After functional training, I ached for three days | Zoe Williams

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Dragging tyres, being shouted at: this is made to torture gymgoers

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“Functional training” is exercise that relates to how your body moves, rather than classic gym routines, which build up specific muscle groups. It typically involves non-gym equipment; stuff that you’d be more likely to find on a farm: giant tyres, random, heavy loads better suited to a dray horse. There are high-intensity bursts of effort, then shorter bursts to kid yourself that it’s getting easier. There is also a circuit element: the gym is broken up into stations, with a four-minute routine in each. Again, it’s a trick, breaking down time into frames that sound more than possible. Killer press-ups for 45 seconds? I could do that. There is an emphasis on using your bodyweight against yourself, which makes it the kind of workout you could do at home, although – trust me – you never would.

Most gyms offer this now, but I tried it at a new one (The Yard, in Canary Wharf, east London) designed specifically for torturing gymgoers. People in financial-services districts are so distinctive, I realised: so determined, so lacking in normal perspective, so peculiarly happy to get shouted at by an instructor. Maybe he didn’t shout at them; I was the only latecomer, flung immediately into 25 burpees and jumping jacks, a punishment for my lack of commitment.

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Read more: theguardian.com

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