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Transform Your Fitness: Get Fit and Transform with Perform and Move

I am in the midst of my fifth interval shuttle sprint of the night, and I distinctly remember wanting to put a gun to my head and blow my brains out!


Yes, that's a rough thought but it really was what I thought at the time. I wanted this terrible acid-like burning pain in my legs and lungs to end. But it wasn't going to end, and I didn't know when it would.


I looked to my left, and there was a South African lad in the same hurt locker as myself. He was shouting "Ja, Ja, Ja" as he pounded his way through the sprint.

One of the rugby coaches shouted at the captain, who, once he had completed his sprint, ran back and grabbed the collar on my rugby jersey, screamed obscenities into my face, and dragged me faster to the finish line.


That was the end of my first night at Northampton Saints Rugby club and my selection into their U19s team. I had just turned 17 the week before, and the team was halfway through their season, already unbelievably fit, strong, and incredibly aggressive.


These teenage boys were men! And I am not exaggerating. They seemed bigger, stronger, and to me, more fearsome a player than any of the adult first-team players at my normal town rugby club.


At the start of the training session that night, I quickly realised the depths of my situation in our first tackling drill. I was one of, if not the smallest there, and I was expected to tackle like everyone else. There was no differentiation, no mercy, and it was simple brutality!


I remember thinking that I might not yet have the skills, but I was not going to cower in the face of adversity, and the least I could do was throw myself into it and fight back. I think this, as a lean 6ft something decides to steamroll over me as I slam my shoulder into his stomach making my tackle. This man-boy ran at me with total contempt and a desire to destroy. This level of competitive aggression was something I had never seen before. It was very serious.


The 2-hour session continues with more tackling, more skills work, and tactical set plays. Being new, I had no idea what their set plays were, and I was getting in the way. Young lads screaming at me to "F@@king move" as they spun the pass left and right. I occasionally got the ball, and any rugby player will tell you, if you drop the ball - dive on it. I was a gold medallist in diving that night.


After all this rugby, in the wet, cold night on a muddy, sandy pitch behind Franklins Garden, the home of Northampton Saints rugby team, it was finally over. Well, the rugby was over; we then had the fitness sprints as mentioned.


That night was the first of my initial rugby trial and it lasted 4 weeks. After which I was told to go home and be ready for the new season starting in August/September.


In brief, upon my return, we had a similar training session and exactly the same sprints - except more of them. The players around me were fit, strong, professional, and some were players you may even have seen on TV, especially two brothers playing for Scotland. I smashed all the sprints and they felt easy this time! The coach came up to me after and said, "You must have worked your socks off over the summer. You are in the team!"


Why is this story important, what did I learn about fitness and how can it help you?


Before I attended the rugby trial, I had some fitness. I was playing rugby for the county, I was strong, and never missed a club rugby training session or game for years - at a minimum I did 4 hours of rugby per week. In comparison to the players already at 'Saints', I was the most unfit player.


In order to get fitter, improve my cardiovascular system, I needed to train smarter as well as harder. Psychologically and physiologically, I needed to break through to the next level, and that is exactly what it felt like when I finally did.


My training was nothing special, and the frequency was not overbearing. I would train 3 - 4 times per week, and each session was a mix of weight training and cardiovascular training. The training below is what I used and it was designed by one of the rugby coaches who happened to live near me - he would also ensure I completed every session and joined me for most, like having my own PT and mentor. I am not suggesting that this is the world's best workout - it is simply the workout that 17 year old me did.


Mondays: Rowing cardio and weight training.

Warm-up.

Main: Rowing machine, 2000m in best effort time and between 7-8 min. Followed by 3 sets of 4-10 reps of squats.

Rowing machine 1500m in best effort time 5-6 min followed by bench press press 3 sets of 4-10 reps.

Rowing machine 1000m in best effort time 3-4 min followed by rows or pull-ups 3 sets of 4-10 reps.

Cool down.


Wednesday: Interval sprints. These were very short duration and very intense.

Warm-up.

Main: 40 seconds of all-out max sprinting, minimum of 200m.

Rest the same duration as the sprint

Repeat 3-6 times.

Cool down.


Friday: Full-body weights 3 sets of 4-10 reps of squats, row, bench press, shoulder press, cleans.


Sunday: 45 minutes of cardio - 3 minutes rowing, 3 minutes bike, 3 minutes x-trainer. This is completed in a circuit non-stop for 45 minutes.


I trained like this for about 3 months.


I remember some of my mates from the town rugby club asking if I want to go to the pub but I would rather go to the gym. Some would join me in the gym too and we would have excellent training sessions.


Another time I did join my friends at the pub, but I didn't drink and I simply felt very confident and happy with my body - even though I simply looked normal, if not like a slightly bulky typical rugby lad. Regardless of how I looked, I felt great and on top of the world!


This training was tough, with the sprints and rowing sessions the worst. But those 3 months transported me to another fitness and psychological level. It is my experience that once you break through to another level, you stay there forever. Even if your fitness drops, you are never the same again due to that breakthrough. That is the key - you become a different person, permanently.


Ultimately it's an internal process intrinsically based on how you feel, move, and perform. Your self-confidence will naturally develop, and it will shine through. Your body may have changed and developed, equally, not much may have changed - I have seen men and women who some may wrongly assume that due to their physique they were unfit and unhealthy... some of these people were way fitter and more capable than I! Never, ever judge!


I welcome you to explore the idea of developing your physical self, without regard to how you look and rather on how you feel, move, and perform.


You can 100% do this on your own, but if you want some support, guidance or a number of sessions to kick start your journey, reach out to me and I am more than happy to help you.


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