Gym Sport – The story so far. (Part 1)

As the years add up I think the opportunity is now to look at the journey into Gym Sport  . So I thought it best to look at some of the high’s and lows of my personal journey in recording the events I have been at. The people I have met and the conclusion of the future of gym sport.

Lets just take a look at Gym Sport in its basic form. By looking at my favourite event of all time The Marlow Gym Challenge (18th July 2010) A Gym sets up a gym challenge for members to take part in in a race format. That’s two members (athletes) racing down a course set up , using the equipment you use daily in an event you could possibly be training all year for.

So as you can see , when implemented into a working gym, there is such a sense of community and success, that the whole day is something of a when’s the next one attitude by members .

I also had a great race on that day taking on Andy Brown in what would be many encounters, which he would constantly beat me. Those events were memorable for all the right reasons having just had a great day, followed by a BBQ and the potential for another one.

Although the day was memorable the sad news was  The Marlow did not continue. It stopped after one event. Gym Sport is  not going to happen unless its part of the DNA of the club. Unless Gym Sport is embraced on a massive collective level by all members and those that take on the level of commitment to train. And the modern day Gym is just not structured to cope with its own sport.

This is the  conclusion that  I have come up and its is hard to take as there is a resounding sense of failure, which was not brought on by lack of hard work. Gym Sport was never meant to be a personal journey, but that is how it has ended up.

Gym Sport

Lets see what happens when it turns into a success story for a single gym, and the event HXT at Hampshire(David Lloyd )is proof that continued events are run well between member and management of a gym.

Liam Florey and AJ Orchard race each other at the Hampshire XT 2017 from sean blyth on Vimeo.

But this is the minority of a sport and is in fact a very successful event of which it cannot be a Sport driven entity.  When you look at the bigger picture, and look at the fitness Industry as a collective, you then have to see who opposes gym sports and the answer is quite surprising.

  • Gym Members
  • Gym Personal Trainers
  • Gyms
  • Event Organisers
  • Industry Officials
  • Industry leaders

Now this may look at who is to blame for the failure of gym sport without taking any of the responsibility for myself and first and foremost that has to be me. Did I take an easy route without looking at the hard graft first ?

So lets look at me then on this journey. 

A sport needs a history of events and its accompanying Data to make it a sport – that is the premiss of World Gym Challenge. capture the data, interview the athletes, create a spark and let momentum carry the sport into the next stages. Thats was what was needed and my website is littered with endless hours of writing reports, completing all the photography , creating and learning video techniques. And travelling to events to record all of this, along with the results that were entered into personal folders for those who took part. I think the hard work part of this story is unequivolically undeniable and again presents a problem .

You see if you are the person adding the hours to the Sport , then you become the target of those who resent the intrusion into their existence , of which none of what I was doing was done before. Events were put on, the athletes took part and everybody was happy – that is also undeniable. It works well either way – So what makes me the one who wants to a see a sport grow?

The answer can be found in the execution of events. Each organiser did an exceptional job. The events were a joy to be at – the athletes, performed to exceptional levels and those that were there saw and witnessed records being broken and the longevity of events was secured as long as there were venues that would support and host them.

For a while this worked, but it was inevitable that more involvement was needed from other sources and this meant a time commitment. It also became apparent that others tried to create their own websites to continue the process of recording the data. First Gary Nicholas from Calso Gym and then Alex Woods both created websites , that were were very basic and did the job off recording results, but they equally demanded huge amount of personal time to maintain and I think neither realised of what was involved, as time moved on, what seemed a passionate attempt to recreate the wheel faded and WGC remained the Live results entity it was designed for. However Event organisers would still not use it, the time for free access had passed , seven years to be precise, and finance was needed to update the website which was lacking in the new technological progress of code and advancement of the mobile world. So as organisers of existing events refused to use WGC , we became isolated in a world where the next best thing will take hold

Inferno Racing 

In November 2017 I was invited by Harry Thomsett to look at Fitness Racing in the 20th Century and what has developed at Bath University. Its very hard not to be impressed …

To be continued …

 

World Gym Challenge – Gym Challenge 4 – Montgomery

Gym Sport Series 

The gym sport series continues for the WGC Gym Athletes into April.

10% Incline on the Treadmill features heavily in the Advanced categories with Paul Morton designing the Advanced course, to help him focus on an upcoming event.

