So Jason, what inspired you to become a personal trainer?
I'd started going to the gym in my twenties and found that I enjoyed reading around the subject of fitness and developing my own workouts. Other gym members seemed happy to guess at what they were doing but I liked the science and the debates over effective training. Then, when my temporary desk job contract ended, I took the opportunity to change careers. Teaching others about a subject you both love and feel is important for quality of life is a rare privilege.
When did you take the plunge from one-man-band to leading a team of PT's, and what were the main challenges in making this transition?
It was in 2014.The main challenge then, and now, is finding trainers that combine the qualities I like to work with. Technical knowledge plus a sense of professionalism. There are quite a few of them but they can be tough to find as they may not put themselves out there and say 'look at me'. Also you need to embrace admin, get a good CRM and develop work systems for everything.
Why did you decide to make outdoor training your key focus?
Around 2007 I was working in a mainstream gym which overlooked a park. I found myself becoming interested in calisthenics more and more. My own training was taking place outdoors and, with my gym clients, I was moving away from fixed machines and focussing more on bodyweight exercise in the studio. Training outdoors meant I could avoid paying a rent to a gym owner so my operating costs would be low. So I moved outside. At the time, outdoor training was very unusual. In my area of London, I think it was just me and BMF. When I told people I was a PT their very first question was always 'where's your gym?'.
What's your view of the licence fees charged by Royal Parks and some London Borough Councils for PT's training in the parks?
Inevitable and understandable. I may not agree with the pricing, or the way fees are charged 100% up-front, but PT's are running a business. And businesses pay rates. I encourage PT's to get to know the licensing department and ask them to review their charging strategies on a regular basis. These people have the power to shut your business down.
How do you (and your clients) cope with periods of heavy rain or freezing weather?
An outdoor PT session consists of many more elements than a bootcamp: assessment, discussion, tests, demonstrations and many exercises that won't get the client's heart rate up that much. So a client can get cold, damp and uncomfortable really quickly. So PT's should dress appropriately so that you look comfortable, dry and warm and encourage the client to do so. I have always worn outdoor gear from hiking/mountaineering shops rather than sports wear. PTs should take less-then optimum weather in their stride. Laugh at it, point it out perhaps, then move on with the session. Congratulate the client when they've trained in inclement weather. I do make some adaptations to the weather. If it's sodden underfoot, I may switch from mat based core to standing core. Standing out in a field in the rain has no benefit to a client's fitness so if it's pelting down, I'll seek some shelter for part of the session.
What sets Muddy Plimsolls apart from other outdoor PT companies?
Professionalism and customer service. We work with PTs who are truly committed to the benefits of outdoor and bodyweight training, not just gym bunnies that go out to the park in the summer. That means their exercise programming maintains a high level of technical competence as well as embracing all the advantages of exercising outdoors. When you have limited choices in terms of fitness equipment, a PT has to draw more on their knowledge of exercise physiology and anatomy in order to continue to push results. And this produces a superior training experience.
What's your view on the levels of air pollution in London? What policies would you like to see put in place to reduce London's air pollution levels?
Stricter emissions testing for vehicles especially commercial/diesel. Tests that replicate real-world usage not laboratory conditions. This will force manufacturers to produce cleaner vehicles which is not a bad thing.
For more information see www.muddyplimsolls.com
What is your earliest childhood memory of enjoying exercise or sport?
As a child, I was very shy. I believed that team sports & activities were definitely not 'my thing'. I remember being invited to another boy's football birthday party. I was extremely nervous but found that I had actually really enjoyed the experience. From then on, I often tried to engage in sport but in very specific, comfortable and welcoming circumstances that suited me. I feel this has influenced my personal training style today were I am very understanding of that fact that for many people the simple idea of taking part in sport and exercise can seem quite daunting but once the right environment has been found, everyone can enjoy the benefits of sports and exercise.
What inspired you to get into personal training in the first place?
When I first made a decision to get into personal training it was largely for my own learning experience. I thought it would be a fantastic opportunity to dedicate time and energy towards finding out how I can better myself. Not only push my own physical boundaries and to also help improve my own mental health. I felt that once I had developed my knowledge it would give me a sense of purpose to support other people to push their boundaries too and to become their best self.
What are your top tips for obese clients, and what has been your biggest success with an obese client?
