Meet Your New Favourite Workout–Pole Dancing.

Just a short ride away from Kingston’s Penrhyn Road campus is what could be the city’s newest fitness hotspot. Every week, dancers from all walks of life gather at The Pole Studio in Surbiton with the common goal of getting in shape, looking good and having a great time.

Located above a chip shop on Portsmouth Road, the dance studio is unassuming and cosy. Dancers leave their shoes by the door, hurry up the carpeted stairs, and are greeted with silver practice poles dotted around the small—yet comfortable—space.

While pole fitness used to be a taboo sport, in recent years it has gained popularity among both men and women. A combination of strength training, conditioning and acrobatics, this is a workout that encourages cardiovascular health while simultaneously working the arms, legs and core muscles.

The result is a full-body workout that anyone can do, either in a group setting or 1-on-1 with an instructor.

It was this all-in-one workout that helped draw 31-year-old Siobhan Parish to The Pole Studio. Lessons are held once a week and run for approximately one hour—long enough to work up a sweat, but not long enough to exhaust participants.

As a working mother, this 60-minute pole fitness model offers her both a convenient workout and an opportunity to de-stress from the workweek.

“You can see yourself develop, unlike at the gym, and you get better in a number of ways,” Parish said. “(Pole) makes me feel stronger—I like the way after, a few weeks, quite a few weeks, things start to get a bit tighter and it just makes me feel good.”

Jaime Rangeley, an instructor at the Surbiton location, has been practicing both dance and pole for years. An expat from California, she found pole fitness to be a helpful way to meet people when she moved to England, and has continued dancing ever since.

“Everybody’s super nice and welcoming, and (pole fitness is) just a really great way to make friends,” Rangeley said.

At The Pole Studio, Rangeley has taught dancers of all sizes, ages and genders, and feels that the environment that pole fitness creates is a more wholesome one than can be found at the average gym—a sentiment that Parish supports, having just finished her first set of beginner classes.

“Everyone I’ve ever had teach me or I’ve practiced with have been very lovely people,” Parish said.

For potential dancers who are afraid to take the leap into pole fitness, Rangeley encourages them to take a one-off class or sign up for a beginner’s course.

“You’ll see that as you get to know everybody, nobody cares when you start to wear the shorter shorts and stuff like that, you feel totally comfortable,” Rangeley said. “You’re never forced to wear anything you don’t want to or to do anything you’re uncomfortable with, and you’ll find that you’ll actually have a laugh, and the workout is like an added bonus.”

The Pole Studio has locations across London and Surrey, with lessons for all levels of fitness—they even offer yoga classes, for the less adventurous among us. Prices start at £10 a class, with the beginner courses running for six weeks.

To find the perfect class for you, check out their main website for times, locations and individual pricing.

3 Fun Day Trips for Under £3

Want to get out this weekend, but your wallet’s pretty empty and you don’t want to top up your Oyster card?

Don’t mope around your dorm—just check out these fun day trips close to both Kingston and Surbiton that you can take for under £3!

  1. Visit Bushy Park

Located near Hampton Court Palace, Bushy Park is a short bus ride away from either Surbiton or Kingston. Perfect for your Instagram story, the park is filled with roughly 320 wild red and fallow deer that roam as they please. Pack a lunch and bring a good friend, and enjoy a day lounging around this lovely park.

If you want an easy day trip that’s not too far from home, get in touch with nature here—just be sure to stay at least 50m away from the deer, since they are still wild, and we don’t want another goring incident.

Cost: £1.50 each way (1 bus connection)

  1. Check out Guildford Castle

Take a leisurely ride on the 465 bus and the 715 bus to the historic Guildford Castle, built back in the 1000’s and located in—wait for it—Guildford. The moat has been converted into a beautiful flower garden, and while the castle is in a state of ruin, the top of the Great Tower is still open to the public for a panoramic view of the city.

Be sure to check out the memorial to author Lewis Carroll and the Guildford Museum by the old gatehouse while you’re there, and wear walking shoes. The path that goes around the keep is a nice stroll for a sunny day!

Cost: £1.50 each way (1 bus connection)

  1. Visit Eel Pie Island

Just hop on the 281 towards Hounslow Bus Station from either Kingston or Surbiton, and ride it all the way to Twickenham—Eel Pie Island will be waiting for you. An island in the middle of the Thames, this place is a music lover’s dream. Filled with musical history and kooky artwork, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to another time.