 

 

 

 

 

The Intermediate was tweaked by Sean Blyth, to incorporate a transition from endurance incline, to sprint treadmill at a consistent 400 m for the last three circuits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As normal with WGC circuits the focus is completion without ‘gassing out’ to incorporate total Performance targets to meet as you approach each station.

In the Intermediate the heart rate will show that there were two of the first three circuits that were not completed in one and recovery periods were needed. These are the issues you need to focus on (if needed)

The transition to speed on the last three circuits gives in to a new style of running , but the heart rate will peak to the same level. With the aim to complete all the step ups without a pause.

There are no forced recovery stations on this circuit but you can take recovery when ever you need it .

 

 

 

Sport Relief Gym Challenge 2018 – TruGym Chatham

Sport Relief Gym Challenge 2018

On the 22nd and 23rd March Sport Relief took place and we put some members through a series of gym challenges .

Thats where I came in. I have the background into Gym Challenges and the enthusiasm to carry it out.

Although the challenges were open to everybody surprisingly only one female took part, but overall the day provided a bit of fun and was well received by those who took part.

Bench Press

The most popular event was the 50 x 50 kg Bench Press and this saw some good timings, and a good mixture of competitive robust grit. When asking members to try this challenge , there were obvious choices , the big guys were keen, the smaller muscular types also , but as a rule , there was a look of uncertainty as to whether they wanted to attempt it at all for fear of not being able to submit a a rapid time.

No one took part (apart from me previous to this) of the 50 x 30 kg Bench Press, almost as if it would be somewhat embarrassing to try something that was 20 kg lighter then the toughest challenge.

On one occasion I stopped somebody on the 50 kg (for safety) and on another occasion one member stopped because he could not complete the 50 in one go. The lactic had kicked in and rather then wait , shake out the arms a bit,  refocus chose not to complete it. Which was a shame as I was sure he would have done a reasonable time.

 

 

 

 

 

Two guys stuck during the supervised Advanced Bench Press challenge were   Billy Simms and Matt Buck, obviously friends and training partners and both very capable of the challenge. But the winning time went to Dean Moore who submitted a result from the unsupervised part of the day with a time of 32 seconds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

800 m Run 

2 Entrants both from the management side of things, and both impressive results from  Jack Woodard (2.38)and Kemel (2.50). I was surprised that the 800 m did not attract more of a combined entry level as it is an extreme and harsh blast of cardio for both male and female members and probably not trained for enough in the current climate of HIIT training.

750 m Row 

The second most popular event. I chose 750m as the 2000 would be too much of an ask and be a bit too time consuming under the circumstances. But this was none the less a very well paced challenge with some good consistent steady rowing. For a fitness club to find an exceptional talent for rowing is a tough find – again no female entrants but some determined rows all round.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Multi Sport – Row 750 m  & Treadmill 800 m 

Two phases of the Gym Challenge were multi Sport based -and somewhere where performance of the day was achieved. Andy Clarke a head chef from Rochester BAE Airport , can be found most days at TruGym, at 48 decided to lose in excess of three stone to the present date and gave a cracking performance which was by far the best result achieved for somebody in his 51st year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Multi Sport – Ultimate Challenge 2 km Bike / 750 m Row – 800 m Row – 50 x 30 kg Bench Press

 

 

 

 

I took on the role for the Ultimate Challenge and as a Intermediate Gym Athlete found the challenge doable, challenging and at the end of the day made it all worthwhile. I was particularly pleased to have completed the final 50 x 30 kg in one go

It would be fair to say that from my perspective that the actual Sport Relief message did not filter through into the gym. If those that took part were doing this for Sport Relief then, it was not something I witnessed. Most did not know that Sport Relief was on, or that there was a community aspect to raising funds, but at the very least it was a starting block for some to look at their fitness levels and see what they could achieve.

It was first and foremost a fun day and on a social media platform the potential for all of the TruGym clubs and indeed all gyms in the UK  to have taken on the same challenges was there, which is where the bigger picture lies. But yet it seems , asking members to test themselves, push themselves, go into that dark zone where you will find your limits is still a long away from the mainstream gym, which also means the potential market is much bigger too , if the the simplicity of training returns to the gyms.

Many thanks to those who supported this fun day – Derek Hanbidge, Manager and the Front of House Team of Gym Instructors and staff.

