The Sunday Times: Katie Glass: want to lose weight and cure heartbreak? Start weightlifting

Fed up with binge-eating and gaining weight, Katie Glass reluctantly signed up for a 12-week boot camp where you train with a group. Could she stay the course?

How did I get so fat? Where do you want to begin? The comfort eating? The yo-yo diets? The operation last year that trapped me in bed for two months? After which, comatose on morphine and watching The Sopranos, I felt my last muscle wasting to fat. Then, recently, I broke up with my boyfriend and started a new relationship with Häagen-Dazs. Whatever my excuse, here I am: overweight in my thirties and in need of a fix.

I have done diets before. Boy, have I done diets. I’ve done more of them than Bruce Forsyth did tap-dance routines. I have tried boot camps, paleo, keto, LighterLife, vegetarianism, Slimfast (and fags). I’ve flown to the Mayr clinic in Switzerland and spent a week living on Epsom salts and colonics. I hope this fitness journey might involve a luxury resort where I can spa myself thin. Unfortunately, my editor has other ideas.

Evolve Fitness is a strip-lit basement gym in London’s financial district. It is an area buzzing with City boys who aspire to look like Brad Pitt in Fight Club. Evolve specialises in 12-week muscle-building body transformations. In three months, they can (possibly) get me ripped.


Image: James Cannon

Evolve’s gym has one treadmill, one rower and one bike. The rest of it bangs with men pumping iron and making sex noises. The course I’m enrolled on, Evolve’s Warrior Tribe programme, promises “one of the toughest experiences of your life”. “Can you eat, sleep and train like a warrior?” the blurb in their brochure asks. I find myself answering out loud: “No.” Absolutely worst of all, it is a group programme. If there is one thing I hate more than working out, it’s doing it with other people.

At the first session, I meet my group. I’m one of 10 “warriors”: Chris, Alex, Tim, Rob, Hasnain, Minjoo, Emma, Javier and Jojo. Most of them work in the City and already look suspiciously fit. Our trainer, Lee, who looks like Kit Harington on steroids, gives us a name: the Spartans. We are put on a fancy machine that hums lift music while scanning your body to measure weight, muscle density and fat percentage. I am too ashamed to tell you the results. Lee takes my “before” pictures and I cannot look. Then we are issued with our diet for the first two weeks: there will be no booze, no carbs — and therefore no potatoes, pasta, bread or grains — and no sugar, including fruit. We will eat only lean protein (chicken, turkey, tuna), occasional fatty protein (steak, salmon, nuts) and leafy greens. Anything that adds taste, such as mustard, is verboten. Rob asks what he can put on a stir-fry and Lee suggests “air”. Days will consist not of breakfast, lunch and dinner but meals one to five. Meal one might be two steaks and eggs. Meal three, a protein shake. “Food is fuel,” says Lee, who is the anti-Nigella. “Not everything has to taste good.”

Our first week involves three hour-long sessions, each taken by a different expert beefcake. Workouts revolve around a weightlifting programme that comprises compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups — such as squats and deadlifts, which simultaneously work the glutes, quads and core — and exercises that focus on specific muscles, such as triceps dips, or walking lunges for hamstrings.

Everyone in my group is fitter than me and worryingly enthusiastic. Emma, Javier, Rob and Jojo have done the programme before (which feels like cheating). Minjoo runs triathlons. Still, during the first session I keep up through a series of push-ups, sit-ups, biceps curls and squats. After, I am sweating profusely, but full of energy and feeling smug. This is going to be easy!

My entire body hurts. My arms are agony, my legs torture. My ass, in particular, is killing me, presumably because I’ve never moved it before. My stomach twinges in a place where my abs must live.


Feature Image: James Cannon

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