Why would you get up at all hours, go out in all weathers, to do such extreme exercise?
It’s a fair question, and one I have been asked more than a few times during this last year by friends and family. I will give you my answer as to why I promise, but first, let me take you back…
A year ago in December 2017, I was desperately wishing I could find some way of getting properly fit again. But between being a doting dad to a seven year old whirlwind and running my own business I wasn’t finding time to train, either during the day or on an evening, and weekends were precious family time.
Having given up playing five-a-side football pretty much when my daughter was born, I had become completely unfit in cardiovascular terms and whilst not particularly overweight, maybe about 6 or 7kg, hovering around 95kg, I certainly wasn’t in trim, lean shape anymore. As someone who used to love hitting the gym and pounding the weights in my twenties and having managed to maintain a decent level of fitness throughout my thirties playing football with friends, I was totally fed up with being an unfit 45 year old. I’d forced myself out for a gentle jog round Bramcote Hills Park one Saturday morning just before Christmas 2017 when I spotted a group of people in Christmas fancy dress doing weird exercises. I jogged over to see what on earth was going on, had a brief chat with Jake and told him I would be back in the New Year when I returned from holiday.
That fateful Saturday rolled around and, I must confess, I did briefly consider staying in my warm, cosy bed. But I forced myself up and out, which turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’ll be honest, I found the first boot camp extremely hard, but by the end of the hour, the endorphins were pumping away and perhaps more importantly I had had such a laugh. Everyone was enjoying themselves and encouraging each other. It took me about 4 boot camps or so before I suddenly began to see massive improvements in my recovery time between exercises, but as an initial psychological boost to the confidence, that was huge. Pretty soon, I was noticing gains in performance week on week as the exercises themselves began to get easier. I was even enjoying the running…
So I was getting fit, great. But what else was keeping me coming back time after time and now currently five times a week? Well, the camaraderie plays a massive part of it. When you first start boot camp, you can’t help but notice there are some incredibly fit people there in comparison to yourself, but I found everyone incredibly welcoming and willing to buddy up and train with me. More than that, people are actually laughing about the punishment they are being put through! Plus, Jake’s sense of humour and obvious enjoyment of what he does all help to make it so much fun.
After a few months of making massive improvements to my cardiovascular fitness, I began to think about a bit of muscle building. Fortunately, Jake has the solution for those of us pressed for time there too, with his Caveman bootcamps. As he quite accurately states the Cave is all about physique transformation, and fast.
Jake is clearly immensely knowledgeable about human physiology, with a particular speciality in subtle technique adjustments that make an exercise twice as hard. But I like the fact the emphasis is on doing it properly, rather than just trying to see how much weight people can lift.
Don’t get me wrong, though, there’s something more than a little amusing about seeing Jake reach for yet another 20kg plate to casually pop on the leg press before watching carefully for another agonising 30 seconds to make sure the exercise is being done properly and someone is giving it absolutely everything. It’s most amusing when you’re watching him do it to someone else, but weirdly it’s even fun when he does it to you. Because what we dedicated ‘cavers’ all know, is that he knows exactly what everyone’s individual limits are, and he will be encouraging you to push beyond them just that little bit further every time. Every single time…
So, he can certainly read people’s bodies, but I think he might be able to read people’s minds too… During the first three months of doing boot camps and listening to people talk about the likes of XRunner and Rat Race and Survival Of The Fittest I did begin to wonder about the sanity of some of these people. How could running 20 plus miles up mountains and along coastlines or even a mere 10K on the flat contending with various oversized obstacles possibly be fun? As someone who had never run purely for pleasure, yet would have happily run around all day playing rugby or football, this type of challenge was completely alien to me.
And yet… and yet… by the time mid-April rolled around, I remember very clearly thinking at the end of one Saturday bootcamp that I might actually like to have a go. Somehow, don’t ask me how, about five seconds later Jake asked me if I had ever considered doing an obstacle event. I told him that uncannily enough I had literally just thought I might be up for it, and one “BOOM! I’ll sign you up for Survival Of The Fittest in October!” later, that was it… there was no turning back…
Actually, it was a great idea because I consequently spent the next six months training hard consistently, including going for 10K runs and performing mini-bootcamps with the aid of a weighted vest and water inflated weights whilst on holiday… Consequently, when it came to the event itself, not only was I prepared, it was actually enjoyable. In fact, I remember thinking at the time that it wasn’t actually any harder than a boot camp, just longer. Now, the Coast To Coast 2019 I’ve signed up for, all 105 miles of it, running, biking and kayaking, might be a different matter. But you know what, like Jake says, it’s good to have targets, and I’m certain I’ll be as prepared as I possibly can be. Certainly if Jake has anything to do with it!
Nutrition is another area Jake clearly is extremely knowledgeable in. Fortunately for myself, my natural diet was very good anyway, everything being fresh at mealtimes. But what I have found over the course of the year is that my craving for snacks, particularly sugary ones, has disappeared to nothing all by itself. Consequently, combined with all the training my weight and body fat levels are now down to what they were when I was super-fit as a sport mad teenager. There is even evidence of a six-pack emerging for the first time in over thirty years. From feeling frequently sluggish and tired, particularly mid-afternoon, my energy levels in comparison are now through the roof.
He is also capable of some very sage words of wisdom too… When after a particularly intense cave bootcamp session, just after turning 46 in June, I remember telling him I wished I could still lift the sorts of weights I could when I was 26. His reply was…
“It’s not about trying to be 26 again. It’s about being the best 46 year old you can possibly be.”
And that is my answer to the question we started with! That is why I get up at all hours and go out in all weathers to go to bootcamp.