Date: 23 May 2012 · Author: admin · Category: FEATURED MEMBERS, HEALTH & FITNESS
I’m not big on singling out specific athletes for their achievements, but at certain times it’s warranted. Before Roark opened in February, I met Jason Brown, the Editor of Men’s Health. I was asked to come up to the MH Offices, to discuss the possibility of training him for the Men’s Health Staff Challenge. I had no idea what to expect, or what kind of ‘canvas’ I’d have to work with, but was very pleased that someone in Jason’s position would consider using an unestablished gym for such a serious assignment.
Jason walked to the cafeteria where we met, shook my hand, and got straight to the point. He told me he had always been a naturally fit guy, never carried weight and always managed to stay lean. He went on to say that he had grown disillusioned with the commercial gyms in Cape Town, and these days kept fit by either running or playing the odd game of touch rugby. The problem was, he said, that since he had turned 40 he had found it harder and harder to keep the weight off. Work demands together with a hate for gyming on his own, left him uninspired and overweight. I must clarify that Jason wasn’t drastically out of shape. He was, we agreed, probably carrying 4 or 5 too many kilograms. What he wanted to do was drop the excess weight, replace it with firm muscle, get stronger and fitter. From my experience, these seem to be common goals of guys who come to Roark.
As we were still getting a few things sorted at Roark, Jason and I met up at the end of January at a gym in Gardens, for me to get an idea of where he was athletically. Jason could squat 40 kilograms, couldn’t do 10 push ups in a row, and would not attempt a pull up. Thats not to say these are bad measurements, they’re in fact above average, but we both knew we had some way to go. I’ve come to realise two things in the time I’ve spent training guys. The first is that it takes a certain type of person to keep adding weight to a bar on your back and to then attempt to squat it up and down repeatedly. The second is that you learn very quickly about what type of attitude a guy has with regards to the will to suffer, and the will to continue regardless of the discomfort, when you spike their heart rate and put them under stress. This is essentially what our Daily is designed to do.
From the outset, Jason went hard. I’m talking unrelentingly belligerent, ‘I will not stop even if I slip a disk’, ‘you will not break me’, hard. He wasn’t lifting heavy weights, he battled with form, he fell over at the end of the workouts, but his attitude was all that mattered to me, and I’ll tell you why. Because as time passed, his strength increased, as did his fitness. His form improved more than most in the gym, and his body started to change. Most importantly, however, his attitude never faltered. Five times a week he’d be there, listening to me, sticking to his strength programme and leaving nothing on the floor at the end of the Daily.
When you coach an athlete like that, you don’t just enjoy training them, you start to respect them. I know what it takes to do what he did, to go as deep as he did, and it’s only in those places the greatest gains, both mentally and physically, are achieved. I knew we had made progress when my girlfriend saw Jason for the first time in two months and asked me when Jason’s 10-year younger brother had started training with us. I laughed, but she was being deadly serious. She refused to believe he was the same guy, to the point that she wouldn’t go over and say hello to him because she thought I was joking. Apparently his work colleagues felt the same way.
And so the three months passed. Jason dropped the 5 kilograms (and 2 Jean sizes) he wanted, he got bigger arms and shoulders, deadlifted 120kgs, squatted 100kgs and can string together pull ups and push ups while exhausted. I’ll leave the Sports Science stats for the July issue of the magazine, but believe me when I say these improvements are fantastic. More importantly though, Jason has signed on to stay training at our gym. And since the challenge has ended, he’s come in an even more determined athlete. Brett Roux, who is a Mens Health cover model and a phenomenal athlete, was sitting with me watching Jason train the other day, turned to me and said ‘bro, he’s literally a different human being.’
Our programming is good, and our strength programme produces great results, but only one person came in day-in-and-day-out, and lifted those weights. I couldn’t be happier for Jason, and that he has achieved what he set out to, but more than that, I’m incredibly proud to be involved in helping a guy of his calibre rediscover what it means to be an athlete.