For those who care about buffness

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the legend of the human flag!

In November last year, a friend asked me to help him achieve a flag. So we started working diligently towards a workout plan which would lead him there. In all fairness it didn’t take much adaptation from my own workout, merely slight modifications for the most difficult series in the early days, and less weight. A progressive levelling to harder and heavier series.
The friend in question had a reasonable level of base fitness already, an awareness of his own body and muscles, and had already clearly experienced workouts and boxing stamina regimens. And prob had a reasonable BMI (not that I care about BMI bs but am trying to say the kid was ripe for a buffness academy intensive workout!).
So we started with the basic upper body exercises, in circuits. Pulls/chins, push, oz pulls, dips. The bread and butter of calisthenics. Progress was steady and I was lucky he was very keen and motivated.
We started with difficulty achieving 8 x pulls 4 times, and an exhausted client. We built him up and ~6 months later we have a fluent pull upper, (I think he is at ~10kg extra on all sets, and could do much more if he dared!) who does half flags on the pole for breakfast and in his sleep. With perfect form.
The grip used to teach him the human flag was the trad grip on a normal street pole (with tape added for better grip). We started practicing them every other day as soon as he developed awareness for his half flag skills, and alongside rigourous front planche practice, after circuits.
Great emphasis was put on proper form, proper grip and the initial tip toeing phase before any lift off was attempted. After a few months, he was able to briefly hold a tucked flag, and decided to start practicing the ladder grip. This grip imho is a bit easier to handle for most people due to nicer wrist angle and a feeling of safe grip, not to diminish his hard work, as 6 months ago he could hold neither! It is a remarkably hard feat for either grips, and this makes me really proud:

Congrats to him and to all of you out there working on the flag! Work your upper body hard, with compound exercises like pull ups that will work your core hard too, you will need it for this. And one day, you too can achieve the legendary human flag!


new year, new illness, new resolve

so as january rolled in and i was cruising nicely w training, along came a spider. in the form of a brutal cough virus.
after getting coughing fits which were so violent i’d practically pass out, i was told (by the doctor! not google!) that i had broken a rib, and that the whole area on the back/right hand side of my ribcage was really bruised due to crazy coughing.
tough. very tough. i was doped up on some morphine based cough mixture which would knock me out most of the day, and have no idea pretty much what happened for most of january it’s all a blur.
training was completely out of the question for the obvious reasons. at first it was just i couldn’t breathe, but then the pain hit suddenly (i know exactly when i damaged the rib, it was a thursday night! and so painful) and not only i couldn’t breathe, but i was also crippled. even getting out of bed hurt. sneezing was the worse thing next to death.

so now i think i am on the other side of that crap finally.

i am not 100% yet. i still get pain in my rib area. sneezing is still unpleasant. and that’s over a month after. i also lost about 5kg.
on the plus side, i am training again at almost full speed. slowly rebuilding the strength i lost. i am back to 64 pull/chin combined sessions with dips and push ups. and to practicing technique like flags, muscle ups, planches and even crucifix. but my old injuries are showing up again, like an inflamed wrist and biceps, as i guess i am pushing harder than ever.
nevertheless, nothing can stop this buffness train so with the help of modified moves and wrist guards/compression sleeves, we will make it. the rib is almost not bothering me much anymore. i can feel the lats are protecting the area alongside the bruised intercostals.
my back is a little painful as i was unable to stretch it fully for so long. so now to get the area between my shoulder blades released will take ages as the whole thing stiffened to the max to protect the damaged rib.
the road will be long and i am having to hack my nutrition again to make sure i don’t lose even more weight due to intense training.
until recently i was taking arnold’s iron mass by muscle pharm. slightly annoyed that they don’t really mentioned the amounts they use for stuff like creatine and all, but that’s fine because it worked well despite a sickly sweet taste. but lately, something strange had started to go on. i had this constant sweet taste in my mouth. like from first thing in the morning on an empty stomach to the moment i fell asleep. at first i didn’t think much of it. but then it started annoying me. so i looked it up. google mentioned cancer, diabetes… etc
after days i saw a post on a body building forum. someone complaining of the same thing. turns out that sucralose can do that (and other sweeteners). guess what muscle pharm use. yup.
so i stopped. and after a week or so, the weird taste went away.
unlucky, now am left w no supplement as i refuse to take this shit, god knows what it does to my insides.
so i resorted to making my own mix. am still waiting to receive my order from myprotein.co.uk atm, but i ordered whey protein and some oat powder. no flavours for either, as any type of flavour involves sweeteners.
atm a friend lent me their “macro:meal” mix which is in effect a meal replacement:

Unflavoured: Carbohydrate Blend (38%) (Ground Oats, Aktivated*®* Barley Starch Powder), Protein Blend (34%) (Whey Protein Concentrate (Milk), Milk Protein Concentrate, Whey Protein Isolate (Milk), Egg White Powder), Flaxseed Powder (Cold Milled) (6%), Emulsifier (Soy Lecithin)

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apart from its gritty texture (which i think might be due to the barley powder), it’s not too bad provided that you use a blender of sorts. i mix it w whipping cream, full fat milk, coconut oil, almond or peanut butter and chocolate powder. not sure how many calories it adds, but am pretty sure i wouldn’t advise it for someone trying to slim down put it that way.


new year delays

happy new year to you all.
well lucky i didn’t have any resolutions to start exercise, i have now been sick for 2 weeks.
nasty nasty dry cough that wont go away, and i had fever all of last week. only thing that vaguely worked was to take morphine based cough medicine to cancel the coughing reflex. lovely. now am left w a lingering cough, and what feels like a torn intercostal muscle on the right of my ribcage probably due to coughing.
how. fucking. annoying.
so no workouts for me for almost 2 weeks. i did some tuck planche holds a couple of days ago, and holding for 15 seconds felt like the end of the world already when you’re holding back from coughing.
am not sure what to do w that intercostal situation. my thorax is sore generally from all the coughing and i have lost about 3kg due to inactivity and water loss. but am not sure working out right now is a very good idea.
and that is assuming it is an intercostal muscle issue. and not pleurisy. time will tell.
meanwhile, i am dreaming of when i can get back to training… i hate being off sick.
speak soon with some new training ideas for 2016 to share with you all!


a journey of a thousand steps

it’s been a long time since i last wrote.
many reasons for not writing, surgery, work, life, moving to sweden, many things.

as i hopped back on the training band wagon, i was privileged to find some company on the way this time. currently, i am helping a friend to train, on his own journey to the human flag. and beyond… i hope.

the human flag is king among strength feats and one of the most elusive moves i have been given to train for. (well except that sodding floor planche which still eludes me)
i temporarily lost my flag after surgery, due to lack of tone, puny training etc. but it’s coming back. once you train obsessively for 3 years or so for a move, your body doesn’t forget. even if your strength goes away, there is always a way to get back at it with enough discipline and hard work.

so how does one teach such a difficult move? how does one teach something which feels so impossible when you start off?
it’s such an effort on the body due to the many requirements: shoulder strength, stability and flexibility, core strength, biceps strength. it also takes a bit of luck and genetics to get it right quick.
i was never one for listening much to the gurus. i think the one size fits all approach doesn’t really work for that move. for example, the flagman himself, dominic lacasse, would preach simple frog lifts ad nauseam to get started. but for me that didn’t work. i had much better success kipping myself over the horizontal line as if i was to do a pole dance hand spring, and then holding back/slowing down my fall. until one day i could hold it straight.
sure the frog lifts might work, but i think it’s up to the individual learning the move to also be clever and figure out what works for him/her, and for the trainer to pick up on clues. for example, my friend hasn’t done much pole and presumably the hand spring for him wouldn’t mean anything. because i was already training to do hand springs, in my case it made sense to carry on with this as i was having some success and felt i could achieve something that way. so we’re trying to just get the hands right first, learn to get comfortable with the position. understand which is the stronger side. experience all the parameters. hand position, finger position, wrist position, slight bend in the elbow vs straight arms, head position, shoulder position, where is horizontal, tip toeing to a lift, gravity centre, balance, grip. like i said, it’s a tricky move!