My top tip for obese clients and in fact to most clients is to always plan for the long term. If you plan to change something in your nutritional practices and activity, then be sure that you can envision yourself maintaining these positive changes, not just today, but tomorrow, one year from now and even five years from now. For example, refrain from telling yourself you won't have chocolate again. Chances are if you're anything like me, you definitely will be tempted into eating chocolate again. If you set yourself up for failure you will feel demotivated and throw your weight loss goals out of the window.
My biggest success with an obese client has been getting her down to a healthier weight, (having lost 25kg) by making simple and realistic daily changes. These included using a pedometer to get a minimum of 8 thousand steps per day and incorporating 4-6 portions of veg each day into her diet. We would also schedule regular weekly personal training sessions in to increase her lean muscle to support boosting her metabolism through challenging but fun exercise programs.
And your top 3 tips for a skinny guy who wants to bulk up and become muscular?
1. Find out how many calories you need to put on weight. This is essential as getting too few calories can make all your hard work in the gym pointless when it comes to building muscle.
2. Use the principle of progression. Keep a notebook to record the weights you use and aim to lift heavier weights. For example once you feel you've adapted to pushing 60kg on the bench press, it may be time to increase the weight slightly to 62kg.
3. Be consistent by training regularly. Generally I would advise getting in at least two training sessions in per week.
Imagine you are Prime Minister. What would you do to promote the health and fitness of our population?
Free gym and leisure centre membership for all!
This would help in so many areas of society. Everyone would be healthier and more productive. This may even cost tax payers less money with less pressure on the NHS. Obesity levels may be significantly cut. It would get people into sport at a younger age and would encourage people who would otherwise not enjoy sport and activity. People would be happier and it would improve mental health, as it helps to fight depression. Also lower income earners would have equal access to such facilities. This list of benefits is endless. Will i get your vote?
What would be a typical day's eating for you? How much does it vary from day to day?
Breakfast would typically consist of a bowl of porridge. I would add a source of protein to this, maybe some nuts or some hemp protein powder. I would also grab an apple before I leave the house.
Lunch would vary each day, but I would typically select something quick and easy, from a local café near the gym. Some of my lunch options include a falafel wrap, maybe a lentil soup, or a chicken salad.
Snacks options are typically fruit, a natural yoghurt, small pack of nuts or a low sugar protein bar.
Dinner would be where I get in most of my veg for the day. I would have a main source of protein, such as fish, chicken, or lentils. A source of carbs on the side such as potatoes and two or three portions of veg.
What's your favourite sport or fitness activity and why?
I simply love being in the gym. I can be alone and manipulate my body in any way I choose. There is so much variety in the gym, one day I may choose to do some mat work, another day I'll do some boxing, suspension training or balance and core work using the Bosu board. There is a great feeling and sense of achievement that comes with pushing weight and breaking personal records and experimenting safely with different programs and exercise ideas.
To find out more about Marios, see www.naturaltrainerlondon.co.uk
So Matt, tell me a bit about Alex Fitness in Imperial Wharf, Fulham. What sets it apart from other high-end gyms in London?
Alex Fitness is the largest fitness chain in Russia with over 70 clubs, also with one in San Fransisco and Imperial Wharf is the first to open its doors in the UK. With more planned over the next few years the aim of Alex Fitness UK is to create and develop a new range of fitness clubs, utilising technology and fitness tracking software as well as the latest training methods and recruitment of the top trainers and instructors, ,meaning we can offer a unique offer to the market place.
We have developed a membership package whereby the member decides what they want to achieve and ultimately what facilities they use then build their membership around it. We have, and are continuing developing more “Studio” based membership programmes, all under one roof making us not only value for money compared to individual boutique studios but convenient for many time-poor members.
You were previously New Openings Manager at Pure Gym. What do you think of the budget gyms in London these days?
I think the explosion of the budget market in London (and rest of UK) has been great for the Health & Fitness Industry, giving the consumer a greater choice and ultimately opening up gym memberships and the concept of going to the gym to many people that haven’t previously been gym users. The likes of PureGym, Gym Group, Easy Gym to name only a few have really pushed the boundaries on what was previously considered “budget” and some facilities have done such a great job with their facilities and product I think the lines are being blurred on what is considered budget these days.
Ultimately though any budget club has to appeal to the masses to be financially viable so I do think there is scope now to introduce offerings with better and more varied Group Exercise, more specialised exercise areas etc but, still value for money. Hence why Alex Fitness is placing a large focus on group exercise and a tailored experience.
What attracted you to the fitness industry in the first place?
