Fitness Racing and Equal Fitness Racing (EFR)

Part 2

Last week I wrote about Fitness Racing and its drive to be recognised to form a governing body to be representative of a sport and be the  Fitness Racing Federation.

 

 

 

 

 

I do think this is a necessary step in the evolution of fitness. Having witnessed the event at Bath and the atmosphere created there its almost a necessity.

However there are boundaries that need to be mentioned at this point and something that sets the differences between World Gym Challenge and what happens in Fitness Racing.

World Gym Challenge fundamental call for a sport, was centred around Equal Fitness Racing (EFR) that is the pre determined time of a fitness event for the individual taking place and then matched against somebody with the  same (or close as possible ) time frame for completion. In this way, no matter what level of fitness you are, you are guaranteed and absolute fair and equal race, that has no boundaries in physical ability.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Its very important for the future of fitness racing to see the differences in both structures and the reason for this blog. So when the mist starts to fall with similar views, the boundaries have been mentioned and there is no call for blurred lines to cause confusion.

Where the Fitness Industry is and where Fitness Racing is. 

Although WGC has been around since 2006 , the reality of what it envisaged then as a sport , has not materialised. In fact its fair to say that the Industry never in any format supported the need of a sport for gyms. That is essentially , members of gyms, competing in a fitness challenge against other gym members from other gyms to be the basis of a sport. And yet Fitness Racing has seen a positive growth in its infancy to produce a strategic and current plan to increase its format into a legitimate sport, in a relative short period of time.

Why is the reason for this ?

It’s the hardest question to answer, because the theory has always stood the test of time. What is needed for a sport to exist ?  Members, equipment and venues. That has not changed and will not change, in fact it will only increase. Its the Fitness Industry itself that is the problem. The gyms are a financial source for revenue. That is their priority and a sport that centres on another source of income, a sport is just not needed because the current format works so well. That is why CrossFit had to form outside of gyms and create their own rules, because the existing infrastructure simply would not allow it to grow within their boundries.

 

 

 

 

 

The reality of growth

Unless your head has been buried so far in the sand that you are breaching the sands of Bondi Beach , you must have noticed how successful the model of CrossFit has been over the last ten years. The model works , so what is the Fitness Industry afraid of ?

Gyms just do not deliver on their promises of fitness

There is currently no benchmarking system on improvement in fitness in the Fitness Industry. Or none that I am aware of. So thats not to say that there are none out there, just that out of the 6 , 728 gyms , and the 9.7 million members (1 in 7) and a total value of £4.7 bn , not one gym will entertain the fact of challenging another gym to a fitness challenge, using the equipment they all have in their establishments. To put this in context this is like out of the 7000 football teams estimated in the UK, they would only play football amongst themselves, not other teams. They would never know just how good they were. Or in this case how fit they have become.

Conclusion.

So at some stage the question has to be asked, how good am I ? Have I improved in fitness since I have joined this gym? And how do I find the answer? And the only logical answer I have ever come up with is to form a sport that records the information , has a governing body and has an infrastructure in place to over see its future growth. Fitness Racing Federation is certainly needed, but with an Industry with £4.7 bn and expected to increase to £5 bn in 2020 is it needed? The current format works in generating income, what it doesn’t do is deliver on the improvement in fitness with year on year statistics. And the only way I can see this happening, is by creating a sport for gyms, thats starts at school and continues into adult life.

 

Strength in Depth 2017

Strength in Depth Final 2017

I was invited down by the organisers of Inferno racing to see the final of what can can be labelled the biggest Fitness Racing event in Europe and the search to find the fittest collective members of a fitness training establishment.

More importantly though, and what the main reason for my visit was to see was two fold.

  1. To see how the progress develops into the search of Sport recognition
  2. To compare just how the differences between Gym Sport and SiD have reached their respective levels (later blog)

The first is to see how the progress develops into Sport recognition, something that WGC had the painful process of undergoing in 2006. And this is where Id like to feature predominately on yesterdays event.

Harry Thomsett from Inferno Racing and now set to lead the way in The Federation of Fitness Racing  gave a passionate speech during this event about the need to gain  acceptance as a sport, he mentioned the amount of money table tennis receives each year to compliment its sport, then went onto make comparisons about the level of fitness seen here today and the lack of funding that goes into Fitness Racing and he has a point.

It is unfair for me to write an article to which most of the work that goes on in creating a sport is done behind closed doors, so this observational post, through discussions with Harry throughout the day and what I have seen and experienced over my past endeavours and what I saw take place yesterday. What I can say is its a tremendous slog. It is relentless and there is little reward for the hours spent when seeing little or no progress.

