Get into shape with the army

Get into shape with the army

Do you really use your costly gym membership or do you lack the motivation to slip into lycra and start sweating? If you need some discipline to kickstart your exercise regime then why not join the army (if only for an hour).

British Military Fitness runs hour-long exercise classes across the country in London, Reading, Manchester, Leeds, Cardiff and Glasgow among others. But forget aerobics to Abba songs and step classes in a warm gym followed by a hot shower. Think jogging, press-ups, sit-ups, star jumps, thrusts and jumping over benches in the open air with a natural soundtrack (interrupted only by gasps from amazed passers-by). And if you get too hot, you can always hope it will rain.

It may sound like hell (and getting out of bed at 5.30am to reach Hyde Park for a lam start wasn’t fun) but I’ve certainly never felt so awake or exhilarated at Sam. And, because you work in teams under the strict supervision of the instructors (all army-trained) you can’t give up at the first hint of breathlessness. It helps you to realise just how far you can push yourself – think Private Benjamin.

Like all mad ideas, this one came from the US, where energetic New Yorkers take on the wilds of Central Park. That’s the beauty of it, according to Will Skinner, its director of operations. “We get you fit the old-fashioned way and it works,” he says. “Gyms are good, but they can be stressful places. Being outdoors allows you to get away from the stresses of normal life. And there’s none of the one-upmanship you get in gyms about whether you’re wearing the right thing.”

It’s not all for superfit people. More women go than men (apparently they’re more adventurous) and there are beginners and advanced classes.

And if you fancy even tougher challenges then you may be disappointed that the website highlights the news that a raid on the army’s Pirbright assault course (preceded by a 15km run) has been postponed because of the foot and mouth crisis. Don’t worry – you’re still in with a chance for the trek to Everest base camp in the autumn.

But anyone thinking of abandoning double– entry bookkeeping and donning camouflage gear to follow in Andy McNab’s footsteps should probably try this course for a few weeks first. Bought ledger might seem a more attractive option after all.

Call 020 7751 9742, or visit

Copyright Chartered Institute of Management Accountants May 2001

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