There are few things in life as certain as festive weight gain – followed by self-loathing and the inevitable New Year’s detox resolutions. This year, however, I have decided to shake up my “new year, new you” intentions by buddying up for a fitness and weightloss regime in the hope we’ll keep each other on the straight and narrow.
My gym routine fell by the wayside during the autumn, so I persuade a friend of similar slack mental attitude – Ryan, a 37-year-old entrepreneur who hates cardio and find gyms boring – to up his game and sign up with me for Lomax gym’s seven-day Super Shredder with founder Jonny Lomax. It consists of a strict diet plan of three meals a day and two snacks put together by a nutrition consultant, combined with a bespoke training programme mixing high-intensity interval, crossfit, weight training and Pilates – plus two massages each.
The force that is 6ft body builder Jonny arrives at his Chelsea gym wearing a baseball cap and a giant grin. Ryan – weighing in at 160lbs and measuring 5ft9 – looks nervous. Jonny explains he is going to put us through a body road-test, but beforehand he needs our backstory. He launches into a tirade of questions about fitness goals, past training, athletic experience, injuries, lifestyle and nutrition. Ryan discusses his upcoming heli-ski trip to Canada in April and his “crash course” approach to getting in shape, which usually ends in over-exercising. I simply pinch my extra tyre.
"We are going to start with The Sculptor Workout,” says Jonny. “Light cardio then some weights. When I have assessed your fitness levels, we’ll make a plan for the next six days.”
We start with a warm-up routine on the bike, followed by floor work: a quick sequence of three sets of 20 leg presses and 10 Nordic hamstring curls (for this we kneel and Jonny holds our ankles as we lower and raise our upper bodies to the floor and back up – ouch).
High-intensity cardio intervals come in the form of switching between 30-second heart-pounding bursts of hill sprints on the bike, squats, bench step-ups, press-ups and lunges. Ryan groans and I feel the burn, but we push on.
Three sets of bent-leg deadlifts and, 10 minutes later, 10 total-body-resistance hamstring extensions and 30-second sprints, and I feel the pound of my heartbeat. Ryan is ghost-white; I can see it’s game over. Jonny is directing us to the chest-press when Ryan chucks in the towel – he looks like he’s about to throw up. I sheepishly jump on the wimp-out bandwagon and we call it time.
Downstairs in the café, Jonny, Ryan and I sip on protein shakes and plot the next few days and a programme that will fully suit our needs.
We then meet the nutritionist who will work out our meals to ensure we have the right amount of carbs, proteins and fats to sustain the training but support my fat reduction goal and Ryan’s muscle building.
Later, a detailed email pings into my inbox with the fitness plan. I brace myself for action.
Back at Lomax, we meet Olu Adepitan, Jonny’s friendly and relaxed right-hand man. Today is what he calls a “full-frontal workout” that focuses on chest, biceps, shoulders and abs. A quick warm-up of leg-presses, squats and Bosu-ball jumping (not my favourite) swiftly segues into pushing handheld weights out from the chest. The dead lifts are by far the hardest. Within four or five reps my heart rate shoots up.
Next it’s three sets each of cable-chest crossovers (I pull my hands, holding weights on a wire, in towards each other at chest height), bench-presses and dumbbell lateral raises (my arms at my side, I lift the weights up). Just as I think my arms are about to fall off I’m told to do four sets of 10–12 reps of hanging-leg raises (holding onto a bar above my head I dangle down and raise my legs up) and Swiss ball-crunches.
Fifty minutes later my chest, abs and arms are crying out to stop. After the session Jonny presents us with our new food regime. Lomax juices and fitness smoothies feature heavily, alongside cold-pressed options from Imbibery. Our three meals a day will come from the Grill Market – freshly grilled meats and vegetables and deli-style salads, alongside breakfast and sweet snacks all prepared on-site.
We collect a brown-paper bag with breakfast, lunch and dinner. It takes us five minutes to devour our lunch – a salad of pesto pasta, tomatoes and mozzarella, tinned tuna and quinoa.
Ravenous, I tuck into dinner: turkey meatballs with asparagus, beans and seaweed.
I head back to Lomax for a Reformer Pilates class (just the stretch I need), followed by a heavenly deep-tissue massage. I float home to bed, a little sore but happy.
Breakfast is tasty muesli with dried fruits, blueberries and almond milk. A little snack at 11 is a thick cinnamon smoothie, while lunch is poached salmon with a cabbage and carrot salad and a quail’s egg. The afternoon snack is a deliciously sweet ball of crushed almonds.
Ryan and I meet for our workout with Jonny. Called The Ripper, it comprises high-intensity interval training and boxing circuits. We start with five minutes of low-level spinning: three sets with a 30-second rest between each. Twelve reps of barbell squats follow. I feel my pulse quicken. Next it’s medicine-ball crunches, burpees and squat jumps – in other words, major pain and exhaustion.
But there’s no moment to flag as it’s on to box-jumps – three sets of 12 reps where we lower our body weight onto the Reebok Deck (set to an incline) and press up, then three sets in reverse. There’s only 30 seconds rest between each set. Ryan and I are both only just holding it together when we get to the dreaded dumbbell lunges, which have us alternating legs on the Reebok Deck step – 16 reps (eight per leg) lifting 10kg dumbbells as we lunge.
But there’s no rest for the heart as the beats per minute creep up again with 30 seconds of fast bench step-ups and a full set (12) of total-body-resistance upright rowing moves for the upper body. And then it’s on to an out-with-a-blast boxing finale of smashing a punchbag held up by Jonny.
Our pecs, arms and abs scream and we are shattered.
Ryan and I both have plans to go out for dinner and text each other furiously as we peruse our menus. We both have lemon sole with avocado – a choice signed off by the nutritionist. Wine remains a no-go area.
Will the results be worth the commitment and restraint? Check back on January 17.
Spa Junkie is the founder of FaceGym. She pays for all her own travel, accommodation and therapies.