I recently read a tweet by Gym Jones disciple Matt Owen which stated, “if you don’t think about quitting at least a few times during a 2000 meter row, you aren’t going hard enough.” While the 2000 meter row provides an excellent examination into the psychological strength of an athlete, the theory behind this statement isn’t limited to it.
Its been interesting for us to watch athletes in both of our gyms be completely overwhelmed by a workout that involves a large volume of work (something involving 5 rounds of 400 meter runs or 50 calories on at the airdyne is a good example of this), while in workouts where we expect an all out effort for a shorter period of time (i.e. a sprint workout lasting under 5 minutes) a large majority of them won’t push themselves hard enough to once again undergo the same psychological examination they naturally experience to when trying to complete the longer workouts. The question is, why not?
The answer is because we, as human beings, are designed to try and work out the easiest way to do something. Its the reason we sit instead of standing and the reason so few people actually understand the value of hard physical work.
What happens at Roark is that there are no short cuts provided to you. The movements are big movements with standards attached to them. The workouts are stressful and designed to tax the parts of your body which would you usually assist you in the movements. So what do people start doing when placed under physical stress with no alternatives available? They create them. They short rep. They don’t go as low on a squat. The relax a little on the rower. They quit.
We’ve spoken before about taking responsibility for your diet, so now we would like to ask you to take responsibility for your movement standards. If you short rep, cheat or quit, there is only one person losing out on what the workout is trying to achieve.
We’re not for one moment saying you shouldn’t think about quitting. I personally think about it all the time during workouts – “just stop, just don’t do the last rep” – but what that shows me is that I’m taking my body to a place it is so uncomfortable, its asking my mind to issue the command to give up.
Each time I don’t quit, what happens is that some weakness in me dies. I kill it. In burying myself completely in a physical challenge, I bury the weakness in me, and with each new challenge I kill more weakness by refusing to give in to the voice that tells me to quit. In doing so, I reinforce this virtue in myself, knowing that I won’t quit when things get tough – and this isn’t limited to gym, it’s transferrable to every aspect you value in your life. But always remember, that the inverse also applies. Now you need to ask yourself what virtues you would like to reinforce in your life.
“If you want to quit and you don’t quit, and then you want to quit again and you don’t quit again, and you get in the habit of not quitting, it carries over to everything else.”
- Mark Twight.
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At Roark, our programming doesn’t involve rushing through a quick fix programme and crash diet to get you ‘bikini ready’ – although that might be a goal of yours. Our aim is to teach you to use your body properly, to get steadily stronger, which will allow you to put yourself in better and more efficient positions during exercise, therefore increasing your fitness and making your body stronger, leaner and fitter.
Over time, this combination will build a lean, sustainable form that will empower you. The fitter you get, the fitter you will get. When you’re fit and healthy, you’re more likely to make choices that will keep you fit and healthy. When you’re experiencing the benefits of physical health – a lean, strong body, a clear mind and the fringe benefits (emotional stability, self-confidence, body appreciation), you’re probably going to make choices that will perpetuate this state of grace.
Ladies who’ve been training with us will be used to the strength part of the program, which we lead every session with. The point of these is to build and maintain base strength. We continue to build on this through every session. The stronger you get, the more proficient you’ll be at what your interval workouts require of you. You’ll be able to pull further in your rows, lift heavier weights more efficiently, and generally put more effort in. And the more effort you put in, the better your results become.
Barring the athletes who require bulk for their sports, the average Roark athlete is lean. This is because the way we train raises your heart rate while burning fat with weight-training. Usually our workouts combine the two in interval weight training workouts. We find this method works extremely well. Training in this way does not build bulk, it increases efficiency. Some of our athletes do require bulk, and achieve this by adding starches and grains to their diets, which is a sure way to put on and maintain extra body weight. Those who wish to remain lean do very well on diets consisting of high protein, high vegetable and a good dose of unsaturated fat.
For those who have previously experienced a ‘plateau’ in their training or maintenance efforts – a level at which the body refuses to change any more – strength training becomes even more valuable. Plateaus in training programmes are only broken through by getting stronger and by pushing up your heart rate, which will allow you to put in more effort later down the line, but you have to be willing to make the investment now, in order to perform better later. To maintain a state of lean fitness, you need to be continually pushing through your plateaus. And this is why we need you to get stronger.
If you still hold the idea that lifting weights builds bulk, and you feel you can report some kind of evidence or anecdote to support this, it’s time to start interrogating your diet. You will never find a bodybuilder who eats lots of vegetables, protein and good fats and doesn’t eat carbohydrates and starch, because the last two are essential for building bulk and size. It stands to reason then that removing them from your diet will eliminate the possibility of you building bulk. By eliminating weight and strength training, however, you eliminate the possibility of being lean.
