THERE is no doubt the Olympics, and now the Paralympics, have had a positive effect on the nation.
Inspiring and energising, the Games have encouraged people to take more of an interest in sporting activities.
Indeed, if my kids are anything to go by London 2012, and Team GB’s success in the medals table, have been responsible for inspiring many youngsters to pester their parents to sign them up for lessons in swimming, gymnastics, football, tennis and horseriding among others.
But for adults who want a piece of the action there are possibilities to get involved too - even for those who like me haven’t seen the inside of a gym for longer than we care to remember and the only running we do is for a bus.
Indeed the closest I’ve got to wearing trainers in the last eight years is the fashion kind, not the ones I used to go running in before I had kids....
So coupled with a long-held desire to get back into shape and buoyed by the enthusiasm the Olympics has generated, I found myself on Wandsworth Common a couple of weeks ago to give my body an utter pounding – or as the instructor would have me say, a total workout.
As I am clearly never going to have the physique or fitness levels of the likes of Jessica Ennis nor can I ever have a hope of getting an Olympic medal I did wonder what I had let myself in for when I saw trainer James Osborn bringing out the “equipment”. This included kettle bells of various weights, two enormous tractor tyres and harnesses.
I felt even more like a fish out of water when I saw the seven others who were there to be put through their paces. All had clearly done this before and were up for the challenge. I meanwhile, was quaking in my brand new trainers.
The session was run by James who along with business partner Steve Mellor set up their company Freedom2Train 13 months ago.
The two are fully qualified personal fitness trainers and initially offered one-to-one training sessions. However, earlier this year they decided to branch out and offer specially designed outdoor-based high intensity work outs to small groups.
And what they don’t know about training your bodies into peak physical perfection frankly isn’t worth knowing.
The hour-long classes are designed to help people lose weight, tone muscles, become stronger and get super fit. All fitness levels are catered for and as a newbie one of the key pieces of advice was that I was to take it at my own pace and to take rest breaks when I needed to.
So successful have their classes been they are normally booked up well in advance.
After all the introductions were out of the way James got things rolling by taking us on a gentle jog around the Common before getting us to do a series of lunges, squats, stretches, kicks, jumps and sprints to warm up.
I managed this OK but it was clearly the physical calm before the storm as after we had all warmed up nicely we were divided into two groups for the main session.
This involved a set of lifting and flipping over tractor tyres - much harder than it looked and I am ashamed to say made me look and feel like a weakling - swinging and lifting kettle bells, slamming special 5kg slam balls into the ground and sprinting - or in my case trying to sprint - while strapped in a harness and being pulled back by a team member.
All were done in short bursts of about two minutes each with two minute rest breaks after each set and had me utterly exhausted.
James explained the aim is to get the whole body working.
He said: "There are so many benefits to exercise and giving the whole body a complete work out especially if it's done in the open air.
"We wanted to offer something that was a bit different, challenging and dynamic that exercised all muscles but was also fun.
"It's quite addictive and the vast majority of people who have come along for a taster session have signed up for more."
To my utter amazement I found myself getting into the sets although trying to lift the tractor tyre off the ground and flip it over defeated me despite my best efforts.
I even managed to master the art of slamming the ball and crouching down in time to catch it and as the session wore on I found I had more energy than I thought.
Being in the open air too was great and much more refreshing than pounding the treadmill at a gym looking at the wall.
But what was most brilliant was the constant encouragement from James who was an inspiration in the way he kept me going when what I was tempted to do was collapse in a heap on the grass.
Before too long we were ready to warm down with a series of press ups on the tyres, stretches, lunges and sit ups.
Although it was seriously hard work and I could barely walk afterwards, I survived, felt energised and felt a real sense of achievement. So much so I have signed up for more!
Visit www.freedom2train for training session times and prices.