Sport England

Is the obvious place to start.  Its where I started and where the acceptance to be a sport is granted , through a very tough and long winded process. Only those with the very stout hearts and determination beyond their wildest levels of endurance need apply.

 

The first question is the obvious starting point?

Is there a need for Fitness Racing to have a NGB ?

 

 

 

 

 

And the over riding answer on every level is yes. Fitness Racing needs to be  centralised with a governing body to oversee the structure and growth for future events. It is how sports develop and flourish.

Growth Period

If you take 2017 as the day the ball started to roll and look to the future of gaining acceptance. Then this process is at the foot of Mount Everest. The climb for recognition can take take in my opinion at least ten years. If the end goal is to be represented in the Olympics, then perhaps even longer – ask Squash if its been an easy ride? But then ask Parkour and what appears division into whether Parkour is a sport or an art. My point being that an NGB is needed to oversee Fitness Racing, but it will boil down to the mass participants supporting that notion, or if they just want to continue competing in existing events.

 

 

 

 

 

Sport Politics.

Once the momentum starts then its the politics that decide if it stays the course. In fighting, feuds, arguments, pressure of work, lack of empathy, frustration , are just the tip of the iceberg, but all are cracks in what has to be a unified structured approach. If you do not have the bond and a joint vision, you do not have a start point in which to create your platform. After all, what’s to say that in five years time, somebody else comes along and begins their own process, that is well financed, planned and has all the hall marks of the perfect set up. So if Fitness Racing is to have a chance, those that are in the driving seat, need the support of those are representative of the sport they represent.

Will Sport England accept that a NGB is needed? 

Looking at the website for Sport England and their new attitude in acceptance to a changing platform in sport , then perhaps, they may just give Fitness Racing a chance. If FR can adhere to the five principles of acceptance, then there could be a start process. But that is also true for any activity seeking acceptance as a sport, so this is why its vital for the FR community to start looking at Grass Root growth, rather then elite races, to build on.

 

 

 

 

 

Taking the next level 

From what I saw yesterday. FR is a 360 Activity. It encompasses much of the structure from many sports and combines them into a format that allows its own unique individual and team athletes to be acknowledged as some of the fittest and most inspiring athletes in the UK today which have   been created from a Grass Root level. None of the athletes have been funded. They train in their own time, many holding existing and very demanding jobs and furthermore, the expense to compete is met by their own finance.

My concerns at this point. 

Identity . Sport has to have its own identity. Where do you pull participants of your events for a sport ? Now it seems that from yesterday, a large percentage if not all were from certain training establishments from all over Europe. And this brings with it its own risks in engaging into the need for Sport acceptance. As what works now will work in ten years time, only be more refined (and it was pretty slick yesterday), so is there a need for an NGB ? Drawing from an affiliation backed company for your participants, means that effectively, you are dependent on their support and possibly sponsorship. What you don’t want to do is come into conflict or bite the mouth of those  who supply the athletes.

As to who is the Governing Body. Simply put they will be  the ones who run the show and will decide the future of all Fitness Racing Events.

Conclusion

Without question an NGB into Fitness racing is needed. There has never been a better time to start this ball rolling. But that is just a brave vision of the few who dare to look at the potential. And there lies the problem. When a mass market has potential, then it is often followed up , by a pack willing to nip, bite , scavenge and destroy at the bricks that have to be laid in the process that leads to acceptance.

 

 

 

 

 

Harry , I wish you every success in your journey. Its a brave thing you do, which will be relentless and unforgiving over many days ahead.

 

 

 

 

Gym Sport – School work outs to continue into your adult life.

The school is a giant arena for gym sports

Years ago I had dealings with the FIA -Fitness Industry Association (which is now UK Active) I was a member for a period of time and during that time it would be fair to say that we did not get along. The FIA it seemed liked the big establishments and as a not for profit organisation membership that was crucial. So as a single database to capture a new sport in fitness, we did not fit into the super elite of the fitness world.

But what was I saying then (2006)  the industry needs to change . The industry needs a new fresh approach it to its stagnant, boring and mundane routine of work outs. What we needed was a sport.

 

 

 

 

 

And here came the problems, the then man in charge of the FIA was David Stalker and he was adamant that fitness was not a sport, it was a means to train for a sport. The fall out was inevitable as the FIA could not see a developing market that was to be headed by the UK. We had the athletes, the events and the data to showcase what the UK Gym Athlete was capable of, but it did not matter, because we were not a recognised sport, and as such Sport England who were not then talking with the FIA , could not contribute towards funding,  in their eyes Exercise Movement and Dance was all that was needed as a sporting National Governing Body, which had no intention of creating a sport for gyms.