so atm, i am focusing on building my mate from the ground up. the way i would have done to myself if i could start again w hindsight. sequences of complex series involving pushing and pulling motions. pull ups/chin ups (always! this is also a king of moves!) combined w antagonist movements, all targeting the shoulder girdle, arms, back and core. he has a good dishing posture so i have good hope that some oblique work and leg lifts will get him up to scratch with his core strength fast enough.
it’s brutal, and these are workouts that i myself do, and which kill me too with heightened intensity.
and i admire his resolve and the fact that he puts up w it, diligently still turns up to the park come rain, shine or snow as we are now almost in the heart of scandinavian winter.
today we did his very first flag position test. the first step to getting some muscle memory going and also the step that makes every flag n00b humble. when you’re first faced with the seemingly impossible task of lifting your body horizontally, holding just by your upper body and core strength from a pole… defying gravity.

as usual i pray that he won’t be put off and will be stubborn enough to keep on coming back. day after day. month after month. possibly year after year. until the magic happens.

tbc!


old age…

long time i haven’t posted anything, i wanted to post this before the end of the year. but here we are in feb. better late than never.

after speaking to a dear friend of mine recently, i started thinking about the impermanence of our stay here.
2 shoulder surgeries later, i have managed to extend the lifespan of my shoulders for a little longer, but now the rest of my body has also started to fade.

it’s unavoidable. age damages our bodies. we lose strength, bone density, lose hair and get wrinkles. not much can be done but resigning ourselves to the fact that we won’t get out of this alive.
but i find that am not ready to just lie down and wait yet.
at the ripe age of 37, i feel like my body mends a lot slower than it used to, but still mends. just i have to pay more attention to what it tells me. and rest a lot more.

nowadays i workout a lot less. for various reasons, my schedule was very tough until recently. i would have to get up at 6AM daily, and before i even got to work i had done some other type of work for one hour.
then as i got home i had to face the joy to organise my meals for the day after, and to have my workout before 9:30PM when i’d have to be ready for bed. bring out the violins right?

needless to say, this became dull and old very quickly.

now i am back to getting up at 8, w a lot more relaxed a schedule that allows for a little fantasy in the evenings, and even leisurely watching a documentary on Netflix.

however, i did bulk up. this started late last year. i settled in a 3 times a week training routine. most of it upper body, using intervals and KB. and the 10/1 system. (more on this in a new log post soon)
because i was using my motorbike to go to work, no cardio was harmed…
so the weight settled. in a good way. mostly muscles.
i seem to have tipped over the edge of reversing my natural body shape trend, and finally have a top heaviER body.

it is all still a work in progress. i struggle with injuries most of the time. nagging chronic ones. tennis elbow keeps on flaring up if i practice the floor planche too much.
right trap keeps on getting stuck and fucks my neck.
but overall, for 37 am pretty good.

i look at ppl like Kane Sumabat. he is 47. and going strong.

impressive heh? i hope i can be like him when am 47. hell i hope i could be like him now!

so for those reading this who might be slightly older, check this interview and check the man himself out, he is a very prolific tweeter and is on instagram too, and i believe he is also a PT:

http://www.cutandjacked.com/CutAndJacked-Interview-Kane-Sumabat

he has a rather juvenile sense of humour, maybe that’s what kept him young. but most of all, he is hungry. and he will not stop.


no more supplements… yet weight increase? you go figure!

been a while since the last post I apologise but I have been a busy bee .(I know I know, aren’t we all)

so hell, I started having stomach probs about 3 months ago maybe? issues with the latter part of my digestive tract (if you think this is TMI, well go read the daily telegraph then for all I care!) which I suspect affected nutrients absorbtion, resulting in a state of tiredness. to this day I am unsure what caused this, but suspect it’s a combination of stress due to having to live w a remarkably difficult housemate for a bit, and probably some food intolerance of sorts.
the interesting part is how I amended my diet in an attempt to sort things out.
first I stopped having chillies altogether as my voiding process had become like shitting fire! then I quit eggs for a couple of weeks, but that really didn’t help and made having breakfast a dull experience.
most crucially I think, the difficult housemate left, I started drinking a ton of water… and I quit protein shakes.

initially I was concerned about the immediate calorie deficit I would face from not taking my min 1 shake a day @ ~ 400 cals.
but lo and behold, as my stomach was on the mend, so was my buffness!

