James Haskell is many things. Not only as he just competed for England in one of the most hotly contested Six Nations I’ve seen in years (and won it, with record breaking results) he is also a man mountain.
Yeah, I know being an international Rugby player helps and it’s sort of his job to be in top physical shape but I also found out that James is now into a fitness craze called F45. I wanted to find out more about it so I got the chance to speak to the big man himself.
Nice to speak to you James! So as well as being an England rugby pro, you’re also an ambassador for a HIIT group exercise program?
Yeah, F45 is a training system that started back over in Australia and has gone all around the world. I think there are around 300 franchises all over the world now. My first experience of F45 was out in LA and there was a group of 20-30 people in the class. I didn’t know anyone and they just put us through our paces and their workout was hard, well it’s as hard as you want to work. Everyone was really going for it; I really loved the whole atmosphere. I had the opportunity to hook up with them again when they thought about bringing it to the UK. What I really liked about it, is if you’re an elite athlete or someone just starting to think about exercise it really caters for all abilities. It has the pros of a team sport without getting knocked around. I really enjoyed it and was just keen to get involved again and help open a few places myself.
As a sports person, and in particular being a rugby player, how does it affect your game and your training?
I guess whether it’s rugby or football, this would be good for you. You know, in one of those high-intensity sports where you may have periods of action – three or four minutes of intense work – then this would be really useful for you. In F45 you train intensely for 45 seconds, rest for 15 – so you have that high focused work. I unfortunately don’t get to do an F45 session very often but I do get to do a similar circuit style training everyday. Where you do different combinations of exercises over different periods. Which can help you with your repeat efforts over time, which can make a big difference to what you do. For me you’re running, lifting, tackling and with F45 doing box jumping, into TRX rows and then into crawling – all these kind of things are great for me. But in terms of getting shape, it’s great for fat burning and improving your fitness. But yeah, in terms of being a sports person it’s great as it does mimic the experience you have while out on the field.
What would your advice be to people looking to join a F45 class? Would people be intimidated by how full-on it sounds?
There are different classes that suit different abilities. You’re going to meet new people, and people in the same boat as you. Everyone’s very accepting of mixed abilities. You don’t have to be in super shape. It’s for people aged between 18 and 65. There’s a class down in London Bridge and it’s really mixed, and on different days, there are different themes. The other day down there it was fancy dress! It’s a super accessible and open thing, you know. You just pick the class you want to go to, head down there and smash it out. Have your shower, and leave!
So you’re in the middle of the Six Nations tournament at the moment. What’s the mood like in the camp?
We just have to keep focused and you know, the Six Nations is a big occasion.
With the tournament having such national interest, does that ever affect your training?
No, not at all. You have the supporters who support the team and there’s no sideshow that goes with that. A lot of players have been in the tournament before for the guys who have never done it before; it’s for the job of us senior players to enlighten them. Training has a big intensity to it anyway and it’s about delivering what we want to do and not what the other team wants to do, so to not pay it much attention.
Would you say you’re one of those senior players guiding the younger ones through?
Well, I’m the oldest player on the squad at the moment so if I’m not one of those senior players then something has gone terribly wrong! We have a good group of senior players at the moment who are always there to lead by example.
So when you’re pranking or stories online with other players, does that filter down too then??
My pranking?! What pranking is this?!
Yeah! You know, all the stuff on Instagram with Owen Farrell. And you’re special best friend relationship.
Haha. Well, we can’t be working all the time…so I mess around a bit yeah and that all started down in Australia. I’m not sure how much a part of it Owen actually wanted to be involved but, yeah, it captured the imagination of a few people! You do have to find a way to break up the time away on tour sometimes.
This article was originally printed in Gay Times magazine.