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Progress Never Stops: Zack George

Sometimes our lives are affected by things we can’t control. Periods of anxiety or depression. The loss of a loved one. A worldwide pandemic. When things start to go awry, it can be hard to stay on track, but the mark of an athlete is to stay strong in the face of adversity. 

Professional athlete and the UK’s Fittest Man, Zack George spoke to us about overcoming the setbacks he faced after missing out on his biggest competition to date due to Covid-19, proving that whatever life throws at you, progress never stops.

 

Hi Zack, you’ve made quite the scene on the functional fitness circuit, but when was your first experience of fitness or sport?

My earliest memory of fitness was when I wanted to lose weight. I started watching loads of YouTube videos about how to lose weight and tried to mimic them in my bedroom, probably with little success.  

 

What was the key factor in you turning to fitness in your younger days? 

The key factor for me was always centered around weight loss. I was a very overweight kid. I wasn’t confident about my body or about how I looked, so that was the catalyst that made me want to get into fitness. 

Zack George Raw Training Zack wears Raw Training Shorts

What impact do you think these early years have had on your outlook on fitness and the way you live your life today? 

The impact of being an overweight kid is huge. I can empathise with people that want to get fit. I’ve been on that journey myself and I’ve been able to turn it around. It’s made me extremely motivated and taught me to respect the body that I have now. It’s taken a lot to get me to the shape I am in. I’m not naturally built this way. I’ve had to work hard at it.  

It’s taken a lot to get me to the shape I am in. I’m not naturally built this way. I’ve had to work hard at it.  

You attributed your lifestyle change to a motivational seminar when you were young, how did you feel after this? 

It was an Anthony Robertson seminar, and it was all about health, wellbeing, motivation, mindset, and nutrition. Before that, I was extremely lazy and loved eating fast foodeating it four or five times a week, plus a massive bag of Haribo every day. After the seminar, I literally felt like I could conquer the world. I was so motivated. It was a massive turning point and got me on a big health kick for the rest of my life.  

 

Zack George Raw Training Zack George wears Raw Training Shorts and T-shirt

 

What changed mentally to develop this newfound love for keeping fit? 

After that seminar, I noticed a massive change in myself and in my attitude. It was the first time I wanted to get fit and healthy for myself. When I was younger my dad offered me a Playstation 2 in return for trying to lose weight, so I had an external source that was motivating me. But after that seminar, I didn’t need any external source to give me the motivation. 

 

How did this change of mindset help you get to where you are today? 

That change of mindset had a massive impact on my life. I don’t think I’d be where I am today if that hadn’t happened. Back then I wasn’t in the right mindset to have been able to achieve what I have now. It set me on a path to being confident and motivated and it put me in the mindset that if you put your mind to something you want to achieve, you can achieve it. Work hard and you will get there.  

 

Was it a gradual introduction to the gym via other sports or did you discover functional fitness right away?  

I found functional fitness by watching a YouTube video of the 2013 games. It looked absolutely insane and I fell in love with the sport. Straight away set a goal that I wanted to compete at the games one day. 

 

Was the slow growth and accessibility of functional training in the UK challenging when you first started training?  

When I first got into functional fitness it wasn’t that popular. There weren’t many boxes around my area, so I had to drive about an hour to get to a box. It enabled me to only train twice a week, which has a massive impact on your progression within the sport.  

Zack George Raw Training Zack George wears Raw Training Tank

Functional training workouts are intense and look painful, what is the feeling you get that makes you want to do it over and over again? 

People on the outside look at our sport and it looks a bit crazy. But I love the mental aspect of going into the gym and thinking “I’m going to put myself into a hole and test myself to see if I can complete this workout.” The sense of achievement after you go through a 30-minute session where you’re pretty much dying all the way through, but coming out stronger is a massive confidence boost for me, and that’s why I love doing it.

The sense of achievement after you go through a 30-minute session where you’re pretty much dying all the way through, but coming out stronger is a massive confidence boost for me, and that’s why I love doing it.

Progress takes time, patience and consistent hard work. How did you keep yourself motivated on your goal of getting to the games?  

I manage to keep myself motivated for two reasons. One, because I’m an extremely motivated person anyway- I have a goal of competing at the games, and that is my everyday aim. Every day I go to the gym and better myself. As long as I’m progressing each day, that’s good enough for me.  

Secondly, I have a great support team around me. That has a massive impact on any athlete. If you have people around you that encourage you on those days where you don’t want to train it makes a big difference to anyone’s motivation.  

 

To get to the top level how many times a week do you need to train? 

I train twice a day, five days a week, and once a day, two times a week. Every day I’m training. The level of intensity will change depending on the day.  

 

Do these intense hours seem like a sacrifice from other things in your life? 

