Ahead of building work commencing on our new facility, Old School Fitness, we’ve parked Coach Champ in a coffee shop to grill him on the new place, his plans and what we can expect…
Firstly, what inspired the name ‘Old School Fitness’? Why not just call it ‘Silverback Strength’?
Silverback Strength is very much a coaching mentality more than anything. It’s a way of life for me certainly, but with Old School Fitness we wanted to offer more than just a coaching environment. More than just come here and physically become your best. With OSF, we want to become a cornerstone of the local and wider community. Simply put, it is not just a gym.
The building itself was built in 1873 and the name is a nod back to its original purpose when it was built in the 19th century as a school. There’s a lot of history around the building in Allesley Village; it’s always been a central hub for learning, until it fell derelict. We’re looking to revive that.
Tell us about the building work you’ve got ahead…
As is clear from any of the photos you’ve seen, the building is currently the polar opposite of anything you’d expect a gym to look like.
Currently, we’ve got massive internal work to get on with, improving how the building is laid out. With all the developments we’re doing, we are looking to 100% optimise the space, creating the most beneficial facility from a coaching and training point of view, whilst at the same time creating a welcoming, friendly environment that will inspire you to be your best.
Quite often, gyms are soulless and intimidating environments. When you enter Old School, you’ll be able to simultaneously see someone working hard in our training area as well as a group of people enjoying post-workout recovery in the community space.
Who or where have you drawn inspiration from when putting it all together?
The biggest inspirations on our training space come from brands like Gym Jones from the US, and definitely StrongFirst, but more than anything it’s come from the way I’ve developed my own training philosophy and developed as a coach over the years.
This space is designed to tick all of the boxes that no facility I’ve ever been in before has, whether training or coaching – we’ve all been in gyms where some things are spot on and others seem lacking. I want a place that’s perfect for how people exercise and how I train myself. I aim for perfection, not replication.
Who do you want coming through the door of this new Coventry gym?
Through my coaching experience, I’ve discovered that nobody is as black and white as we all like to make out. Whilst I have had great success with professional sports people, any one Strength Camp can be composed of teachers, stay at home mothers, lawyers, IT technicians and long distance drivers. If a person has the right mindset, they can achieve whatever they desire.
It’s all about getting the mindset right so that somebody can train to the best of his or her ability. Once you feel comfortable in an environment, then you can achieve great things regardless of training history, age, gender or body shape. This is what we want people to feel when they come in to OSF.
If you can allow yourself to let me earn your trust, then you’re in the right place.
Why should people choose to train at Old School Fitness?
There are no egos here at Silverback, and there’ll be none at OSF. We don’t hold the elitist attitude that comes with some training environments. We’re also not a budget commercial that cares more about revenue than its members; our biggest focus hands down is providing a high quality environment and service to anyone that steps through that door.
We don’t believe in resting on our laurels when it comes to providing the best space for our members. There’s a reason we’ve held off for so long in getting this place open, and it’s because we want our members to get the best experience using the best equipment available.
We won’t be cutting corners or investing in kit that will gather dust in the corner. Every piece of equipment is there to benefit every single member. We’re not wasting thousands of pounds buying 20 different types of resistance machines; we’d much rather teach our members to properly squat, to properly deadlift, to properly use kettlebells – all in order for their whole body to work in unison…as it should.
Why just target one muscle or 10% of the body, when one swing of a kettlebell works 90%? Free weights are no longer reserved in a corner for the “men’s section”. Strength is for everyone.
What value will Old School Fitness add to the local community?
There is absolutely nothing like this: not just in Allesley Village, but in the city of Coventry as a whole. As we are emphasising throughout this process, we are opening so much more than a gym. We want to create an open, safe and supportive community.
We have an open-door policy for anyone who wants to improve their own well-being, or the well-being of others.
Opening will just be the beginning.
For Coventry and Warwickshire’s fitness community: what does OSF offer compared to what’s already out there?
Our training methods are very much ‘no frills’ – we are very… old school – and that will be reflected in the space and the kit. With us you get what your body needs to work to its best ability. There will be loads of free space to execute this.
Whatever your goal is, promotion at the end of your rugby season, completing a Tough Mudder, or just looking and feeling better naked, functional strength training is the best way to achieve this. There has been a change over the last couple of years and people are starting to realise this, and now we need a purpose-built facility to catch up with this new attitude towards training.