It’s a Saturday, and I’ve been out of bed since 6.30am.
I’m contemplating this early start while bent over double at the top of what felt like a vertical hill. I’ve just helped 3 people haul a core bag- aka Lazy Larry- up this hill. And my thighs are pretty confused at why they aren’t still snuggled in a duvet. .
“There you go- worth it, ay?” says Barry – the man behind this early morning thrashing.
I turn around to see what he’s gesturing at. The Thames, and pretty much the entire London skyline, are spread out before me. At that moment, the breathlessness, burning thighs and my inherent hatred of early starts are absolutely, unquestionably worth it.
This is my return to Pegasus Military Fitness, and MAN, it’s good to be back.
This particular session starts at 9am on a Saturday- your first session is free, and it’s £6 a session after that. If you’re feeling ballsy, then you can pay for two sessions, one after the other, and stay on after your 9am jaunt for the 10.15-11.15am session (second sesh is called “beginners session”, but that doesn’t mean easy….). What you’re essentially signing up for is a run through Epping forest with about 20-30 other people, using a variety of equipment with some floor work to spice up your run.
For this session, we used Lazy Larry (the core bag), and an assortment of kettlebells and medicine balls, which we ran with, passed onto each other, and helped each other lug through the forest and up this glorious hill. Twice.
There are penalties for swearing, moaning, and using your mobile phone (I have hilarious footage of me begging trainer Dave not to be made to do burpees for taking a video). It’s all in jest though. Yeah you’ve got to get down on the ground and do your punishment, and yeah sometimes the whole group is made to do it too, and yeah they are all made to thank you for the extra hell, but it is highly banterous and all in good spirits.
Water is carried along by long-time Pegasus-ers, who keep up despite having a massive dead weight on their backs. I’m not gonna lie though, they seem keen for us all to drink more so their backpacks get lighter.
The group is made up of an assortment of ages and fitness abilities. There are the tall, the super fit, the short, the normal-fit (like me), people from their 20s to their 60s, military peeps, people who are recovering from injuries, and new parents…. it is really quite a special thing to spend your Saturday morning with such an eclectic crowd, all brought together for their love of the outdoors and their penchant for banter.
A special mention for the banter…. I am a HUGE fan of bants as you know, so jostling and joking around while getting some fresh air really did make the early start worth it.
At the helm of this panting, jostling, banterous, running bunch stands Pegasus founder Barry. His trademark holler of “STANDBY!” ringing out across the forest and chasing up hills is what binds this team together. His firm but fair encouragement to those of us flailing at the back, and his quips when we can’t form a circle and count to 30 without confusing ourselves are what brings this group together.
He’s created a great team around him, (including his badass wife Sarah who gets her head down and gets running, but still has time for a chat about sports wear god love ya!) and in turn made this group one of a kind.
Last year, at the Nuclear Rush, Barry waited for me at the end of a 12k obstacle race in the freezing cold, when I was covered in mud, exhausted, and crying my eyes out, despite the whole rest of the team finishing long ago. And he (gently) dragged me across the finish line, saying “we’re in this as a team”. That’s the sort of spirit that you can feel from everyone when you’re running through puddles and horse-poo on a Saturday morning.
Coming to Pegasus has made me realise that a class isn’t just the latest exercise craze, or the fancy schmancy studio (I mean, I love them but they don’t make a class alone). An enjoyable workout is made by the people running it- the people who get up when they’re tired or ill or have had a long week, to bring a group together, help them on their own personal health journey, and make them feel great about having some get up and go.
Hot Bitches out there- listen up. THIS IS GREAT. It’s a 26 minute train journey out of Liverpool street, which is shorter than the distance across London on the tube and you know it. As long as you’re on the Chingford train by 8.30am you’ll make it. It’s 6 quid a class, and your first class is free.
It is such a lovely mash-up to our usual studio or urban park workout regimes. I implore you to grab your mate, get your ass to Epping Forest, and experience an invigorating start to your weekend.
I made it- look! So can you!
How to get there:
Currently (September 2015) Trains London Liverpool Street- Chingford leave on Saturdays at 08.03 or 08.18, and the meeting place- the Chingford Plain Carpark, is less than a 5 minute walk from the station (and a very easy find). Classes (inside and outside) are also run every week day too.