WHO: Irene Scholz and a talented team of coaches (Vicky Polydorou and Matt Clarke)
LOCATION: Jan van Riebeeck High School, Gardens, Cape Town
SPECIALITIES: Bodyweight, interval training, weightlifting, core work, mobility
THE INTRODUCTION: The first time I met Irene, she sidestepped me. And I don’t mean in a rude, I-don’t-want-to-talk-to-you-kind-of-way, she literally sidestepped me in a 6 down touch rugby league. Even though she was the opposition, I had to admit that she was really good, and a natural athlete too. Fast forward a few years, and I’d also trained alongside her in a few classes, and had gotten to know her a little better. She has now created her own fitness brand and gym called Bold Functional Training – and it’s a unique service with plenty of benefits that can help anyone get into better shape. “When I wrote my first business plan for bold, I went back and forth being trapped between the standard ‘goals’ of what a gym should have,” says Irene. “Now I have a clear idea who we are and where we want to be: we offer training that inspires you to challenge yourself, and at the same time makes you confident enough to trust your own abilities. The way you train should be the way you live: determined, consistent, motivated. At times we find it hard to follow those principles and that’s when we need a team to get us back on the right track – bold is your team!” says Irene. Her energy is infectious, and she’s got some unique twists on her training style too. “We don’t have membership contracts, machines or mirrors, and we teach you to stay because you love your training, become a machine, and become so aware of your movements that you don’t even need a mirror to check yourself!”
HER BACKGROUND: Irene’s history of training is as varied as a swiss army knife. Growing up in Germany, her mom was a ballet instructor, and Irene spent her days teaching herself, and other students how to plie and releve – even though she was only 12 – showing that her coaching career started young. At school, she was a natural 100m sprinter (hence the speed on the touch rugby field) and she did well in long jump. She started working in a gym at the age of 16, and started coaching indoor cycling, body conditioning and studied personal training. Even though she also has a Marketing and Business Administration degree and spent a number of years in the marketing industry, she left that world to come back to her first passion: fitness. Now she’s racked up more fitness certifications (she’s a qualified personal trainer, and has her Crossfit L2, as well as more certs in spinning and body conditioning, and she is a SISSA health profile assessor) and has spent time learning from established coaches in the industry. “My approach is proactive – I’m constantly finding new ways to train and teach myself, and to stay open minded about different methods and programming,” says Irene. Her drive and varied training knowledge now benefits her bold clients.
THE CLASS: I showed up for duty on a beautiful Friday morning at 6am in the picturesque setting of the Jan Van Reibeeck High School, just off the bustling Kloof street. The gym itself is a massive brick building with a large swimming pool and plenty of grassy fields for outdoor work. There’s an abundance of room and light inside, and Irene has chosen her equipment and training tools carefully.“I incorporate movements into the programming that are beneficial for everyone and will support healthy and sustainable results – we’re very much in love with functional, basic movements so you won’t find fancy equipment here.” The class was about 7 people in total, and Irene’s workout was already up on the whiteboard. It was a comprehensive mix of mobility and strength work, and some potent conditioning work too – all done after a demanding warm-up. “At bold, we don’t just lift weights, practice gymnastics, or do circuit training – we want to provide a different challenge and experience every session,” explains Irene. “We have a good mix of high intensity, strength and interval workouts that challenge all fitness levels. I’m also open minded and never shy to try something new.” I enjoyed every single part of the programme (divided into components: warm-up, stability, strength and workout of the day) and even though it was tough (those four minutes of around-the-world plank were truly challenging), it was really rewarding – especially doing the workout with a partner. It was great for creating a team vibe and to spur each other on, and my workout partner, Andy, kept pushing me to go harder and faster. It was the perfect example of what Irene and her team have created with bold – challenging, enjoyable workouts that offer plenty of strength and fitness benefits and team spirit. Irene and her team have taken the science of building muscle, cultivating cardio fitness, and improving strength in all range of motion, and have added their own signature ingredients of fun and team work – and they’ve got the chemistry right. This is not just something you’ll try and enjoy once or twice – it’s a gym family that you can visit daily without getting bored or hitting any training plateaus.
PARTING ADVICE: The benefits of living bolder: “There’s more to it than just getting the rewards of living a healthier, fitter lifestyle. Instead of just giving you a workout and making you sweat, we believe in a solid focus on form as well as quality over quantity. Training hard does not mean it should break you, it means pushing your limits a little further and getting you out of your comfort zone. At bold you’ll learn to break the routine and challenge yourself to train differently, more efficiently, and you’ll have fun doing it.” Besides all the skills, knowledge, equipment and beautiful setting, that’s the one secret, potent ingredient in the success of bold. Even though Irene and her fantastic coaches, Vicky and Matt, are incredibly serious about the high level service they offer their clients, they also make sure you enjoy every single moment. “The goal is to make people to crave training – many don’t get that kind of satisfaction out of a gym workout. Finding an excuse will always be the easier option. Once you start to enjoy training, you’ll come again – without thinking that you have to.” Irene’s passion is both contagious and addictive, and it’s because bold isn’t just a business, it’s a dream that she’s slowly tweaked and moulded into life, and something that has shaped her in the process too. “Bold has turned my life around completely, I’m so blessed to have finally uncovered what my real purpose in life is – bold is my passion and coaching is my purpose. Working with people, seeing them grow as athletes, supporting and cheering for them. What you see is what you get, for the first time in my life, I feel like this is me, 100%,” says Irene. Make a bold change to your training by visiting here.
BEST QUOTE: ‘Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go’. T.S Eliot