Review: The Yard Peckham

Walking down the alleyway off Rye Lane that leads to Copeland Park, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d stepped into a very hip Narnia. Part of the greater Bussey Building complex, Copeland Park hosts innumerate small independent businesses. As tenancies frequently change, the makeup of the complex stays fresh and colourful. The Yard, now in its second year, is perhaps one of the brightest  businesses, not least for its incredible exterior paint job.


In contrast, walls inside are stark white with an enormous Yard logo painted on the wall, and black rubber matting. There’s a toilet and changing block, and a cluster of sofas off to one side, but other than that owners/coaches Gareth Jefferies and Zade al Salim have dedicated as much space as they can to training. Whilst this lack of ‘fitness club gloss’ might unnerve some, it’s more than made up for by the professionalism and attention you receive from the moment you walk in. The two coaches have nurtured a strong team spirit within the gym, with members training together in classes no larger than 11, and supporting one and other regardless of individual ability. The classes are open to all levels, so complete novices are mixed with veteran CrossFitters. It’s no boys club either, with the membership being a 50/50 split.

This atmosphere has the added bonus of helping you feel less self aware when you struggle with a new skill, or a particularly draining exercise. All new members have to complete an ‘On Ramp’ course to familiarise themselves with the core movements, but even after that there is a lot to learn. Expect a single session to cover anything from basic plyometric techniques, through to Olympic weightlifting moves and gymnastic manoeuvres.Team Shot

This particular session, we did 4 rounds of double-unders (skipping), overhead presses, sit-ups, and burpees in as fast a time as possible. Throughout the hour, Gareth and Zade walk amongst the class, checking and correcting posture, demonstrating and (most importantly) explaining where you’re going wrong. CrossFit’s reputation for the hard grind is well-deserved, but the focus on education and proper practice is not lost in the pursuit of speed and strength. The closeness that the owners have fostered with their clients plays a big part here as well, knowing what to look for in each person’s development. As Gareth puts it, “I never want it to get to a point where I don’t know someone’s name.” At the strike of the hour, the room is strewn with sweaty, prostrate people, breathing hard and happily cursing the various movements they’ve just fought through. There’s a round of high-5’s and some stretching, then it’s the next group’s turn.

The Yard manages to capture the camaraderie and collective focus of a sports team, whilst also maintaining a great 1-to-1 relationship with its clients. If you like your gyms plush, your trainers polo-shirted and personal, and plenty of amenities, this isn’t the place for you. However, if you’re looking for a place to make sure you keep in shape alongside 10 other similarly-inclined people, and has all the hallmarks of a sports team without the goofy uniforms, you should join up. You can find out about the next intake on The Yard’s website here, and follow them on Instagram here.

The Yard CrossFit

Unit 2b Copeland Park

133 Copeland Road


SE15 3SN

Reporter: Joe Emerick

Twitter: @joe_emerick

Instagram: @joemerick89