When you change your ideas of what it means to get stronger, you’ll find you might just start getting the results you’ve always wanted.
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One thing which is immediately noticeable on entering our new women’s gym is that there are no mirrors. If you’ve trained at a globo gym for most of your life, this may seem a strange concept, considering that these ‘health’ clubs are usually lined with mirrors to assist you in checking out every angle of yourself.
If you’ve read our site, you will know that we place a far greater emphasis on performance than aesthetics. We’ve stated many times that if you concentrate on improving your performance numbers, everything else positive will follow. Concentrating on performance is also far more sustainable over a long period of time than just training to look a particular way.
The absence of mirrors in the gym isn’t, however, to avoid our members looking at themselves for aesthetic reasons.
When learning a movement for the first time, such as a deadlift or a squat, it is very important that you don’t learn it by watching yourself. The problems associated with this is that you tend to start ‘self correcting’ based on your reflection, rather than by concentrating on the particular muscle groups you are supposed to be employing to properly complete the movement.
The lack of mirrors also allows our coaches to have the final say with regard to form. Trust between coach and member is imperative to the process of developing proper technique, and therefore members are naturally inclined to listen for instruction rather than trying to solve the problem on their own.
At Roark Women we are trying to make women aware of their bodies in a positive way. We want our women to leave what they may have previously thought possible, or proper, at the door, and to see what their bodies are capable of. We can assure you that if they trust the movement and your body, you will have the results you desire.
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We are taught for most of our lives that some of us are sporty, and the rest of us aren’t. We like to perpetuate this belief because it allows us to be lazy, to hide our inactivity behind labels such as ‘bad genes’. We flip through magazines and sigh, ‘I’ll never look like that’. And for the most part, we’re right. Not because you didn’t hit the gene jackpot, but because you’re comparing yourself to someone you are not.
Our bodies, like our minds, hearts and souls, are all different. Each of us has a physical form that has different strengths and weaknesses. You could see your body as a metaphor for your life as a whole. In fact when you look at your training as a journey of self discovery that will continue through your lifetime, you’re getting close to the truth.
You may never look like the supermodel you stuck up on the fridge to stop you eating what’s left of last night’s pizza, but if you focused on training your body to be strong and fit, and nourish it with food that feeds its purpose, you’d be surprised at how beautiful your body actually is. Once you begin to experience being able to use it for physical activities, you’ll be inspired by what it’s capable of, and want to continue nourishing it and treating it well with exercise. We often see our athletes come to us with extremely low expectations – they want to lose the weight they’ve picked up over the last five years sitting at a desk. Then, when they start working hard and eating well, they are not only pleased with the results but filled with a sense of possibility that they never had before because they didn’t believe their bodies were built to be this strong, or fit, or capable, and because of all those things, beautiful. They take on challenges they’d never dreamed of: marathons, triathlons, dance recitals.
As you train with us, and your form and function starts to shape and develop, so you will get a better understanding of how your body is built, and what it is capable of. Knowing your body is as important as knowing your self and mind, for it’s within your body that these other two are housed, and through your body that they are expressed. When your physical form is strong and fit, so your outlook on life seems to follow suit. Working and conditioning your body is an in-built emotional healing system.
Next time you see an image of a body that makes you feel bad because it seems unattainable to you, rather ask yourself, what is attainable to me? When you begin the process of body conditioning and discovery, other bodies will appear beautiful as opposed to intimidating, for you will identify with the journey that person has taken to get there, and appreciate the story of hard work that their body tells.
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A beginner athlete will often have many questions, one of them being ‘what should I eat to get a body like so-and-so’. One thing Roark athletes realize very quickly is that in order to be able to use your body, you need to feed it properly. By this we don’t mean carbo-load or protein shake or take supplements or even cutting carbs – we mean understanding how your body works and what it needs to deal with the level of work required. That level is dependent on what you wish to get out of your body, that is, the goal that you set for yourself.
Athletes have different goals. Some wish to compete in marathons, others wish to compete in martial arts tournaments, others train to give them better performance during hip hop class, and some train simply to maintain their ideal physical condition. Regardless of your goal, when you start training properly, you’ll soon know whether you are feeding yourself correctly by how your body responds when it’s put under pressure. Diets that are high in sugar and processed foods will feel weak and shaky soon into a workout, while an athlete who eats a diet high in vegetables and quality protein will find that she can push herself further and to more intense levels, and will consequently enjoy better results in both form and function.