I have always loved sports and fitness and almost fell into a Fitness Instructor role many years ago now. From there I became a PT then into Fitness Management, General & Regional Management and ultimately onto more specialised roles but all within the Health & Fitness Industry, its all I know!
Which three individuals have most inspired you in your life so far?
1. Catherine - She was my General Manager when I was a Fitness Manager and the main reason I continued into General Management and ultimately the path I am on today.
2. Mark - He was Fitness Director actually for two main gym chains I have worked for in the UK and mentored me, extremely knowledgeable and experienced and someone I still look up to today.
3. My Dad, he died a couple years ago but a huge influence on my life, at times I still ask myself what he would do in certain situations.
What are your plans for 2016? Is there a new gym opening soon?
First priority is to get Imperial Wharf open which is imminent, we then have a few other sites going through legals right now which are planned to open this year and more in 2017 so a very busy time ahead!
For more information see www.alex-fitness.co.uk
Interview with Gavin Rumgay, Table Tennis coach in London
So Gavin, what were the highlights of your 2015?
2015 was my most successful year to date! The bullet points below show the major achievements:-
Tell me about you winning the January 2016 GLL Sports Person of the Month
The GLL Sport Foundation named me January 2016 Sports Person of the Month across Greater London for ALL sports.
You can see the article here - http://www.gllsportfoundation.org/january-athlete-of-the-month/
This award was presented to me as I recently became the British Champion in Belfast -Northern Ireland (A tournament I had never won before) & I also reached the Last 8 of the World Championships of Ping Pong in the Alexandra Palace London live on Sky Sports. This tournament had a prize fund of $100,000. I now have a World Ranking of 6 (highest to date)
What are your plans for 2016 and beyond?
I have recently developed my own Sports Coaching Company too called Gavin Rumgay Racket Sports www.gavinrumgay.com where I do table tennis, tennis & badminton coaching in the Greater London area. I have also developed a House Call service where I can come into peoples homes and coach the family at their convenience. This is becoming hugely popular!
So 2016 will be a year where I build my Business even further around London & the UK. Additionally, I will be looking to train hard out in China over the Summer and get ready to play well in the World Championships of Ping Pong & Swiss Elite League!
I will also be looking for more sponsors to come on board too. I have signed a very good contract with the craft beer company Brewdog and they are supporting me in every way that they can. BMW have come on board too and a Swiss Finance Company Quadia. This is a great start and lots more to come this year!
Follow my Twitter @GavinRumgayTT
Are you an awesome personal trainer or sports coach in London who wants to feature on this page? Get in touch!
So Rich, how did you first get into personal training?
I've always been heavily into sport, I think it was inspired by the days of Superstars with Brian Jacks, Brian Hooper and Andy Ripley. I used to have my own competitions at home with friends when I was young, press up, squat thrusts, jumping side to side over a hurdle. I played rugby from age six right through to 18 and was one of the youngest to play for pretty much every team, U11s at 8 to senior school 1stXV at 15. Perhaps due to the accumulation of injuries I started to look at physiotherapy as a possible career. A love of biology runs through my family, both my older sisters studied it at university, one is now a Professor. However, I discovered the possibility of Sports Studies, which was still a relatively new degree course in 1990, and chose that instead. I always wanted to work with the more able bodied, rather than just rehab, and after graduating in 1995 and spending time living in the USA, I got my first job as a personal trainer in South Kensington in 1997.
How many gyms have you worked in during your career? What was the best aspect of each?
I started at Body for Life in South Kensington, straight in at the A list level. I was blissfully unaware of who many people were in those days. After two very enjoyable years I moved on to Matt Roberts Personal Training. I had five very good years there, including designing and implementing gyms at 5 star hotels for the One and Only chain, and spent 6 months in Mauritius, hey someone had to do it. I left to set up my own business, largely to work with an England footballer and try and keep him fit.
I've now been freelance for 12 years.
You're a Core Movement Trainer, what does that entail?
About three and a half years ago I was lucky enough to come across the Faster training company. It came about due to a former client of mine from my days at mrpt and I getting into "an exchange" about training on Twitter. His career had been saved and extended by John Hardy, the owner of Faster and so he encouraged me to do one of their courses, the two day AFT, Advanced Functional Trainer. At the time I was enrolled on an MSc in strength and conditioning and was fairly comfortable with what I knew.
The aft blew me away. The whole way of looking at the body, describing and predicting motion made so much sense, more sense than the strength and conditioning, that I immediately changed the way I was training all my clients. I haven't looked back since, and have done the Faster Specialist in Functional Performance, Faster Training Expert and the top level Course Director.
