The Recorder went down to an industrial estate in South Woodford to flip tyres and get fit at Tough Guy Fitness Training session

PUBLISHED: 18:10 31 August 2017 | UPDATED: 18:24 31 August 2017

Tough Guy work out session in South Woodford. Head coaches Paul Stafford and Stuart Rook. All Pictures: Ellie Hoskins

Tough Guy work out session in South Woodford. Head coaches Paul Stafford and Stuart Rook. All Pictures: Ellie Hoskins

Ellie Hoskins +44(0)7743306087

Standing in the middle of an industrial estate with an accountant, teacher and statistician was not how I envisioned my Wednesday evening – and I’ve had some crazy Wednesday evenings – yet here we all were down an alleyway in South Woodford.

Hamid Mohammed. Picture: Ellie HoskinsHamid Mohammed. Picture: Ellie Hoskins

When you factor in the sledgehammers and thick cut ropes, the only thing missing to stop the layout looking like a gangster movie was some pelting rain and possibly the fact that we were all wearing exercise clothes.

No I wasn’t on the set of the latest Tom Hardy movie to be filmed in the borough but at a Tough Guy Fitness training session at Raven Road.

Participants are put though their paces on a circuit that goes beyond your usual squats and star jumps.

Combining teamwork with weight lifting in a gritty outdoor setting, members smashed the living hell out of a tyre, flipped heavy balls over their shoulders and ran with weighted bags.

Journalist Ellena Cruse taking part in the exercise class. Photo by Ellie HoskinsJournalist Ellena Cruse taking part in the exercise class. Photo by Ellie Hoskins

“Lots more people are interested in muscle resistant training but don’t know how to do it,” said head coach Stuart Rook, who came up with the idea for the session while running Tough Mudder with his business partner Paul Stafford.

“We have a session on a Wednesday evening and another session on Saturday morning and lots more women are getting involved.

“They are realising that it is a good idea to incorporate weights into their fitness routine and they will not get bulky by lifting weights in the same way that they will not win the F1 by driving a car –you need lots of workouts and a strict diet to get really big. This is a great way to lose weight.”

After apprehensively eyeing up the different activities on the circuit, the tyre flip station caught my attention. As I appraised its mass, I thought how heavy could it really be?

Caron Conway on the ropes. Photo by Ellie HoskinsCaron Conway on the ropes. Photo by Ellie Hoskins

Stuart demonstrated what I had to do so as not to hurt myself and I crouched down ready to pick it up.

The tyre was literally the heaviest thing I had touched in a while and this is coming from a girl who recently helped lift a sofa down five flights of stairs.

Realising this was going to be a real challenge I summoned my inner strength and my Serena Williams grunts and put everything I had behind it.

At first I thought I could do it, then at 90 degrees I doubted myself but Stuart encouraged me to drive forward with my knees.

Sam Ryan flipping a tyre. Photo by Ellie HoskinsSam Ryan flipping a tyre. Photo by Ellie Hoskins

As I pushed it over and heard the satisfying bang echo around the yard, I felt so pleased with my accomplishment. The session not only gave my body a much needed workout but stretched my self-esteem too.

“You think it would be full of meat and ego but the atmosphere is so welcoming,” said Caron Conway, 37, who has been coming along to sessions for 10 months.

“I have tried aerobics and lots of different things ‘targeted at girls’ but this is so much better.

“It has given me confidence, it pushes you and you feel empowered.”

Tossing heavy balls over my shoulder probably felt like the most typical strong man task besides carrying a yoke, but each activity could be done at your own speed with your own choice of weight.

Bashing a tyre with a sledgehammer was a lot of fun and was excellent therapy as well as an excellent workout (I just won’t tell you whose head I was picturing).

The guys mix up the different circuit stations regularly so the classes never get boring.

“In a gym everything is sterile and it is better to move around – it is more functional, fun and engaging,” added Stuart.

“Here we are just normal people doing extraordinary things.”

I would highly recommend having a go, and with guidance at every point it felt like you had your own personal trainer for £10.


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