PT with Tommy Cuff: Session one, the Doms

Posted Monday 1st February 2016   By Ericka Waller

I was feeling nervous about my first PT session ever, before I walked into the Fitness Hub and saw that Tommy looked far better in leggings than me. Having met via Instagram where I filter the feck out of all my photos I felt shy and self-conscious, like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. You know, the morning after, when Richard Gere realizes her blonde hair is a wig. She tugs at it bashfully and says "Red". Gere says "better" and then they scoff pancakes. No such compliments and carbs from Tommy. He simply said "Right, we'd best crack on, lots to do"

Fitness Hub is way cool. New enough to not smell like old sweat, but enough of a salty tang to know work gets done in there.

The founder, Adam Radford came out to say hello. He's super fit but not intimidating.

I was feeling a bit like a fish out of water. I'm used to running solo by the sea, or wading through muddy rivers with an OCR team. I'm not used to gyms, muscles and machines that look like contraptions out of 'Fifty Shades of Grey'.

I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, and various other quirks.

Tommy made sure he got the full lowdown on my health background and various medications. 

The first exercise was rolling about on a tube. My face must have shown I didn't like it. Tommy asked how I was feeling. I told him I felt bored.

I think my extensive health problems had him erring on the side of caution. He ripped up his session plan and made me start squatting.

This was more it. I was feeling quite happy till Tommy got a giant ball out, told me to squat, pick it up, raise it over my head then throw it down as hard as I could.

I felt like my eight-year-old daughter when she had to stand up in assembly.

"Don't want to" I mumbled, tugging down my vest self-consciously.

"Get angry and do it" he instructed.

"But I'm not that kind of girl" I protested "I don't do angry. You will have to show me how."

So Tommy squatted like a boss, picked up his ball, shot it above his head then jumped ten foot into the air to slam it down so hard the new paintwork cracked. He was like a leaping bearded ninja nymph. [See pic]

I channeled my resentment at him looking better in lycra than me into my glutes, and got a slight lift off the ground. 

Then we started doing 'bear crawls'.

It's where you walk on all fours, calling on your inner animal. Tommy looked ready to pounce as he stalked up and down the gym. I looked like a gibbon monkey. [see pic].

After the bear crawls Tommy did 'bunny hops' . I did 'old dying rabbit with Myxomatosis' hopping.

"Walking lunges, bear crawls, bunny hops, throw the heavy ball, bear crawl. LET'S GO!' Tommy demanded.

My heart rate was going through the roof and my leggings kept sliding down over my tummy rolls "Oh fuck off" I said stroppily and did my best ball drop.

As a prize finish, Tommy made me push the thing you use to store weights on up and down the gym as fast as I could.

I thought he was making it up by this point, but later found out it was a 'prowler' It was like me against an entire rugby scrum.

Although I was worried my shaking legs were not going to make it home, I felt fantastic after my workout. My body felt warm and open. Tommy made me cool down and stretch out which I don't normally bother doing.

Oddly, as he pushed down on my thigh as hard as possible to maximise the effect of a stretch, I felt a surge of affection for him, gratitude even. I guess Stockholm Syndrome is real (a psychological phenomenon in which hostages have positive feelings toward their captors AKA - falling in love with your abuser).

I loved that Adam messaged me later that night to say how good it was to see me, and that the prowler missed me.

Getting up the next morning was hard. I tried to run out the stiffness with a 10k and only made it worse.

I tried to swim off my dead legs but kept sinking to the bottom of the pool. In the end, I went back to Tommy for a massage.

I thought he was going to break me (again). I almost wept with joy when he started to massage me and realised his aim was to help my DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) not be a 'DOM'.

He really helped ease the pain in my shoulders and thighs, and the head massage at the end was the best I've had. I was bereft when it was time to get up.

I am going to go and do it all over again, every week.

My aims are to increase my upper body strength, build a stronger core and have muscles in the places I need for OCR races. If, off the back of this, I get a sweet ass and thighs like 'what' (SISCO) then that is fine by me.

I guess we will have to wait and see.

Tommy says

Ericka contacted me to discuss how to improve her running and OCRs. She said "I don't want to pee when I laugh anymore, and I want to get up the half-pipe in Obstacle Course Races".

Over coffee, I explained how I approach clients and structure sessions. I firmly believe that no matter what reason you have for aiming to get fit, strength training is a vital to achieving it.

There is so much carry over to everyday life when you improve your strength.

For example, a Body weight squat is the equivalent of sitting and standing.
A Front squat is like sitting or squatting with a small child in your arms.
A Deadlift is like picking up shopping bags/suitcase, and an Over head press is like picking up a bag and placing in a luggage rack.

These three movements are full body, so they utilise large amount of skeletal muscle.
They target the nervous system to become more efficient and they work the 'core'.
They also build Cardiovascular strength.

These movements need to be performed with proper technique to be beneficial and safe.

I would never start someone barbell squaring without assessing their strength.

I put Ericka through a comprehensive test and found she has a good level of CV fitness. I wanted to utilise that straight away and assist in building on it.

We decided upon a 12 week cycle, which is divided into three,four week cycles.

Functional strength & CV fitness, Hypertrophy and then strength.

As this is linear, we just keep rotating, so every 12 weeks we can assess and see what progression we need for the start of another 12 weeks.

The first 4 week cycle is based around full body movements, that mimic or will have a good carry over to OCRs.

Bear crawls, bunny hops, walking lunges, prowler, KB front squat.

It is loaded with full body movements, utilising how the body is designed. The carry over to every day activities is high. This builds strength, endurance and CV fitness.

This strength training will add a new dimension to running, as its broken up with a strength circuit.
(just ask Ericka how she felt after a set of slam balls)

It is also mimicking OCRs as the body is getting used to running, then have to complete an obstacle (which requires full body strength)

Through the sessions I am always assessing and coaching.

Ericka sometimes needs to be told when to be quiet and get on with it. Other times, when I see that I am targeting one of her weaker areas due to her Fibromyalgia and Rheumatoid Arthritis, she needs encouragement and support to make sure she working safely.

Tommy Cuff Dip PT
Sports Massage Therapist & Personal Train