Sunday, February 26, 2012

Fit as [knackered old] butchers' dogs

So with our fitness in mind, and a slight concern in the back of my mind about being able to complete 20+ miles on rough sea (=hard bloody work I expect!) given my general level of fitness, we headed off to meet Jess Andrews, personal fitness trainer to Hampshire Fire Brigade. His time had been donated to us by the Chief Fire Officer of Hampshire, and of course through Jess's own generosity.

It is fair to say that my aim is to arrive on Shakespeare Beach near Dover, on the morning of our crossing, and only be worried about the weather...I definitely don't want to be concerned about either the distance or my fitness and ability to complete the crossing.

Jon, Stu and I met a the Turners' house after work on Tuesday, in our "loose clothing" as requested, and headed nervously over to meet Jess at HQ in Eastleigh. Jon said at this point that if Jess at any point in the evening described him as mobidly obese, he might have to resort to violence! He also admitted that he'd eaten virtually nothing all day...

After getting to Easleigh in quick time, we were introduced to Jess who made us a cup of tea and sat us down in his office.

He was very interested in the challenge we had set ourselves and what we were doing to prepare for it, in fact he kept challenging us, absolutely fairly, about the need to get on and take some action by perhaps joining (or at least attending) Southampton Canoe Club for some tips, and doing as much kayaking as possible which, he said, was undoubtedly the best training.

He showed us some exercises we could do to build up our core, one of which is known as planking (which I previously thought was a Facebook craze) and involves doing something similar to press-ups but on your elbows, the idea being to lift your stomach towards your spine. He got out his Reebok pilates mat and showed us a few exercises and got us to try them out.

He was really engaged with what we were doing and provided some really useful ideas/tips, plus he emailed us a load of factsheets etc to help us and spoke, whilst we were there, on the phone to a mate of his who is involved in Southampton Canoe Club.

He was, in my opinion, a top bloke who was committed to helping us.

But then came the moment we were dreading....the body fat/BMI test. Using a highly technical device that, frankly, resembled little more than a set of electronic bathroom scales, he determined a whole load of data about each of us including something called "metabolic age". I won't reveal the outcomes but it is fair to say that some of us were less happy than others about these readings!

After arranging a follow-up gym session with Jess the following week we departed for home, resisting the temptation of a McDonalds Big Mac Meal or a pint on the way home.

We all felt a little more comfortable that, with six months and counting, we definitely have time to get ourselves in shape. Equally we are in little doubt that we need to get started asap.

Let the planking begin.

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