Club F!t is a new concept in fitness training in Jávea. Offering something they call “FUNctional intelligent training”, it’s not a place for those who like to spend hours pumping iron whilst staring lovingly at themselves in mirror-clad walls. Its specially designed training programmes make it unique in Europe and possibly even the world by offering training which allows balanced and efficient whole body training for all performance levels.
So what’s it all about? Is it really so different as they claim? The staff at javeamigos.com don’t claim to be the fittest of people; sadly it seems that those days have long passed us by. But we had been told that Club F!t was different, that its individual training and personal support play a major role in helping people of all fitness levels reach their own personal goals. So we went down to give them a try and see what it was all about.
Week 1 - The Fitness Assessment
I was a bag of nerves as I arrived as the plush Club F!t centre in Calle Roma, just a few metres from Camping Jávea. The first impression as I walked through the door was that a lot of money had been invested into offering the people of Jávea and beyond something very different. Owners Mika and Peter offered a very warm welcome and explained the concept behind Club F!t.
My session opened with a quick chat with Peter to go through a few personal details to establish my current fitness level. It didn’t make for great reading but then, at 48 years of age, my body had done a fair bit of mileage and stopped in more than my fair share of service stations for refreshment. The dreaded measuring tape came out. I grimaced as Peter made the necessary measurements but it didn’t matter whether I was small, tall, thin or fat; these figures were crucial for a first assessment to provide the right fitness programme for me. However, it was clear that there was a fair bit of work to do.
He handed me a heart monitor to strap around my chest. This would be used to measure my heart rate at all times during exercising so that the trainers can keep an eye on it; if it started to climb a little too high then they could advise taking it a bit easier. The concept had saved lives in the past. I stood in front of a large screen which turned out to be the SysTrain Kinetics test station. Peter entered my details and then I was presented briefly with an image of myself as the software began the assessment, analysing my condition abilities to determine my fitness level and my future training needs.
To kick off, I performed five minutes of step-ups as the machine indicated the pace. Now and then it would remind me to “speed up”. Which I did. I didn’t want to upset it. And all the time my heart rate was monitored. The assessment continued. I pushed some weights above my head as many times as I could in a specific time, the machine only registering if I completed each one correctly. I had to stand on each leg in turn, trying to keep my balance as best I could as I tried to keep a large red dot in the middle of a target on the screen in front of me. It turned out that my right leg was the stronger. I leapt up in the air as high as I could three times and moved around the floor as I followed a green square around a grid. Peter seemed impressed; I knew all those hours on the Wii would come good.
Finally, after the machine ran through a few measurements, the results were displayed on the screen. Some were obvious; I’m no Greek Adonis. But I think both myself and Peter were somewhat surprised but also a little satisfied when the assessment declared that my fitness level was well within the light green [OK] level. The results would be emailed to me later.
Week 2 – Pilates and SMARTFit
It wasn’t so long ago that I considered pilates to be some sort of exotic pizza topping rather than a form of exercise. Although I had subsequently read that it would strengthen my back and deep abdominal muscles whilst stretching my entire body and awakening my mind, I still had no idea what to expect as I started my second session at Club FIT, a one-to-one pilates lesson with diminutive coach Alicia.
She started by explaining the importance of a proper breathing technique before we took to the floor on individual mats and she talked me through a series of well-drilled exercises. My body’s flexibility has been somewhat limited for many years but through a series of deep and disciplined breathing exercises, it began to flex into positions I had long since forgotten. At one point, as I flexed my arm behind me as far as I thought it would go, Alicia encouraged me to concentrate a little more on my breathing and my arm moved several more centimetres further. And it continued on as I moved my legs into position I thought they’d never go again and it felt really good. I was pleasantly surprised at the end of the session.
The following day I wanted to discover more about the SMARTFit session, described as a ‘cardio-circuit combined with multisensory training. Armed with my CLUB F!T bottle and special training towel which has a handy zipped pocket to keep your locker key, I joined my other classmates in the special SMARTFit room. Coach Norma activated our heart monitors which appeared on the TV screen in one corner of the room showing our details in real-time. Different colours would show the work-rate as we exercised; head towards the red and you’d be asked to take it a little easier with the exercise.
We went through a series of basic warm-up exercises, Norma already keeping half an eye on the TV screen whilst talking us through each one. She then split the class into two teams which just happened to be men versus women; my colleague knew we would have to work hard now!
The first ‘game’ involved performing five squats each and then hurling five beanbags at an interactive board at the end of the room, which was about two metres high with a series of lights and a scoreboard at the top. We had four minutes to go through as many repetitions as possible, racking up the score with a resounding “bing” as we hit the board with the bags. It was hard work and certainly got the heart pumping.
The session continued to concentrate on working with the interactive board as we went through a series of exercises combined with games which involved tapping a succession of letters or numbers against the clock and against the other team. It was exhausting but fantastic fun. And all the time, Norma was keeping an eye on our heart-rates, checking our condition and making sure we were okay. The classes at Club FIT are small enough that the coaches can pay personal attention to each person. I probably needed it more than most – it was obvious that it had been some years since I’d exercised – but I was having so much fun that I was determined not to give up. Mind over matter.