There are several shorter and more specific courses Faster run, such as rule the tool, or golf specialist, and one of e latest is the Core Momentum Trainer. The CMT is a fabulous piece of kit that helps add load to movements while giving you audible feedback by the sharp sound of the lead shot within the power core of the cmt if you do it right. It helps achieve new ranges of motion as well as provisioning the most brutal of core workouts. I personally prefer trunk musculature to core, but I'm fighting a losing battle.
I'm now able to teach trainers and clients about it, and how to use it properly for maximum benefit, and will be running a course near Brighton early next year.
Tell me a bit about your football coaching
I've had the good fortune to work with several footballers, from the elite to those trying to break through. It's the physical preparation to play, stopping, turning, accelerating and trying to improve motion to lessen the likelihood of injury and maximise performance.
Without divulging names, which client has been your biggest success in helping them achieve their goals (either in football or PT) ?
After so long it's hard to pick, the job is about changing people's lives. I've got clients that have been with me for seventeen years.
I've done over 15,000 of training sessions and have probably had a small effect on global warming with all the heat generated by the sessions I've done.
I've helped two footballers gain professional contracts, rehabbed someone with a snapped Achilles' tendon, piled on the pounds of muscle and helped shift the pounds of excess.
I'm proud of my career and of my clients that have made some big life changes.
What is your favourite sport to play?
Rugby union is my main love, but it virtually destroyed my body. I love basketball, although at 5'8 I'm not ideally designed to play it.
I played a lot of cricket too and played locally quite recently.
What's a typical day's eating for you?
Food when I'm hungry. And plenty of coffee, the fitness industry runs on coffee.
What are your main goals for 2016?
To continue to help people on their journeys. To succeed it has to come from within, I see the job as being a guide, or a helping hand for my clients to find the motivation to do what they need to. Being super tough may work short term but often leads to negative association and a fall back into old habits.
I'd like to continue my journey of learning with Faster and start to deliver more of their courses. The company and John Hardy changed my career and unless a trainer has been on a Faster course, then they're just guessing at how best to train their clients.
For more about Richard, see his website www.rkfc.com
So Tom, how did you get into personal training in the first place?
I got into personal training following a keen interest in being active, playing sport and challenging myself. I studied sport science at uni and following my degree I was drawn to personal training. I love working with people and this passion flourished when I did a pgce as I embarked on a teaching career. I always kept my hand in training and decided to go back to it 4 years ago and in 2014 I set up my own company- I haven't looked back.
What would be your top 3 tips for a new clients who is morbidly obese and wants to achieve a healthy weight, but hates exercise and hates vegetables even more?
Consider the benefits of what you will gain including better health, better state of mind and better aesthetics. You want to live longer and enjoy life itself!
Exercise does not mean boring, punishing or patronising sessions with a trainer or in the gym. It can be fun and the only limit is your imagination. Time to give something new a try.
Eating healthy and balanced meals and snacks does not mean dull/bland food. Much the same with exercise it is only limited by your imagination and it is a great chance to try something new.
Getting fit is not a punishment it is a way of loving yourself and doing the best for your body and mind.
And your top 3 tips for a skinny guy who wants to become muscular?
Address a suitable eating plan including balanced protein, carbohydrate and fats in order to fuel for growth of lean muscle. Increased lean protein and good calorie intake is key to building tissue. Without good calories to rebuild tissue you can't become more muscular.
Training program design is next and looking at the correct volume and intensity in order to gain lean muscle. There are variations in training that aid different gains. Big compound movements with heavy weights would be a great starting point depending on how you have trained in the past. Overload will lead to adaptation and progression which will give good results.
Do not forget leg training. Many people neglect their legs in the gym because they feel the aesthetic benefits are not worth the time. However if you want a balanced physique then you must look after your leg work. The other reason for training legs is that because they are the largest muscle group in the body and they produce the most testosterone. This fuels growth and development of lean muscle.
What more do you think the government should do to promote the health and fitness of our population?
I feel that a huge chunk of nhs spending is down to obesity/poor fitness or lifestyle choices that contribute to illness. So the nhs should work better with fitness professionals in the private sector to help educate and rehabilitate people back to health. This could be funded by the government.
The government needs to make it tougher for fast food outlets and suppliers to dominate the food chain for the general public. Get them out of schools and hospitals and make it easier to choose healthy. I also think that education has a huge part to play and if children are told why it is better to eat healthy from the start it could help.