 

World Gym Challenge announces 2nd of 12 Gym Challenges – Washington

The 2nd Gym Challenge has been released into the WGC database.

Designed so that all is needed is a Kettlebell and Bench Press and around 30 minute completion time for maximum use on equipment.

We have a Bench Press / KB Squat and Bodyweight exercise Alternate Squat Thrust.( AST)

Rules.

  • Bench Press  cannot bounce of the chest
  • Each Circuit must be timed and Intermediates must take 1 minute recovery
  • AST must have equivalent to toes crossing a 12 inch marker
  • KB Squats , elbows must touch thighs , Kettlebell must be held by side handles and close to the chest at all times. There must be forward hip thrust at top of each rep. No crouching and counting reps
  • Do not attempt the level of event to which you are clearly not conditioned enough to enter.
  • Each event is in your folder marked ‘Monthly Challenge’
  • Results must be submitted by February 28th

Advanced

 

 

Intermediate

 

 

FitBrit winner 2017 Nicci French talks with WGC

 

FitBrit is the closest format for what WGC offers gym members. In principle it is trying to find the fittest members of gyms by offering a competition based gym challenges based on time. The winner being the person with the quickest time.

The differences between WGC and FitBrit is that WGC looks at the significant split time of all the elements of training and events for gym challenges , whereby FitBrit is just a final time scenario.

There is no such gym challenge on this planet that is deemed the  hardest. All that can be learned from them is the comparable differences in the final times. In this , FitBrit fails, but where it succeeds is the amount of people that take this challenge on.

Most gyms in the UK do not provide gym challenges for members to train towards, but DW Gyms and Fitness First have combined in an effort to find the fittest from their members. WGC spoke to the female winner Nicci French from Poole Fitness First and asked here about the gym challenge and winning in 2016 and 2017.

What is the secret to winning FitBrit ?

No secret, just regular training. I vary my week doing strength training, HIIT training and endurance work- plus the odd world gym challenge thrown in. Nearer fit Brit, I train more specifically towards the elements in the competition

Do you miss the races between you and Tracey Davies?

Tracey Davies and Nicci French’s races against each other were always close year on year at the FitBrit Finals. Tracey stopped competitive racing in 2015.

Yes, the competition was good between us. I had beaten Tracy and she had beaten me- then we were 2 seconds apart in our final race! Would have loved to have paired up for an event with her!

What advice would you offer in how to train for FitBrit?

I have stuck to the same format over the years I have been taking part. Practise is key in this event.

You are a masters category athlete . Why do you think you are beating those younger then you ?

I think that women can become fitter and stronger as they age. Plus I train harder now then when I was younger as I have more time now that my children are older. I am more determined and focussed now I am older as I always think that this could be my last year!

What did you have to eat on the day of the final ?

This year I was away from home so I ate slightly differently. Generally I would eat corn cakes with nut butter followed by natural yogurt with fruit and nuts. I would have a snack about an hour before I competed- either a banana or some nuts.

What benefits have you been given by Fitness First ?

I have received free membership to Fitness First and a variety of other prizes over the years. The best year was winning a racing bike plus £250 of sports clothes!

As a female in your gym and winner are you a role model at all to other members ?

It would be nice to think so! I think I am proof, along with a couple of my friends, that you do not have to lose your fitness just because you are over 30. You can become stronger and more focussed but may have to tweak your workout.

The aim of FitBrit is to find the fittest gym members , how do you think this has transpired ?

I think it is developing well, especially now that DW are involved. There are more competitors nationwide so it will be interesting as more DW members get involved. It is the 10th year this year and I believe they are planning something bigger to celebrate this.

Have you ever considered CrossFit?

I have not considered joining a Crossfit gym but some of the training I do is similar to the Crossfit style. I enjoy combining strength and cardio in intense short sessions. The World Gym Challenge also provides circuits which are intense and challenging!

Whats the golden rules for keeping motivated and focused for performance ?

You have to enjoy what you do and make sure you have variety in your training so that you avoid being bored and injured. It also helps to have a training partner to keep you motivated

Are gym challenges good or bad for your gym ?

There are many reasons that gym challenges are not completed at gyms and the overriding evidence in this statement is that of all the local gyms I have been a member of  none have run a gym challenge for me to compete in.

