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.


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.


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.

FitBrit 2017 – Gym Circuit 2

Treadmill / Row / Bike / CTF Lateral Jump Burpees

Do you know your treadmill speeds / 500 m row / stroke pace / RPM Bike  pace at maximum level ?

OK ,  so you are now in the sub 12 minute category of FitBrit (Advanced) and you are thinking about training for the big day in December and then thinking how is the best way to train for this?

Well lets something straight outa the way first, those of you with a qualifying time of  – sub 10’s (Men) sub 11 (Women’s) one of you will win this.

So there is no magic potion here, if you are in that category, chances are you have a good shot at winning FitBrit. But training for FitBrit needs a very good understanding of your maximal output.

So here at WGC , we have developed a Treadmill , Row , Bike and CTF finish Circuit.


To understand your maximal outputs in set distances.

A game plan before you go into the final is a good starting point. To know what your maximal reach is during each stage of FitBrit in your head and what you can do without gassing out during your race is a sensible approach.

Alternative Training

Alternative Training is the new approach to endurance events, where the focus is more on  brain activity during an endurance race and heart rate control. It’s exclusive to WGC and is reliant on having a sports watch monitor and understanding splits in your training approach.

Treadmill speeds 

Know your treadmill speeds








This 2000 m pyramid plays on set speeds with 30 seconds recovery

800 m – as fast as you can on one speed

600 m – match your above speed

400 m – match your above speed

200 m + 2 kph on your best speed

Row 500 m pace 

Know your 400 m pull / stroke finish








At 400 m (finals distance) you need to get as much distance covered in the shortest possible time (No shit Sherlock) But if you get on to row and are unable to give your best ever 400 m, it could be the matter of winning and losing .

The final 400 m needs to be conducted by not even looking at the screen , but knowing how many pulls / strokes will get you to the finish line. So you must work on your row ratio. And get the most economical finish.

You must be able to complete 400m in your set number of pull / strokes.

Bike RPM 

Maintain high RPM on the Bike








Lvl 14 for Men is a hard slog and Level 10 for women is a push

120 plus rpm must be maintained for the duration of the 1.5 km .

You will need to be coming in under 2 minutes – 2.20 for a 1.5 km finish

Ideally if Mens Fitness and Fitness First DW Fitness got their act together they would be supplying WattBikes.

World Gym Challenge – FitBrit Gym Circuit 2 

30 second recoveries prepare the brain in knowing exactly what breaks you are getting when mixed with fixed distances .

2 min recovery breaks allow the heart rate to return to a lower acceptable start point

FitBrit Gym Circuit 2








The CTF Lateral Jump Burpees need to be completed in one hit, which will be possibly where a lot of finalist will come unstuck and a smooth technique , is what needs to be worked on.






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.