So we move on twelve years to where are now and the rise of CrossFit is dominating the gym scene. Described then as micro gyms, the growth is phenominal.

I wonder how David Stalker fees now with his vision to fitness is not a sport?

But maybe now there is a sense of logic into sport adapting into schools. The recent non impact rugby debate is now gaining momentum, no doubt , 10 years on there will be a very serious , if not enforced gaming rules which will minimise the extension into sports from schools.

So is there not now  a case to be heard for gym sports to be fronted by the education board of the UK? A non impact sport that continues from school into your adult life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

World Gym Challenge, had this vision in 2006 based on the scenario, as you go through school, you are tested on what you have learned (exams) Results published form the basis of education statistics on whether the school is performing and the teachers achieving in their teaching, in many cases funding is dependent on schools performing well.

It would make sense for gyms to test their members into achieving increased fitness, by means of a sport created using the equipment used in a gym.

Public funding would make much more sense if there was a continuation from education, into adult life, where the sport you did at school could continue, not for the elite of the sporting few, but for those who will in later life join a gym, and be prepared to be able to engage in a sporting activity.

Fitness – Are you training the body ? What about the brain ?

Training is a minefield.

  1. What happens at the point of arrival to the point of departure when you enter the gym?
  2. How do you get the balance right in training?
  3. What will make you return and continue the cycle without getting bored?
  4. How do you know if your training is working?

Ive been going to the gym for the best part of twenty years and in all that time, Ive been searching for the answer to the perfect workout. I will get something out of the way first aesthetics has never interested me. How you look and how you want to look is more of a personal issue and for those of you who train for this, there is nothing wrong with it, but this post will not be aimed at you .

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ive noticed over the years, that fitness magazines basically regurgitate the same information and pictures of training, the bent over row, the standing shoulder press , the same type of sets, the same type of training.

The information being delivered is outdated, not really agreed with within the fitness community and often the cause of misinformation and constant arguments.

So what makes the way we train at World Gym Challenge any different, why do we consider ourself ahead of the game ?

And the answer lies in its focus on the brain. The brain is the powerhouse for the body. If it says stop, you will stop. If it says give in, you will give in. And everybody is governed by the brain when it comes to training. The brain is point of focus that has to be in tune with your body, if you are going to train effectively.

Ive been working on a simple principle of repetitive training. Its the same old argument if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you will get what you always have. Or will you ?

Why is it then , the 2000 m is the set distance for the rower?

Why is the marathon at 26 miles?

Why is the fastest sprint in the world 100 m ?

The answer is so that you can create the right training pattern for a set distance. If you have random , constant changes, that you will forever be searching for answers about your training.

So the circuit I created was

  • 5 km Bike
  • 1 km Row
  • 400 m 10 %

Each with a two minute recovery between them. And completed twice . That will be around a 43 to 44 minute circuit.

The idea is to run, the last 400 m at 10 % incline  at a  constant speed of 9 kph (depending on fitness levels) speed levels will vary.

The row is at 18 spm with a variable of a 2.05 / 2.07 500 m split

The Bike is touching on between 95 – 100 rpm (level 12 Life fitness)

 

 

 

 

It is essentially six challenges done back to back with 2 minutes recovery. Each peak represents a section of this challenge

  1. Peak 1 – Bike
  2. Peak 2 – Row
  3. Peak 3 – Treadmill
  4. Peak 4 – Bike
  5. Peak 5 – Row
  6. Peak 6 – Treadmill

Its the treadmill we are focused on to enable all six peaks to to have only one pinnacle and not be broken as seen in Peak 3 and 6 .

I will show you 3 more graphs where I have tried to get six single peaks and failed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a kill point at which time the brain, says give up on the treadmill and it only happens on the treadmill, the bike and row are not maximal efforts, although the heart rate would suggest it is on the row. The row is tough, but at 153 – 156 hr you do not reach the kill point on the row (the moment of absolute exhaustion where the brain has given in) but you do on the treadmill

 

 

That is not to say it can’t be reached on the rower – ask any rower! But on this test the 400 m 10% incline is the final test for the brain to be tested.

To reach six peaks only is the desired goal.

So in theory you can train the same system, same routine, but your goals are defined by your mental ability to endure the rising heart rate and being able to control the signals to your brain with the urge to give in.