Competing and trying to get to top level at any sport takes sacrifice. I think that you have to be selfish in some respectsWhen you’re peaking for a competition you can’t just go out with your friends and eat whatever you want to eat, or socialise until one or two in the morning. But it’s a sacrifice that I’ve always been willing to take, and it’s never really been a sacrifice for me because I’m so motivated and I want to achieve the goals that I’ve set myself.  

Competing and trying to get to top level at any sport takes sacrifice. I think that you have to be selfish in some respects.

What do you class as success? 

Success is different for everyone. For me, if you have a goal that you set out to achieve and you achieve it, I’d class that as a success. Just progressing every single day is also a success. If you’re working towards your goal, I’d class that as a success.

 

Zack George Raw Training Sam wears Raw Training Bra and Leggings

 

How do you measure progress? 

I measure progress by results. I set myself yearly goals. If I have achieved those goals then I have progressed. Within training, if I PR a certain session, again that’s progression. I can progress every single day, but I can also progress massively within 6-8 months in setting goals that I want to achieve.  

For me, if you have a goal that you set out to achieve and you achieve it, I’d class that as success. Just progressing every single day is also a success. If you’re working towards your goal, I’d class that as a success.

Who inspires you today?  

My inspiration has always been my parents. I’ve always looked up to them as I’ve grown up and they’ve always been a huge inspiration to me in business, in mindset, in what they’ve achieved and I’m very fortunate to have such great parents that I look up to.  

Having Sam, my partner, training alongside me every day was massive. The workouts I do are very painful physically and mentally. If any athlete tells you they’re 100% motivated to train on their own every single day I’d find that quite hard to believe. Having Sam there on the days where I don’t feel like pushing myself is great. She’s there giving me a kick up the bum saying “come on, let’s do this together.”  

 

 Tell us how it felt when you found out you wouldn’t be going to the games?  

When I found out that I wasn’t competing at the games I was very disappointed. It’s been a seven year long, hard journey to qualify. When I finally did it, I felt ecstatic. It was a lifelong dream. For that to be taken away was very disappointing, but I quickly shifted my mindset. I thought “Ok, I’m not competing at the games, but there are a lot of people worse off in this pandemic, and I’m just going to destroy it [ at the games] next year. 

When I found out that I wasn’t competing at the games I was very disappointed. It’s been a seven year long, hard journey to qualify. When I finally did it, I felt ecstatic. It was a lifelong dream. For that to be taken away was very disappointing, but I quickly shifted my mindset. I thought “Ok, I’m not competing at the games, but there are a lot of people worse off in this pandemic, and I’m just going to destroy it [ at the games] next year.

With gyms closing, I imagine there’s been a massive shift in your plans, how did you adapt your training?  

I had to get the best training I could at home. I took as much kit to my house as possible. [I had] the mindset of “you can only control what you can control.” I couldn’t do gymnastics at home, so I focused on fitness and lifting and kept those aspects as strong as possible.  

 

How did you maintain that level of inspiration to the people you help train while being distanced from everything?  

Zoom became a big part of everyone’s life during lockdown. During the lockdown I couldn’t train with my usual training partners, so we all got on Zoom together and kept the same routine we did at the gym. Sticking to the same routine really helped everyone, including myself.  

 

Zack George Raw Training Zack wears Raw Training Hoodie and Joggers

What do you think the biggest challenge was you faced during lockdown?  

The biggest challenge for me was missing my training partners. You can train via Zoom, but it doesn’t have the same atmosphere as having 30 people in a gym all screaming for you to PR a lift or a fitness workout. Adapting to training alone or just with Sam was the biggest shift I had to deal with mentally.  

 

What’s next for you?  

My focus is on qualifying for the games again and actually being able to live a dream and finally compete there. I’m definitely a lot more motivated than I was last year because I’ve achieved that goal and had it taken away, so I want to get there a lot more convincingly next year.  

 

 

 Zack George and Sam Brown wear clothes from MP’s Raw Training Collection.
Want to know more about the collection? Check out our interview with designer Lloyd Husband. 

Designer Q&A: Raw Training Collection

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Designer Q&A: Raw Training Collection

2020-10-26 08:51:49By Georgie Gilbert

Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice.



Georgie Gilbert

Georgie Gilbert

Writer and expert

Georgie is a Fashion Marketing and Communications MA graduate originally from the south. After University she went on to work in Sports for a leading sports equipment manufacturer, where she was lucky enough to work with world-class athletes, top trainers, and inspiring customers alike before taking the experience forward to MP. A somewhat reluctant early bird, Georgie manages to drag herself to the gym most mornings for 7:00 am HIIT sessions or weight training under the watchful eyes of a virtual PT. For some reason, Saturday night takeout always tastes better when accompanied by DOMS.