Winter training has taken on a whole new meaning for Gloucestershire’s staffers as they have tried new ways of keeping fit.
Strength and conditioning coach Bob Smith has had the squad belting punch bags in the boxing gym, pulling their weight in rowing boats, sweating it out in high-intensity yoga classes and charging round the badminton court.
Seam bowler David Payne said the new approach has gone down well with the players, who are fast developing respect for other sport- ing disciplines.
“This is Bob’s first, full winter with us and he has introduced lots of fresh ideas,” said Payne.
“We have been down to the Empire Fighting Chance boxing gym working out, in boats at All Aboard Watersports, we have tried Bikram yoga and found time for swimming, badminton and the odd game of football.
“Bob has also taken us to a field near where he lives for what he calls the ‘Purdown Adventures’, which are things like dragging sledges behind you.
“It has all been new and rather refreshing.”
Smith joined the Brightside setup without any significant knowledge of cricket. His background was in tennis and how to get players in tip-top condition.
Payne said Smith wasn’t afraid to dip into other sports and the players didn’t take long to buy into the concept.
“There are many transferable skills, not just fitness but movement and flexibility that compliment what we do as cricketers,” said Payne.
Bikram yoga, holding fixed poses in a room heated to 42 degrees, is believed to improve strength and flexibility.
Boxing training builds stamina and a healthy respect for the practitioners of that sport.
“We have had a couple of sessions working on the pads and one-to-one stuff, then three minutes on the bag followed by a one-minute rest,” said Payne.
“Three minutes on the bag is tiring; imagine doing that for 12 rounds with a minute off in between?”
Rowing machines are familiar territory for the gym addicts in the squad, but rowing a boat on the river is totally different.
“There is so much more to remember when there are several of you trying to row the same boat at the same time – the first time we did it was a shambles,” said Payne.
Payne said throw in the odd six-against-six tug-of-war competition, and there is never a dull moment during winter training.
He added: “It has been varied, everyone is enjoying it and everyone can see benefits in it.”
All Aboard Watersports and Empire Fighting Chance are both sports-orientated charities working with people in and around Bristol.
Martin Bisp, founder of Empire Fighting Chance, said he was pleased to see the players benefiting from time in the boxing gym.
He added: “There is no better way to train, and if they continue with a similar workout routine, they will be fitter than ever before.”