok CrossFit Thames by Milo MacDonald Thomas)
Dog-friendly Gyms in London
We were recently asked for tips about dog-friendly gyms in town, so we went and started digging out options all around London. You would be surprised by the number of gyms which have a resident dog. While researching dog-friendly gyms we had the chance to chat with Rufus the rescue dog at F45 Kingston, Wilbur the Westie at F45 Tower Bridge, Toffee at Moss Pilates near Liverpool Street, Red at Commando Temple in Greenwich, Obree at Soma House in Spitalfields, Marley at The Refinery, and many many more! While in (many) instances we discovered that dog mascots owned by gym CEOs or head coaches are the only furry creatures allowed in the gym for a number of different reasons, we were pleased to find a few gyms, “boxes” and fitness centres which welcome dogs.
In London this in definitely not as widespread as it appears to be in the USA, but something may be moving in the right direction. If you love seeing dogs at the gym, in the USA, CrossFit “boxes” (as are their gyms commonly referred to) and F45 Training gyms are big on four-legged members, and you will enjoy following @Dogs Of F45 and @Crossfit Dogs (and hashtag #dogsofcrossfit), which collect the best pics of gym dogs at F45 Training and CrossFit gyms respectively, the large majority of which from the US. Chris, who runs the CrossFit Dogs Instagram account from the US, told us, “CrossFit has a very big and strong dog culture. Dogs have been a part of CrossFit since the beginning of CrossFit. The two go hand in hand. Dogs play a vital role in welcoming new and current members after a long day at work or to start the day. Many dogs even become the box’s “mascot” and develop special bonds with its members. Every place is better and happier with a dog around. As far as specific dog policy goes, every box is different. Each box creates their own set of guidelines regarding dogs.”
In London, there are over 60 CrossFit gyms. As we verified writing this guide, each developed different rules and not all of them allow customers to bring their own dogs in (for instance Red Sun CrossFit in Bethnal Green has a dog mascot, Teddy, but we were told that they don’t allow other dogs). As far as F45 Training gyms are concerned, only few are dog-friendly with members’ pooches in the UK , although a number of them have a resident pooch.
Apart from CrossFit and F45 Training, there are lots of other large chains and independent gyms in London. Among all those we contacted for the purpose of this guide, a few told us that they occasionally allow dogs (for example of coaches, and some regular members’), but they don’t encourage members to bring in their dogs and asked us not to be named; others are enthusiastic about dogs, others are looking to introduce a dog-friendly policy.
But can the chance to bring your dog to the gym nudge people to exercise more? We believe so. In fact, we invited our readers to tell us whether enrolling to a gym was among their new year’s resolutions and, surprisingly, the number was quite low (only 31% of those who replied put this in their 2019 priorities), but the response to our second poll question, about whether they would review their answer if they were allowed to bring in their dogs, showed a high percertage of ‘maybe yes’ (79%).
A potential explanation for this could be that being working life in London already intense and commuting time-consuming, going to the gym means that you can dedicate even less time to walking and exercising your dog, while if you are able to bring your pooch along to the gym you can combine dog walkies on your way there and fitness for you at the gym, saving time in your busy day. We would love to hear your opinion in the comments at the bottom of this page.
Fitness and crossfit gyms and studios welcoming dogs in London
F45 Training Fulham
F45 Training Fulham welcomes dogs. They told us that they are pretty casual about this. Dogs can have a run around and stay in the upstairs area as well as in the reception area, as long as they are friendly with people and other dogs. Nev, from F45 Training Fulham, noted, “It’s kinda like a petting zoo in the weekend”! Nev also told us that, alternatively, customers can arrange a pick up of their dogs for a run with Milo’s Dog Running while they workout.
They have an offer for a 7-day trial with unlimited access to classes for £29. They have different classes every day and also offer pilates classes.
2-8 Dawes Rd, Fulham, SW6 7EW | Memberships and prices here | For fitness and pilates
In West Ham, CrossFit Dawn welcomes dogs. They have about 5 regular furry members, and they ask other customers who wish to bring in their dogs to give them a 24 hours notice. Dogs must stay on leash for safety reasons and to respect people who may not like dogs. In addition,they are kept in a specific area during exercises to stay safe. CrossFit Dawn also has a resident dog, who also helps customers who may not be familiar with dogs to be gradually introduced to them.
They have different packages of sessions and monthly plans and offer a free trial class.
Crossfit Dawn, Army Reserve Centre, The Cedars, Portway, West HamE15 3QN
A friend of ours had talked to us about CrossFit London, in Bethnal Green, and bringing a dog with her. We later spoke about with Mike Lee, the CEO of CrossFit London, who also brings in his dog Roxy, who is trained to chill out in the corner while he exercises (pictured). He told us that CrossFit London is a community driven “box”, and dogs are a big part of people’s life, so he is happy for members to bring in their dogs, provided that dogs are under control and well-trained, they are kept on a leash (no running around) and stay in a corner during exercises for safety reasons. Mike stressed that it is important that the dog is not scared of noises, because training involves droppin weight bars, so it can become quite loud. One thing to keep in mind is that, occasionally, they also have a cat coming in.
