IF you mistook the character in the photograph above for a superhero, I’m not surprised.
Rather than a character from the Marvel films, I think I look more like Robocop.
Well, ok, perhaps Robocop meets Bruce Forsyth on The Generation Game.
Nice to see you, to see you nice. Good game, good game! (I do a pretty good Brucey impression, not as good as my Rigsby, but half decent).
Except the difference is that where Robocop, the star of the science fiction blockbuster, had armour, I’ve got pure muscle.
If you don’t believe me then squeeze that.
No dear, that.
I’ve kept myself fit by doing Military 1st Fitness on the Stray in Harrogate over the last five years.
When restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic were brought in, the sessions moved online and I stepped up the training which really helped me physically and, indeed, mentally get through the interminable periods of lockdown.
I was quite happy with my fitness and then when restrictions were lifted earlier this year I bumped into entrepreneur Jon Wright who was out having a meal in Harrogate with fellow maestro of business, Simon Chappell.
A couple of days later an email arrived from Jon, the founder of budget gym brand Xercise4Less, who said that given I am an “influencer” he wondered if I’d like to try a new fitness concept he was launching in the UK.
Intrigued, I said yes and Jon explained that ‘EMS’ training was originally developed to help top athletes achieve marginal gains and in rehabilitation from injury.
Electro Muscle Stimulation has since been commercialised and become popular with celebrities such as Madonna, Liz Hurley and Hollywood stars like Jamie Foxx and Tom Holland when he was training for the role of Spiderman.
Jon has taken the technology and launched it under the brand Feel Electric.
It promises to transform your fitness faster than any conventional workouts and in just 20 minutes a week.
I was intrigued.
Feel Electric opened its first studio on Leeds Road in Harrogate earlier this year and its success has seen a second recently open its doors on Street Lane in Roundhay, Leeds.
Knowing Jon, it won’t stop there.
The simple explanation of EMS is that it is an all-over low-impact fitness session powered by the latest bodytec equipment which activates 90% of your muscles simultaneously to fire up your metabolism and help you sculpt your body shape.
You don a lycra shirt and shorts and then the Feel Electric instructors make you feel like Robocop by fitting you with a padded vest and straps around your arms, legs and glutes before attaching you to a machine via electric wires.
On a one-to-one basis, they then take you through a series of relatively simple exercises.
As you perform the exercises you can feel your muscles buzzing as your body gets the equivalent of a two-hour HIIT (high intensity impact training) session in just 20 minutes.
Sam Turpin, Feel Electric wellness manager and personal trainer took me through my first session and he explained how it works.
“Each client wears their own suit which is hooked up to our EMS machine. In just 10 to 20 minutes your body will feel like it’s been working out for hours, as tiny electric impulses safely trigger more of your muscles at a deeper level to amplify the effects, stimulating 98% of your muscle fibres and contract all your major muscle groups 85 times per second. This causes you to work harder, tone up and lose weight.”
Because of the intensity of the sessions, you only do them once a week and the benefits have been enjoyed by people of all shapes and sizes.
If you are overweight and out of shape then EMS can make a big impact.
If you hate exercising then 20 minutes a week is certainly do-able.
If you are already fit and playing sport then the sessions can improve your strength and performance.
I ached like crazy after my first session and still feel it after a Feel Electric visit as the trainers increase the levels and push you to achieve more.
It has certainly complemented the fitness I already do, made me feel stronger and given me better muscle definition.
Jon Wright’s own background gave him the insight into creating Feel Electric.
He’s a former Leeds rugby union player who, after suffering a string of back injuries, hung up his Harlequins number 1 shirt to become an entrepreneur when he was 22 years old.
He initially started out by selling gym memberships, then opened his own fitness club in 2006 and went on to found Xercise4Less, one of the pioneers of budget clubs.
Jon built that chain up to over 50 clubs and between 2015 and 2019 sold it in a series of private equity deals.
When I went for my first session at Feel Electric, Jon explained how his own experience had shaped his thinking about launching a new fitness business.
“As someone who has suffered with my back injury from my early twenties to now, I still sometimes struggle to train, so was intrigued when I found out about EMS technology.
