Farming and fitness go hand in hand. Fuelled by clean country air, farmers get a daily workout as they haul heavy feed bags, run after stubborn sheep and push silage up to hungry cattle.
Essex farmer’s son and personal trainer Tom Kemp has taken agriculture’s relationship with exercise to an intense new level with Farm Fitness – a gym with a unique concept.
Tom has blended his farming background with his love of training to create a raw and exciting outdoor environment for people of all strengths and abilities to get fit.
He took a dilapidated corner of the yard at the family’s 240ha arable farm near Dunmow, used as a machinery dumping ground, and transformed it into a bespoke workspace.
Custom-made equipment sits alongside items commonly found lying around the farm, such as old tractor tyres that would otherwise have been thrown away.
Tom Kemp put Farmers Weekly‘s Community Editor Oli Hill through his paces with a workout designed to help farmers improve their strength and fitness using items regularly found at home.
Watch the video below to see the full workout and click on the link underneath the video to go the step-by-step guide to each of the exercises.
An adjacent shed left as relic of his grandfather’s old piggery has been given a new lease of life as a more conventional indoor gym, for when extreme weather makes it unsafe to train outside.
Success has been rapid for Farm Fitness, with Men’s Health naming it as one of the world’s best gyms.
Tom’s enthusiasm for fitness was sparked when he got into playing hockey at a regional level, competing in the sport’s premier league and this spurred him on to become a qualified personal trainer.
“I’ve lived on the farm all my life and work at harvest and do some land work, but Dad suggested an additional route for myself following my sport,” he says.
“My sporting career gave me the discipline and mindset while my farm background gave me the work ethic to create a top-class gym.”
Inspired by the physicality of farm work, Tom had a bespoke rig built with multiple attachments and has designed exercise regimes that replicate farming activities, such as carrying heavy buckets of feed.
“You can expect to see real results,” he adds. “Our exercises make everyday chores and activities seem easier.”
He adds that stretching and maintaining mobility is of real importance for everyone but especially farmers who spend a lot of time sitting in a tractor cab.
That’s why the real-world strength exercises he advocates can help stave off weaknesses and ailments commonly suffered by farmers, such as dodgy knees and backs.
A balanced and varied diet that avoids processed foods forms the base for a killer workout, with meat and dairy products a cornerstone of this.
Tom stresses that nutrition is a massive factor when training, as it influences the body’s performance and the results gained from exercise.
If you’ve ever watched World’s Strongest Man on TV then you might recognise some of the moves, although they have been scaled down to suit the average person rather than the Incredible Hulk.
It’s hugely popular too. In the second week of January alone 26 people braved the chilly conditions to get a decent workout, supported by Farm Fitness mascot Ozzy the Collie who is never far from Tom’s side.
“Dad loves the diversification and seeing people come down to get active on the farm,” says 25-year-old Tom.
He believes the great outdoors is conducive to a positive mentality when working out, which is part of the reason why rat-race Londoners flock to the farm to get their fitness fix in a rural setting.
In the summer months, the hustle and thrum of combines munching crops in nearby fields forms a pleasing backdrop to sessions.
“I actually used to work in a gym that was underground and there was no natural light at all – it was depressing,” he explains.
Tom has big plans for the future of this niche but in-demand farm diversification, as he looks to build up his client base and reach more people.
“I want to show that you don’t have to have expensive equipment to get a good workout. We’re often using old tyres, straw bales and chains,” he says.
“What we’re doing here is quirky and unique but it really does get results and people love it.”
His vision is to expand the concept and look into the potential for franchising his idea out to other farms and he’s also building up a range of Farm Fitness branded sportswear.
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Have you got an interesting or quirky diversification on your farm? If you’ve got an experience that you think community editor Oli Hill should try, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.