AS the New Year is often a time of lifestyle changes with local gyms packed with resolution-makers hoping to get fit, I decided to go down a slightly different route in order to get a helping hand in fulfilling one of my personal goals for 2016 - getting into shape!
With the festive diet debauchery leaving its mark, I, like many others, wanted to make the rough but rapid transition from sofa slob to gym junkie in the hope of shedding the post Christmas pounds.
And so with the motivation to improve my fitness and body shape ahead of my planned summer trip to Mexico, I opted to try something a little out of my comfort zone, rather than returning to the monotony of attending the local gym on my own with no direction and no one to challenge me.
The recently re-branded gym franchise, FF Fitness is renown for achieving remarkable results from transformations, bootcamps, one-to-one personal training, powerlifting and its booming running club and so it stood out as the perfect location to get the results I wanted.
Since its formation in 2012 when it started with just 10 people on a beach in Lisfannon, thousands of people have joined the local fitness revolution and now the FF Fitness brand is planning to change the lives of many more thousands in Ireland, the UK and further afield.
But it was their hugely successful Muscle Camp with its high intensity training methods and diet planning which appealed to me most. Not just the physical challenge but also the educational aspect of the programme.
For me the diet was always going to be the most difficult part of the Muscle Camp programme but training at such a high intensity so early on a cold, dark winter morning was a shock to the system this week.Simon Collins
Led by FF Fitness Ltd. founder, owner and personal trainer, Seamus Fox, the Muscle Camp runs three days per week for four weeks and promises to get fast results from its hypertrophy-specific training.
Like everything else in life, you get out what you put in and I was excited about seeing how far I could change my lifestyle and fitness regime for the better in such a short space of time.
And so I signed up for the first Muscle Camp of the year which began this week. For the next four weeks on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I will force myself out of bed at 5 a.m. and get myself to FF Fitness at Springtown Industrial Estate for 6 a.m.
Fox, or ‘Foxy’ as he’s affectionately known, and his team of highly trained PTs want to ensure everyone gets the best possible results and they offer their expertise and guidance from the start of the camp.
It’s clear a lot of planning goes into the programme and indeed, science, with each recruit offered a biosignature assessment designed to track skinfolds to make sure you’re gaining lean mass and ideally dropping body fat to improve performance and recovery.
So each individual receives a specific nutrition planner or diet tailored for their needs based on the results of the ‘biosig’ test. My own test gave a reading of just over 18 per cent body fat - so clearly a lot of work to be done during the next month.
For me the diet was always going to be the most difficult part of the Muscle Camp programme but training at such a high intensity so early on a cold, dark winter morning was a shock to the system this week.
FF Fitness is such a motivating environment and its trainers have superb no-nonsense motivational skills to get the very best out of you but I have to admit I struggled to get into the swing of things during that first session on Monday morning.
MONDAY 6a.m.: Monday’s session focussed on working chest and back muscles and there was no messing about after a short warm-up.
The group was split into two groups of four and FF Fitness instructor Gerard McDaid took my group through the back exercises which included dead lifts, bent over rows and pull-ups.
After that I could easily have went home happy having seemingly broken myself in but we were ushered upstairs where ‘Foxy’ took us through three chest circuits which had me doubting whether I was cut out for it all, and it was clear there was more than just myself who had over-indulged over Christmas. I persevered and must say I thoroughly enjoyed my introduction to the camp with like-minded individuals determined to achieve their personal fitness goals.
WEDNESDAY 6a.m.: Leg Day. The most dreaded part of the programme for me and the fear was well justified. From lunges, squats, the prowler, leg curls and the deadly hack squat machine, I was like a young Elvis Presley leaving the premises after an intense, high volume 45 minute workout. The tempo controlled session on ‘negative reps’ creates a lot more muscle tension and has your legs on fire!
No doubt I’ll still be feeling the effects of Wednesday’s leg session when we finish our weekly programme this morning with shoulders and arms the focus.
So after a hugely rewarding first week, my New Year resolution is well underway and while the diet is definitely the most testing part, (despite getting my meals kindly prepared by my better half) I can already feel the benefits of my new nutritional programme.
It’s been a rough transition from eating and drinking almost every day of the holidays to hitting the gym three days a week and experiencing the ‘cold turkey’ effect of cutting down on treats. And trying to cope with the early morning starts with a one year-old baby who refuses to allow me to sleep has been a struggle.
I’ve been assigned a high protein high fat diet for the first week which consists of five meals per day with lots of eggs, chicken, veg., fish and meat which I’ll go into more detail about in my next update.
But already I’m reaping the benefits of a ‘clean’ diet and proper fitness regime. I feel far less stressed, stronger and generally better although the early mornings will take some getting used to.
So let’s see what next week brings . . .
Check out Facebook/FF Fitness for further information on classes at FF Fitness centres in Derry, Dungiven and Letterkenny.