About Time You Tried: House of VogaBy Leah Harper
If there’s one thing I like more than yoga and 80s tunes, its yoga, 80s tunes and a great big plate full of food. House of Voga (that’s voguing plus yoga, obvs) have reunited with rooftop restaurant Coq d’Argent for a ‘Winter Voga Series’ that combines all three – and certainly tops slogging it out on a treadmill in the new year. The venue has cleared its outdoor terrace, seasonally dubbed the ‘Lodge d’Argent’, and swapped Square Milers for spandex-clad stretchers who’ve come to ‘strike a pose’ to everything from Prince to The Pointer Sisters.
Voga merges yoga’s stretches, poses and focused breathing with fast-paced dance-style movements. If you thought a good old-fashioned vinyasa flow was the best way to get the blood pumping, wait until you try this. Classes kick off at 11am, while the restaurant is still more or less empty, leaving voga founder and instructor Juliet Murrell able to blast everything from “dynamic dance to dreamy disco” tracks on the rooftop (elsewhere, her classes often have their own DJ).
Even with all the (relatively) fresh air, voga’s not one to attempt on a hangover, but don’t let potential bad weather put you off booking these winter sessions. Much of terrace’s après ski aesthetic – sheepskin rugs, tartan blankets, big comfy armchairs – has been moved inside, but the rooftop still remains under cover. Faux-snow sits alongside a mock fireplace and an alpine backdrop, while indoor heaters keep you toasty from the get-go. In fact, by the time I’ve mastered the ‘queenie’ and ‘disco cat’ moves, it’s beginning to feel more like hot yoga (I’m kidding – Bikram remains one of the least pleasant experiences of my life – but it is quite warm).
Forget incense and panpipes; voga is a incredibly thorough workout, complete with a banging soundtrack. Prepare not only to ache the next day (at one point I was considering painkillers, but a hot bath and better stretching on my part would probably do it), but also to be seriously jealous of everyone’s retro workout wardrobes. You can, of course, don anything relatively comfortable, but these classes are the perfect excuse to dig out some colourful lycra and a hair scrunchy, and adopt the 80s New York vibe which voga aims to embody. At the class I attend, Murrell is wearing high-waisted leggings with see-through paneling and a spangly gold leotard, but I’ve never seen her look anything less than fabulous.
I visit less than a week before Christmas so the class winds down to a little Mariah (what else?) and, by the time I’ve changed into something less sweaty, I’m starving. The transition from gyrating atop a yoga mat to unfolding a napkin and being offered the wine list is slightly bewildering at first – but the food, it has to be said, is delicious. Starters range from escargot and rock oysters to the more yogi-friendly crab salad, but I opt for a candied beetroot and goats cheese parcel, followed by the tarte tatin aux carottes (what can I say – I love pastry).
If you’re more used to knocking together a quick stir fry or downing a protein shake following a half-hearted gym sesh, it all feels incredibly indulgent. But from the sky-high serotonin levels to the top-notch French fare, it’s a hell of a lot more fun. You won’t find me reverting to ‘oms’ any time soon.
Confirmed event dates (classes take place 11am – 12pm and are priced £15): 31st January and 28th February.
Lunch is served from 12:00 – 3:00pm, priced at £26pp for two courses/£29 for three. More info here.