Situated to the South West of London, Bushy Park is one of my regular training venues when back in the UK. A wonderfully wild landscape within an urban setting, it has great variety from season to season, even day to day. From the magic of a winter’s morning for a refreshing run through the glistening deep frost (see video page), to a summer’s evening with the song of the skylark filling the skies.
There are many extraordinary things going on in this Royal Park – one was of special interest to me and little did I know that it is also taking place up and down the country every day of the week. Collectively, people donning blue, red and green bibs, moving in and out of the long grasses, circling laps of the Diana Fountain interspersed with energetic exercises, even picking up logs and running with them much to the bewilderment of the onlooking deer!
Seeing this sight, my own running felt solitary by comparison. Would I cope with such a challenge?
Having always been a big fan of exercising outside in the real world as well as a believing that things can, at times, become over-complicated and overly technology dependent, I was delighted when British Military Fitness (BMF) invited me to give it a go and become involved.
From the onset I was totally blown away by the warm and welcoming atmosphere, the immediate camaraderie, everyone looking out for one another and the shouting words of encouragement during the session – even more so as the stopwatch for the following exercise would only start once the ‘final person’ (though there is no concept of first or last here) was back with the group.
As an endurance runner I have never been under any illusion that I am a particularly strong or robust as a whole, but when just 20 minutes in to the exercise session my legs felt like they are giving way beneath me whilst trying to ‘burpee-jump’ across one of the grassy rides of Bushy Park, I felt humbled, not knowing whether to cry or laugh at my seemly pathetic efforts!
But, everyone is in the same boat – recreational athlete, weekend warrior or Olympian, pushing themself to ‘their’ limit, putting in the hard graft and thereby reaping the rewards. The first BMF experience may well result in a couple of days where you struggle to manoeuvre out of bed in the morning (at least it did with me) but it will all be with the sound knowledge that you are becoming a fitter, stronger ‘you’ and that session by session the progress will be measurable.
As the saying goes, the proof is in the pudding (preferably dark chocolate); but do I think there’s a place for British Military Fitness on my road to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games?
For many people, including myself, there is much that can be gained from this effective, highly time-efficient and massively enjoyable form of group fitness. It is a joy to exercise with people of all abilities whilst getting exactly what you need out of the workout under the watchful eye of the instructors. Forget the indoor gym and head into the fresh outdoors – you are sure to see many more smiles out there!
I look forward to working with BMF to become a stronger ‘me’.