How much do you like mud? More specifically, squelching your hands in mud as you bear crawl across the ground in freezing conditions – so you can do a round of sit ups in a freezing cold puddle?
Doesn’t sound too great right?
At that exact moment, I was crying with laughter, slipping across the mud in the rain, with a group of people from almost every age bracket and fitness bracket as instructors (former and current members of the Armed Forces) shouted words of encouragement at us.
I knew what was coming when I lowered myself into that icy water and cracked out eight sit ups - crawling upside down to the next line to perform a rep of press ups.
And I still couldn’t stop smiling.
That mud you see was the setting for my first ever British Military Fitness session, which took place on Clifton Downs bright and early on Saturday morning in bracingly cold weather.
I’ve always wanted to try British Military Fitness, the UK’s biggest provider of outdoor fitness classes. The sessions are taught by either serving or former members of the Armed Forces and include interval training, circuits and in my case, a lot of mud!
So I jumped at the chance when the company invited me (and James) to try a session with other ‘first timers’, following the usual format and exercises of a typical class.
It was super cold when we arrived but the instructors did a great job warming us up with group activities that had my heart pumping. We were shown how to split into rank and file and jogged our way around in two neat lines.
The instructors – who were brilliant and kept everyone so motivated despite the conditions – then split into two groups, one for beginners and one for those who considered themselves a little fitter.
I so wanted to join the latter but my asthma, which never bothers me that much, was playing up and I was already wheezing so knew anything crazy would be a really stupid idea. So I stayed in the lower group while James joined the other.
The group may have been ‘beginners’ but I still had a great workout. We were constantly moving, whether it be burpees or squats, sit ups, press ups or running across the muddy ground.
I particularly liked an exercise where we paired with a partner and stood opposite each other, holding hands. We then squatted down with our arms outstretched in front of us and leant back . Super effective thigh burner!
There were also circuits between lines on the grass. For example, we would perform reps of sit ups on one line, run to the next, then do press ups, crawl to the next, crack out some burpees, bear crawl back and do a cartwheel before finishing it off with a backwards run to the first line.
My mind was constantly working to keep up with what was going on so I never felt like I was bored or not enjoying myself. The support from the instructors was immense and I loved the camaraderie from the other participants.
I was so muddy when I finished! The session ended with both groups back together for a cool down and stretch, performed with a partner. I had such a great time but had a lot of washing to do when we returned home!
My legs don’t look too bad in that picture but check out this one:
Oh and you want proof how cold it was? Check out my Rudolf red nose in this picture:
I need to learn not to clash my nose to my clothing
I had so much fun in my BMF session and would 100% recommend it to anyone looking for a challenge. The community aspect of the classes really appealed to me too, BMF runs regular socials, events and even trips abroad for members.
So I’m guessing you’re expecting me to say I’m all signed up and ready to don camo paint and trade my cushy sessions for a muddy couple of hours every week?
Well sadly that’s not the case and here’s why.
I haven’t really spoken about my asthma on here because it never usually affects what I do. I don’t consider myself sickly but I do have to be careful and always carry an inhaler.
If you look carefully in this oh-so-unflattering picture you’ll see my blue inhaler tightly clutched in my hand – the place it had been through the whole race and is every time I run.
Anyway, I’ve struggled with exercising outdoors at varying intensity before (fartleks don’t really happen for me) and I couldn’t get myself ‘wheeze-free’ throughout the session despite using my reliever. As much as I loved it, I have to be realistic and while I’m not going to let asthma rule my life, I don’t think it would be sensible to sign up for something that aggravates it.
Have you ever done a military fitness class? If so, what did you think? Also, has your health ever affected how you workout?
Note: James and I attended the British Military Fitness session free of charge but the views expressed in this post are 100% my own.