Rosanna Rothery goes to Boot Camp at Inspiration Fitness
FACE flushed, mouth wide, tongue protruding – I'm attractively panting like a Boston terrier. My step and I are getting to know each other in many new and novel ways: I've crawled across the floor to it, performed tricep dips on it, straddled it in a star-jump and shuffled my hands across it in a press up position.
The woman on the music track is counting us down, second by second, to a pathetically longed-for rest period. The brow is sweating, legs are wobbling and arms quivering like jelly. Are these the longest seconds of my life? Undoubtedly!
At Stephen McMahon's boot camp you might just find that all your muscles tremor like a small earthquake, your core is burning and your heart is pounding as if you are a love-struck teenager, but, hey, isn't it good to know you are alive?
This boot-camp style workout consists of bang-on-trend interval training, said to be one of the best ways to get results fast.
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"It's functional sports training exercise that increases your metabolic conditioning," he explains. "It's good for your cardiovascular system and it's good for strength, endurance and agility."
A class with Stephen will never be the same twice in a row. His aim is to push your body out of its comfort zone to boost metabolism, get the blood flowing and burn more calories.
"If you keep it fresh your training will be fresh as well," he says. "You can motivate yourself more with new methods. It shocks the body as well: the body is very clever to adapt so I try and keep the body guessing."
Okay so I'm working hard enough to weep but it's an exhilarating exertion – for me that's mostly down to the pounding high-energy soundtrack.
"The music is designed especially for me and it includes intervals that are all different," says Stephen. "There's the traditional minute on, minute off intervals. Then there's the Tabata intervals where you are working harder than you are resting, (20 seconds as high as you can followed by a 10 second rest period), which is good for fat burning and cardiovascular fitness."
My classmates, consisting of men and women of all ages, shapes, sizes and fitness levels, are a friendly supportive bunch. There seems to be a great sense of camaraderie. I know that because the chap on the step next to me bursts out laughing when he hears me cursing rather loudly. Stephen intervenes at this point to modify moves aimed at my biceps (or should I say sparrow's kneecaps).
"My classes are aimed at everybody and I can make them easier or I can make them harder for you," says Stephen. "It benefits everybody as long as they are injury free."
Now if, like me, the word boot camp instils instant fear in you, rest assured personal trainer Stephen, who studied sport science at the University Of Worcester, is no barking Sergeant Major.
"When people hear the word boot camp, they think they are going to get some guy shouting at them, telling them to do this and that, and making them feel they are not good enough to be in the class," he says.
He wants to avoid this stereotype.
"Although these are boot camp exercises I am not necessarily going to go in there and drill you. The intervals do that for you and the music is quite clever: the lady counting down on the track is the drill sergeant for myself and the class."
Certainly, for a personality like me, this boot camp beats monotonous pavement pounding or gormless gym repetitions.
"I always keep it varied," says Stephen whose classes are always full. "People like that and I keep it fun for them too."
And guess what? He says it works too.
"It's perfect if you want a quick, fast effective workout that gets you results," he adds. "I have some guys in there burning in excess of 1,100 calories in a session."
Now I may be leaving totally wasted (do I have enough strength to open the gym door?) but I'm slightly euphoric and, if I'm honest, ever so slightly smug – yes I actually got through it.
Inspiration Boot Camp runs on Wednesdays, 6.45 to 7.45pm; Thursdays 6.30 to 7.30am; Fridays, 5.45 to 6.45pm; Saturday, 8.45 to 9.45am at Inspiration Fitness. Cost: £5. Booking essential: 01271 323811.