If you were a Gladiators fan back in the 90s, then you’ll probably remember Hunter… Well, now you can train with him! The Wimbledon resident (real name James Crossley) shows The Resident team how to train like a Gladiator, using endorphin-boosting battle ropes, prowlers and weights to tone and transform
Words: Madeleine Howell
Famed for his nine year stint on the hit TV show Gladiators, and crowned Ultimate Gladiator in the grand finale, James Crossley certainly knows a thing or two about fitness and body transformation. These days, he runs personal training sessions at Bounce gym near Wimbledon Park, along with a team of experienced trainers – including fellow Gladiator Warren Furman (Ace), and Luke Sanders, a former Royal Marines Commando.
When I was invited along for a personal training session with the man himself, I couldn’t turn it down. My instinct paid off: I learnt more about conditioning and weight training in half an hour than I have from years of classes and cardio machines – and had some seriously good fun at the same time, trying out modified strongman exercises that I’d never have thought to attempt otherwise.
‘The truth is, if you put on two pounds of muscle, you’re going to be burning more body fat at rest,’ Crossley tells me. ‘Your metabolism is going to be quicker, and your shape will gradually change.’ Are more girls getting into weightlifting these days? Crossley thinks so: ‘Men and women are realising now that the best way of burning fat and changing your body shape is weight training combined with intervals. The days of endless cardio are gone – although it does still have its place.’
With short intervals of 10 seconds between exercises, Crossley had me pushing a prowler with determination, swinging battle ropes with more than a hint of aggression, squatting with weights and trying out truck-pull style exercises, all with the help of his new training app, PT in 1, which he recently designed for the iPad.
‘I was noticing in gyms that personal trainers were either just writing stuff down on paper or not writing anything at all,’ he explains. ‘There was no real medium to keep track of progress, or to log workouts. I wanted to build something to allow myself and my trainers to be on the same page.’ It certainly works – the intensity and the novelty of the exercises combined are a serious stress reliever, and I left Bounce feeling high as a kite on endorphins.
A little further from home, Crossley also runs game changing boot camps in Marbella with an Eliminator-style obstacle course, complete with monkey bars, rope climbs, water features and a farmer’s walk. It’s known as the toughest in Europe. ‘It’s full on,’ laughs Crossley. ‘The fastest time anyone has completed it in is 43 minutes, but an average person would take about an hour and 20 minutes.’ As well as the course, specially designed nutritious meals are included, as is boxing, yoga, beach workouts and mountain hikes. Sign me up!
Powerzone at Alex Fitness
The innovative Powerzone studio classes as Alex Fitness in Fulham use body weight to develop balance, co-ordination, strength and posture, using a suspension cage and TRX equipment. It’s ideal for those who enjoy Pilates but want something that little more dynamic for the core.
The Boulevard SW6 2UB; 020 3841 4400; alex-fitness.co.uk
TRX at Transition Zone
Your body will battle against gravity in the TRX offering from Transition Zone in Parson’s Green, invented by Navy SEAL Randy Hetrick. Using suspension straps and your own body weight, you’ll build strength, stamina, and flexibility. It can be combined with the power plate or integrated with kettle bells and sprints.
17 Heathman’s Road SW6 4TJ; 020 7736 2070; transitionzone.co.uk
Freight Train at the Train Station Gym
The Train Station Gym in Wandsworth has offerings for yummy mummies and serious weight lifters alike. If you dare, try the 30 minute Freight Train work out. You can only join in once you have completed an Introduction to Weightlifting course, so you know you’re in safe hands.
20-22 Jaggard Way SW12 8SG; 020 8673 2989; thetrainstationgym.co.uk