The introduction of team sport, games and challenging physical activities back to schools curriculum will help increase fitness and activity levels in children which will filter through to adulthood. The values and skills that sport instills in people are almost more valuable than what you can learn in a text book.
Sport, fitness and competition are beneficial to mental health so school should be the primary source for youngsters. In adulthood, cheaper gyms, accessible and useable spaces for sport and exercise should be everywhere.
What's a typical day's eating for you?
I wake up starving so have eggs on brown toast and coffee around 6am with a glass of water (I try and get through a 2l bottle a day as well as a few fresh coffees.
I have a banana or yogurt for a snack around 9
I have chicken, fish or beef mince with steamed veg for lunch or a wrap if I had forgotten to prep the night before
I have a protein shake or handful of nuts before the gym
Same again after training
Dinner after work around 8pm which would be anything involving meat veg and sweet potatoes
My food timings are dedicated by my clients so the above is all speculative.
What is your favourite sport to play and why?
Cricket is my sport having played it since I was four. I've been very lucky to play at some amazing places for great teams and I love the etiquette and history of the game. I'm an aggressive and assertive player and love a good battle on the pitch.
For more about Tom, see www.tomcharman.com
So Gido, how did you first get into high performance coaching to help actors achieve successful auditions?
It is really the combination of my two passions. Before I did what I do today I was on stage myself for most of my life. And due to that I found that creative people naturally gravitated towards me once I started coaching and they saw what was possible through this work. It is really the high achieving mindset that is my forte though and I quickly found that I was able to get my clients to achieve at a far higher level than they could previously aspire to.
And what distinguishes your high performance coaching from other kinds of coaching?
I think for one thing it's really the speed with which I work, because I developed a way that allows us to home into the key limiting beliefs of an individual very quickly. In addition it's the fun and ease with which they can achieve the results they are looking for in their life.
What are the main reasons people self-sabotage in an audition or any key performance situation?
It always comes down to the stories people believe about themselves - that they are insignificant or less than they really are. This childhood programming combined with the pictures they hold in their heads of having failed previously makes them re-enact their old story rather than them tapping into their true potential when it matters most. You can imagine what becomes possible when that change happens.
Your background includes ballet. Tell me a bit about the physical and mental demands of this discipline.
Yes, I was a professional ballet dance with the Bavarian State Ballet for 6 years. You can only compare the intense training from an early age to that of an athlete; 8 - 10 hours of intense training and rehearsals plus the performances take their toll - physically as well as mentally. In the performing arts in general and especially in dance you are trained through being told you're not good enough - You're not flexible enough, don't jump high enough, don't turn enough, etc. You are brought up in a lack mentality. Being constantly told where you are not adequate especially at such young age leaves its mark and more often than not you start believing it. As a result there is a deep-seated belief-structure in so many artists that means that they expect to perform poorly. Even when on top of their game they can often only perceive their failings, which in turn takes a toll on their performance. This was certainly the case for me until I discovered these tools and insights I am using today. Once you are able to flip that switch of the inner game everything changes.
Can anyone benefit from your coaching, such as an obese person struggling to lose weight, or a tennis player who freezes up in a big match?
Absolutely because this form of coaching is all about releasing you from your deeply rooted limiting beliefs, which might have created the problem in the first place and replacing them with new habits of success. The obese person, the athlete that freezes up, or anyone who is failing to succeed in an area of their life where they want to succeed; are locked into these behaviours as a result of buying into the stories that they have been conditioned to believe about themselves. Of course this is not a quick fix. This is fundamental work and once you change the script results will always follow.
What's the most inspirational personal-development book you've ever read?
This is the hardest question as there are so many:
The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks and
Siddartha by Herman Hesse are the first to come to mind today.
How do you like living and working in London?
I love living in London as it gives you an enormous range of possibilities. From free art events to the highest luxury goods; you can find anything. Of course living so closely together comes with its challenges and I wish people would look up from their phones and support each other with a smile rather than everyone only looking out for themselves. But that is a choice we can only make for ourselves and I encourage you to try it. In the end we are all connected and everything you do to someone else you are always doing to yourself as well... choose wisely. ;)
What are your professional goals for the next 5 years?
To be even more of service! My personal goal for the next 5 years is to have a wide range of products and services that enables anyone to start working on themselves no matter where they are in their life. From the free and low-ticket product that might help you start seeing things differently, through to online programmes and workshops all the way up to my bespoke coaching programmes. And there are 2 or 3 particular artists on this planet that I would love to coach by that point, but I will keep those names to myself.
