Get fit in 8 weeks

The Transformer 

Words: Tom Cunningham 
Photo left: Taz Darling

Think getting the body of a god takes too much time and effort? In this weekly blog, our man is out to prove that a couple of months of hard graft can be revolutionary 

I’m Tom, I’m 29 and in terms of lifestyle I’m what I consider a fairly average guy – I spend a lot of time sitting down in front of a computer in an office, don’t make it to the gym much (twice in the last six months!), enjoy a drink and give in to the temptation of a takeaway a couple of times a week. Like everyone I’ve tried making a decision to eat healthily and do more exercise many times before, but Friday night comes calling and I’m back to square one. For my willpower to stand the test of time I need to see real results, fast. Is it possible to seriously change your physique in a couple of months? London-based transformation specialists Embody Fitness say it is, so I’ve decided to put it to the test. This is the story of my quest to become fit, healthy and, most importantly, buff as hell in just eight weeks. 

Week 1: Talking the plank 

After a last Sunday of indulgence (roast dinner, pizza, five pints of cider) the time has come for me to knuckle down and tone up.

Fitness check

On Monday it’s straight in to the Embody Fitness gym in Bank, London for an initial assessment and musculoskeletal screening with Director of Personal Training Chris Walton and Sports Performance Specialist Danielle Yarwood.

This is to help them tailor nutrition and training plans for me that take into account my body’s weaknesses to minimise my chances of injury (I discover I have high feet arches and a surprisingly weak left leg).

But it turns out there’s a motivational benefit for me in the process: there’s nothing like having your fat prodded with a pair of callipers by Chris, followed by standing on one leg in your pants while Danielle silently scribbles notes on her pad to make you conscious of the, ahem, less toned parts of your body. I now want to hit the gym. 

My trainer for the first two weeks is Greg Cornthwaite, a man who clearly practices what he preaches. Apparently three, one-hour sessions per week under his and Embody’s other personal trainers’ strict tutelage is enough to have me looking ripped in only eight weeks – much better than the hours of daily training I expected to endure.

But 10 minutes into the first session warm-up I’m realising this intensive programme isn’t going to be like my previous gym trips - 20 minutes on a rowing machine followed by a sauna session. 

“This intensive programme isn’t going to be like my previous gym trips - 20 minutes on a rowing machine followed by a sauna session”

After some foam rolling and upper body sets using dumbbells, I’m introduced to planking. This does not, as I first thought, refer to the global craze for lying down in unlikely places, but the far more relevant art of holding your torso aloft with only your tiptoes and forearms making contact with the floor, so you resemble a table (in my case, a shaky one). After five seconds my core is burning. I had no idea a motionless exercise could make me so out of breath and sweaty in the 26 seconds I manage to hold the pose. I lie panting on the floor. My core is still burning. 

Planking

The perfect plank? 

After two more 20-second planks, a minute’s rest and a hand up from Greg, warm-up’s over and it’s on with the session.

Plank perfect

This exercise may be hardcore, but it it’s the best way to get a hard core… when done right. 

 

  1. 1. Lie flat on the floor, then push up on your tip toes and forearms.
  2. 2. Always make sure your back is flat and rigid – don’t let it sag in the middle, don’t push your bottom into the air.
  3. 3. Keep your head in line with your back, staring down at the floor.
  4. 4. Maximise the tension in your body. Pull your elbows towards your toes, clench your glutes and brace your stomach muscles as if preparing to be punched to engage the maximum number of muscle groups. If you’re not shaking, you don’t have enough tension!
  5. 5. Attempt to hold for 30 seconds and build up your time from there. Think 30 second is too tough? Last year World Record breaker Mao Weidong stayed in the plank position for 4 hours and 26 minutes. 

The programme is built around weight training exercises, which according to Greg are the most effective tools to tone up and burn fat. It’s an intense workout with minimal rest breaks, and not because we only have eight weeks to transform me into an Adonis; sustained high-intensity activity has been proven to burn a lot of calories not only during a workout, but afterwards too. And I’m all for losing weight while I sit comfortably back at my desk.

Whether we’re doing bench presses or dead lifts, Greg is constantly tapping me to remind me to tense my core, my glutes, to lock my shoulders. Every exercise should be working a whole network of muscles, but bad form can ruin that and add in the danger of injury, which makes having an expert on hand reassuring for a novice. There’s a lot to learn.

Two more gruelling sessions and a lot of sweat-soaked t-shirts later, at the end of Week 1 things are starting to sink in thanks to Greg.

But the exercises aren’t feeling any easier, especially the punishment reserved for the end of each session - dragging a metal sled of weights, backwards as fast as I can. In fact I’m feeling knackered all the time. When is the smugness going to kick in? Am I seriously going to manage ‘before and after’ pictures like the array of intimidating shots on Embody’s website? I try to put these thoughts out of my mind and focus on more immediate problems: my first dry Friday night… 

Proof is in the pudding

Embody Fitness aim to deliver outstanding results whilst providing a client experience that is as professional and enjoyable as possible, and they have many success stories to prove it. Find out more on their website: embodyfitness.co.uk

Before and After: Adam is one of Embody’s many success stories

© Embody Fitness 

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