“After I did my first session, I had my regular physio session and she couldn’t believe the difference in my back. Not only that, since I started using EMS, I have lost two stone and I am now lighter than when I got married 16 years ago!
“I’m the most flexible and supple that I have ever been, it’s truly transformed my physique. Perhaps the best result of an EMS session is you get an endorphin rush or what is known as ‘runners high’ – so after just 20 minutes, you come out buzzing! Normally I would have to train for 2 hours to feel this good!”
He added: “Once I had tried and seen the results from this revolutionary training, I realised that there is a fantastic opportunity to bring this to the UK market. It’s very popular on the continent, in the US and in the Middle East, but as usual the UK market is lagging behind.”
Not surprisingly, Jon has ambitious plans for the business having recently opened his second studio in the former Santander bank on the parade on Street Lane in Roundhay.
“I am so happy that we’ve been able to bring this new fitness technology to Yorkshire and we are delighted with the success of our Harrogate studio and the opening of our Leeds studio.
“Like we did with Xercise4Less, we plan to roll this concept out across the UK as market leader. We are pioneering this technology, but soon, I believe you will see EMS studios on most high streets,” said Jon.
I can see it really taking off and I’m going to continue my sessions at Feel Electric.
Well, doesn’t everyone want a well-sculpted influencer?
IT stands majestically in the background of postcards of Scarborough seafront.
For 154 years the Grand Hotel in the Yorkshire coastal resort has played host to prime ministers, Hollywood stars and literary luminaries.
The Victorian era hotel boasts 413 bedrooms over 12 floors and I’m sure is a place that most tourists visiting Scarborough aspire to stay at.
Well, they might have done this in the past.
According to a story in last weekend’s Sunday Times the hotel, which is owned by Britannia Hotels, has attracted some of the worst reviews from guests that you are ever likely to read.
One of the nicer ones said the Grand makes Fawlty Towers “look like the Ritz”.
Apparently one pensioner suffered panic attacks at the sight of her room and that is no surprise when you read stories about doors that do not lock, bloodstains on walls and carpets, skid marks on bed sheets, food poisoning, pest infestations and used condoms in the hall.
One guest walked into their bedroom for the first time to find the lavatory had not been flushed.
Apparently a number of rooms, which range from £30 to £170 a night, are occupied by Afghan refugees.
“I feel sorry for them,” a former guest said. “As if escaping from the Taliban wasn’t enough.”
It has culminated in the local council writing to Britannia Hotels, requesting an urgent meeting in an attempt to restore this badly and sadly faded jewel in the resort’s crown.
When I visited Scarborough last year for the opening of the innovative and refreshingly different Bike and Boot Hotel I looked with surprise at the snaking queue of holidaymakers lined up on the pavement outside the Grand waiting to check in.
What a way to start your holiday.
And then the creeping realisation that once you’ve ascended the front steps beside the marble pillars it’s all downhill from there.
It is probably too much to hope that the Grand could be restored to former glories.
Given its size the cost of refurbishing it would almost certainly be prohibitive but wouldn’t it be lovely if Yorkshire could boast a five star Victorian era hotel like you see when you go to resorts in France and Italy.
I’m glad I’m staying at the Bike and Boot Hotel around the corner when our film club makes a pilgrimage to Scarbs in November.
I’ve never been inside the Grand Hotel, but I might take a hazmat suit and check it out.
IF there are any radio or TV producers out there, I’ve got an idea for you.
How about a show with a presenter who provides an antidote to the bland, vanilla conversation passed off as “banter” on TV shows like BBC Breakfast and The One Show and some daytime radio shows.
The kind of person unafraid to bow to a woke agenda and comfortable to challenge virtue-signalling statements by hypocrites.
The sort of presenter who would bring a cynical eye to news and events, tell some daft stories and lampoon celebrities for the nonsense they spout.
The kind of person who takes the mickey out of listeners who get in touch to tell you they are driving to Porthcawl in their camper van with their recently acquired cockapoo and munching on flapjack.
Now wouldn’t that be refreshing?
But where would you find a presenter like that…
Have a great weekend.