CrossFit London, Arch 30, 150 Buckhurst St, Bethnal Green E1 5Q | Memberships and pricing here
Reebok CrossFit Thames
Reebok CrossFit Thames seems to be a happy dog heaven, with a number of coaches and members bringing their dogs in. They told us that they have a Shiba, a French Bulldog, a Golden Doodle and a Cocker Spaniel who are regulars. “Members bring in their pups too, they usually lie up by the couches with water bowls, their toys and are on a long lead attached to kettlebell. One particular members dog prefers to sit on the couch. No specific house rules, other than to keep them safe and the members comfortable. So they can’t run free in the open gym for their safety and we have a few people who are scared of dogs. If it’s really early and not many people have arrived we allow them to chase a ball inside and play with them a bit, but as soon as more people come, they go to the top of the gym (so can still see their human), but are on a lead and attached”, explained coach and owner Misty.
One of their coaches, Milo MacDonald Thomas, is also a keen photographer, and kindly provided some very beautiful photos including the one below.
Unit 178, Cannon Workshops 3, Cannon Drive, Limehouse E14 4AS
SOMA House, in Spitalfields, is a 5 star cross-training center specialising in hot yoga, cycling, barre, pilates and Sparta strength classes in calisthenics, trx and kettlebells.It has a lovely resident dog called Obree, who even has a custom dog house at the Clubhouse reception. The teams says “we always want members to feel happy and at home which Obree does with his wagging tail and sweaty kisses after class”.
Also some teachers and members bring their dogs in. There are some house rules for bringing a dog: “Dogs have to be on a leash and must be friendly and ok with other dogs. We have an outside terrace clubhouse lounge where they can stay. We have snacks and water for dogs and a beautiful terrace bar overlooking the market where their owners can have cocktails, beer, superfood shakes and food from the market including a VIP lounge with swings and bean bags”.
SOMA House, Upper Terrace, 8 Horner Square, Old Spitalfields Market, E1 6EW | Closest tube Liverpool Street Station, East Aldgate and Shoreditch High Street
The Commando Temple
Red, the black German Shepherd, is the gym dog in charge at The Commando Temple, in Deptford. We spoke with them to know more about their dog rules and confirmed that members can bring in their dogs “as long as they are out of the way of people lifting heavy weights. As much for the dog’s safety as the other members. There are plenty of things to attach your dogs’ lead to, and the pup can enjoy watching their parent work out”. The team added, “Our gym members love having Red in the gym, and we have a few other members who have brought their pups along too”.
14, 15, 16 Resolution Way, Deptford SE8 4NT | Membership and prices here, free first class
F45 Tottenham Court Road
F45 Tottenham Court Road has a couple of dogs coming in monthly and no resident pooches at the moment. They are dog-friendly and allow dogs to stay in the reception area, while they are not allowed on the level where the gym and classes are held. They ask members to notify them in advance (24 hours), so they can make sure that there is somebody around the reception area, checking on the dog while the owner is working out.
114-115 Tottenham Court Rd, Kings Cross W1T 5AH
CrossFit Central London
CrossFit Central London has a gym dog called Bronson, who is a rescue from Battersea, and a number of four-legged guest dogs like Maju, a lovely whippet. For members wishing to bring in their dogs, they appreciate prior notice and that they are kept on a leash for safety reasons.
CrossFit Central London, Arch 56/57 Ewer Street, Southwark SE1 0NR | Membership information here
F45 Peckham Rye
F45 Peckham Rye does not actively encourage members to bring in their dogs (no blanket policy), but apply a case by case assessment. “We are happy to look after our members’ dogs. It’s happened organically as we all love them, but it would depend on the dog”, they said.
239-241 Rye Lane, Peckham Rye SE15 4TP
CrossFit Bermondsey is due to fully open on 1st February 2019 and their plan is to be dog-friendly. There will be a few rules to abide by, including that the dog should be friendly, respect members and behave well at the gym (e.g. no howling, barking, fouling); “dogs that do not behave will not be allowed back”. To ensure that all runs smoothly, dog owners will need to seek initial owners’ approval for their dog to be allowed in the gym, and once allowed, dogs will need to stay on a leash at all times for safety reasons, in the dog area only.
183-187 Southwark Park Road, Bermondsey SE16 3TX
Spin & Box
Dog House Fitness
If you are a fan of Spin or Box, the Dog House Fitness, in Balham, is the place for you. We previously wrote about it on the blog. They love dogs and allow members to bring in their own. Dogs can roam freely in the lobby/cafe area, but they are not allowed upstairs, in the class.