my stomach has been better for the past 3 weeks now, not a single shake ingested yet i have put on 2kg. not much I know but quite incredible for being me.
sure I eat a lot more regular food, but the type of meals has also changed.
I reduced the amount of carbs quite a fair bit. I still eat a lot of bread and the occasional rice or potato and sweet potato things, but my meals consist atm mostly of salads w meat, and a lot of saturated and unsaturated fats. I haven’t had pasta in quite some time. I haven’t been having dairy stuff too regularly either.
(of course I have a burger and fries once a week 😀 gotta take care of these macros)
the idea came while watching the documentary “Cereal Killers” which I highly recommend watching. but more about that movie in a future blog post.

here’s a sample of a lunch meal I would have:

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yes this time there is feta in there, but also ground flaxseeds, a nice amount of bacon and croutons fried in the bacon lard. olive oil and lemon juice too. all in all a very fat/protein dominated meal (oh w fibre too)

I find it remarkable that my health has got so much better since I stopped w the shakes and that am progressing with the fitness pretty well.

a pic I took last night:

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and one from the other day:

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I am slightly less ripped but that is prob due to water intake. yet again, maybe so is the weight increase who knows.
then again, and I almost forgot to mention it, I quit cycling altogether and ride my motorbike to work.
this means I don’t do very much cardio from a training perspective. HIIT is all I do, mostly on core days and/or using Tabata stuff.
not cycling involves -11 miles a day of intense sweating + cardio, which prob contributed to this weight increase.

like I always said, CARDIO IS BAD FOR YOU! 😀

(DISCLAIMER: I am thriving to put on lean mass, those who need to lose weight might want to do some cardio at some point and watch their food intake differently.)

this is all a big experiment and I can’t wait to see what results I get from the combined diet/workouts.

more reports soon!


i wanna be buff… i don’t know where to start or what to do!

so you have decided you want to be buff but don’t really know how to go about it? or you’ve tried in the past and it didnt work.

firstly, congratulations for deciding to do something about your fitness. now that’s it for the standard PT blurb. from now on it’s zaki speaking.

the key thing to understand when you want to get fit is that being fit is a lifestyle. it’s not something you “achieve” it’s something you reach and then maintain. it requires an understanding of your body and what you put in it as well as how you use that body.
i have heard countless times ppl saying they did a fad diet for a month, lost weight and then put it back on straight after they went back to their normal habits. this just proves the point i made above. as a general rule. most ppl do not seem to understand that being fit is not just for xmas.

so how do we go about it? diet and exercise should go hand in hand as one alone will not get/keep you fit. but let’s talk about diet first.

you need to examine your eating patterns and habits seriously and then take steps to rectify (if needed). a lot of ppl do not have breakfast for example which is one of the nastiest things you can do to your body. when you wake in the morning, your body is starved of nutrition for 8+ hours. during your sleep, your body repairs itself,  and builds muscle. it’s important to give it quality nutrition first thing.
what is quality nutrition then? well yet again i need to digress a little bit and talk about the different food groups, like protein, carbs and fats. protein is what everyone talks about. it’s the building block of muscles and many many other boring things. fats are the vilified category (tho essential to maintaint our bodies!!!), which is actually not as problematic as carbs. carbs are of 2 sorts: the complex ones and simple ones. (am simplifying this for the sake of brevity, this is just an overview, feel free to go find out more on the mighty google!)
carbs are a source of energy for our body, and we do need them. but we need to look at our intake of carbs and the type of carbs as well when we eat that rice or that mars bar.
fast release carbs (like a mars bar) affect our blood sugar levels very fast, and give us the exciting sugar rushes which are almost always immediately followed by the dreadful crash where we struggle to keep our eyes open in front of the computer. i know all about it, for years i relied on that can of coke to keep me awake after lunch!
back to the breakfast. a cereal bar isn’t healthy. cornflakes aren’t healthy. do not believe Kellogg’s brainwashed propaganda. we aren’t fucking cows and do not need to eat grains to be healthy. and having just a coffee is definitely not healthy!
do you want to know what i think is healthy? bacon. fucking BACON. it’s high in protein, it’s high in fat and and contains hardly any carbs. your body will find a source of building blocks in bacon and fat to burn as energy.
so have bacon and eggs for breakfast. have copious amounts of water. you can thank me later. as for the “i have no time in the mornings” excuse, PLEASE spare me. just get up earlier. come on. make it work. you think it’s easy for anyone who does that? hell some ppl go to the gym at 5am to make it work w their workload!
so what happens after breakfast. it is preferable (tho sometimes it requires a lot of organisation) to ingest food more often in the form of smaller meals, rather than wait sometimes 6 hours before your next meal consisting of mostly chips and ale. so i would like to suggest as much as possible to have a healthy snack mid morning, like nuts and a fruit maybe. and water. HYDRATE!
then comes lunch. if you must have carbs, now is the time. moderate amounts of carbs are ok. but make sure you eat some greens. kale, spinach, broccoli whatever as long as it’s dark green. there is no such thing as eating too much green veg! you could for ex have chicken breast with roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli. whatever. just prepare it the night before. freeze it. anything will do. get organised. take lunchboxes. if you won’t thank me, your wallet will.
mid afternoon. you’re comatose from lack of your usual soda sugar boost. time to get that healthy snack out again! nuts. oatcakes w peanut butter, apple quarters dipped in almond butter (my favourite!).
dinner, do something similar to lunch. do not eat just before bed. drink water instead. but not too much as it will make you pee… you’re starving before bedtime? have cottage cheese. something casein based. NO CARBS.