All too soon, the session was over. And, as we did a few warm-down exercises, there was a hint that I would soon be feeling the benefit. Yes, I ached for a couple of days afterwards but it was a good feeling and nothing that would stop me from going again.
Week 3 – Core Stix with a Surprise
This week we were joined by a friend who had been coerced into taking advantage of a free session with Club FIT, thanks to a special voucher given to members to distribute to their friends. Like me, I don’t think she had any idea what was in store for us.
Our personal coach Antonio went through a series of warm-up exercises before introducing us to the Core Stix, a unique exercise machine that provides constant resistance training forcing your muscles to work hard during every exercise. The system offers not only performance training but, because it comes provided with a series of sticks offering different levels of resistance, it also provides physical therapy that helps rehabilitate strength as well as exercises for the active aging which allows seniors to build strength safely and effectively.
The sticks would be placed into a pair of holes in the exercise platforms, the position of which changed depending on the exercise. Sometimes we worked on the legs before changing the position of the sticks to work on another part of the body.
Antonio calmly talked through each exercise before we started and then guided and encouraged each of us as we followed. Exercises could be adapted for those of us who might be less flexible and all the time our coach would be giving us words of advice to get the most out of the session, sometimes even advising a change of stick colour to increase the tension by changing to the resistance level.
Every couple of exercises we left the system to work with the Balance Trainer, a blue inflatable dome that helps work on balance and stability. (Those of us with a less-than-perfect sense of balance could call on the help of the nearest wall.) This addition turned the session into a new concept known as X-MAX which offers a challenging combination of exercises which build up muscle mass and tone the whole body. It was tough but enjoyable and Antonio would encourage us with a cheery ‘high-five’ after each round of exercise before we returned to the Core Stix.
All too soon the session was over and we were warming down before Antonio gave a last congratulatory ‘high-five’. Whilst I was not as exhausted as I was after Saturday’s SMARTFit session, I could feel the benefit of working the whole body for almost an hour. And it was great fun, much more satisfying that anything else I had done in a standard gymnasium before.
Week 4 – Vibrafit Training
This week we worked on the VIBRAFIT platform, a unique training asset apparently developed by the Russians during the 1970s to help their cosmonauts maintain physical fitness during long periods of weightlessness and inactivity in space. In theory, it works by forcing you to use more of the muscle fibres to maintain a near-constant state of muscle contraction.
At ClubFIT, two different sessions are offered using the VIBRAFIT platform and the first of these that I would be trying would be the ‘PowerTraining’ which is a combination of one-to-one training on the vibration platform and cardio-training. my coach would be Marvin and his first task was to make sure that I’d warmed up properly with a short three minute spell on one of the self-powered treadmills and then on one of the rowing machines.
And then he introduced to the VIBRAFIT machine, a platform on which you stand and carry out a series of exercises whilst it vibrates. The first exercise was squats. As the machine started, my whole body started to shake. It reminded me of my first car when I managed to coax it above 50mph. It wasn’t entirely uncomfortable although Marvin explained that if it becomes a little too much, opening the mouth or lifting the heels very slightly tends to tone down the vibrating.
As I slowly performed the exercises, I could feel my muscles contracting at a much faster rate which, it was said, would stimulate the cardiovascular, hormonal, nervous and lymphatic systems. We worked in 30 second intervals, performing the exercise and then resting before performing another. Midway through the session, we transferred to another area to do a few cardio-training exercises although a lingering cold put paid to much progress in that field and, ever adaptable, we returned to the vibrating platform for some more exercises, including lunges and press-ups.
Two days later I was back for a 25 minute VIBRAFIT session with coach Alicia. This time the exercises were performed ultra-slowly to allow the platform to do its work with the muscles which was quite difficult at first but I soon got used to it, timing my squats and lunges, etc. better each time. For one exercise, I got into the press up position and just held it for 30 seconds as the platform vibrated; it was a lot harder than it sounds. All too soon, the session was over but I could already feel the benefits in my arms and legs.
Week 5 – MMA
Training and Lifestyle Coaching
This week we
had a short sample of MMA training - Mixed Martial
Arts - with Peter which seemed to be the session
that he enjoyed the most. I'd not put on a pair
of boxing gloves for many years and certainly not
for serious training. First we went through a number
of exercises with special apparatus which forced
me to utilise explosive energy. And then we moved
to the punch bag where Peter showed me the correct
way of hitting and moving around it. It was tough
at first, coordination going straight out of the
window but as I got more used to the punching, I
started to get it, much to the satisfaction of my
coach. I worked my way around the bag, not necessarily
punching hard but with determination.
we finished the session to complete the last part of
our trial - the lifestyle coaching. And this was the
fascinating part of the day with Peter explaining what
should and shouldn't be eaten and, to a certain extent,
debunking several common myths about dieting and proper
eating. Armed with a traffic light system guide, I could
walk away knowing what I should be looking at eating
to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
after five weeks, how did I feel? I ached, of course.
This training is different, working every inch of the
body but in a different, much more enjoyable way with
very few, if any, pretensions. Forget about rows of
muscled bodies staring into mirrors on the wall whilst
pumping iron; there are other places for those people.
At ClubFit they work with you, whatever your ability,
to give you a complete workout to suit your requirements.
Everyone is welcome at ClubFiT so give it a try this
week - you could be pleasantly surprised.
more about CLUBFiT here
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