Saturday, January 15, 2011

We are Spartanz!

Pix by Brian Moh

When the Zack Snyder movie 300 came out in 2006, I remember my friends gushing on and on about how fabulous Gerald Butler as King Leonidas and his men looked as they battled the Persian army during the Thermopylae battle. My male friends in the mean time, were suddenly inspired to head to the gym to achieve those perfectly sculptured Spartan-warrior bodies.   

I know what you’re thinking - it’s all Hollywood make-believe and it would be impossible to look like those barely-clothed protagonists. But did you know that the actors and stuntmen had to undergo a vigorous training programme to get them physically prepared for their roles and demanding fight sequences? 

The man responsible for their punishing fitness conditioning was former world record-holding professional mountain climber Mark Twight. With a background training special operations military personnel, cage fighters, firemen, paramedics, and mountain climbers, Twight devised a short, high intensity regimen combined with a strict dietary plan that pushed the men to their limits. 

The man behind it all

So it wasn’t just all computers and Hollywood magic. The crew had to actually work very hard to look as good as they did.

Seeing the amazing results it produced, Twight crafted a Spartan Workout Program for the rest of the world, designed to make participants stronger, faster and more powerful as they burn off unwanted fat in the fastest time.

Other Hollywood celebrities who are known to train under this programme include Andy Whitfield from Spartacus, Rain from Ninja Assassin, Russell Crow from The Gladiator, Vin Diesel from The Fast & Furious and Jason Statham from The Transporter.
Using kettlebells

Managing director of BodyExpress Gym Harrison Jub trained under the programme in Sydney, Australia, last February to get his Trainer certificate. He went back again last July to get his Master Trainer certificate that allows him to train and certify trainers.

Jub, 31, designed his own version of the programme and calls it The Spartanz Workout, which is in the midst of being trademarked under BodyExpress Gym.

The workout, launched for the first time in Malaysia last month, is a combination of 18 Functional Fitness Movement (18FFM) consisting of Body Building (Gladiator look alike), Gymnastic (Olympian Greek Athlete), Functional Movement (CrossFit Athlete) and Triathlete. It concentrates more on utilising body and free weights, props such as tractor tyres, plastic rods, skipping ropes and sand bags and less of machines.  

In explaining what Functional Fitness Movements are, Jub says that “Our ancestors have always lived fit and strong lives through normal daily activities such as hunting, farming, harvesting, building and traveling by foot. There were no fat cavemen. These activities that they conducted daily are what we call Functional Fitness Movements.”

He continues to say that most common training methods such as bodybuilding or power lifting create bulky, non-functional muscles rather than the ideal lean, lithe, coordinated healthy bodies.

“Big, bulky muscles require more energy to maintain and are in most cases, not functional, slow you down and limit your range of motion. The Spartanz Workout’s high intensity interval training and functional whole-body movements prevent the body from getting too big or bulky, thus making you more agile and mobile,” says Jub.
Utilising free weights

Jub lost 5kg in two weeks during his Master Trainer in Australia. It took him another two months to chisel his body to perfection. He started off being able to carry half his body weight. Jub can now carry twice his body weight and enjoys leaner, harder muscle density.  
Harison Jub

 Curious to see what the hype was all about, I enrolled myself in one of the Spartanz classes which are open to both ladies and men. It started off quite basic at first with squats and push ups using our own body weight but then it quickly graduated into a fast, vigorous programme of free weights, skipping ropes and rotation pull-ups.

It was very exciting because everything was done in an energetic fast pace accompanied by loud hyped-up music. After completing a set of reps for an exercise such as squats, we had to move on to another station to do say, free weights. Then continue with pull-ups and skipping ropes and such without a break in between.

We are allowed to complete the sets within our own pace but exercising in a group somehow brings out the competitiveness in people and you’ll do your darn best not to get left too far behind.

I was dripping wet with sweat and totally exhausted by the time the 40-minute intense workout was over. My fellow exercise mates said I did quite well for a first-timer although I didn’t complete some sets, especially the rotation pull-ups. Need to work on my upper body strength. My legs felt like jelly and I was walking funny the day after but it was all worth it to feel an addictive sense of accomplishment that comes with the aching muscles.

Girls can benefit from it too

Housewife Haw Liang Lan, the oldest member in the gym at 68, has been training under Jub for a year now and is totally ecstatic with her results. “I didn’t have any muscle shape when I started and look at my arms now!” she laughs as she flexed her toned biceps for me to feel. A machine gauged Haw’s biological age as 57 when she first began the programme. Her current reading shows that her body is biologically 39 years-old. You go, grandma!
Seak Lee (right)

Another member, Tan Seak Lee, 30, loved the programme so much that she underwent the training programme to become a certified trainer. “I was fat, flabby and unfit when I began eight months ago. I used to watch the trainers perform advanced movements and wondered when I could ever achieve what they were doing,” she recalls.

Tan said that her fitness level increased rapidly in a very short time as she was dedicated to the programme and was having lots of fun doing it. “It didn’t feel like a workout at all. It felt like a game and was so much fun! My body transformed in amazing ways. My one spare tyre became four packs and I can do a lot more compared to before.”

Spartanz classes are available at BodyExpress’s flagship gym in
Subang Avenue
and at their basic garage gym in Sunway Giza Mall. Visit for more details. 

1 comment:

  1. heya just wandered over here browsing blogs. you're the Jolene from the star right? think i met u at an airasia event in vientienne.

    great post. did not know these sprtan workouts were in town. I've a one pack made up of too many happy hours that needs to be expelled!


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