More and more women are signing up these days to take part in mud runs and endurance obstacle races.
Whether it’s to boost motivation, for a sense of personal achievement, to support a charitable cause or have a focus to put fitness back on track, taking part in events – such as Spartan series, Tough Mudder, Survival Of The Fittest – shows no sign of stopping its increasingly popularity.
And as people take participating in events more seriously, there’s been an increase in people training specifically for such challenges.
So much so, some gyms and fitness centres have even started classes or sessions aimed towards training for Tough Mudder or Spartan races.
They mimic the challenges and obstacles people will face along race courses.
Oly Nutton, fitness instructor at YMCA Thornton, said: “We’ve seen a definite shift towards event training and we’re now preparing event training programmes for our female customers on a daily basis.
“The event training programmes combine a lot of different elements, to keep the whole training experience fun and focused in the run-up to and beyond the event.
“We design the programmes to improve endurance, stamina and overall fitness getting participants cardiovascular fit, flexible and feeling strong with a focus on bodyweight exercises – where you move around using your own bodyweight to improve strength.
“This includes simulating aspects of the events you’re training for – such as negotiating the monkey bars, rope pulls and tyre flips.”
Oly says the YMCA has also seen more customers move towards the group training sessions, on functional training kit like the Spartan Rig at YMCA Thornton, and training with a fun team feel is definitely a key theme.
Even those not taking part in an event, but wanting to join in the training, can reap the benefits.
The training can help boost cardiovascular fitness levels, improve stamina, improve core stability, and lead to better agility, as well as strength.
* Throughout August, YMCA Thornton is holding a full programme of 30-minute Spartan sessions, with a one-hour Super Spartan Challenge this Saturday, 11am until noon – focused on training for events, such as Tough Mudder. Visit ymcayactive.org or call (01253) 824108.
Oly’s five top tips for taking on Spartan or Tough Mudder
1. Think fun, have fun with it and enjoy it. Before you even start training, go into it for the enjoyment factor and sense of achievement. The more you enjoy it, the fitter you will become.
2. Set a realistic training time-frame. Give yourself at least two to three months to train ahead of your event. This should be enough time to build up your new routine, as well as time to focus on any areas of weakness.
3. Get help from a fitness instructor or personal trainer. A qualified fitness professional will use their knowledge and expertise to ensure your programme is tailored to your current level of fitness – so it’s a safe and an enjoyable experience, with achievable goals in sight.
4. Train with a partner or in a group. The gym has become a really sociable place, with a total fitness approach. Thanks to large areas of gyms now being dedicated to circuit style workouts and functional equipment, it’s easier to find training buddies. Instructor-led group sessions, such as the Spartan Rig sessions at YMCA Thornton, bring groups of gym-goers together for 30-minute workouts, with an emphasis on creating a fun and motivational environment.
5. See it as an opportunity to improve your whole lifestyle. Your new focus is a great opportunity to kick your diet and nutrition into shape, too. This is as important as improving your fitness and can really make the difference to your progress during training.