REVIEW: British Military Fitness

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It’s the same story for anyone with a gym membership. You have the tools around you to get fitter but if you workout on your own are you really going to push yourself that little bit further? You know you’d achieve much better results if you had a personal trainer, but after a little research you find that your bank balance will be the only thing getting a workout!

This weekend I attended a class that poses a possible solution to the problem. Each Saturday (or most Saturdays) when I begin my early morning run in Greenwich Park, I’ll pass a bunch of people wearing coloured bibs, usually led by a burly bloke in camouflaged trousers shouting and screaming. These are the British Military Fitness classes.

The British Military Fitness (BMF) classes are the UK’s leading outdoor fitness provider. They are led by a qualified instructor (all of whom have a military background) and each class consists of a one-hour session of exercises that will push you to your absolute limits.

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When I turned up at 9am to start the class on Saturday morning I had a chat with one of the instructors about my basic level of fitness. I explained that I’d run the marathon back in April and that I was a regular gym goer. This turned out to be an error as he threw me straight into the intermediate class. The classes are broken up into the groups; beginner (blue bibs), intermediate (red bibs) and advanced (green bibs).

Donning my red bib, we immediately started off with a 10-minute warm up and jogged off into Greenwich park. This was focused on getting the heart rate up and consisted of plenty of running exercises (short sharp bursts of speed with rapid changes in direction) and a lot of movement (designed to get the muscles adequately stretched). Because the group was so large (roughly 40 people) we were split up into two. I later found out that the instructors had decided the groups based on what they had seen from you in the warm-ups and tiered them slightly. Apparently I was lower-tier material, which was probably about right.

Our group was led off further around the park, stopping at different points to perform a batch of exercises before moving on. These exercises are largely based on building your core muscle groups. All the instructors have to work with is the park and your body. There are no weights or special tools so the exercises use your own body-weight against you. There were plenty of press-ups, sit-ups and squat exercises during the course of the hour.

One of the best elements of the class is the camaraderie between those attending. Most people (especially the new starters like myself) were initially quite quiet and timid. This really didn’t last long as you’re thrown into exercises with partners. Everyone there was fantastic. I had 5 or 6 different partners throughout the course of the hour and each one of the them was vigorous and encouraging. Considering they were strangers this was incredibly refreshing, especially in a city where the only words you’ll utter to someone you don’t know are “2 pints of lager please”.

They do try to pair you off with someone of similar size and weight. During one exercise we were required to push against one another in an effort to force your opponent over an imaginary line between you. The chap I was paired off with gave me a little wink, said “I’m a rugby player”, dug his heels in and launched me backwards! I reckon I’ll ‘av him after a few more classes.

Overall these classes are an excellent way of staying in shape. Coupled with a running schedule, the BMF would be an ideal way of training for an upcoming race and, based on how I’m feeling today (three days after the class), I’d imagine you’d shed some serious pounds. For the price of a gym membership you can attend these classes as many times a week as you’d like. I’d honestly recommend these classes to anyone. Everyone is incredibly friendly (a few members took me out for a coffee afterwards) and I was in no way made to feel intimidated. Your first class is free and there’s no obligation to sign up if it’s not for you.

The only negative feedback I can report from the day is the lack of water breaks. It was pretty warm on the weekend and we only stopped twice for a quick gulp of water. Considering the intensity of the workout, I didn’t feel that this was enough. Also, I’m not sure I’d have enjoyed the session if the weather hadn’t been so good. Winter is only around the corner…

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Sir Win A Lot

Like what you’ve heard? Well the team at British Military Fitness are kindly giving away one month’s free membership to the BMF classes to 5 lucky SJAL readers! The courses are based all over the UK and, if you’re a winner*, you can select any BMF venue you’d like to attend.

You can enter in one of two ways. Either…

  1. Post a message on Twitter by clicking this link or…
  2. Answer the following question:

Which BMF class was I put in during my introductory session?

A. Beginner

B. Intermediate

C. Advanced

THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED

*Winners will be contacted either by email or Twitter and announced on 1st September. Your email address will in no way be distributed to third parties.

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