Every year over December, I run a program called Get Better in December. The idea is that, despite all the parties and feasts and hectic schedules, we the Fit Feels Good Bootcampers , will not only maintain our fitness levels, but get BETTER.
We compete both individually and as a team and the person with the most improvement gets to take home the coveted Fit Feels Good Trophy (that may or may not have been created by a some tipsy trainers with a glue gun at our Christmas staff party in 2014).
We do assessments at the beginning of the month and then at the beginning of January and I’m proud to say that every year my Bootcampers do indeed get better. Every year at the beginning of January when I tally up all the results at home I found myself saying stuff out loud like, “Kaitlyn went from 18 to 34 pushups from her toes!? The entire West End crew had almost perfect attendance – in DECEMBER?! Vicki did a 4 min and 24 sec wall sit!? Wow!”
Alex joined us last spring and this was his first ever Get Better in December. He missed the final assessment but asked if he could do it in the next class. “I’m a documentary film maker” he said, smiling. “The story needs an ending.”
So how’s this for a Hollywood wrap-up:
He went from 71 to 93 pushups (!!)
and a 2 min and 32 sec plank to a 4.12 min plank.
Documentary Director / Producer
How long have you been training with us?
Since the summer of 2015.
Were you always an exerciser? What did you do for your fitness before signing up with FFG?
I’ve always been pretty active. I played rugby from the age of 11 until I was 30, but eventually had to give it up because of a congenital heart condition.
I had a valve replaced in 2008, and that put pay to anything competitive. I’ve been kinds toddling along since but nothing had really stuck until this.
What made you sign up for a FFG Bootcamp?
Now you’re asking a question. Ok….
I’d been at a bit of a loss trying to fill in the gap after rugby. I went back to it on a much more social level but even then found I couldn’t really keep up. I tried a couple of different things (gym, training apps etc) but nothing really stuck because they lacked the rush you get from playing sport.
Then in May 2015 my twin brother died from cancer. He had it for about a year, and was diagnosed terminal about six or seven months beforehand. It was a very rare, aggressive form of cancer and I guess comparatively speaking it took him quite quickly, but he was really sick for several months – he’d gone from a guy who was a rugby player not even a year earlier to barely able to walk. He was my best friend, and also a dick… it was that kind of irreplaceable relationship. It’s a cliche, but it really did make me think very hard about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.
One of the choices I made was basically to stop fucking about and commit to something fitness wise because I need to be around for a long as possible for my family, and with my heart condition it’s already a ticking clock.
It all sounds very dramatic I know, but it’s kinda true. When I started these classes, I found something that worked both physically and mentally – which is always the hard part – and that’s kinda where I’m at.
How has being an FFG Bootcamper changed your life?
I think more than anything I’ve found something I can commit to and that I enjoy. I’ve no interest in being screamed at by a trainer (done plenty of that already thank you), but I do need something that challenges me and that I can push myself and feel competitive, even though it’s with myself.
Also being in a group environment feels really familiar, and everyone is really fun to be with… even though no-one understands my accent! (Oonagh’s note: Alex is from Yorkshire, England, so he’s charmingly incomprehensible.) It feels right for what I want to get out of exercise.
What do you do when you are not Bootcamping?
What’s your major fitness goal right now?
I definitely feel fitter and healthier than I did six months ago, so if I can keep on the path I’m on now for the foreseeable future I’d be pretty happy. I’m a creature of habit. I eat well when I exercise and I exercise when I eat well. I guess the challenge will come when work starts to get really stressful, as I know it will do at some point, and will I stick to getting up in the morning having worked late nights… I feel like I’m in enough of a rythym that I will, and that wasn’t the case before I joined.
What about coming to Bootcamp makes you jump out of bed at 5am singing the Hills Are Alive with the Sound of Music?
The knowledge that I will have got my fitness in before 7.30! I love that. I HATE that feeling of forcing yourself to go to the gym at the end of the day. It massively unproductive (for me anyway). I’m definitely a morning person. My wife loves that obviously…
What exercise or drill makes you cower under your bed covers and pretend you don’t hear your alarm?
One word – running. Mainly because I just can’t do it any more really. Suicides. Sprints. Even the warm up. It’s not that I truly hate it, but I hate my body for not being able to do it as well as I used to. But stick me on one spot and I’m happy as Larry. I don’t feel the effects as much doing pressups, burpees, squats etc… Go figure.
Best/funniest bootcamp moment?
Actually there are a few. The obstacle course was great! I also loved New Year’s Eve techno/trance in the dark with finger lights. That was hilarious at first then suddenly it became exercise and you kinda forgot how funny it was. Then it went back to being funny again. It was a great idea!
What advice would you give someone who is just starting out with FFG Bootcamps or just thinking about it?
I’m not sure I’m the best person to dispense this kind of advice, as I do come from the Drill Sgt school of exercise.
THEN, if you get into it and start to like it, you’ve got to start to bring something to the table and challenge yourself. I’ve been told many times that fitness itself should never get easier – the fitter you get, the more you have to put in to get something out. But it’s how you feel outside of the class that will tell you if you’re getting anything from it.