Sports editor’s new challenges in #getgrahamfit drive

WORKSOP Guardian sports editor Graham Smyth discovers some new challenges in his quest to get fit, with the help of the instructors at Apple Fitness.


JUST when I thought it was safe to go back in the gym...

My last blog contained my thoughts that I had made some progress in my fitness drive, and then instructors Matt Wilde, Joe Palmer, Tom Wilde and Joe Smith knocked me off my perch.

In the last two weeks I’ve encountered physical activity that I had previously never heard of, most of it really difficult.

With Matt, it was ‘EDT’ (escalating density training) and with Joe it was a power circuit and ‘Turkish get ups’.

Tom had doing interval training and ‘giant sets’.

Joe Smith’s first ever session with me was a bodyweight circuit.

The EDT involved alternating between two different weight lifting or bodyweight exercises (10 reps at a time) for 10 minutes to work specific muscle groups.

While I did one exercise, Matt did the other and then we swapped.

So I had to try and keep up with him.

Joe started me off with some boxing, pad work, to warm up and then had me swinging and throwing barbells and dumbells around for short and intense bursts, repeating the exercises a few times before moving on.

The Turkish get ups are a nasty variation on a sit up that involves moving from your back to a standing position, working almost every muscle group on the way up and back down again.

More boxing to finish had me shaking, physically shaking, for the next couple of hours at my desk. Joe said this paid testament to how hard I worked, words of encouragement that made me feel better about how difficult the training was.

Tom’s session didn’t take me too far outside my comfort zone, but there were some real muscle burning moments.

The interval training had me running at pace on the treadmill for two minutes, then jogging lightly for two, back to pace and then back to jogging.

On the rowing machine it was one minute as fast as I could, one minute steady.

Weighted lunges, jumping squats holding a power bag on my shoulders, leg press and shuttles just about finished me off.

The bodyweight circuit with Joe Smith involved three types of press ups, with as many as I could do in a minute.

I used the pull ups machine, crouched into a squat position and tried to hold it, did the plank for as much of a minute as possible, had three minutes on the bike cycling at over 100rpm constantly, and finished with three minutes of non stop boxing.

All of these sessions reminded me that I’m still not fit, and three years of lazy living will not be undone in six weeks.

However, my legs, arms and shoulders are definitely feeling the benefit, and I’ve loved how varied my gym sessions are.

In around 15 sessions I’ve only ever done the same thing twice – the spinning classes.

It keeps it interesting, I’m always learning and there are always new challenges for me.

Today I went for some more sports massage with Steve Chambers.

For an hour he chatted football, his playing days with clubs like Boston United, and had me wincing and gasping as he probed the muscles in my back and released tension from my shoulders.

He also stretched my quads and hamstrings, to points where I very nearly asked him to stop, but back at my desk I’m feeling amazingly loose and much of the tension and stress of a busy week has gone.

Next week I’m hoping for a six-week progress check on things like body composition, to find out just how effective all these intense sessions are.

It may sound like torture, and not much fun at all, but in all honesty it has become incredibly enjoyable.

I love the routine of popping from the office to the gym, breaking up the day, forgetting everything for an hour as I put every ounce of strength to use and heading back to the office feeling accomplished.

If it didn’t hurt, it probably wouldn’t do a great deal for me.

Sometimes you’ve just got to get your head down, grit your teeth and, in the words of my instructors, ‘breathe through it’.

By @GrahamSmyth