That’s not to say you cannot have sugar or cake or a treat – you’ll find that when you’re eating properly and training to the best of your ability that those occasional treats are averaged out by your better choices. So what do we mean by eating properly? We don’t like to be too prescriptive about what our athletes eat. We believe part of your journey is to work with and listen to your body, and to find that out for yourself. But if you’re looking for some guidance when it comes to meals that both fill you up, are delicious and will add to your training, look to your body itself when it comes to determining whether you will get something out of what you want to eat.
The body is a complex system that is built to move and expend energy. We have evolved from ancestors who ran miles and miles each day, simply because that was required of them. They were intensely physical, they built their own homes, carried their children everywhere and had to adapt to different extremes in environment, including temperature, eating patterns and food available to them. That last bit is key – our ancestors did not have the option of picking up a ready-made microwave meal filled with saturated fats and sugars to make its contents taste better. Nor did they have the means to farm grain and process it in order to make white bread on which they could slap cheese and tomato and call it a sandwich. They certainly didn’t eat cupcakes with tea during a 3pm slump. So your body is unlikely to respond to these foods well, since it’s unnatural for us to be eating this way.
Somehow, there are myths about diet that have endured and penetrated conventional wisdom. Some of these myths include that in order to do long cardio we must carbo load, and in order to lose weight we should switch to whole grains and cut out dairy. While these myths have a reason for becoming so popular, we encourage out athletes to do their own research before they take conventional wisdom as fact. Forget the food pyramid and stop looking at food packaging for guidance – the recentVitamin Water / Coca Cola debacle has proved how misleading this can be Don’t order the health breakfast just because it has the word ‘health’ in it – muesli, fruit salad, yoghurt and honey is favoured by body builders because of its high calorie content, which can stand in the way of an athlete who is working towards becoming lighter. Don’t think that because something is ‘sugar-free’ or ‘wholewheat’ it’s helping you achieve your goals. Remember that marketers and advertising messages have a vested interest in you buying their products, so they cannot be taken as objective wisdom. Become a student of your diet, for what you put into your body has an effect on everything from your mind to your performance.
There are many eating ideas available to you as an athlete these days. Some will work for you and others may not. We encourage you putting them into practice and trying them to see for yourself. If your goal is to run a marathon or compete in a triathlon, you’ll be looking to develop your strength while staying light, hence a low-starch, high plant-fat, high protein and vegetable diet (known to many as the Paleo diet) will work well for you. If it’s your goal to compete in a form of physical combat, having strength and weight will work to your advantage, in which case eating whole grain starches will help you add bulk to your frame, and your training will convert that bulk into muscle.
Whatever your goal, we will always be available to advise you, and will stop at nothing to help you achieve your goals as long as you commit to doing the same.
Forget the idea that some foods are ‘good foods’ or ‘bad foods’, that you can only eat certain things when you are on a diet, in order to look a certain way. Select food based on the positive nutrients they will bring to your body and how they will help you achieve your training goals, and consequently your life. Eating in this way will free you from calorie counting, or dieting, or depravation, none of which will help you reach your goals sustainably. Eating to gain, instead of lose, will steadily shift your mindset from one of lack to that of endless possibility.
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Roark Women is a gym which caters exclusively to women. The gym is a large, private space with a view over the city, and is stocked with the best available equipment. View aside, there are no saunas here, and no hairdryers. We will not lie to you and tell you that exercise should be a gentle trot on the treadmill followed by a steam. If you’re here you’ve probably noticed that that doesn’t work.
Roark Women is run by coaches who are solely interested in your progress and your willingness to work hard. We use knowledge drawn from global leaders in training strategy to show you how to use your body and function as a team with it, and in so doing come to trust and appreciate its form and function. We offer four classes a day, 6-7am, 7-8am, 17:30-18:30pm and 18:30-19:30pm. Please be sure to book your place in your preferred class using our online booking system. Every class will have a coach present who will take members through the planned session. The class will consist of mobility and stretching work combined with a warm up, after which we will move onto the programming for that specific day. The programming will change every day, and will vary according to time, weight, movement and rounds. We encourage you to attend as frequently as possible, as our workouts are designed to strategically follow on from work done previously, and build off existing progress. The more you go, the more you get out.
Some of the sessions may be circuit based, others may be working through a linear style programme, while others may be based upon rounds of movements. Every workout will be scaleable, and you will constantly be monitored by a coach. All workouts and movements will be explained to you prior to starting the workout, and we are more than happy to help you perfect techniques that you find challenging. Our coaches draw their knowledge from a variety of sources including the internationally accredited Crossfit certifications, as well as the Gym Jones certifications. We do not preach loyalty to any one method other than that which achieves the best results.