If you look at the first 4 questions in this thread, by completing six peaks, will answer them all. The focus and desire is there, the only restriction is controlling the brain signals which force you to stop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

That is how we train at World Gym Challenge. That is what makes our training different.

Its not about how we look, but how we focus during our training.

Point of interest. You can get a faster time on the treadmill by recovering when you have completed 50% distance (over 200m) and then sprinting at a far higher constant speed – but that defeats the object. It’s cheating without cheating. To run the constant speed is the test. To get only six peaks. And this is where you be challenged.

You will need a good heart rate monitor to train this way.

 

 

FitBrit 2017 – 13 weeks to go.

FitBrit 2017 

There are roughly 13 weeks to go till the final of FitBrit and probably the winner is already at peak fitness now. That it is to say , the qualifying time and the actual final result, will not vary by much. Excitement and the the encouragement of the crowd will create an edge and your winning time may be a few seconds quicker, but then again you can get penalised for non reps and keeping focused, when being frustrated is another complication and very hard to deal with.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mental Focus

Before you know it the final is here. These past weeks of training have now come to an end and you have arrived to take part in your possibly your first final. How do you keep your body in tune? How do you not let the nerves get to you ? What should you eat ? How will you cope with being judged? These questions all rely on what you do now and what happens on the day of the final and its all about preparation.

Preparation

With 13 weeks to go you may think that you now have it covered. But what is your opposition thinking? Are they thinking we can train relentlessly , and go all out giving the body a  huge beasting to prep and be ready for that day. Or are they thinking , Ive peaked now and now I need to train smart. I need to know every part of this course. I need to be trained in all aspects of recovery and taking my body to its limits. I need to look at my nutrition so that when I turn up , there is nothing more I can do. I am ready.

Being ready 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The winners of Fitness events at extreme level will not vary much, those that won it last year will rank well this year. They are looking out for the newbies, who have come out of dark and waiting to unleash their talents. There are those as well that have been involved in Gym Sports for ten years or so who may choose to enter.  There is a certain breed of athlete who is just formatted to cope with circuit type event and they are ready now. They are fine tuning their training. They have the confidence and more importantly the ability to push any single athlete on the day to their extreme limit. They have what it takes to be at the top of their game for around ten minutes extreme pain , where every second counts, every transition has been prepared for and in some cases, their game plan is going according to all of their training. Thats what will make the difference.

World Gym Challenge will help you in that preparation. 

We will provide a number of gym challenges specifically aimed at FitBrit, to help push you to your extreme. To keep you focused in the gym.

Look out for our FitBrit Challenges … coming soon

 

World Gym Challenge – Gym Sport Championships – Black Hawk – Advanced & Intermediate

Charles Green

Charles Green is from a number of gym’s. Fitness First in Romford, Absolute Gym in Romford and his local CrossFit Box too. At one time he was spending over £200 a month on gym membership alone. Charles is a dedicated gym athlete. He also won FitBrit in 2015, beating Mens’s Fitness promo athlete Will Kane. In 2016, Charles for some reason was not invited to the finals, although having submitted a time that allowed him to qualify.

Gym Sport Championships

World Gym Challenge created 36 events to be completed each year at your own gym. We supply the database so that any member of a gym take part and have their results uploaded into a giant database so that all results can be be compared.

The events are broken down into 6 Series Events

  1. Legends
  2. Baddass
  3. Bite Hard
  4. Braves
  5. Hard Steel
  6. Psycho

Each Series having six gym challenges to complete.

This is Black Hawk from ‘ Braves’ it allows both Intermediate and Advanced athletes to see their combined comparisons.

 

 

 

 

 

This is the video that shows you the disciplines involved in Black Hawk

 

 

Black Hawk Advanced / Charles Green / World Gym Challenge

This is Charles Green completing the final phase of Black Hawk and the final stage of the challenge having already completed .

 

 

 

 

 

Charles was consistent on the row at around a 1.36 split and then faced the incline runs at 10%

This was how he coped on the final 600m 10% incline. A full edited version will be uploaded asap.

Quite simply amazing. Outstanding performance. The reaction at the end is testament as to how hard this challenge.

FitBrit 2017

So it looks like FitBrit is back on the agenda for all you gym members out there.

Let me tell you this, FitBrit ain’t easy and probably this year, the winner will be somebody who thoroughly deserves the title of UK’s fittest gym member. And thats for one reason, because FitBrit is the only gym challenge of significance that caters for a multi regional event. Meaning that from all over the UK gym members can go up against the best.

Let’s have a look at this years event.

