Our friends at Unbound took on the challenge of trying out our Caveman workout. Mike Rampton reports from the front line.
1. Oh Christ, it's really hard
The Caveman workout is a class at the Bank and Holborn branches of Gymbox designed to really, really suck as an experience. Put together by trainer Andrew Julien, it's a high-intensity session where you alternate between being in "the cave" and using various pieces of equipment. Both of these things are really hard.
2. Nobody has an easy time of it in a cave
"The cave" is a designated space within some steel girders (the people who designed Gymbox may have also worked on the Industrial Zone of The Crystal Maze) where you're set one exercise, like burpees or push-ups, to do continually for a minute. A minute that lasts several thousand years. Several thousand years of Andrew shouting at you. Turns out he's really nice when he's not doing that, but as a motivational technique it's pretty effective.
3. Cavemen didn't have treadmills
"It's all very function-based," says Andrew. "All the equipment that's used relates to everyday activities. Cavemen didn't have weight benches. They were lifting things, moving things, shoving things about." Easy. I could do this forever! The first piece of equipment I found myself on was a sled with 60kg of weights on it – I had to push it back and forth across a 20ft strip of carpet. "Easy," I thought, midway through the first push. "I could do this forever! Because if I can do it for a bit, I can probably keep going almost indefinitely. Hmm. It is getting a bit harder, but… I can still keep going if I just...OH THE AGONY THE AGONY PLEASE SOMEONE KILL ME NOW."
4. It's meant to be tough
"This isn't Zumba," says Andrew. "It's not a dance class. This is a workout. It should be difficult. You come here to get your arse kicked." Even the guy in the class who was built like a brick shithouse was having a difficult time. It's… it's really hard. It doesn't feel like needless punishment though – you genuinely feel like you're going to come out the other end looking like Dwayne Johnson.
5. You need to pay attention
The nature of the class, moving from station to station and doing different activities on each one, can be perplexing if you're A) not that used to being in a gym and B) concentrating so hard on trying not to cry that you don't know what's going on. When everyone moves from one bit to the other it feels a bit like the Mad Hatter's tea party, when he shouts "Change places!" Then you get to the next place, and it goes from Alice In Wonderland back to Full Metal Jacket.
6. Cavewomen are welcome too
This seems worth pointing out. The class was a mixture of men and women, gym nuts and more casual visitors.
7. Mirrors can be pretty mean
If you find yourself struggling through some push-ups in the cave, and you realise there's a mirror in front of you, don't make the same mistake I made and look in it. There must be an Instagram filter-type effect on it that makes you look redder – there's no way I could possibly have been that colour and still been classed as human. My face was as red as the red arse of a baboon that was particularly embarrassed about how sunburned his very red arse was.
8. Prepare properly
"You want to eat a lot of fibre and a lot of carbs beforehand," says Andrew. "It's a tough workout." My breakfast, for instance – a big plate of big sausages – was a misstep.
9. You'll want another go
I struggled massively – has that come across? In fact, I didn't make it through the whole session. It's easy to see how you'd want another crack at it A lack of preparedness and the truly gnarly nature of the workout meant I had to respectfully bow out before it was over and hide behind a punchbag. But even if you make it all the way through, it's easy to see how you'd want another crack at it to try and do a slightly better job. It feels like doing it regularly could really transform you into a bit of a superhulk, so I've got a horrible feeling I might be going back. Like, not for a while… But one day.
If Mike can do it, so can you! For more info, click here.
Read more inspirational fitness stories at Unbound Life