From putting myself through the mental death sentence that was seven Barry’s classes in seven days to grunting my way through a meditative sophrology session
, I’m no stranger to acting as the Balance Festival guinea pig. But while these suggestions are usually met with a bemused face and a ‘sure why not’ attitude, when offered the chance to check out ROAR Fitness’ swanky new studio
in Kensington and train with three-time Olympian Sarah Lindsay, I jumped at the chance.
Having a snoop around the website before I headed along, I was struck by the transformation photos. If I’m honest, I’m not much of a fan of transformation pictures – often they just don’t show enough of the story behind them – but I had to credit ROAR, these were impressive: “To be honest I’m not the biggest lover of ‘transformations’ either, but it’s the best visual representation of what people are able to achieve,” Sarah explained. “What you don’t see in them is the mental transformations that people make in that time. Most of our clients, females especially, come in because they’re unhappy with their body – probably about 80% cry during their initial consultation – but by the end it’s not even their body that they’re really focusing on, it’s how powerful in themselves they feel.”
After a temperature check and the standard while-you’re-here hygiene talk, I sat down with Sarah to hear more about the programme and how they tailor each one to the individual: “It's a strength-based training programme, so the training and nutrition is very much based on performance, aimed at encouraging fat loss and muscle gain. We break it down so every bit of it fits your lifestyle. You’ll have an introductory consultation see what your current training looks like – and it’s fine if its non-existent – and what you want to achieve. We’ll work out a nutrition plan with you, because there’s no point just giving you something you hate and wont be able to stick with, so we work it out based on everything from your likes and dislikes to your gut health and dietary needs.”
All clued up, we headed down to the studio. Now, if there’s anything I took from the session, it’s that in having a PT I will push myself harder than I ever would alone. After a warm-up, Sarah loaded up the bar for deadlifts, already piling on far more than I’d have put on if doing it myself in a gym. Heavy sled drags followed, as did clean and presses, dumbbell bench presses, walking lunges and burn-inducing leg extensions. The attention to detail was notable, with Sarah constantly tweaking my form to ensure I was getting the most out of the workout and not adding stress anywhere I shouldn’t be. At the end, she left me with some additional exercises to do at home to add stability where I’d previously experienced knee and shoulder injuries.
As much as I enjoyed being back at the bar, it was the mental difference that the session made that surprised me most. As someone that’s long used exercise as a kind of therapy, it makes no sense that my commitment waned at the time when I probably needed it most, in the hot mess that has been 2020. Yet, after a single session, I found myself getting off the tube a stop early and walking the rest of the way home, something I used to do as standard but unconsciously stopped once WFH life set in. At home that evening, I realised I felt more generally positive and upbeat than I had in a long while. Who knows, perhaps the added bonus of having the chance to natter with someone different played a part, but all I know is that I walked away feeling unexpectedly empowered and re-inspired to keep training.
ROAR will soon be offering classes at their studio, in additional to 1:1 personal training. Find out more about their services on their website and Instagram.