“A handsome farmer made me hot and sweaty while out in the crops”, he wrote.
It’s true. The above happened. I know it just just sounds like a Tumblr story, but I met Tom Kemp out on his farm near my hometown in Essex. He has transformed his parents’ farm into what I can only describe as his playground. He has it all there; – weights, battle ropes and big tractor tires to flip. And an awesome dog called Ozzy. I took Tom’s strong man circuit and I was embarrassingly bad, to the point where I actually asked to step outside for some fresh air, forgetting I was already outside, surrounded by amazing views.
I met with Tom, who still works on his parents’ farm, while he’s not making people big and strong.
So Tom, how did you first get into Fitness?
I first started playing hockey from the age of six and got to a semi-professional level. I was playing in the premier league, in my prime, at 19, 20. So I played all through school. I also played football, rugby and I always knew I wanted to be a personal trainer, from the age from 16 and I’ve just always been active especially with the farm. I PT now up at the Raddison Blu hotel, at Stansted Airport with a few clients in the mornings and then back to the farm and work with a few clients there.
What was it about being a PT that appealed to you at the age of 15?
I remember I had a brilliant P.E. teacher at primary school, and I was sort of his star pupil. He pushed me hard and I really looked up to him and how he coached people. I always wanted to sort of please him and train really hard. I basically want to give that back to people.
How did Farm Fitness start?
I used to do a session in the gym and back in the day there was just old machinery outside. Old ploughs and bits of rope and I started just making up little strong man circuits, on my own. I made a video of it, and put it on Instagram. So only two years ago.
Wow, so really recent then?
Yeah, it’s all really new. I got so many comments when I first posted those videos. I got some great comments and people were really impressed. So I wanted to expand my career anyway, and I’d been in my old gym in London for a while and I met a lot of good people there. The gym set up there was amazing, but I was commuting from Essex to London and back, and was still trying to see clients at home. But I was looking at the rig and set up they had there, and I just got thinking, “I could do this back home, and with a lot more fresh air”. A couple of my clients from that gym, have actually now come down to Farm Fitness!
And the way you train here, you said is more like a strong man circuit? That style of working out seems to be more the ‘thing’ now?
I started training like that, the whole push/pull way, and it really worked for me. And to be honest, I got bored of the whole “chest day Monday” routine. So when I did just started playing with the big equipment outside which was more fun. But I needed to combine the two methods, so you’re still hitting your chest for example, but also getting that raw conditioning.
I guess you hit different body parts more often?
Exactly, and you can still increase your weight on certain exercises and overload on different things – to push yourself. It was also just great to get away from the fixed machines in the gym. You can only get so much from a fixed machine. I had a client down today, who found picking up a dead weight and carrying it so difficult because she was training on fixed resistance machines. But this way, you engage a lot more of the smaller muscles that surround the major muscle groups.
How popular is Farm Fitness? I came from London today and you picked me up from the station, so it does feel quite remote in deepest darkest Essex!
Ha! You’d be surprised. I will pick up a client from the train station or people come as a group – it’s only five mins away from Stansted. One of my London clients said how much better she feels working there because of the fresh air, and the outdoors concept and the surroundings. She was so baffled at how good she felt, and that feeling of being outside. She works in a busy London office but being here she felt fantastic. I mean this morning it was tipping it down but we still trained!
Oh, so you do sessions rain or shine?!
Yeah, there was a class once where it did actually snow and we had to go inside for a bit. We couldn’t grip the bars, it was that cold but then we were back out there! We’ve been lucky with the weather actually, never had to cancel a session.
What’s next for Farm Fitness?
I want it to be the next Venice beach.
But in Essex?!
If you fancy having a go at a strong man circuit over at Farm Fitness, then head to www.farmfitness.co.uk and book your self in!
This column was originally printed in Gay Times magazine.
Picture credit: Michael Chapman