We offer two membership packages:
R 550 per month for three sessions per week;
R 650 per month for unlimited sessions per week.
Please note that we do not offer less than three sessions per week because through our experience this is the minimum amount of sessions per week that we require with you.
Membership to the gym will be limited, and you will be able to book sessions via our online booking system.
Personal training is available to those who wish for one-on-one sessions at R200,00 per hour.
To join Roark Women, fill in the form below:
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Roark Women is due to open March 2013 and is situated on the 3rd Floor of The Buying Service Building, which is situated on the corner of Roeland and De Villiers Streets – opposite the Ferrari Garage on Roeland. The gym is one floor above the Men’s gym. Before you start training with us we will need to set up an introductory coaching session with one of coaches. This will take roughly an hour, during which we will explain how the sessions will work, show you around the gym as well as go over the fundamental movements we practice.
Some of the movements may be familiar to you, others will challenge you initially. Conventional wisdom has seen women’s strength training becoming somewhat watered down as mainstream gyms have focused on mass appeal over performance and results. You will be required to challenge yourself, but if you commit to our programming you will soon learn to love the feeling that comes with pushing yourself, and to value the results. This is our primary aim, and we will be with you every step of the way. All we require is your commitment, and a readiness to work.
If you would like to register early, you are welcome to sign up and have your coaching assessment at the Men’s gym for now, as the Women’s premises will only be due to open properly in the beginning of March.
Please feel free to fill in the joining form below. We will be in contact with you shortly thereafter.
We look forward to you becoming a part of Roark Women, and to helping your set and achieve your goals.
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At Roark, we are firmly against the ‘one size fits all’ policy. It is ludicrous that men and women be required to follow the same training programme, or even be taught the same movements, when our bodies are built for such different functions. It must be noted right at the outset that this does not mean women cannot compete with men, it only means that their bodies have different compositions, and that this should be kept in mind at all times when considering programming.
We didn’t want to open a women’s gym until we completely understood how various movements and weights change the body shape of women. So we tested it. We had a group of women with varying athletic ability and training experience who we gave very similar programming to, and we learnt a great deal. We also went to study in the best training facilities in the states, I am very confident that Roark Women will offer the best, most accurate and specific training to women of all abilities. You do not need to have a heavy sporting background to achieve progress with us, and you do not need existing strength or fitness. You simply have to be willing to work, and to listen to our advice.
The training will be challenging, but you will never be left to battle on your own, you will always be coached and supported. The training environment will be a healthy one, and provided you do what we ask of you, you will have great results. At Roark we do not allow our members to fixate on appearance or their jeans size or whether they can or cannot eat a cupcake or whether they will have their bikini bodies by the time summer rolls around. When you start training here, you acknowledge that these days of petty fretting over surface values is behind you, that you realise that your body is built to be strong and fit and that you wish to begin your journey towards a sustainable state of health and happiness, and your way in is through overcoming physical challenges.
We understand that it takes a great deal of trust to join a gym. You will know as soon as you join a gym if the coaches have your best interests at heart, or if you’re there just to make up the numbers. Some gyms are happy to have salespeople signing you up, who have no knowledge of what training really means. That is not what we are about. Our gym membership is be limited, so you won’t face overcrowding and it also means that those who train with us need to earn their place here. We go to great lengths to ensure our programming is the best available, and we invest a lot of time, care and effort into our members. I believe that the men who currently train with us will testify to this, and I believe it will be no different with the women who join our second gym.
It is our broader vision to changes the negatives outlook habits that most women possess towards exercise, training and eating. We have dedicated our pursuits to gaining a broad knowledge base on these subjects, and we believe in the principle on which our gym is established – namely psychological before physical. We will always encourage our members to consider themselves and their bodies on the same team. You are not here to punish yourself, or to ‘burn fat’. You are here to train, and we are here to support you in that.
Women have been at odds with their bodies for long enough. When you sign up to train at Roark, you acknowledge the fact that strength, fitness and a fitness goal greater than just ‘looking good’ will result in a more peaceful state of mind and ultimately a better functioning body, which by its very nature will take on an aesthetically pleasing form. You will also find that personal hurdles that once seemed insurmountable become far more manageable, as you get used to overcoming challenges and realising that you do have a degree of control of your body and beyond it, your life.
Like any place where a group of people gather to work hard for a noble objective, Roark Women and those who train there, will enjoy success. We look forward to meeting you and beginning this journey with you.
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