Musical phenomenons like David Bowie, Black Sabbath, Genesis and The Rolling Stones performed on the island at the now-burned down island hotel, before it was taken over by a cult in the 70s. Whether you believe in mystics, magic or just want to stretch your legs, Eel Pie Island is a fun afternoon jaunt.

Cost: £1.50 each way (no changes)

Where’s your favourite place to escape to on the weekends? Let us know!

3 Best Places to get a Sunday Roast near Kingston University

As an American, I had never heard of Sunday Roasts until moving to the UK over a year ago. In my first weeks here, my group of English friends asked if I wanted to “grab a roast” and I had no idea what that meant.

However, after my first roast experience, it was love at first bite—and now I can’t get enough. As an amateur Sunday Roast connoisseur, I have curated the three best places to grab a roast in the Kingston University area.

(For those of you who don’t know: a Sunday Roast is called such, as it is traditionally eaten on Sundays. It is a quintessential British meal that consists of a roasted meat, roast potato, Yorkshire pudding, stuffing, vegetables, and gravy.) Now, let’s dig in!

1. The Black Lion: Surbiton

This was the very first place my group and I had gotten a roast, and we definitely chose well. The Black Lion is a quintessential UK pub, from its pint-drinking locals (who have been coming here for so long that they’re almost permanent fixtures of the pub) to the rugby that plays in the background.

Their food options can be found on a piece of paper attached to a wooden clipboard, placed on each table. The menu isn’t fancy—but does the menu presentation matter when the food is so damn good?

The Black Lion’s choices for a roast include the standard beef, pork, lamb, or chicken, and their sides include everything you’d expect with a classic roast: parsnips, carrots, roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, gravy, and my all time favourite: Yorkshire pudding. (For those of you who don’t know: Yorkshire pudding is a baked batter made of eggs, flour, and milk or water, which tastes like heaven when drenched in gravy).

The roasts also come with a free side of broccoli and cauliflower cheese casserole, which I could quite literally eat all day long. In terms of prices, you can get yourself a roast from here for about £11-£13—which is slightly on the higher side, but this roast is definitely worth the money.

Our rating: 5/5 Yorkshire Puddings

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2. Druids Head: Kingston

I’ll start off by saying that this particular pub allows dogs, so you can find me here on most days.

Druids Head—or Druids, as my friends colloquially call it—is a chain within the UK, and it feels like it. Some of the personal, cozy touches that The Black Lion has just don’t exist at Druids.

It doesn’t have the same kinds of locals and things are a bit more refined here. The menu has been completely revamped in the last few months, with newer food options being reminiscent of a Frankie & Benny’s in its culinary variety.

That being said, Druids knows how to do classic British food well. How do I know this? Well, the first time we ate here, my English boyfriend unironically exclaimed, “Well, this is some bloody good gravy!” while taking his first bite of the roast. And he was right—it was bloody good.

In terms of roast options, you can also find the standard choices, including beef, chicken, pork, or lamb. Notably, Druids also has a vegetarian roast that consists of seasonal veg, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, mash & gravy. Their roasts are each £10.99, which is an absolute bargain for the amount of food you get.

Our rating: 4/5 Yorkshire Puddings

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3. The Railway Bell: Hampton

Known locally as “The Dip”, this pub has the most incredibly inviting outside appearance—it quite literally looks like a cottage, with its vine-clad walls and thatched roofs.

My friends and I came here for the first time last December on a particularly snowy (and hungover) morning, and I really can’t express just how healing gravy is for the hungover soul. Things weren’t particularly refined here—the doorways needed a bit of TLC, the floors were slanted, and it was a bit cramped and small. But, those qualities made The Dip quite cozy and memorable.

For £11.95, you have the choice of beef, half-chicken, or pork, along with the traditional sides that accompany a roast. If you’re in need of a home-cooked style meal, The Dip is the place for you—the food looked and tasted like my mom had just made it.

Although it’s a little longer of a trek from Kingston, a bus ride can get you here in about 20 minutes, and it’s worth it to find a freshly cooked roast with your name on it.

3.5/5 Yorkshire Puddings

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What’s your favourite part of a Sunday roast? Let us know in the comments, and keep an eye on our website for a vegan-friendly roast guide coming soon!