x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

External success begins with developing what's on the inside

Inner Fight's Marcus Smith says his exercise programme achieves real results for his clients.

Marcus Smith, the owner of Inner Fight, works with one of his clients. Antonie Robertson / The National
Marcus Smith, the owner of Inner Fight, works with one of his clients. Antonie Robertson / The National

Back in 2008, Marcus Smith launched his exercise regime advice website as a way of promulgating his passion for keeping fit with the world at large.

These days, www.innerfight.com is a massively popular portal for the country's fitness community, and it's not unusual at any given gym to see people following his specifically designed regimes to the letter.

Smith, a 33-year-old British former professional rugby player, moved to Dubai in 2004 because his wife worked for Emirates Airline.

Originally, the site was just a hobby that competed with his day job at an international sports goods company. But, such was its popularity, in 2010 he quit to concentrate fully on the website and his personal training business.

Each week he takes to his website to announce five different daily plans for people to follow by themselves in their gyms. He also posts these via Twitter to his 800 followers.

As a contender in the forthcoming CrossFit World's Fittest Man competition in South Korea and a highly qualified fitness instructor, his credentials are not in doubt.

Nevertheless, is it really possible to come up with a ubiquitous training regime to fit everyone? In between swigs of a murky-looking protein shake in the Evolve Gym in Satwa, Dubai, Smith argues his case.

"The thing about my programme is that you can change the weights or change the speeds according to your fitness level or what your goals are," he contends.

"So, I've had people who want to use weight, or build up muscle or get to a fitness level to run a marathon say they've found it helpful. I've had people from 60 years old to six-year-old kids using my programme, and they've all shown improvements."

Smith goes on to explain how he chooses each exercise technique.

"All the workouts are between 30 and 40 minutes and they all use quite simple movements. So, if you're in and out of the gym quickly, it doesn't use overly complicated equipment or moves and it will give you a good workout in a short time."

While the spartan lifestyle Smith lives himself gives him an extraordinary degree of fitness, he estimates most people don't aspire to reach his levels.

"I think the majority of people just want a basic level of fitness," he says. "But also, they want to enjoy themselves - nice food, nights out with friends and the like. If they follow my programme seriously, I'm confident they can have a good level of fitness and still live the lifestyle they want."

And he claims that, generally, he has received positive support from the public at large.

"You know, I get emails from people saying, 'I've started your training three weeks ago and my life has changed'. But equally, I do get plenty of criticism, both locally and internationally. People say what I do is a little bit extreme. They ask, 'Why do you need to push yourself that hard?' I admit it is just my opinion really and I'm not saying that I'm definitely right. But it's difficult for people to argue that I'm wrong because I think my fitness levels are proof that it works."

As well as the website, Smith also personally trains a handful of clients, both professional sportsmen and keen amateurs, and runs exercise classes.

Yet, he remains realistic that not everyone will respond to the Inner Fight ethos. "As it's free, the website is kind of like my service to the community. If they benefit from it, that's awesome. If they don't, it's no skin off my nose."

An Inner Fight workout is not for the faint of heart. All workouts can be done in 30 to 40 minutes. One recent line-up demanded 250 metres on a rowing machine, 10 dead lifts, 10 shoulder presses, 30 squats, then two 45-second planks on each side. For more information, go to www.innerfight.com, email winning@innerfight.com or follow @InnerFight on Twitter.