After a decade of keeping people active with his outdoor circuit training sessions at Braddan School, personal trainer and founder of KUTA fitness classes, Roger Davies, is bringing them to a close this week.
Since gaining a reputation as one of the toughest sessions on the island, no surprise when you learn the origin of the name is ‘Kick Up The Arse,’ the class started in 2011 and has since seen members compete in every competition going; including the Parish, Tough MANN, IRONMAN triathlons and ‘The World’s Toughest Mudder.’ Roger said: ‘I started KUTA when I noticed that there weren’t any classes for the high end fitness market who want to be pushed further, I began it as the sort of class that I would want to attend and could be a valuable part of someone’s week.’
Members of the class are known for turning up the island’s sporting events in their #UYTP (Unlock Your True Potential) t-shirts, Roger says they began at the first ‘ToughMANN’ event in 2013 when 72 of the 350 participants were from KUTA: ‘I just thought we should get some t-shirts made for it and we actually found that loads of other people would ask what the hashtag meant, it’s not promoting the class or anything, just a simple message that anyone can get behind.’ Although the group effort of KUTA members has created what Roger calls ‘a lot of myths’ around what goes on during sessions, he says that ‘It’s just a well organised class and we like to support local events, people think what they think but, in reality, we just enjoy taking part.’
The classes have even picked up a few honorary members to pull on a UYTP t-shirt along the way, including Dame Kelly Holmes, Eddie The Eagle and three other Olympians, as well as history makers like Katherine Switzer, the first woman to officially complete the Boston Marathon in the face of opposition from the organisers, and father-son running duo Dick and Rick Hoyt, who signed on to the message shortly before Dick passed away. Roger said the Hoyt’s, who competed together in marathons and triathlons as Team Hoyt with Dick supporting Rick, who has cerebral palsy, in special wheelchairs, bicycles and boats, were some of his dream athletes to reach out to due to their inspirational story.
Each honourable member comes with a personal story like the Hoyts, Roger said: ’Explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes joined after I saw he was taking part in the Marathon des Sables, something which I’d done a couple years earlier. I decided to reach out to him and tell him my story, how I was inspired by him and that I was following his progress. He got back to me shortly after and said I was the only person to actually ask how he was during the event and he would happily have a t-shirt which meant a lot to me.’
The class has become an important part of life for many of its members with babies, relationships and marriages stemming from KUTA, including Roger’s own.
Michelle’s marriage to Roger came after she joined the class and she’s been a loyal attendee ever since, now joining those who are sad to see it go, she said: ‘People are devastated that it’s ending because there’s not really anything else like it but they understand it’s for a good reason, Roger wants to be able to focus more on the boys as they approach their GCSE years.’
The decision to end the class on the 8th comes as it nears 1,900 sessions without ever cancelling, ignoring the forced break due to COVID social-distancing restrictions. The 1,900 number is just one of the impressive statistics from KUTA, alongside the fact that 80% of KUTA participants who entered the Parish Walk finished the whole thing.
The KUTA Facebook page currently displays a broad range of testimonials from attendees explaining how much it has meant to them and helped them in their fitness journeys. Speaking of the ethic of turning up every Thursday for ten years, no matter the conditions, and helping others reach their goals, Roger modestly said: ‘The classes have been a bit of a one man band sometimes, I prepare for them in advance, bring all the equipment to the school and pack up afterwards, but to me, it’s just my work.’