And break it down into the Male category

Traditionally this event has always been a Run , Bike , Row meaning that is where the significant time gains can be made, but this year with the lateral CTF (Chest to floor) Burpee that could well be a game changer.

A lot of new exercises into this year’s challenge too incorporating more Barbell, Kettlebell and high lactic exercises. So a welcome break from previous years where the exercises were too generic to really test the individuals down the course.

If you want to send splits to World Gym Challenge then its quite easy, all you have to do is get a personal trainer to fill out the online verification form and we will enter it for you free of charge.

http://www.worldgymchallenge.com/form_clienttime.asp

Remember , the smart people will look at their splits, because thats the way the smart people train, just ask, Tracy Davies (Winner) Nicci French (Winner) and Charles Green (Winner)

World Gym Challenge Training Tip

Here’s some advice in how to train for FitBrit – if you want to push yourself hard , then create a circuit . Look at the split for that circuit and try to beat it .

 

How to create the perfect ‘Gym Challenge’ for your gym.

The perfect gym challenge

It seems in this day and age that the dawn of the WOD (Workout of the day) has set a precedent in what challenges should be like. And in theory if you are CrossFit orientated and of a fairly high and competent level of fitness with a good understanding of your body, then completing WODs is no bad thing.

What World Gym Challenge does is break down the format of a challenge and engage the athlete to tackle a challenge in stages. This allows the athlete to be more focused on the challenge ahead and by breaking down the splits, you engage not only the physical stress, but also the mental stress too. For example The Run Bike Row Gym Challenge . This was designed for its simplicity and its generic compatibility with almost any gym.

  1. Treadmill – 400 m 10 % Incline
  2. Bike – 2 km
  3. Row 500 m

Each of these stages require specific adaptation over time to overcome. Periodisation of this challenge is in the region of  8 weeks to 3 years to peak.

Now thats a pretty bold statement and reflects on your current levels of fitness , your history of training and your mental state. But there will be an element of this challenge that will throw your entire body into breakdown if you have not trained for it properly. Having said that, you can also do this challenge without any real physical preparation as a training day.

Training your mind

The perfect gym challenge must be doable by any one athlete. If you think about it running 400 m on a track strikes this balance. Anybody can run 400 m who is of general good health, the trick it comes down to is the time it takes you to do it. And a good gym challenge takes on that principle. Once you know you can complete a distance you can then train for it properly.

Understanding the splits

Breaking down the splits and pre preparation comes in time. Knowing what speeds to run at , what pull ratio you must complete the row in  and the rpm of the bike all comes with time and practice. You must have a a sound understanding of these basic requirement based on your own level of fitness if you want to become a gym athlete. If you are not wearing a watch with a stop watch function you are not going to be able to train properly

Your Gym Layout

To create the perfect gym challenge your gym must have the space or the equipment set out in the appropriate order. This must be done so that the transitions from equipment are done as safely and as fast as possible to save on time. At each station you must be timed.

Periodisation to the event

Make announcements that the event is going ahead in good time. Involve as many personal trainers and gym staff as possible and create a community feel for this occasion. In the gym itself members  can find training partners to push one another and time each other making sure you record your progress. A good standard time is eight weeks from start to finish. But that is only for the first occasion, remember the peak training time for this event is around 3 years.

Create an atmosphere

The biggest stumbling block by far. In the gyms we have used so far there is normally one person who leads the way. One person who needs to inspire the entire gym to get motivated and focused. And this is where the problems start. Unless there it total commitment from the management to the athlete, there will be no challenge. The day to day running of any gym takes precedent over any challenge. So creating an atmosphere  is the singular most important part of any challenge, without a sense of taking part, you will not have an event.

Letting people know their results

Having trained for eight weeks, its important that you know your splits from the event so that you can benchmark them for any training plans or challenges.

World Gym Challenge

Fortunately World Gym Challenge  allows any WGC  event to take place in your gym and have an online leader board on hand so that all splits can be inputted at the time of the race for cross comparison. It is here, when you see the breakdown of the splits that you will understand just what is possible and how much more in the way of training you will need.

Post Event

Use social media to really showcase what your gym did. Create video and photo content. Interview your members like they are top ranking athletes and write about them, promote them and use their stories so that the next event gains the momentum so everybody is looking forward to it. It is true to say after every gym challenge I have ever taken part in I have never heard anybody say that they did not enjoy it. Your members will thank you for it and stay, possibly tell their friends who may want to join and be at your gym and membership retention would benefit , its very much a win win scenario.

Training for the Run Bike Row