Review and Interview: Monkey Strength, Commando Temple
Commando Temple, Deptford
Try to be smoother, like a predator stalking its prey," says Fitsz Dubova, as I make my way around the foam mat floor in a four-point crawl.
My hands are slapping down without grace as I raise alternate legs and arms inching forward, backward and side to side.
I'm accompanied by a weighted plate on my spine and the jocular - yet menacing - threats of a repeat circuit should it become dislodged. Predictably, it does. Many times.
The six-point and four-point movements are designed to echo our early years. The combination, along with tiger and seal crawls, forward rolls, moving planks and attempts at a pommel horse are some of the toughest fitness challenges I've undertaken.
Watching others, the animal-inspired exercises appear simple. Physically, they're exhausting. Your arms, shoulders, wrists, ankles and core all take a hit.
It took all the focus I could muster to pull myself across a red shiny surface in a seal pose using the power in my arms alone. I mastered the Commando Crawl, moving spider-like from wall to wall, with a slight smile. Maybe I was starting to see the fun side to this monkey business after all.
Getting into primal mode requires a switch in mentality too. It's best to forget methodology and literally just (forward) roll with it. And that's what happened during the final stages of the session. Two circuits were in store - with Fitsz watching, armed with his stopwatch. Battling the burn, I donned my best game face and pressed on.
The next day, my shoulders had a satisfying post-training ache and the muscles in my wrists and ankles were really feeling the effects.
Don't be put off by the gym's slightly imposing urban decor. Inside you'll find a friendly bunch.
Classes run every Saturday from 9.30-11am and cost £15 each.
Monkey Strength, Commando Temple, Unit 14-16 Resolution Way, Deptford, SE8 4NT, 020 8127 4545,
>Q and A: Fitsz Dubova, 22, head Calisthenics coach and Monkey Strength instructor tells us all about primal movement and tapping back into a fitness which he says is at its most simple, natural form.
>What are primal movements then?
It's back to the basics that a lot of people struggle with and everything you used to do in a certain way.
These are movements you have done before, it's syncing back into old movements and starting building from it again.
They're the most basic - as you start from a baby being able to lift your head and start to rotate it, as you start to move around in a baby crawl, being able to roll and to go into a four and six-point crawl.
It's a total re-set button.
For example, you work in an office and you do a lot of sitting down, you will never go through a full range of movement and you'll struggle with back pain.
>So what will we be doing in-class and what areas does it target?
Posture, shoulder stability, coordination and the whole range of movement.
And it's all about crawling, crocodile crawls, seal crawls, leopard crawls, jumping, using chains and rolling on a crash mat.
>Why's it called Monkey Strength? Is there any chanting allowed?
The monkey is just about having fun - you won't be making noises, but the movements are pretty cool and you'll feel incredible.
It's just getting the hang of it.
It can be competitive too but it's a good type of competition.
It's not a must-win it's giving it your all and having a blast.
>Is ordinary gym exercise a bad thing then?
If you have bad posture and do weight exercises you're going to start to develop injuries.
If you have a bad range of movement, you need to sort out and correct your posture before starting to build your body.
But I think primal movements are a great asset tool - so someone can do 80 per cent running and 20 per cent body weight stuff, as it's a great way of building strength
>How useful are the moves out-of-the-gym?
It's something you can take away with you anywhere.
If you go on holiday and there's not a gym, you can use your own body weight for the exercises.
Nothing's right or wrong and it's building to a level which is designed to allow you to move in your own body.
What I want people to take away is both knowledge and correct form that they can use in the future and look after themselves.