This week I was experiencing a full on fitness session with the coaches at Bath Rugby Club, training exactly how the professional players train before every game. Awesome!
The session with Paul, Chris and Paddy started off with a gentle jog and a few light stretches to warm up. This is crucial to avoid injury.
Rugby players take some big hits during a game so their bodies have to be able to deal with these on a weekly basis. So the circuit session I was about to do is designed to strengthen and condition the body for match day.
Strangely enough I was actually looking forward to getting stuck in, confident that my fitness levels would carry me through. However the smile was soon wiped off my face.
A full on work out
My first set of exercises involved weights, squats, burpees and also some sprints. I was working areas of my body that had never been pushed to the limit before and it was a tough introduction.
My legs in particular felt the burn when I was asked to jump as high as I could off the ground, whilst hold a 15kg weight.
Everything I was doing with the coaches was short in duration, but very intense and 'explosive'.
I didn't want Paul, Chris or Paddy to go easy on me either. I wanted to get a true picture of how hard these guys train during the week.
Time to move onto the tackle bags.
My goal was to smash into the tackle bag as hard as I could then pump my legs as hard as I could to force my opponent back.
On my face!
At regular intervals I was pushed to the ground onto my face, so I had to get straight back up onto my feet and continue with the exercise for a full minute.
Chris was a big guy!
Fitness sessions aren't a massive barrel of laughs, but you do get a tremendous amount of satisfaction once you've finished a set of exercises.
You just know that all the effort your putting in is going to benefit you when you step out onto the pitch. I was actually starting to feel like a professional sports man. I was certainly being treated like one!
The next exercise involved a tractor tyre and a big hammer!!!
The aim was to swing the hammer and hit the tyre as hard as possible. This works your 'core' or the central set of muscles in your stomach.
So after hitting the tyre as hard as I could I had to lift it up, (it was stupidly heavy!!) then once I'd got it up I had to wrestle it about with Chris, whose nickname is 'Gorilla,' so you can imagine how much fun that was!!!
Next, I had to heave a load of weights towards myself on the end of a long rope, and my wrists really felt the burn.
The end was almost in sight.
We finished the session with some more sprint work.
This time I was strapped into a harness though, making my task of leaping forwards that much harder.
After 3 sets of this its was straight into some short sprints, and every time I got back to my start mark I would have to get down on my face and chest before starting the next set of sprints.
I finished up with a proper tug o war match against Paddy, who took great pleasure in wrestling me to the ground whenever he could!! This was a timed exercise so I had to just keep picking myself up until the time was up.
A nasty surprise
The boys did have one last surprise for me though...
After a gentle warm down I headed into the changing rooms for an ice bath!!!
I've never had one before and I can tell you it takes your breath away when you first get in. I was left to soak for approximately 3 minutes. BRRRRRR!!
It certainly did the trick though. Any aches and pains I had were soon gone.
The icing on the cake for me was that after my ice bath I got to enjoy a player's lunch too. A huge mountain of delicious pasta, chicken and vegetables to re-fuel my body ready for my next session!!