Hut hut! That's right. It's time to get fit, American Football Fit style. We were wondering if our pals at Lunges & Lycra were hard enough to get into a scrum and live to tell the tale. This is what happened.
Friday night, 6pm, sound the weekend klaxon! Only last week, something rather strange happened. Instead of toasting in two days of freedom at the pub, I found myself… IN THE GYM?! Weird.
The reason? I was trying out one of the latest classes on the Gymbox timetable, American Football Fit. I should mention at this point that I'm about an inch under 5'4", kind of scrawny and my ball skills are pants. Not your average American Football player then? But I'd been assured this 45-minute class was suitable for nerds as well jocks as, instead of tackling 20-stone blokes with shoulder pads, it focuses on the drills footballers use to keep themselves fit, fast and agile.
However, when I turned up to find two massive six-foot something blokes waiting for class I did begin to worry about crush injuries. Luckily, more people of all shapes and sizes arrived in time for the fun to begin. Hut Hut.
The class itself was a take on high intensity intervals, conditioning, and skill and coordination work. Instructor Firas Iskandarani (himself a football player) had us warming up by crouching low with fast feet on the spot (hard on the thighs) then chucking ourselves chest first onto the ground and springing back up – if you get knocked over in a game you have to get up fast. Then it was time to test the coordination with footwork drills.
Have you ever noticed, for big guys, American football players are surprisingly nimble on their toes? Now I know why. We worked through ladders with tiny steps in and out in different patterns (as much of a mental workout as physical) and jumped over boxes and around boxes using certain numbers of tiny footsteps. For quite a few people this was a coordination challenge but if you ever played elastics or fancy skipping games in the school playground it's surprisingly similar.
High-intensity cardio challenges come in the form of short sprints (got to get down that field fast!), tuck jumps (to build power and because Firas is mean) and more of that throwing yourself on the floor and springing up malarkey, which incidentally is exhausting. There were also press-ups – lots of them – and circuits weaving in and out of boxing bags pushing them out of the way as you went (good practice for Christmas shopping on Oxford Street that one).
The class was an all-over body workout with strength, speed and agility training that, as well as toning and improving fitness, will come in handy for any other sports you play. It's also great for imagining you're charging down the pitch ready to score the winning touchdown. Oh and it finishes at 6.45 so there's still plenty of time for the pub!
Try American Football Fit at Farringdon, Fridays at 6pm and Westfield (West) on Thursdays at 6pm.