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“I’m not very popular for 45 minutes”

“I’m not very popular for 45 minutes”

Photographer:Fotograaf: Loraine Bodewes

Sports instructor at UM Sports

Tom Phillips/ 25/is from Great Britain and currently learning Dutch to be able to continue with the master’s in Medicine/ works on average 10 hours per week/ earns sixteen euros per hour

“Three, two, one, and… go!”, “keep it up, 15 more seconds!”, “keep going, come on!”, “we’re almost done with the first round!”. Tom Phillips, sports instructor at UM Sports, tirelessly encourages his group of participants for 45 minutes. He keeps an eye on the fitness area, but also teaches various group classes, including a programme called ‘Omnia’ and today’s circuit training class. In both programmes, participants cycle through various exercises designed to target all major muscle groups and boost endurance. “The main difference between the two is that our circuit training class doesn’t involve a climbing frame, so we only use steps, free weights and heavy ropes.”

“Try to push yourself! This is your workout!”

Phillips was already a familiar face at UM Sports before he started working there. He used to participate in the Omnia classes so often people called him ‘Tomnia’. “I was looking for a side job and asked around a bit. I was quickly hired because of my familiarity with the gym and trainings. I really enjoy teaching the class, but I like participating in them even better. I usually try to squeeze in a work out before or after my classes.”

 “Another round! It’s only 45 seconds!”

Around five PM, Phillips walks in with four sheets of paper. Before placing them at various points in the room, he turns on the music. “I can’t get started without music.” The circuit consists of four sections or stations: “We’ll have a kettlebell station over here, one with heavy ropes over there, and then two more sections with free weights and steps. Each station involves three exercises of 45 seconds each. After a short 15-second break, the next one begins.” Phillips walks through the room, checks his sheets of paper and sets up the stations. “If people are early, I ask them to help out.” Unfortunately, the first participants only come in when everything has already been set up. Ten people show up in total, all women. “Yesterday there were 32 people. It’s always busier on Monday.”

“I know you’re tired. Don’t give up! This is how you get stronger!”

There are skipping ropes lying in the middle of the room. The participants are immediately put to work; they skip until 5:15. Then Phillips turns up the music and takes off his zip-up sweatshirt: it’s warm-up time. “Let’s do a number game. When I yell one, we pump our legs ten times bringing you knees above your waist. On two, we lie down on the floor, chest down, and get up as quickly as possible. On three, we lie down on our backs instead. On four we jump into the air and bring our feet up as high as we can and on five we pump our feet up and down very quickly. Ready? One, three, two, five, four, four, four, two, two, two…”

“Halfway there! Don’t give up!”

“I get a lot of freedom, which makes the work so enjoyable. I’m completely free to design my own classes, from the exercises to the music. I select exercises I like doing myself, but I always ask for feedback on the exercises as well as the music at the end of class. Sometimes participants want to do certain exercises or focus on specific muscle groups. I always try to accommodate their requests. If a participant can’t do an exercise because of an injury, I come up with an alternative for them on the spot.”

“Three more exercises, you can do this!”

Once everyone has cycled through the twelve exercises, Phillips flips over the pages. More exercises! Four more to be precise, two more circuits. A ‘simple’ shoulder press, but also walking in a crouch with a weight: the chicken walk. It looks easier than it is.

“Don’t give me those looks, you can do this!”

Reactions are mixed during class. “I’m usually not very popular for 45 minutes, but after the cool-down people are always happy to have come. I once had a girl tell me to fuck off when I was cheering her on. At the end of the class she thanked me and gave me a hug.”




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