oh and as a side note, i’d recommend avoiding sodas. they’re a nasty piece of work. and that counts for the sugar free ones too. they’re just full of toxic shit and will deplete your bones. in fact if you want a soda, for the love of your cancer free self, have a “full fat” one.
and look at the ingredients in the stuff you’re eating. avoid the manufactured shit, avoid EEEE stuff, and check the contents in terms of calories and nutrition.
note that i didnt say anything about alcohol. it’s a waste of my digestive system frankly and of my saliva to talk about alcoholic beverages. but ok some ppl think it’s fun, and some might like the taste of it (it’s ok to have a gourmet sip of something expensive that said!).
just be aware that the pint of lager you are sipping on will go straight to your waistline, and ladies, that goes for the wine ending up on your thighs (and if it’s a red it makes you look like a witch too and stains your teeth!).

so well, to summerize i guess what am saying is, be organised and plan your meals ahead, have healthy “pit stop” snacks during the day to combat the carb cravings, and check what you eat.

now let’s talk about exercise. as i mentioned earlier, dieting without exercising is like sex without climax. it just doesn’t get the job done.

so, the reason why your body isn’t burning many calories is simple. you don’t move enough. it’s easy enough to remedy that, yet ppl don’t do it. you have to exercise clever. you want to maximize the impact of a workout and keep the workout itself short and sweet. do not run for 30 mins unless you’re training to be a marathon runner. that’s stupid and you will injure yourself.
how about i told you that if you ran for 4 mins you could crank up your metabolism the same way as if you ran for hours on end?
yup… 4 mins. TABATA intervals. ask me or look it up yourself if you’re too proud.
forget cardio. it’s useless (i said it!).
you wanna lift. lift heavy. lift intense. dont stop. like they say, “train insane or remain the same”.
you wanna exercise everyday. you want to follow your progress. i am not gonna give you a generic workout, because just like a diet, we’re all individuals and some things work for some but not others. (if you want a workout email me or leave a comment and i will do it. however, as this is my job as a PT, i do charge for that. advice is free, but workout plans aren’t!)
but as a guideline, think high intensity interval, deadlifts, kettlebells, squats, battle ropes and the like. you will feel like your heart is about to come out of your chest. it’s normal. it’s the point.
and once you start seeing results, you will be hooked. you will then spend your whole office shift thinking of your next workout and how you will hit that rope trainer, and how you will blast through that plateau on the smith machine. your metabolism will process the food you ingest to the best of its capabilities and you won’t need to read this kinda blog entries anymore. instead you will look at your friends and go “hey mate, wanna check out the gym with me later tonight? i have a free pass”. and when they say “haha it’s friday am going for a pint you fool” you will think that your mate doesn’t know what’s fun. or perhaps that’s just me.

right well i hope this article is a little helpful. i know i insist on things like lifestyle choice. but the truth is, it is. and unless you really want to be fit and commit yourself to that quest, nothing will happen.
join me. now.


green juice! well actually it’s more blue/purple really

so here it is! the new improved green juice!

