It is 9am on a grey Saturday morning and I’m hurrying through the Hamburg drizzle to EVO Fitness in Stadthausbrücke. After the early start and two hour train journey I’m feeling drowsy, but this soon changes when I step through the turnstiles at EVO. “It’s so great to see you!” say Alena and Sünne from the USC team, handing me a goodie bag and a USC shirt to change into. A few other participants are already ready and waiting in the light-flooded studio.
EVO Fitness is a boutique studio that specialises in functional training. Before the workout I catch up with David, the manager of EVO Fitness Stadthausbrücke to find out more. He’s strong, fit and healthy and smiles happily as he tells me: ”We follow a holistic approach that specializes in DIY Functional Training. We want to move away from classic equipment and towards holistic training.”
Soon all 30 participants have arrived. We’re a mixed group of men and women, USC and non-USC members, as each member can bring a friend. The atmosphere is chilled and relaxed, some friends chatting pre-workout and others taking time to stretch.
David and Moritz, managers of the Schanze and Blankenese clubs, explain why functional training is so important and what’s in-store over the next four hours. “Most people spend their days sitting. We want to get you away from this sitting posture and let your muscle chains work holistically.” David and Moritz want to teach us natural movements and postures. “Can you tie your shoelaces without bending your legs?” They ask. I’d rather not answer this question…
For our warm-up we divide into two groups, and stand in a straight line opposite each other. We lift one leg and close our eyes – whoever loses their balance is threatened (semi-seriously) with 50 burpees.
Next we work on our reactions. David demonstrates how to jump and land in a squat. Then we run on the spot and listen to his commands: “touch your nose – hip – bottom – mouth,” David shouts. He speeds up and we get confused and a big laugh fills the room.
Finally we work on our mobility. We start in a plank and walk our feet as close as possible to our hands. I yelp – it’s much more difficult than it looks – just like tying my shoelaces without bending my knees…
Now everyone is warm and ready for functional training. We divide into groups of four and pick one of eight circuit stations. Our workout is 40 seconds full power, then change and we complete the full circuit twice. Together with my team I fight through overhead kettlebell pushes, goblet squats, running, push ups as well as the most painful exercise: elbow planks on a medicine ball. By the end of the two laps everyone in the room has sweaty red faces and look like they’re barely clinging to life. But although we’re exhausted, we’re smiling.
David summons us for a team-huddle. We put our hands in the middle and David shouts: “We are ONE…” and we shout: “TEAM!!!”. Good vibes fill the studio.
After the exhausting workout we’re excited for mobility training with BLACKROLL®. David from BLACKROLL® (different David) explains how our connective tissue sticks together during training which can lead to tension and pain. He shows us many exercises that help keep our bodies mobile and how to integrate them into everyday life.
But the exercises aren’t as relaxing as they look. David says “When you find a point that really hurts, stay there. The pain shows that your fasciae are stuck in one place.” We roll around with grimaces on our faces and sweat running down our foreheads. Everyone thinks the same thing: “Is this pain normal? And how much longer?” We roll out our entire bodies and I find my lower thighs, buttocks, back and arms are by far the most painful.
After the BLACKROLL® course I feel light as a feather and noticeably more flexible which makes the perfect transition to the next part. Sebastian is a personal trainer at EVO Fitness and a mobility expert. He demonstrates simple exercises that highlight just how immobile I really am. It’s quite frightening. I thought I was relatively flexible; apparently not. This mornings exercise (i.e. tying our shoes) was just the beginning of a series of movements that I can’t perform without pain. It becomes clear that I have issues with my leg muscles and hip mobility. Sebastian says “If you do a few of these exercises fairly regularly, the movements will become more and more painless.” He has a practical tip for hip-opening too. “From now on always brush your teeth in a deep squat!”
The community event closes with a yoga session from Ava Carstens. With her calm voice she slowly leads us through a relaxing, energising yoga practice. Afterwards Ava tells me: “I enjoy teaching! Above all, I like it when people from different backgrounds come together. That’s always when something new emerges.”
And she’s right. Every participant today came from a different fitness background. There were runners, gym-goers, swimmers and tennis lovers. But we all mastered functional training together and spent the day as a community. We were able to learn new things, make new friends and get tips for awesome activities around Hamburg.
After so much exercise our stomachs begin to grumble. Our healthy food bowls are laid out on a big table and while I eat my delicious chickpea sweet potato bowl, I talk to Sebastian about my limited mobility. “Just brush your teeth twice a day and you’ll be mobile in no time,” he says.
We’re already planning our next community events for you and your friends. Stay tuned – the next one might be in your city!