For more information, see www.gidoschimanski.com
Interview with Ellaine Gelman, Director of FindRugbyNow
So Ellaine, how did FindRugbyNow come about?
I had been playing rugby competitively for eight years and experienced my first debilitating injury on my ankle in 2011, which required surgery and took me out of action from sport for almost an entire year. At the same time, I had just moved to London and quickly experienced the difficulty that rugby teams have with finding fixtures, hiring rugby grounds, etc. The combination of these two events and my desire to stay connected and involved with rugby led to the start of Find Rugby Now.
Three years later Find Rugby Now has really grown beyond just the initial website. Not only do we now manage three rugby websites (www.findrugbynow.com, www.sevenstournament.com and www.miniandyouthrugby.com), but the company now hosts rugby tournaments, provides rugby media coverage, publishes regular blogs focussed on amateur rugby and manages men's and women's rugby 7s teams and a mixed touch rugby team. We are also in the process of creating a mobile app.
Still, everything we do continues to be focussed on the amateur rugby community and we stay devoted to providing it with the best quality rugby information and events out there!
Tell me more about FindRugbyNow's involvement in rugby tournaments
Find Rugby Now hosts an annual rugby festival in July, which grows larger every year. This year we are looking forward to welcoming 100 rugby sevens, tens and touch rugby teams to the festival on 25 July - that's over 1,000 players alone. We really strive to make our events unique and fun for everyone, so we really focus on entertainment. This year players and spectators will enjoy a Brazilian Drum Band, Crystal Palace Cheerleaders, Cage Rugby, MaxiNutrition Challenges Rodeo, Bouncy Castle, awesome glamping and camping options and a really cool after party with DJ Charlotte Devaney and the Narni Shakers dancers! A video from last year's festival can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYAI2ZWcek8
Find Rugby Now also hosts smaller touch rugby tournaments throughout the year. We had a very successful Christmas Tournament and we are now looking forward to the St. Patrick's Day Tournament in March, which is going to feature Irish dancers, a Guinness Pouring Competition, Guinness, Irish Whiskey and other themed prizes and much more!
How does your Fixtures Exchange work and where do you see it in 5 years time?
Everything on our site is free to players, coaches, clubs, etc. All you need to do is just log into the site, got to the Community section and search or post in the category that you are interested in - minis, youth, women's or men's rugby. It is also really easy to post - you just select whether you want a home or away match, how far you are willing to travel, the level and obviously the date. You also add your contact details so any teams that are keen contact you directly. Your post well then be posted in the fixture list by date. The added bonus is that your post will link to your rugby team's profile so interested teams can learn more about you quickly and easily.
You have a rugby book coming out soon, tell me more about it
We're really excited to be releasing a book titled "Mini and Youth Rugby: Complete Guide for Coaches and Parents" this October. It is being published by Bloomsbury and will be available both in bookstores and on Amazon in the US, UK, Australia, NZ, Canada, etc. The book came about as a result of the positive feedback that we had on our youth and mini rugby blogs from our bloggers, Ian Milligan and Dave Beal. Rugby is really growing as a sport and we felt passionate about coaches and parents having the right information and tools to help young players grow and develop in the right way.
For more information about our mini and youth rugby blogs as well as our book, please check out www.miniandyouthrugby.com
Who do you most admire in the rugby world?
I admire individuals that have gone out and done what we are doing - followed their rugby passion - and have become very successful in the process. People like Roger Woodall of Diamond Sporting Group, who hosts Bournemouth 7s Festival, and Ali Donnelly from Scrumqueens, who is the owner of the best women's rugby website in the world, which she started much like us - out of the need to get quality information out to the rugby community.
So Vince, what's your background and how did you first get into basketball?
I was always studying to be a film maker, that was my dream, but as a student doing A Levels in Liverpool, I was asked to play a school game, my first ever game, at the game I happened to bump into Jimmy Rogers of Atac in Liverpool and Brixton in London and he changed my life by instilling a love of basketball in me, he sent me to basketball camps, he even came out of retirement to play with me, he taught me how to play and I played coached and owned teams. I played for Atac, I played at Camden and Hapstead in London under Bob McKay and became the first ever captain of Brixton Topcats when Jimmy Rogers moved to London. I then played with Tower Hamlets and Greenwich before taking over Hemel Hempstead.
How did the London Lions Franchise come about?
