Date: 10 May 2012 · Author: admin · Category: HEALTH & FITNESS, TESTIMONIALS
“…these days I feel a shit load better about myself. And isn’t that all that really counts?” Roark member Schalk Jonker writes about his experience training at Roark
“So I’m guess what I’m saying is I don’t want to be puking my guts out after my first session. I know myself and that will just deter me from returning unfortunately.” That was the last paragraph in my very first email exchange with James White of Roark. In the preceding paragraphs I used words like “amped” and “stoked” and more specifically “can’t wait to start exercising again”. At this point I need to make a confession. A few actually… I wasn’t stoked or amped. In fact I was skeptical of the whole business. Not of James and what he was trying to do at Roark, but rather of myself and whether or not I would be able to push through.
See, I have done absolutely nothing for close on 18 years and I absolutely loved every second of it. And for every single day of those lost years I was a paid up member of that other place with the treadmills, stationary bikes, big screen TVs, free Wi-Fi and vidae. I didn’t go there a lot, but the few times (I’m talking literally three or four times in 18 years) I did end up going, I didn’t know what to do. So I’d wander over to the super circuit or get on a treadmill, hack away, stop when I get tired and give myself a mighty pat on the back for “getting off my ass and doing something”.
The reality was, however, that I was as unhealthy as a Quick Shop sausage roll at four o’clock in the morning and I was getting heavier and heavier by the day.
That all started to change the first day I set foot in Roark. It was a Saturday in February and I had a serious bender at the Cape Town Tens the night before… as one does. James met me for my assessment and to show me the basics of how stuff works at Roark.
In my mind I had made it abundantly clear to him that he needed to go easy on me. I don’t know exactly what I was looking for, other that it had to entail not a lot of work with the promise of some serious results. He must have been cracking up on the inside, but with the straightest of faces he assured me that I will find what I’m looking for at Roark.
My assessment was what it was – I got some glowing praise from James for my squat form (I believed he used the term “squatting lower than a depraved stripper” somewhere), but it was never going to be easy to grasp the finer details of doing cleans and snatches and whatever the hell else in the space of 60 minutes with a PVC pipe in my hands.
I was pretty poked after my assessment with my legs seriously hurting. I only found out afterwards that he usually take guys through a bit of fitness and mobility stuff as well. The fact that I was too exhausted after doing a few air squats and Olympic lifts (although it certainly couldn’t be qualified as that when I first did them) with a PVC pipe to do that little bit more, just illustrated how horribly out of shape I was. The fact that James knew not to push me any further spoke volumes for his understanding of his members.
That has all changed remarkably in the last almost four months. Look, I’m not close to making the cover of Men’s Health, but I have lost almost 10kg, I’m 6cm smaller around my boep and the other day I squatted 125kg 15 times after starting on and struggling with 40kg.
Seeing as I don’t participate in sports anymore, those are some great results, but it’s not about results for me anymore. How can it be? What’s going to happen once I get rid of that extra 25kg and I can tuck my shirt in again? I want to keep going. It has become a lifestyle thing for me now. I want to keep pushing myself and see how much better I can become at … well… training.
The Dailies we do have made me visit some pretty dark places since the start of the year and I have been really close to doing exactly what I told James in my first email I didn’t want to do, but in some weird sadistic way I am actually looking forward to it every time I walk in the door. Yes, I may have had some choice words for James and Ross at times, but I enjoy the challenge of it and I know that I am in safe hands with them.
I love seeing myself getting better, doing more pull-ups, thrusters and burpees. They’re tangible and they confirm the progress I have been making. And every extra one I do from the last time, pushes me to go for the next one.
I guess what it comes down to in the end, is that these days I feel a shit load better about myself. And isn’t that all that really counts?
Words: Schalk Jonker
Photo: Schalk with his wife Nellie and his daughter Emma.