Local area would include ROKO Gillingham  , Black Lion Leisure Centre, Gillingham , TryGym Chatham, Reynolds Rainham.

Of all of these local gyms I have requested that Gym Challenges be put in place, for me to train towards, yet for some reason a gym challenge is alien to the very people who own gyms.

And you have to ask yourself why ?

The evidence is overwhelming that those who compete in gym challenges are superbly fit, motivated and focused. Indeed when Fitness First and DW gyms went in search in finding the fittest gym members in the UK it came as no surprise that the winning females for 5 years running have all been those that compete in gym challenges on a regular basis. Even some of the male winners over the last 5 years have been gym athletes.

So , then if Gym Challenges produce exceptional levels of fitness, why won’t gyms run them ?

Gym Sport

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can only reflect on my current Gym – TruGym in Chatham Kent when I look for answers. As a member I asked for challenges to be run and as a business I asked for challenges to be run and on both occasions I have been turned down.

It may sound like sour grapes that gym challenges are not created in the likes of TruGym, but I find it odd that they are not encouraged at all. The whole idea of gym members finding a common purpose and training for an event has over the years in the gyms I have witnessed this at has produced nothing but a feeling of bonding and support, from the personal trainers who may find extra clients who want to train for fitness events, or indeed the member who was just bored and needed something else to train for.

I find it hard to understand the mentality of the modern day gym, that are focused on Functional Fitness as a way of encouraging some sort of mass drive to the only way to train is by HIIT Classes or seeking the help of personal trainers. It seems also that there is a massive failing by UK Active in not creating a culture of sport within gyms, whereby as you leave school, you are prepared to enter a gym and know how to train effectively using the equipment provided. On so many occasions, Ive heard form a generation of voices saying we just don’t know how to use the equipment properly in a gym. How is that possible with modern day schools having purpose built gyms in the their grounds?

If a gym claims it will get you fit, then there has to be documented evidence of this working. Not so much on losing weight as gyms simply don’t work work on that front unless you are seriously combining a healthy nutrition to accompany it.

So, will there be a difference in 2018 ? Will gyms be encouraged to try a sport that the whole gym can try if they so wish? Will gyms encourage their members to go out of their comfort zone and look for widening challenges? Or will they as I suspect just let things run they way there are and not do anything.

So far for 2018, in the gym I train at TruGym there are some fancy new posters on the wall, which are very pleasing to the eye, but I suspect will not do much to change the way people train, or seek new challenges. It will be much the same as it was last year. Walk through the door , nod at the receptionist and get on with your own training. Nothing wrong with that, but I just feel it could offer so much more.

 

World Gym Challenge launches its new Monthly Challenge for gym members

World Gym Challenge has been at the forefront of Gym Challenges since its creation in 2006.

What makes a good gym challenge ? 

 

 

 

A good gym challenge has to be simple in its execution, challenging and doable in any gym for any level of fitness to take part in.

This means that the order in which the gym challenge is completed has to be doable within a gym without having to deprive other members of the use of the gym or inconvenience other gym members . In some cases this may be trickier to manage in some of the smaller gyms, but large based gyms should not have a problem.

Gym members that want to take part?

It’s very unlikely your gym will actually run a gym challenge that provides results that are kept in a stable database so that you can reflect on your performance. That is why WGC created a personal folder for you to keep a record of the gym challenges that you take part in.

Why is this ?

Gyms are busy places and basically the gym just do not have the time or the resources to run gym challenges . In fact ask a gym what is a gym challenge and they will not know how to run one or set up a results service.  That is why WGC creates challenges that are Gym Management Free and rely on either established personal trainers to send in results for verification or established members of the community.

 

 

 

 

 

Why only one per challenge per month?

World Gym Challenge has over the years tried most combinations in what would engage gym members to try gym challenges. And for that reason we have reduced the gym challenges to just 12 per year for the Advanced, Intermediate and Non competitive gym member.

The Challenges this year are based on Historical World Leaders , the first is Kennedy.

Based on three levels of fitness.

What is non competitive racing ?

Just pop into a gym and try a challenge Non Competitive Racing is just about trying a gym challenge.

In each case you just need a watch to time yourself .

