You’d be embarrassed to pull most training guides out at the gym, never mind leave them lying around your pad. Those by UVU Club however look more like a high-end style biannual than a disturbingly veiny copy of bodybuilding bible Flex. Indeed, the half flap on the covers was directly inspired by an old Ai Weiwei magazine. That UVU’s guides come sealed in silver foil only adds to the freshness.
“I’m very big on design and packaging — the type that you don’t even want to open because it looks so good,” says Adi Gillespie, founder of UVU and fitness influencer. “For me, having a quality book in hand enhances the user experience before any pages are even turned. We live in an experience culture: people want to feel like they’ve bought into more than just another throwaway commodity. If a bit of additional attention to detail stirs up increased enthusiasm in the reader, then it has done its job.” Pre-order copies of the guides sold out inside an hour when they went online last month.
UVU is a “collective of like-minded individuals” at different levels but with the same commitment to self-improvement and positivity. “We organize regular meet-ups to train, trade energies and connect with new people,” explains Gillespie. UVU’s online community meanwhile is maintained through web content that doesn’t just focus on fitness but also fashion, music and wider culture. It’s not your typical training forum.
Priced at £30 (approx. $40) each for physical copies or £25 (approx. $34) for digital, the guides reflect UVU’s style in the sense of visual literacy but also training. A big part of the latter is calisthenics, or advanced bodyweight moves like muscle-ups — where you pull yourself up and into a dip — and handstands, both of which are demonstrated in the P Morris-soundtracked video that UVU just dropped (see below). Thankfully for those of us who aren’t yet ninjas, the guides are tailored to your experience, from the novice who’s never stepped foot in a gym to the advanced trainee squeezing out the last few per cent of performance and genetic potential.
“The beauty of calisthenics is that there’s a progression ladder for each skill,” says Gillespie. “For example, there may be another five exercises of ascending difficulty to master before you even attempt a muscle-up.” Learning a skill is also rewarding, enjoyable and not just training for training’s sake — or vanity’s. (Although, as UVU’s video also demonstrates, a gymnast’s physique is often a consequence of training like one.)
The comprehensive 12-week programs in the guides are hard to follow only in terms of the effort that they demand — not to understand. And as with the rest of UVU’s output, working out is not the only preoccupation. “A large number of guides out there tend to major on one aspect — usually the training,” says Gillespie. “But we believe that nutrition and mindset have an equally important part to play in achieving your health and fitness goals.”
The mental aspect is arguably most crucial of all: you probably already know what you need to do in order to improve, or have a pretty good idea. The problem is that you don’t do it, or not consistently enough. Replacing bad habits with more productive ones is therefore even more fundamental than the most basic of progression exercises.
The UVU crew are currently working on more content, particularly film. “We also have some accessories coming out before the end of the year and we’re now sampling for our first clothing collection, which we’re expecting to release in spring 2018,” says Gillespie. In the meantime, below is a sample workout from the freshly restocked Intermediate guide with some notes and pointers from Adi himself. (If it’s too tough, try Novice. Too easy? Advanced.) New Year, new UVU.
This workout is taken right out of the book, so it works towards the five key pillars: Lean, Functional, Athletic, Strong and Healthy.
1. Wall-aligned handstand
5 x 10sec holds (3-minute rest between sets)
This a vertical push move that will later progress to the handstand push-up. You should aim to complete five 10-second holds with a three minute rest between each set. If you haven't done this move before, here's how to perform it correctly:
1. Begin by walking your feet up the wall whilst shuffling your hands as close to the wall as possible. 2. Lengthen your entire body keeping the toes pointed and hands pressing the ground away from you. 3. Ensure you're facing the wall with your elbows are locked out, belly sucked in and tight glutes. 4. To get down, the movement can be reversed or you can cartwheel out.
2. Jumping muscle-ups
5 x 5 (3-minute rest between sets)
This vertical push movement will later progress to the full muscle-up, but for now you should aim for five sets of five repetitions with a three-minute rest between each set. Check out the pointers below.
1. Place a platform just in front of the bar so when stood on, the bar is above head height. 2. Place your hands on the bar with a slight false grip. 3. Jump up and once your sternum reaches bar height, allow your hands to slide around with the movement. 4. From here, perform a straight bar dip until the elbows are locked out. 5. Lower yourself back down onto the platform.
3. Weighted dip
4 x 6-8 (3-minute rest between sets)
This compound strength movement targets triceps and chest. You should aim for four sets of six-to-eight repetitions with a 3-minute rest between each set. This is fairly standard exercise, but you can head here if you're not quite sure.
4. Incline bench press
4 x 10-12 (90sec rest)
This move is basically the same as your standard bench press parallel to the floor, only here your bench is angled up so the push moves at an incline. It promotes muscle growth in the chest and triceps. Head here if you're unfamiliar with the bench press.
5. Bent-over row
4 x 10-12 (90-second rest)
This horizontal pull movement aims towards muscle growth in the back and biceps. You should complete four sets of 10-12 repetitions with a 90-second rest between each set. Take a look here if you're unfamiliar with rows.
6. Rowing machine sprint
10 x 30-second sprints (30-second rest)
The rowing machine sprint is a short-duration, high-intensity exercise that improves cardiovascular conditioning. You should aim for 10 30-second sprints with a 30-second rest between each one.
For more, cop the guides by hitting the button below.
Next up; here are 18 fitness tips from Joe Holder, fitness trainer to some of streetwear's biggest names.