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Truck pull gets disabled strongman ready for world championships

Truck pull gets disabled strongman ready for world championships
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Truck pull gets disabled strongman ready for world championships
Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications by Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications
Owner/Director - Sharp Minds Communications Ltd

It’s not every day you see the UK’s strongest disabled man pulling a 7.5-tonne truck outside your office, but that’s what happened at Milton Keynes Business Centre recently.  It was part of Mark Smith’s training for the 2017 World Championships, and was carried out at his home gym, CapitalSpace customer Smash Physical Training.

Former Grenadier Guard Mark Smith will be defending his title as the world’s strongest disabled man in the seated category at the international competition at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on 3 September.  A veteran of two tours of Afghanistan as well as Iraq, he had his leg amputated above the knee after a live firing accident during a training exercise in Canada in 2010.  

When Mark started bodybuilding and then competing for strongman competitions, he turned to fellow former Grenadier, Rob Creighton.  A full-time firefighter since leaving the army in 2004, Rob had also been running SmashPT on a part-time, mobile basis since 2007, taking a unit at CapitalSpace’s Milton Keynes Business Centre two years ago.  

Inventive training

“Because of how Mark trains and the different types of events the athletes have to do on the day, a lot

of his training is improvised,” Robs explains.  “I have worked with him to come up with ideas for things he can do that will provide the right sort of training for the events.  For example, we don’t normally have a truck to hand so he pulls tyres, as they have sufficient friction to replicate a truck pull.”

But there was no need for inventiveness when Screwfix lent one of their trucks for the day to help with Mark’s training.  “Screwfix were fantastic,” said Rob.  “They even paid their driver, Micheal Copeland, who also served in the Grenadier guards and competes in body building, a day rate to come down and drive the truck.

Not your average gym

SmashPT is a great fit for Mark because it’s not your average gym. “We don’t have treadmills and cross trainers; it’s all weights and equipment that people can use to train,” explains Rob.  Mark stores some specific equipment there that is unique to his strongman training, including Atlas stones, a log press and a yoke, and trains to his own timetable.  Other gym members attend group classes or work on a 1:1 basis with the personal trainers.

Rob has a team of trainers; like him, they work shifts, so there’s always someone available to cover classes when Rob is doing his day job.  But with two children as well, running SmashPT in his spare time is still a major commitment: “I do it because I love it. I love things like today's strongman event: we had 10 of the strongest disabled men in the country down at SmashPT pulling trucks!!  But I also enjoy the process of coaching someone who can’t pick something up and within one session we’ve got them moving properly, which is the first thing we need to correct so they’re not susceptible to injury.”

Committed members, successful athletes

SmashPT doesn’t target the "six-week-abs" or "beach-body" gym goers.  The nearly 100 members are all in it for the long haul, which means that Mark is not the only Smash-lete who is at the top of his game: fire fighter Ania Czerminksa won Skoda's UK Tough Mother competition, while Red Bull dirt jumper Matt Jones is in the top ten in the world in his sport.

“When we’re working with people like Matt, we can’t teach them how to ride the bike better –  that’s down to his skill and intuition – so our job is to try and bullet proof them for their sport so they don’t get injuries, and when they do they return quickly”.

Hopefully, Mark’s training – including his truck pull – will keep him injury free and propel him to regaining his world title in London next month.  We wish him every success!   

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