I had previously run teams in Hemel Hempstead, Watford and Milton Keynes, in Milton Keynes after 15 years, the promised venue for us was never delivered and we had run out of all alternatives after variously playing in small leisure centre's, shopping centres and converted warehouses. I asked the question about Olympic Legacy in 2012 and found there was no plan for basketball at the Park and in the many venues. I contacted Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL) and they said they would love the idea of a team on the Park at the Copper Box, I put a team together of players who had been loyal to me, coaches I trusted and that's how we made it happen.
Which three individuals have been the biggest inspirations in your life so far?
Leaving out my family, for I am nothing without them, Jimmy Rogers, Michael Jordan and Jon Spoelstra, Jimmy gave me my love of basketball and belief in myself, Michael showed me anything is attainable and Jon showed me how to sell.
How big is basketball in London, and where do you see it in 5 years time?
The game is huge in London right now but it is fractured and separate, I am trying to act as a focus that can bring all the fraternity together to realise that unless we unite and shout with one voice we won't achieve our dreams. I believe that in the next five years more and more people will be playing, facilities will be cheaper for youngsters to play in, coaches will be sharing ideas instead of competing with each other and that we will be playing in regular European competition in front of 5,000 fans and the game in the UK will have respect.
What are your ambitions for the London Lions in 2015?
I really want to create a culture of doing things the right way and winning, the right way in terms of youngsters learning the game properly, having an opportunity to express themselves on the right stage. I believe we can be a very strong club top to bottom that shares with smaller clubs from juniors through academies to other senior clubs in London, I believe that London has so much talent it can be a force in Europe, but we all have to start working on that now, take the necessary chips off our shoulders and believe that we have everything to get the job done.
So Adrian, what is REBO Wall ?
REBOwall is a company that encourages people to play, practice and learn tennis in a fun and innovative way!!
REBOwalls are quick to install, prefabricated 1.2m wide by 2.5m high sections that are bolted together, covered in highly durable astroturf; the rebound surface is angled, which provides a more realistic arced flight to the rebounded ball. Basically REBOwall has reinvented the 'wall'. You can now have a de-mountable hitting/practice wall quickly and simply installed (without needing deep foundations) indoors, outdoors or practically anywhere!
Above all though, Rebowall enables untraditional environments - where the cost or the space wouldn't allow for a full size tennis court - to offer tennis lessons and fun sessions and lets kids practice whenever they want to, without needing to find a partner. For example, London Hackney Council recently installed a 6m wide REBOwall in a community centre and contracted REBOcoaching to run weekly sessions at the centre - and the kids absolutely love it!! This can be seen from the inner-city 'REBOlution' launch with REBOambassador Mark Petchey, on a cold and wet November night (see link:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGISZbKnZkY) - and not a single kid opted to go back indoors where it was dry and warm, to play Xbox or Playstation instead..!! Genuinely inspirational.
What's your background, and how did REBO Wall come about?
I'm a qualified tennis coach and a committee member of a tennis club; and it was during a committee meeting, when the Treasurer asked for suggestions for what to spend surplus money in the club's account on, that I immediately suggested a practice wall - I was then given the task of researching and costing my proposal. Immediately, I had an image in my mind of an angled-faced, prefabricated, easy to install system that the club would be able to easily purchase and easily and quickly install - but I couldn't find what I wanted. I spotted a gap in the market and REBOwall was born!
I then spent months designing and testing many prototypes. I went to market and discovered a huge demand and interest in my REBOwall invention (Patent Pending). Not only does REBOwall appeal to non-traditional environments but established clubs also love REBOwall - for example Gosling International High Performance Centre are installing two REBOwalls - one indoor and one outdoor - and they're running sessions for their performance players and club members on the REBOwall.
What are the advantages of using REBO Wall over hitting on a tennis court with a partner?
REBOwall is fantastically consistent: how you hit the ball at it, is how you're going to get it come back: hit hard - it comes back hard, hit an angle - the ball comes off at an angle, hit topspin - the balls kicks off the wall, but hit smooth consistent and controlled shots - then the REBOwall will give you smooth, consistent and controlled shots in return - simply something a hitting partner or even a pro coach can't achieve. REBOwall won't get tired, need a break or stop for a drink - and it will return your best, hardest forehand winner straight back at you!!
I notice that the REBO Wall is designed at a slight angle. What's the thinking behind that?
