Get ready for the latest fitness trend for women (and men) – Strongman training. Don’t worry, you won’t bulk up or look like a body-builder but you may just get fit, strong, lean AND feel absolutely amazing (and who doesn’t want that) says Healthista digital director, Yanar Alkayat
At The Foundry in Old Street (the fitness studio’s latest opening after Vauxhall) I was among 10-12 women doing 65kg prowler pushes, 50kg sled pulls and 20kg farmer-carries along with 10 other functional but weighted moves that had me dripping in sweat and my heart rate hitting 92 per cent. The workout was in pairs – 30 seconds on, 10 seconds off – with both working at the same time doing a pair of moves, switching and then moving onto the next set, like a circuit.
The class is City Strongman and the aim is to get women and men training like an athlete and to adopt a different mindset about training – it’s not about calorie counting or sweating it out on a treadmill, it’s about conditioning the body with resistance training that creates metabolic changes within the body which builds lean muscle and in turn burns fat more effectively.
‘Due to the high demand on your different energy systems when performing the staple strongman movements of pushing, pulling, flipping and lifting, your body quickly shifts gear to fat burning mode as a way to generate more energy. You also finish with a strong oxygen deficit afterwards which ensures your body remains a calorie burning machine long after class,’ explains Ben Gotting, one of The Foundry’s founders, head of training and a former professional rugby player. The other founder, Dave Thomas and coach, Ali McKenzie, are also ex-professional rugby players so you know you’re in good hands.
It’s a more intensive workout and one I’d choose any day over any other class.
‘We launched City Strongman to empower women to do things they didn’t know they could do,’ says Gotting. If you’ve never done this kind of workout before then you might be faced with having to lift and manipulate awkwardly shaped objects, grip and move in unusual ways and challenge your mind as well as your body. There’s a lot of skill involved in lifting heavy, bulky objects and I definitely enjoy that mental stimulation as well as the physical. Plus the motivation and encouragement you get from coaches Ali and Laura Hoggins who both took the class powers you through.
‘WHAT DOES IT TRULY MEAN TO BE A STRONG WOMAN? // Is it that you can deadlift, should you be able to squat your body weight? Should you be able to push a prowler for days on end? Should you be able to rep out a log press throwing weight above your head over and over? Or is it that you have a strong attitude, self-confidence, an empowered outlook on life where you believe anything is possible? Where you surround yourself with amazing humans who lift you up and make you the best version of you? For me, the answer is all of the above.’- @bicepsandbronzer on Instagram
One misconception about strongman training is that you have to be strong to start. There’s absolutely no requisite for that because everything is scaled (i.e. you lift the weight that’s appropriate and challenging to you) but we bet you’ll be hustling for that muscle before long because it’s seriously addictive.
My only previous experience of anything similar is two years of CrossFit training (where strongman kit such as sand bags, farmer carries, sled and prowler pushes is sometimes used) and one other strongman class at Skorpion Fitness in West Ham.
What I found is that being around people who are stronger than you can be highly motivating and pushes you to strive for more. There’s also the progression element – at first you may only be able to lift and push press 20kg log but six months later you’re best friends with the 30kg log which is hugely empowering and keeps you coming back to the class month after month. I find the element of progression sadly missing in typical gym classes.
After many years of just running to stay slim and fit, finally the focus is less about what my body looks like and more about what it can do and this mental shift feels healthy, positive and most of all sustainable.
..this is about what my body can do not what it looks like
Now I’m constantly trying to push the boundaries of physical and mental achievement and it’s only through classes like this where I can test it and surprise myself. I would encourage any girl to do the same, get out of the gym rut and push yourself to doing something you didn’t imagine you could do. It’s also the best happiness tonic, ever.
Visit foundryfit.com for more info on City Strongman training
Healthista’s digital director aka Glow Girl is Yanar Alkayat, a health and beauty writer for the UK national press. She blogs on ethical beauty and lifestyle at brightershadeofgreen.co.uk and tweets at @YanarBeauty.