First, a disclaimer: I am 22 and was in decent shape before I joined Men’s Health seven months ago. But I was already entrenched in the mindless monotony of the weights room; a workout only counted if it featured bench pressing, biceps curls or – more probably – plenty of both.
Power, speed and control will pay dividends in all sports
I couldn’t touch my toes, though, and seeing some of my new colleagues hampered by mobility issues after a decade of desk-jockeying I wanted to give up fruitless fitness pursuits and start training for real. I was in awe of the gymnasts at Rio 2016 – you could see how every muscle fibre was called upon to perform their complex movements. The chiselled abs and broad shoulders were a byproduct of their practice, not the reason for it.
I wanted to have this athletic purpose, and for that, there was only one place for me: South Essex Gymnastics Club, spearheaded by Scott Hann, and home to Team GB’s Max Whitlock and Brinn Bevan. The coaches and I never once spoke about aesthetics. Every session was dedicated to being a better gymnast, growing stronger in a handstand or honing the muscle-up.
My previous adherence to macros didn’t fly, either. I started to eat well to train well, rather than trying to look ‘cut’. I ate whole foods and plenty of veg at every meal. Even breakfast. Don’t expect to be able to do an iron cross overnight – or even in 10 weeks’ time, mind. But by learning the fundamentals of gymnastics, you’ll rope in unrivalled core strength, become genuinely mobile and develop athletic power, speed and control that will pay dividends in all sports.
To find out how Michael did it, pick up a copy of our June issue – on shelves now!