Today, after dropping my brother at Gatwick airport to go adventuring, I had my first ever training session at Monster Gym in Cheshunt.
One of my favourite things about Monster Gym is that, alongside its enormous weights room, dedicated cardio area and boxing/MMA gym (including bags, ring and cage), it has an in-house kitchen that serves freshly cooked food until 21:00 every day!
As far as I am concerned, that is a stroke of genius. Regular, well-timed meals are essential to all kinds of athletes and the ability to order food for the end of your workout is simply inspired.
Another of my favourite things about Monster Gym is that it is second home to my badass friend, Lucy, who I went to visit for the day.
Here is roughly what I got up to:
14:30 – 15:30: Wrestling Drills
Using the Monster boxing ring, I could practice some of the things I learned at Progress wrestling at the weekend. I worked on my rolls, ring positioning and hitting the ropes correctly. I even worked my way through some set moves, without an opponent. It looked silly, but helped drum the sequences into my head, which was valuable.
Out of the ring, I worked on my freestyle movements too, trying to coax my body back into moving with a degree of fluidity
15:30 – 16:30: Tumbling
When Lucy arrived at the gym, we spent most our time on the MMA mats practicing body control. Headstands, handstands, rolls, tumbles, flips, kick-ups and so on. This forms a significant part of my training and is something I’m keen to develop further with the help of the local Shaolin Temple.
19:00 – 20:30: Leg Session
At around 19:00 (after showers and dinner) Lucy introduced me to her friend Michele Vaccaro, who is just starting out training to be a body builder. Today was his leg training day, so we decided to do a proper body-building leg session, inspired by Le Monster training techniques.
We started with squats, trying in increase the weight whilst developing the technique that is absolutely necessary for all-around progress. After that, we used the leg press machine – putting a set of 30 partial reps between two back-to-back sets of 10.
This agony we endured for 5 sets, before moving onto a set of 100-reps on the leg extension. We then took it in turns to performs sets of 25 leg extensions, broken in 5 groups of 5 reps, some full, some partial. Finally, when our legs were as good as useless, we did walking lunges and piston squats until just standing up was becoming a serious challenge.
Now, many people will read that and think “That’s not how you build muscle size”. To those people, I say this: not only is this a fantastic way of shocking your muscles into adapting, it also works a charm to teach you to push yourself – which is the single most important factor in all training.
What’s more, Michele is still only 17-years old and, in my opinion, should concentrate on developing form and coordination, whilst his tendons develop and he finishes growing. As it happens, he also works bloody hard and didn’t flinch from a single rep in the entire session!
20:30 – 21:00: Stretching
After a day like today, stretching was more important than ever. Luckily, Lucy does a lot of stretching for yoga and her various martial arts, so it was only natural to spend some extra time in the MMA gym, easing out our muscles and trying to limit the inevitable agony of the next few days.
Once it was closing time, we spent an hour or so putting away the ludicrous number of weight plates and dumbbells that Monster possesses. Then it was only an hour’s drive back to my bed where, 22 hours after I had hauled it out of bed, my body finally gave up.
If for some reason you’re in two minds about whether to head to Monster Gym or not, I cannot advise you strongly enough to get down there.