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so a bit of kale, frozen blueberries and ginger. i wanted to add a carrot but they were mouldy. welcome to england where things mould on the way back from the shop.

i added the juice of half a lemon, some almond milk and a little bit of pouring vanilla yoghurt.

too much lemon imho and not enough kale, and a bit tangy but it worked and looked like this:

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not very green is it? can’t taste the kale but admittedly i didnt quite put enough of it. i think i will try again tomorrow with more kale, less lemon and more yoghurt. and a carrot.

remember. kale is good for you.


oomf! muesli and porridge…

as i was looking for chia seeds in an extremely expensive wholefood store in high st ken, i stumbled upon these products:

http://giveitsomeoomf.co.uk/shop/product-category/breakfast-oats/

so heck i thought, i will pay a shitload of money to eat up some oats w a couple of mixed seeds and some whey powder added. obv i could make my own version for a fraction of the price but nevermind… let’s see:

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muesli first:

contains jumbo oats, soya flakes (impossible to find anywhere in the UK somehow?), sunflower seeds, seedless raisins, chopped dates, organic (aha) corn flakes, blanched peanuts, organic sesame seeds, organic linseeds and shelled hemp seeds (various proportions, check pic below for details).

426 kcal

20g protein, 49.44g carbs (ouch not oomf), 17.90g fat, 9g of fibre and 0.012g of sodium.

so all in all, it tastes lovely, really nice. good amount of protein in it, but way too much carbs to my liking esp when mixed w a flavoured yoghurt. very healthy really. packet wont last you very long however, it’s only 500g.

porridge next:

ok so on a gloomy monday morning, you must remember when making breakfast number 2 to take to work that this is  porridge and thus requires microwaving or heating up. do not mix it w yoghurt as if it was muesli. it really doesn’t work well.

now this porridge has added whey powder in it, oats, chopped dates (again) and organic cocoa powder.

370 kcal

21.52g protein, 57.81g carbs (oh mama), 6.27g fat, 9.41g fibre and 0.022g sodium.

so once i have tried this properly, and with almond milk (they only recommend water or milk, i dread to think what happens w almond!)

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what does it all mean for my body and how has it affected me? well pretty much not at all i dont think. it’s just nice to be able to have cereal again in a “healthy” (healthier?) manner.

 

 

 

 

 


NY pure gym resolution!

pay less get more! i basically decided to cancel my fitness first membership and get one with pure gym instead. since i got made redundant i do not fancy having to cycle 20mins to farringdon for the sake of going to my old crappy overcrowded fitness first gym. let’s see if they will let me cancel my membership early with a redundancy letter!

so well, i registered to pure gym online, found a promo code and waived the registration fee so am only paying the £19.99 pcm basically. after 12 months apparently the monthly fee goes up to £25.99 but well, by then i might cancel (only one month notice) and re apply for membership to keep the costs low. also this branch is in holloway road but they have been promising a branch would open in finsbury park for almost 2 years now.

anyhow registration process was dead simple, it’s literally all online. you get sent a pin code and that’s about it. for £6 extra you can also use any other pure gym you like. the upgrade can be done online!

this is truly the way every gym should be nowadays. noone cares about fancy towels or tvs or wifi or the like. everyone wants the freedom to cancel their contract whenever without being tied for a year or more. ppl want cheap gyms which are open late and early. if they want assistance they know where to find ppl and do not need to be nagged.

i will see how i get on with this gym but quite frankly, i think dinosaurs like fitness first will slowly become extinct or have to adjust to new demands. ppl are sick of these bullshit lengthy contracts designed to extract money from them.

the gym is spread over 3 floors, here are a few pics.

the free weight area was by far the busiest (sunday at 2.30pm) but  near it was this area with a lot of resistance machines (the “resistance” room) entirely empty:

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a nice array of (light) kettlebells:

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a trx frame. what surprises me is that they have trx classes, doesnt seem like that many ppl actually join it, not that many pairs of straps there:IMG_20131229_141043

 

 

top floor consists of a large studio:

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all in all, the kit seems pretty new, the gym is clean and really did not feel crowded, but who knows this might just be a xmas time thing where everyone is too busy stuffing their faces still!

the classes aren’t too groundbreaking, not much in terms of combat classes sadly (box fit :() but they do the usual zumba, aerobics, spin, circuit, tabata, trx and some KB level 2 (though no level 1 on the schedule?))

i will go for upper body day tomorrow and check it out!