British Military Fitness


Somebody has put his or her hand in a poo. I want to look round to see who it is, but I’m facing the wrong way, and I’m on the ground in the press-up position. I don’t want our instructor, Griff, who has just shouted these words of encouragement, to see me slacking either. A bead of sweat drips from my nose.

Welcome to British Military Fitness. It’s fitness training with a difference; outdoors, tough, and led by actual military types. They are not afraid of a little bit of poo.

Classes are three times a week, and it’s fair to say that I’m hooked. This is very mysterious because I am a geek. I hated PE and Games when I was a kid. I even established myself as captain of the school chess team in the hope they’d let me off sports, but unfortunately that didn’t work.

How did I get into it? You can blame my mother, @lovely_oracle. She goes to the BMF classes down in Cheltenham, not bad considering she’s now 69 years old. She was visiting us in Wolverhampton one weekend, and didn’t want to miss her Saturday morning class. I was Told (my mother Tells you things) that I would be attending too. It turned out that BMF offers a free trial class to see if you like it, yay! I was quite certain that I wouldn’t like it, but am not afraid to try something new, unless it’s shellfish, and like I said, I’d been Told.

The enormous, whopping, piano-falling-from-a-crane surprise was that I thoroughly enjoyed it! I would defy anybody not to. The instructors Griff “do what you’re doing, but do MORE!” and Jason are great: encouraging, firm but fair, and a good laugh. It’s a standing joke now that I can’t do a press-up without sticking my bum in the air (beautiful), run round the four corners of a square (confusing), or perform two actions at the same time (impossible, just impossible).

The other thing that makes BMF so much better than going to the gym is that everyone is very friendly. I think this is the main reason I’ve stuck with it. The gym by comparison (membership now cancelled) was a very solitary experience: puffing away on the cross trainer or the bike or the treadmill, bored out of my brain, and barely speaking to a soul the whole time. At BMF there is banter: you get laughed at (nicely) if you run in a triangle rather than a square. There’s a real feeling of being in this punishment, sorry, fitness training together, and we encourage and help each other along. We even share the bottles of water provided by Griff and Jason – the etiquette is to squirt the water from the bottle into your mouth to prevent cross-contamination, but you’re usually so thirsty that it could be being poured from a rancid old running shoe, and you wouldn’t care.

You get to do exercises with some interesting sounding names. I am now an expert on the squat thrust, the mountain climber, the lunge, the spotty dog, the Russian twist, and the burpee. The burpee, if you haven’t had the pleasure, was invented in the forties by an American physiologist called Royal H. Burpee, to help assess the fitness of WW2 army recruits. That’s quite something, to name your child Royal. Didn’t think of that, did you, Wills and K-Mid?

Benefits? Well, it’s working for me. I’ve gone from not being able to run round the corner to the shops to being able to run several miles without stopping. I can get into clothes that I thought were going to have to be charity-bagged. At the classes you’re given coloured bibs to wear: blue for beginners, red for intermediates, and greens for the very fit. This makes the classes accessible – it’s possible to start from scratch, as I did. And in September I’m did something called the Wolf Run with my mum: 10 kilometres, including swimming across a lake, climbing over walls, sliding down mud slides, crawling through tunnels, and getting absolutely filthy.
(My partner kindly took some photos of my mum and me go take a look). I loved it. Weird.

It’d be great to see you at BMF too! The Wolverhampton classes are in Bantock Park on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, and Saturday mornings. There are other classes all over the country. Here’s a link to their web site, with details of the locations, and how to claim your first free class. If you do sign up, tell ‘em I sent you, because then I get a bib all of my own, with my name on it. It’d be a green one, now.

They keep telling me that I haven’t seen proper winter BMF yet, with the evening classes in the dark, and the rain, frost, snow, and mud. That’s going to be interesting, but I’m not worried. It’s only a bit of mud.

It’s not like it’s a POO.

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