Matthew Jenkin escapes the treadmill and burns up the pavement with London gay and lesbian running group the Frontrunners during his Olympic body challenge
Whether it’s dashing for a train or having to sprint to a meeting when you’re late, like many Londoners, I feel like I spend my life running.
So when I joined international gay and lesbian running club the Frontrunners for a circuit around one of the UK capital’s most beautiful parks, I felt like a fish to water.
For three months, and with the help of the UK and Europe’s number one nutrition brand, Maximuscle, I have been working out in the gym around four times a week and sticking to a healthy and nutritious diet, in the hope of achieving the ripped and shredded physique of an athlete before the Olympics long jump into London’s East End.
But despite the buzz of pumping iron and imagining I’m Madonna in a pink leotard squatting in time to Hung Up, let’s face it, gym sessions can get monotonous at times.
So, there is definitely something very liberating about breaking out of the four walls of my local fitness center and actually running to get somewhere other than the end of Britney’s greatest hits album on my iPhone.
Less Speedy Gonzalez and more Forest Gump, with fewer chocolates and more surprises, I jogged happily along with the 20 or so other fresh air fiends who have chosen to ditch the treadmill for the pavements, feeling the breeze on my face and the city beneath my feet.
While I have always enjoyed the dual benefits of getting fit and sightseeing which outdoor running offers, for me it’s always been a solitary pursuit, where I can shut out the world and lose myself in my surroundings and some good music.
It was, therefore, a surprise when I found myself not only loving chatting to a fellow running buddy who kindly chaperoned me on the route from Westminster Bridge to Battersea Park and back, but also pushed to run faster, further and harder by the energy of the group and the promise of a knees up in the pub afterward.
But I’m not the only one motivated by running in a group.
Runner James Gillanders joined the Frontrunners about five years ago.
‘The London marathon used to go by my house in Shad Thames and so I was inspired to run one myself.
‘I entered the Stockholm marathon but had never run before. So I joined the Frontrunners to get fit and get in shape for it.
‘Running in a group is very motivational, but it’s also the social side,’ said the 34-year-old, who completed this year's London marathon two weeks ago.
However, while the Frontrunners are open to everyone of all abilities, the club has a string of trophies under its belt and is definitely taken seriously.
‘It’s not just a whole load of queens running round a park,’ Gillanders added.
Inspired by Patricia Nell Warren’snovel, the first Frontrunners running club was established in San Francisco in 1974, quickly followed by LA’s West Hollywood and then cities across the US, Canada and beyond.
There are currently over 100 Frontrunner clubs around the world, all affiliated to the International Frontrunners organization.
While the operation and activities of the different clubs vary from city to city, most have regular weekly runs followed by a social get-together at a local restaurant or bar.
The London Frontrunners are always looking for new members and are calling for more women to join.
So whether you are a tourist or a local, put on a pair of good runners, limber up and get ready to see your home city at a heart racing pace.
Along with a healthy diet plan recommended by Maximuscle nutritionist Gareth Nicholas, I have been working out three or four times a week, including taking the Maximuscle Promax Diet shake and Thermobol and CLA-1000 supplements.
Follow my Olympic body challenge progress on Twitter @matthewjenkin
Maximuscle, the UK and Europe’s no.1 sports nutrition brand. Protein is essential to help aid recovery and build muscle size and strength. Maximuscle products enable their athlete’s to optimize their training and performance by combining the best ingredients, best science and research. For more information visit www.maximuscle.com
Maximuscle is the UK’s leading sports nutrition brand. The Hemel Hempstead-based company, which is part of the GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) owned Maxinutrition group, Maximuscle is now the choice of over 1,000 elite athletes and professional sports teams including the England and Wales Cricket Board, the Welsh Rugby Union, the Rugby Football Union, Everton Football Club, London Wasps and Northampton Saints, as well as individuals such as Courtney Lawes, Stuart Broad, and European gymnastics champion, Daniel Keatings. For more information visit www.maximuscle.com