Well, it mightn’t to Papa Hemingway, but it certainly matters to this writer. And as such, I have studiously spent the best part of my twenties avoiding most forms of physical exertion. You may not be surprised to note that this cowardice does not result in a physique that could be called ‘beach ready’.
Fortunately, the good people at Freedom2Train have found the solution for our beach anxiety in their ‘beach ready’ workouts on Wandsworth Common. Every Tuesday and Saturday mixed male and female groups meet to spend an hour completing a series of exercises as quickly as possible. These workouts are designed to transform our city-crafted bodies into something more suitable for indulging in sun, sea and…. building sandcastles.
The class I attended was overseen by the friendly Steve and James, who do their utmost to encourage you through a session. Both of them are high-achieving athletes who have a keen interest in fitness, and clearly know whereof they speak. There are quite a few returning clients, who are quick to commiserate with and encourage new arrivals.
The premise of the training is simple – spend an hour outside, and work as many muscles as possible in that time. It is essentially circuit training, with brief breaks between sets for the participants to catch their breath before moving on to the next exercise. The great benefit to this is that you are competing mostly against yourself, and a timer. The exercises are sufficiently varied to keep boredom at bay, while challenging enough to work groups of muscles that you didn’t know existed.
As most of us with under-used gym memberships know, circuit training classes are offered by most gyms. However, I certainly found that doing circuits outside was a revelatory experience, and that set Freedom2Train apart from other options. There was no crappy pop music, no stale air-conditioning and no athlete’s foot in the showers. All exercise is better outdoors, and oddly enough, there is more privacy in being in an outdoor group than there is being stared at by bored gym-bunnies.
It’s fair to say that these sessions are tough. They are high-intensity designed to burn as much fat as possible (up to 750/850 calories for women/men) and reach muscles that we don’t exercise enough sitting behind a desk. But the hour finishes surprisingly quickly, and the ‘we’re all in this together’ attitude of the groups pull you through and make you do more than you thought possible.
The website offers a free taster workout, which is an ideal introduction to the nature of the training. The group classes finish on 15 September, but I am told that Steve and James have plans for the darker winter months.
After only one session, I am not quite beach ready. But, with a few more under my belt, I can certainly see myself more prepared to hit the beach. Pain didn’t matter to Hemingway – with that attitude, and this training, he would have had a lot of fun on the beach!