Our Fit Factor team proved they were top of the class this week as they enjoyed a training session similar to those of their school years.
The team ran, bench-pressed, had crash-mat races and used a basketball to burn the calories as they exercised in the Spring sunshine.
For mother-of-two Gemma Robson, of Gateshead, it was her favourite training sessions to date. The 30-year-old civil servant said: “I loved the training session. It was hard work, my heart rate was right up, but it was really fun.
“Jumping on the mats to make them slide along the floor was the highlight. It gave the night a competitive edge which we haven’t really had before. It was all in good faith, though.
“We’re all getting on well, supporting and spurring each other on. I’m loving the interval training that we’ve been doing too. I like the focus needed for that.
“I’ve noticed that I’m much less lethargic. I wake up feeling refreshed. My skin is brighter. I’m starting to become aware of changes to my body. My clothes are becoming loose. Things are fitting me differently.”
Fit Factor trainer David Fairlamb was keen to ensure the team are given a different training vibe each week so they don’t get bored.
Ashley Cuniff, 30, of South Shields, has always enjoyed competitive training as he used to be an avid rugby player until a fracture to his back put a stop to his contact sport playing days. The fire service engineer particularly liked this week’s training sessions as the Fit Factor team were encouraged to compete against each other.
He said: “Monday night’s training session was the best we’ve had. The circuit training was very tough. We had a crash-mat race which involved teams of four running and diving on the mat to make it slide across the floor and the team that got the mat across the other side of the gym won.
“I feel I’ve got much more energy now than when I started three weeks ago. I went for my first run on Sunday morning since the Great North Run two years ago. I’ve had to order new jumpers and T-shirts for work as my old ones are too big already.
“The whole team is getting along really well. We’re all very supportive of each other and share plenty of recipes and cooking tips. Monday night’s race was very competitive but also a lot of fun, and we won 2-1. I cooked cauliflower rice – grated cauliflower – on Sunday to go with my homemade curry. It was nice and does work as a rice substitute, but you have to really like cauliflower to enjoy it.
“The biggest surprise about the diet is how simple and easy it is to follow and the results for your body, inside and out, are amazing.
“The last three weeks have been great and the banter between everyone involved in Fit Factor and all the trainers at the gym is brilliant.”
Carl Martin, 32, a surveyor, from Gateshead, is feeling the best he has in ages and his energy levels have increased significantly.
He said: “I am sure you will get the same answer from everyone, but the mats were the highlight of Monday’s training.
“We split into two teams and had a relay. The rules were we had to run and dive on a crash mat and slide it as far as we could along the gym floor, get up, race back, tag the next team member and they would repeat the exercise. The winner was the team to get their mat to hit the wall at the opposite end of the gym. You could see healthy competitiveness coming out in everyone. It was a great laugh, with some great acrobatics from Gemma.
“We are all getting on really well, and have a good team spirit. We all encourage each other. I don’t think anyone seems interested in winning the competition - the main focus is on our lifestyles and the changes we need to make to live a fuller active healthy life. To me, weight loss and increased fitness is what I want first. The competition prize would just be a nice added bonus.”
As part of Fit Factor, the finalists have had to transform their diet... and some of the participants are trying unusual foods.
Couple Gemma and Carl have been experimenting with the meats they’re eating, including trying something a little more exotic like zebra and kangaroo.
“As lean meat plays a large part of our diet, we sought advice from a butcher at Heighley Gate garden centre,” explained Gemma.
“He was great, instructing us on which cuts of meat were better for us and how to cook them. He then suggested we tried a few new things.
“We came away with zebra, kangaroo and horse. Kangaroo was my favourite. I found zebra a bit tough.
“I haven’t had any real food cravings yet. I think the varied diet is helping. I have struggled to keep my water intake up to the required daily amounts, though.
“Advice from the other Fit Factor guys has helped. They have been adding sliced fruit or placing several bottles of water around their house to remind them to drink.
“I’m starting to really see a difference in my fitness levels now, even after this short amount of time. The results have been great so far. I’m looking forward to the coming weeks.”
Lisa Embleton, 35, of Kingston Park, Newcastle, is managing the “caveman diet” the finalists have been asked to follow, which includes eating plenty of meat, fruit and vegetables but no carbohydrates or processed food.
The NVQ assessor said: “Monday’s session was so much fun. We used the crash mats to race the other team to the end of the gym and have never laughed so much. We are all working very well and the team are all encouraging each other. I am still managing the diet and don’t have any cravings.”
Fit Factor trainer David is keen for the finalists to make the most of their opportunity to lose as much weight as possible during the three-month competition. David said: “The strength and determination of the finalists has risen again this week. They are fighting and pushing their bodies harder every session. This sort of commitment and focus from the group will produce results and if they keep this sort of intensity for the 12 weeks I expect those results to be huge.
“Humans are creatures of habit, but once you start breaking in to new habits which are better and more beneficial, life becomes so much easier. We all have choices. Unfortunately not enough people are making the right ones, which is why the country, and especially the North East, has very high rates of obesity.”
The Fit Factor winner will scoop the top prize of a weekend at luxury spa, Stobo Castle in the Scottish borders.