1 Holbeach Mews, Balham SW12 9QX | Membership information here.
FLYKICK is a a kickboxing-inspired group exercise fitness studio in Marylebone, very close to Regent’s Park and Great Portland Street station.
It has been dog-friendly since its opening and well-behaved dogs (toilet-trained and friendly towards humans and other dogs) are welcome every day of the week and at any time of day in the reception area (where they are free to roam), while they aren’t allowed in the workout studios and the changing rooms.
On certain Saturdays they even host “Puppy Parties”, where they encourage as many members as possible to bring their dogs in while they train so that they can all hang out together and get heaps of attention.
Address: 350 Euston Road, Regent’s Place, London NW1 3AX
More information here
Personal trainer gyms
The Underdog gym
The Underdog gym is a small dog-friendly boutique gym & level 3 qualified personal trainer focusing on mindful empathy in Walthamstow, with a view of the Wetlands. Co-founded by gym dog Toastie Barks.
More information here.
Yonder is a climbing centre near Walthamstow. A kind reader flagged told us that it is dog-friendly. Their FAQs detail their dog policy, “Yes, we love a nice friendly dog! Rules are, animals must stay off the climbing matting. They are free to wander around the reception area, cafe area and the side of the mezzanine. We also ask that you fully supervise your dog at all times.”
4 – 6a Hookers Road, E17 6DP
Pilates with dogs
Pupilates: Esquared Fitness x FRAME Fitzrovia
For those who love pilates, we made an awesome discovery. In December, Esquared Fitness – an app providing access to hundreds of gyms and studios around London without membership fees – hosted a Christmas Pupilates class (i.e. dog-friendly matt pilates class) at FRAME Fitzrovia. As you can imagine, it turned out to be pretty awesome! You can watch the video on Instagram at the link below. We confirmed that no new dates have been set yet for a new Puplates class, but we will keep you in the loop about this!
F45 Training Fulham
We confirmed that F45 Training Fulham, which we mentioned above for fitness, also offers pilates classes.
2-8 Dawes Rd, Fulham, SW6 7EW
Yoga and meditation
If you don’t just want to bring your dog along, but also to invole him/her in yoga exercises, Doga Mahny (the UK founder of this discipline) offers dog yoga (“Doga”) classes, promoting the bond between human and dog. The calendar of the next classes has been released, starting on Saturday 12th January 2019 at The Courtyard Theatre in Shoreditch, for six Saturdays, classes cost £25 each and tickets can be purchased on Design My Night here.
This sessions at the Courtyard Theatre, Bowling Green Walk 40 Pitfield Street, Hoxton, N1 6 EU
SOMA House, in Spietalfields, which we talked about above in this guide, also offers yoga classes.
Meditation with your dog
In Beckenham Place Mansion, Animal Connections host periodical meditation sessions you can bring your dog to (for £10 per session). Next dates are 6th January and 20th January 2019. More information here.
Beckenham Place Mansion, Beckenham, BR3 1SY
Waiting for a new type of dog-friendly fitness gym
From our research, we found that gyms and studios allowing dogs mostly either require they stay in a specific area (reception/cafe’/other) or, if it allows dogs in the fitness area, they require them to stay on a leash and clear from machines and weights, on the side, which makes sense, if you think about the safety concerns that having them running around would cause. Weight lifting and other exercises can be pretty dangerous for both the dog and people otherwise. As exception is give for doga classes and a particular pilates one, which are hosted on specific dates and structured around a different concept, revolving around involving dogs in the activity.
We are unaware of any gym or studio involving dogs in fitness exercises in London. Personally, I would dream of a gym developing a specific fitness programme for both humans and dogs. There are of course some outdoor alternatives like canicross if you want to do sport with your dog (on the other hand, dog agility allows you to stimulate and exercise your dog, but the movements of the handler are not tailored on strenghtening their body/own well-being), but not really indoor ones, and it could be fun to combine the two.
In the meantime, you can take advantage of the gyms and studios we included in this guide to start working on your physical well-being in this new year, bringing along your (well-behaved) pooch! Just abide by the local dog house rules, to ensure that this privilege is not revoked for all dogs, and go tick off getting in good shape from your achievements list in the new year.
Outdoor Fitness with your dog
If you prefer exercising outdoors, you can check our Fetch Fitness. They train in Hampstead Heath, classes schedule here
and have two types of classes:
- Fetch Fit: bootcamp class mixing cardiovascular and strength exercises, catered to all ability levels, you can expect a mixture of fun and hard work to crank up the fat burn and increase your fitness.
- Fetch&Stretch: yoga-inspired class to work on flexibility and yogic strength, while your dog has time to play with the other pooches in the class (no eyes-closed meditation).
- with a kickboxing circuits class launching soon.
ENJOY & HAPPY 2019!
Looking for some outdoor exercise with your dog? Check out our guide about dog sports and sports with your dog in London. We are currently in the process of updating it.
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