• Matt Hobson (MHMT)

2.5kg Out Of My Comfort Zone

Nervous? A little. Excited for what’s going to happen? For sure. Remorse for what I’ve given up? No, it’s time to change things, finally. So what is it and why am I nervous? I’ve given up running and HIIT training and am now a weight lifter. Me!! Ha. Bring it on!

This of course isn’t that big a deal for many, but for those that really know me and the way I’ve trained people over the years, running and HIIT/circuit training has been a way of life for me. I’ve learned how to perform many body weight and light weight exercises over many years and as challenging as it’s been this new challenge feels harder. I’m beginning to understand what beginners to my fitness classes feel like on day one. They may have not done exercise in a while and nervous of what they may feel like during class; will they embarrass themselves?; Will I be able to do what is planned?

Day 1 photo Hypertrophy training

The plan to build muscle and change my body has been in the pipeline for a while (years) and I’ve never really committed to it. I know that strength conditioning as you get older is better for you, but I’m also tired of being this small in stature. I’ve done all the cross country running and ‘Insanity’ HIIT classes I want to do. I’d like to be fit and healthy in a different way and yes, cosmetically, I’d like a change too, but it’s not my first thought. I’ve constantly weighed around 57kg (9 stone) all my adult life with little body fat (around 10-11%). I

wear size small or even extra small in some shops. Although strong, I’d like to be bigger and definitely sort out my shoulders from years drumming. I’ve done everything I can with the training I’ve done and I’ve done it at a very high level of execution.

After training very hard, every day, in lockdown I decided to commit to a different regime. I began lifting dumbbells and more pull ups by using the “Beachbody” online training programmes and waited for the gyms to reopen. My girlfriend has bought me three months membership as a present for Christmas, though I’ve had to wait until April to start. I contacted a colleague of mine, John, at Go Fitness in Brighton to write a hypertrophy training regime for me.

It’s not like I’m a complete newbie in a gym. I’ve trained in a few over the years, but not like this. These sets, reps and weights are BIG compared to what I would normally do. Some of the moves I’m going to have to learn make me nervous. The barbell squat being one of them; so much technique to get right, or I might hurt myself. Thoughts going through my mind; “Will the men and women at the gym, who lift a lot, make fun of me whilst I rack my deadlift with only 35kg on the bar?”. I’m learning new techniques and relearning after many years, after my instructors course.

The weights gym can be an intimidating experience. It shouldn’t be. There are some behaviours that I just have to get used to and in my best effort to try and ignore. Quite frankly some men can be idiots in the gym. The way they walk and talk around a gym and conduct themselves is laughable, sometimes dangerous and sometimes plain annoying. In this particular gym, thankfully, most aren’t. My first fear has been allayed by the generosity and expertise of a few gym members, men and women, I’ve approached for advice on a machine, and a technique I wasn’t feeling quite right about. I was met with smiles, honesty and an appreciation for my efforts, spotted by one on my previous exercise.

Music is a big part of my life and I notice everyone, despite the ‘music’ provided by speakers in the gym, plugged in to their own earphones. Music is meant to give a boost to the effort, increase your mood and reduce fatigue. Each to their own, but the obnoxious rap music swearing at me only produces the opposite effect. I either listen to some Snarky Puppy, Ella Fitzgerald, or even just calming wave sounds in my head and I block the world out; listen to my breathing pattern and concentrate on the techniques of the new exercises.

My first time under John’s routine has me on a ‘Pull day’. Back, Biceps, triceps and rear shoulders are the focus and boy-oh-boy does he hit them for me! He’s not with me, but he’s on WhatsApp message for advice. I’m an instructor and have been for 16 years, but I feel like a kid that’s trying something for the first time. My bent over row is tough to get right. I’m making small errors that I need to improve on, it’s certainly harder than performing a press up-burpee-lunge jump.

My grip is now suffering from the sheer weight on my hands. I’m wearing special gloves to help and avoid calluses. I don’t want to have rough hands for my massage clients now do I? Next are a few of the regular machines found in any gym, the Lat Pull Down and the Narrow Grip Row machines. My back is getting blasted, and squeezing the weight at the end of the pull is getting harder to do each rep; my forearms burning with lactic acid. I feel amazing!

I’ve got to finish with a battle rope circuit, whipping large ropes for a set time to burn calories and work my shoulders. As tough as this is this is nothing compared to the two exercises back to back for my biceps. The 21’s (7, 7, 7 reps in set form) have me burning and barely able to lift the 12.5kg that I have on a bar. That’s no weight at all, but I’m cooked. Set 3 and I have to drop to 10kg and barely able to lift it. I'm out of comfort zone now. I get to the end and fall to the floor for rest, sending John a message with swear words, calling him names. I have to dig deep to get the final ‘finisher’ done well. For me, it’s always about how well an exercise is performed rather than how many reps I can do.

One and a half hours later and I’m stretching down, sweaty and spent. Nerves have gone and I’ve accomplished a great thing. I’ve lifted more weight in one session than I’ve ever done in my twenty-six years of training. I’m wrecked, but I love it. The change and challenge has only just started and I can’t wait to see what happens next and the developments I’m going to make. I’ve started and commitment and determination is going to get me to my goals. Being more involved in my nutrition (plant based) and writing a diary and blog of my workouts will make me accountable when it gets mentally tough.

Read my progress in future posts.


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