THE BASICS: Pegasus Military Fitness meet several times a week in Chingford and Loughton. I went to the 9am Chingford/Epping Forest session. TRUST ME-it is was worth leaving the house at 7.45am on a Saturday for. First session free, £5 PAYG thereafter, or membership options available.
THE BITCHES: Carly
THE CLASS: I had attempted to join the Pegasus guys a few weeks earlier and had missed my train by seconds. I’d subsequently sloped back home and pledged via twitter to make it to Chingford before Christmas. As everyone knows, making a twitter pledge is akin to signing a contract in blood; so last Saturday I got up SUPER early to make sure I made it in time. This sleepy little mole was going to redeem herself.
The journey from Liverpool Street is actually only 25 mins, and the walk from Chingford station took less than 5 mins. The 8.18am from Liverpool Street gets you there in perfect time for a 9am start.
I met Barry in the carpark of Epping Forest. As always, it’s lovely to meet someone you’ve been nattering to on Twitter for a while. He and Simon were dressed in their combats and maroon pegasus t-shirts, towering over me. I supressed a little gulp of worry at how my stubby legs were going to keep up with them.
Within minutes of my arrival, about 20 others appeared out of cars. This Essex bunch are KEEN! Beanie hats, jumpers, gloves, snoods and excited chatter- I was made to feel welcome instantly; we were all bouncing around, nattering and ready to head off into the forest. I was a bit nervous, but more than anything just really excited to get going.
We left our things in the car and popped our water bottles into the rucksacks- Simon, Barry and several of the long-time Pegasus guys swapped the water rucksacks between them as we ran through the forest. They didn’t even begrudge my obnoxiously large 2 litre bottle, although I was told if I didn’t finish it, the remains were being poured over my head at the end (with banter like this, I would have happily allowed it)!
We jogged off into the trees in pairs and I was next to a lovely lady called Liz. We chatted about Project HB, and about how long she’d been coming to Pegasus sessions. I found that Liz, like a lot of others, came along regularly; as much for the social and fun aspects as for the workout. Within minutes I could appreciate why- this group of crazy earlybirds were quite honestly delightful!
There was also something undeniably special about running through trees and kicking great clouds of autumn leaves out of the way as you did so. When we slowed down for a horse I nearly peed my pants with excitement. A horse! We stopped for a horse! Never had to stop for a horse in Shoreditch!
Anyway, equestrian excitement aside, and after what felt like approximately 17 miles (disclaimer: it may have been 1 mile), Barry and Simon stopped the group for some stretching. Apparently that run had been out warm up. Holy crap.
Barry then introduced me to the group and I did a sheepish little wave, instantly panicking about how everyone would now think I was far fitter than I actually am. I needn’t have worried- in reality it just meant that a lot of people came up to me during the session and asked about the blog. It was actually a great way to start conversations with lots of friendly people!
The session continued with us jogging through woodland- and this time working sprints in. Simon ran ahead and then, when he or Barry yelled “GO!!!!” we’d bolt towards him in our pairs in an attempt to catch up with him. When we caught up with him, we’d hang back until the group had passed, and join the back. Simples.
This carried on for a while- stopping a few times for horses and water breaks. I was pretty exhausted by this point- little realising the hardest part was yet to come. Part three saw the “tyres” come out (think stretchy bicycle inner tubes). We partnered up- and our task simple: to sprint to Simon as we had previously, only this time joined to our partner by both clutching a tyre between us.
I partnered up with Jess. Now- a few things should be mentioned before I describe how the sprinting unfolded. Jess was at least a foot taller than me. She had long, lean legs. She had the body of a runner. She was a netball player. You can see where this is going.
Me and my stubby little stature spent the rest of the session hanging onto the end of that rubber tyre for dear life, screaming the words “SORRYYYYYYYYYYYYYY JESSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!” at the top of my lungs, being quite literally dragged along behind a very fast, very leggy, and very patient Jess. I would have paid to see my face, honestly I would! My feet barely hit the ground each time we sprinted off in pursuit of Simon. I must have looked hilarious!
I have never in my life run that fast, and if I had stopped for even a second, I would have either pinged Jess off into orbit, or else I would have found myself being dragged face-down along the floor as she powered on like superwoman. Bless her- she held onto the other end of that tyre the whole way back to the carpark, encouraging me as I stumbled, panted, and tried to walk across the open field behind her; she was a superstar.
And we made it back to the cars. The session had consisted of a lot of running, although chatting with Barry afterwards, he mentioned that each session was different, and that at times a lot more floor work/reps made up the workout. It really just depended on what the plan was on the day you turned up!
I was completely spent after this session, and made it back to the station in a state of exercise-shock, but also smiling at what a brilliant start to a Saturday that was. I may or may not have gone back to bed upon return to Shoreditch.
Ok, I went back to bed.
What?! It was a Saturday!!!
THE VERDICT: Pegasus Military Fitness trains outside of our lazily self-imposed Central London comfort zone. This is true. However, listen good to me now- the chance to run around outside and actually see some trees, grass and the horizon is COMPLETELY worth the trip. I ran through horse crap, people! Do you know how exhilarating that is?!?!
In all seriousness though, Pegasus seems to be as much about the social element as it is the fitness- and I could absolutely 100% feel that in the atmosphere of the group as I trained. Everyone was buzzing, jostling, bantering and encouraging each other the whole time- it felt pretty special. Huge respect for Barry and Simon for running such brilliant group.
THE EXTRAS: I’ve heard rumour of a 2 hour Epping Forest session on 27th December to run off Christmas scoffing. If I can work out how to get there on public transport, I am SO IN.