UK gyms owned by natural bodybuilders

April 20, 2014

UK gyms owned by natural bodybuilders (a work in progress!)

Well, what else is there to do on a rainy Easter Sunday? 😉

Actually, this is part of a new blog series I’ll be starting soon. I aim to make a list of all UK gyms which are owned/managed by natural bodybuilding competitors (current or retired!), and then visit as many of them as possible and write a blog post about each one. Hopefully the blog series will eventually become a useful guide to gyms owned by natural competitors.

It might take me about 74 years to get round to them all but hey, I like a challenge! And I’m only 21 so it should be fine 😉

In the meantime, if you own or manage a gym and you’d like it to be on this map or on my “Nic’s natty gym tour”, please get in touch.

UK gyms owned by natural bodybuilders is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

Interval training at Fresh

April 4, 2011

OK so I lied about no more photos of me training for a while. When I wrote that, I forgot that I was due to go and train at Fresh, a gym and athletic conditioning facility newly opened in Shepperton.

Fresh contacted me through Twitter and invited me along to train with S&C coach Mike Lovett, on one of my HIIT days. Sure thing, I said. Put me through my paces. Let’s just say the drive home was…challenging. I kind of wished I was driving an automatic. It’s been a long time since my quads have felt like that!

To back up a bit: Fresh is just a couple of months old. It’s a big facility and combines traditional gym floor stuff (cardio machines, resistance machines and free weights) with athletic conditioning equipment in a lovely big space. There’s a scaffold, suspension training equipment, Olympic lifting, squat rack, kettlebells, battling ropes, punchbags and lots more.

I met Mike, my designated trainer, who asked me what I wanted to get out of the session. He already knew I was 14 weeks out from my figure comp (it’s taken me a couple of weeks to get this blog post up!) I’d told him I do plenty of heavy lifting but have little space or equipment with which to do really good conditioning sessions.

First of all, Mike led me through a warm-up focusing on mobility and dynamic stretching. He then revealed my circuit to me: five exercises focused on whole-body movement patterns (lunge, squat, pull, push and rotation)…and told me I’d go round five times. 45 seconds on, 15 off, and a bonus rest between sets. Eek!

Here’s what I did (with coach Mike’s explanations)

1) Lateral strap-shuttles
“Plyometric loading of the legs in a semi squat position whilst support the posture with the suspension straps, this exercise is great for heart rate training and really gets those legs full of blood”

2) Rope drives
“Using a 30kg heavy-duty rope, the aim is to get the whole body firing up in sequence with triple extension from ankle, knee and hips, an explosive power endurance exercise which will challenge the whole body”

3) Squat jump to hangs
“A favourite exercise of mine, great for separation and definition in the quads! Using a frame around 7ft high: stand directly under the frame in a squat position and explosively jump up and catch the pole above. Hold in an isometric position for 2 seconds. Let go and land softly in a full squat and simultaneously explode back up to the frame and repeat for the duration. A fierce explosive exercise!”

4) Get ups
“The aim of this exercise is simple: get on the floor from a standing position and – as quickly as possible – get up again. This usually involves a high tempo work rate including a squat, press up and lunge, and works both concentrically and eccentrically in all movements.


5) Endurance punch bag work
“Nothing gets the heart going like a little boxing. Using a 35kg hanging bag, I had Nicola punching high and hard for prolonged periods. This was challenging and got the heart rate up massively whilst keeping Nicola focused on the target throughout.” (I concur… 😉 )

My heart was pounding and I was completely knackered after that lot, but it was a clever circuit which fooled me into carrying on.. the 15 second rest period was just enough recovery for me to forget what the fuss was all about, and one or two of the exercises were just easier (not “easy”, just “easier”..!) enough to convince me I could make it through another round.

The exercises Mike chose for me got my heart rate up, worked my entire body and blasted me from all angles – lateral, explosive, triple extension and all that good stuff. I asked him to explain why he chose them:

This session was designed specifically for Nicola going into a HIIT training day. Although many people associate HIIT with treadmills/rowing machines, this session was purely based on body weight exercises challenging every muscle group by keeping the heart rate raised with short rest periods which in turn results in a fantastic HIIT training session. My aim was to work on an explosive basis, ensuring maximum force in every movement, this was evident with the load and explode squat jump and hangs.

Nicola was great to work with and really put in a fantastic effort throughout, already looking in great condition for her upcoming figure competitions. It was a pleasure to train Nicola and give her some guidance on training structures.

Without question Nicola got the HIIT workout she requested and also went away with some new ideas towards training.

Nicola, I hope you enjoyed the experience at Fresh and we look forward to seeing you again.

Mike was a fantastic coach, calling out words of encouragement all the way through and saying just the right thing to keep me going. One of my favourite was during the squat jumps/hangs: “Load up that squat and explode out of it…it will really get some separation going in those quads.” Yes please, sign me up!

Fresh is a great facility and well worth a visit if you’re in the area. As well as training in the indoor facilities, the team do a range of classes, outdoor sessions and are about to start dedicated triathlon training sessions at an open-water swimming lake. So, whatever your sport or fitness goal, do check them out if they’re in your patch.

Thank you Mike and the rest of the Fresh team, the session was great (and took me a while to recover from!) and it was a pleasure to see your facility.

You can follow Fresh and Mike on Twitter, and Fresh on Facebook.

Interval training at Fresh is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

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