Strongman training is the next big thing in fitness
Words by Nathan Irvine
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Not just for burly men
You know you’re in for a serious workout when the person you’re about to train with is the UAE’s strongest man. Originally from Scotland, UK, Mark Boyd looks like he’d be able to throw most people over a villa. And at the Middle East’s only strongman facility, Strong gym in Al Barsha, he’ll teach you how to become fit and powerful.
“Strongman training is about functional strength and movements,” Boyd tell us, “It’s not just about these burly guys you see on TV. In fact, we have a lot of female members that absolutely love it”. After a 50-minute session that took us through the type of events we’re used to seeing in the World’s Strongest Man competition, it’s easy to see why.
Strong gym, which is co-founded between Boyd and Emirati strongman, Youseff Al Fardan, is packed with the sort of equipment that you’ve seen but never in your life thought about using. Atlas Stones, for example. Those massive concrete balls that need to be lifted from the floor and heaved onto a pedestal at chest height. They look intimidating, but having lifted some, thanks to Boyd’s guidance, we can see just how fun this type of training is.
It also has the log press, giant tractor tyres for flipping, heavy duty sandbags and the yoke carry that rests on your shoulders and is piled with weights before you waddle up and down the gym with it. Sure, there are dumbbells, squat racks and other regular gym equipment. But it’s the fascinating bits of kit that you’ve seen the likes of Eddie Hall and Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (aka The Mountain from Game of Thrones) lugging about that will pull you back to Strong. In fact, you might even see Björnsson there as he’s been known to train there too.
It’s not just about getting big, mind. The personal trainers who work out of Strong gym are specialists in conditioning too and have been taking in boxers, mixed martial artists and athletes to improve their fitness and performance. And the next step, according to Boyd, is getting the strongman training certified so it can be a legit form of training in and outside of Strong gym, much like Crossfit.
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