 

 

 

The perfect Gym Challenge

The Gym Challenge

 

 

 

 

 

In all my time at WGC I’ve been searching for the perfect gym challenge, and that’s over 11 years now. Ive seen combinations from all disciplines absolutely destroy and bring exceptional athletes to their knees. Ive seen the fit and Ive seen the fun athlete compete and push themselves in their own class equally as hard. So finding the perfect workout to suit them both is quite a challenge, but I think I have done it.

But before I go onto the perfect gym challenge, its important to reflect on what makes somebody WANT to go to the gym and to do that you must understand your reasons for going.

This year for me personally my drive and focus has been crushed beyond anything I have ever experienced before. Ive always bounced back and always had a drive to keep me pushing in the gym and working hard and always enjoy a visit to the gym.

This has been my passion for so many years that everyday I’ve always been wondering what will be my next session be like?

So my surprise this year to find myself in probably the worst shape of my life , having been affected by bad luck, injuries,  personal loss, lack of motivation and the discovery of high blood pressure and the eternal issue of being on medication.

I can say now categorically at the start of 2017 I was not expecting such a disastrous new year for my me physically.

So now I find myself searching for the perfect gym challenge to help rescue me and find me again wanting to bring that fire back in my belly instead of watching the waistline grow and see a pattern develop where going to the gym is no longer an option but an inconvenience .

So this is where I look for the perfect gym challenge for me .

And to find to find it I have to look at:

The perfect Gym Workout

  • The equipment in the gym that I use.
  • The duration that I want to be in the gym.
  • The intensity I want to work at.
  • The recovery I need.

The combinations of equipment, time and recovery are endless.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This particular challenge is not the perfect gym challenge, but it is based on the principles of what works to make the best challenge possible on the day. You can change it endlessly and the variations just add to your excitement of discovering the person you want to be.

If I can continue my progress throughout next year and keep a strict eye on my nutrition then I should be able to maintain a healthy lifestyle that is both physically challenging and rewarding when I visit the gym.

Be interesting to see what 2018 brings. Will I keep to the program, or fail to achieve my ambitious plans to be on track with my fitness? I guess many of you are thinking the same.

So to those of you who are looking at perhaps starting a gym regime beginning in the new year then , really learning how best to create gym challenges for you , certainly would be a good place to start.

Check out www.worldgymchallenge.com

 

Hampshire XT 2017

2nd December 2017

David Lloyd in Hedge End Southhampton saw the annual and most popular XT event take place. Entries from all over the UK , US and Iceland came to compete in this arduous and very difficult challenge.

 

 

 

 

 

Consisting of nine disciplines, of varying rep range and distance, three categories of athlete had to race down the course with the fastest time being  the winner .

The Disciplines were :

  1. Step Ups (with dumbbells)
  2. Press Ups
  3. Shuttle Runs
  4. Sit Ups
  5. Bench Press
  6. WattBike
  7. Burpees
  8. Row
  9. Seated Shoulder Press

The course is well established with varying exercises based over 20 years plus.

It was unfortunate that WGC was not involved in any capacity to supply live results and create a continuation of records  and databases for the results for the competitors to receive and look back on over the years ,in fact looking back this ceased in 2008 where I competed on top of a massive hangover and had a great time.

http://www.worldgymchallenge.com/competition_results.asp?CompID=154#ResultsTable

In fact , in the results above  is also results for Anton and Joseph Micallef who have both gone on to compete in Advanced levels.

Robert Gottlieb

So on this occasion, I visited just to really watch a friend race down the course. Robert Gottlieb had traveled from the US to take part and has done on several other occasions too. I felt a sense of immense pride and satisfaction seeing Robert race, something Im sure he shares too. A friend for over ten years Robert represents the true athlete in gym sport, not somebody who is supremely fit but somebody who just loves the thrill of competing, challenging himself and enjoying the day.

Press Ups

Can of worms time. Can Press Ups continue in event race line up ? IMO no. Press Ups are just too difficult to consistently get right by a group of judges who have the difficult task of counting reps, which are just fogged in inconsistency. The exercise is terrific and will continue to end of time with people trying them, but in competition no. This was discussed with Harry Thomsett while at SID 2017 (Strength in Depth) and he was in agreement that press up are just too difficult to judge consistently.

The race report …

No race report. I was in a visiting role who just visited this event to see a friend race , while there I took out the Go Pro and filmed a few friends who Ive known over the years compete and show a film record for them. These have been published onto WGC Blog page.