Justin Parker

I am no athlete, I’ve never been one. I am all too familiar with last place at school sports days.

I joined Roark Gyms after moving from Johannesburg to Cape Town, with what I thought was an acceptable level of fitness. My first class quickly reset that assumption. I recall finishing the workout and dropping to the floor in a dizzy, sweaty mess. Once I had collected the pieces of my tattered ego, James asked that I commit to six weeks and trust the program.

Three days a week, for six weeks. Every one of those 18 days I arrived and sat in my car, terrified at the thought of what was written on the whiteboard. I survived. Each of those days I walked out the gym more aware of what I was capable of.

At Roark I have discovered something I enjoy more than improving my time in a half marathon, or hitting a PR on a deadlift. I discovered a desire within myself to test my limits. The limits of my body and the limits of my mind.Especially my mind. The mind is primary. The mind is the conductor of the orchestra, your body. A weak conductor makes for an underwhelming crescendo, irrespective of the magnificence of the music.

The beauty of exercise at Roark is that your weakness becomes audible. You hear it whimper pathetically when you throw yourself into the forge. It begs you to quit, ease off or just slow down. I acknowledge that voice. I let it whimper and whine. I defy it.

I am no athlete, I will never make the walk to a podium, or run a silver time in a half marathon. But I am a winner when I conquer that biggest and inescapable challenge, the negotiation with my mind.

Personal lessons learnt at Roark

  • Trust the program. It is designed to make you stronger, fitter and a better athlete in general. Following it is simple.
  • Be consistent. Show up regularly, give your all. Results are a side effect of hard work.
  • Pick one goal at a time. You want a 200kg deadlift, forget about that six pack. You can have it all, you just have to get there one step at a time.
  • Squat. Often and with good form. It makes you a better athlete.
  • Be patient. There are no shortcuts to anything worthwhile.
  • Challenge yourself. You will regularly surprise yourself.
  • Do what you love. It is easier to stay motivated if you are passionate about it.