When I was designing REBOwall, I always knew that I wanted to change the way the ball came back at me. Old-fashioned straight faced walls, always result in an unsatisfactory flat, downward trajectory to the rebounded ball - which means that to get a less hurried swing-timing (especially the take-back) you have to let the ball bounce twice before you hit it - making the contact-point always un-naturally low - or you hit the ball after one bounce, which means the timing of your swing is always quick and un-naturally fast!!
But with REBOwall's angled-face the flight of the rebounded ball is always in an arc and far more realistic - it's never flat and downwards - which results in the experience of playing against a REBOwall, far more realistic and more enjoyable because you can get into a really great rhythm.
What response have you had from the LTA?
The response from the LTA has been very encouraging. Interestingly, Michael Downey the LTA's new CEO has brought in the renowned coach Bob Brett to oversee the LTA's performance coaching and one of the new drills he's encouraging the players to regularly do is to hit x100 shots, take a short break, then hit another x100 shots and repeat until a total of x600 shots are hit. Bob Brett's response to the exhausted and suffering squad players is simple - Marin Cilic (who Bob coaches) voluntarily hits x800 repetitions - so get on with it!!
By coincidence, REBOwall has a drill called 'THE BEAST' - it's where players can hit any type of shots against the REBOwall until x100 shots have been hit, break for 45 seconds, then hit another x100, until a total of 1000 shots have been hit! This takes approximately 12-15 mins in total and is very good for working on playing accurately under tough physical and mental conditions of fatigue.
Tennis is not just about being able to easily win your first set - it's about being able to grind out those tough 3rd and 4th sets - while remaining consistent, relaxed and focused!!
Have any Local Authorities expressed an interest?
Yes, we are presenting the case study for the very successful REBOwall and REBOcoaching sessions for London Hackney Council - so we look forward to rolling out the REBOwall program across the UK in 2015.
What's your ambition for REBO Wall over the next 5 years?
The main ambition of REBOwall is to grow the sport - to influence participation and increase the numbers of children, from environments where tennis simply isn't on their radar - to get them to regularly pick up a racket and play and practice tennis, whenever they want, no membership, no fancy clothing, just boy/girl versus REBOwall.
We want a Grand Slam champion to come from an inner-city, after learning, playing and practicing on a REBOwall. Furthermore, we have had international requests from New York City, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Moscow, Sydney and even Mumbai - so REBOwall's 2015 global strategy for growing participation in the sport are really very exciting indeed!!
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I was brought up in the south of France where my father taught me how to play table tennis from an early age. I played in my local club and although I was by no means the best among my peers, I managed to win a few regional tournaments from the age of 8 to 11. Unfortunately I stopped training after I was sent to boarding school in England, aged 12. I got back into it again at university where I captained the first team to compete in the British University league. Last summer (2013), after 10 years of not playing, I saw an ad for a ping pong tournament in London and decided to enter. It was called King Ping and, with a bit of luck on my side, I won it. While table tennis is a hobby for me (I am a composer and pianist), I hope it will play a bigger role in my life.
I like the tactical and psychological aspect of the game. The greatest fight of all is against yourself.
After winning King Ping, I became motivated to train so I joined several clubs, but during the sessions I was frustrated by the time I had to wait for a table to become available. In one club, there were only 4 tables for about 20 players. I was also surprised by the large gap in standards between the members. I often had no choice but to pair with a weak opponent who didn't challenge me. So I decided to start my own club and try to remove these limitations. I invited other experienced players I had met, and for the first few sessions we played at my local community centre (on a table I donated to them). The club has expanded and we are now relocating to larger premises, although we occasionally choose different secret venues to 'fight'. New members have to apply or be invited, and only once they defeat 2 existing members are they allowed to join. That way, we control the playing standard so that all members benefit.
I don't think so. If it does, then I am not conscious of it.
I want to enter a team in Division 1 of the Central London League and for it to perform well. I also want to acquire a sponsor and increase the membership to 30 players. Once in a while, I'd like international guest coaches to come and train our members. My ultimate aspiration is to have a TT Fight Club in every major city. This global network will enable members who travel to find comfort in 'fighting' other members J.
It seems that social ping pong has grown over the last few years with the launch of outdoor public courts, the opening of Bounce, and the addition of tables in bars and libraries. However, serious competitive table tennis in London still forms a small community. With London's large cosmopolitan population, I am sure there are many exceptional players who have not picked up a bat in a while. The lack of good central clubs with decent facilities is not helping. I hope that Table Tennis Fight Club will give these people the opportunity to rediscover the merits of this fascinating sport.