Rob Gronkowski is one of the most elite athletes on the planet. You and I are maybe not.
But now, at the Boston Sports Club in Medford’s Wellington Circle, we can all work out like Gronk — through an exercise regimen designed by the star New England Patriots tight end and his no-less-physically-imposing family.
Before the program went live for the public, I visited the “Gronk Zone” and tried my hand at its eponymous workout, confronting the realities that distinguish those that grace covers of “Madden” video games from those more likely to be found playing such games with an open bag of chips on hand.
The Gronk Fitness Program is intended to help everyone from dedicated gym rat to couch-addicted schlub achieve and maintain their health goals, and utilizes motivational techniques that helped Rob and brothers Dan and Glenn to realize their pro ball dreams. To a layman that hasn’t set foot in a gym since his days riding the pine as a high school football “player” and who insists that his most honed muscles are of the cranial variety, the classes are reminiscent of the hugely popular CrossFit — combining explosive station exercises with an aerobic pace in a team-focused environment, led by high-energy team leaders barking out orders and encouraging praise.
This positive, group-oriented outlook is key for the Gronkowski brothers, who attribute much of their own athletic success to the camaraderie they shared growing up playing games with each other and neighborhood friends, which would inspire them to continue challenging themselves. “You build that mentality at a kid,” Rob told me. “As we progressed through high school and college to the pros, we always want to keep notching up another level, and push each other.”
“We took a lot of those aspects and we put them in this ‘Zone,’” his brother Dan agreed, making note of the extravagant new Wellington Circle facilities designed for the program and now available to BSC members.
While Gronk Fitness claims it could get you into the best shape of your life, part of adopting a new challenge is reconciling the potential pitfalls that could hamper one’s pursuit of goals. To this point, when asked how seasonal partying and correlating hangovers could affect one’s performance, Rob preached the virtue of equilibrium.
“[It’s] sometimes difficult. If you went too hard you’re not going to be able to wake up and go. But you’ve got to be able to balance yourself,” the one-time Mr. “Yo soy fiesta” sagely warned. “You’ve got to be able to work hard, get all that . . . out of the way first and make sure you accomplish your goal before having that fun."
The Patriots standout, who is out for the season and will miss the playoffs after a back injury, conceded that while some people are genetically advantaged, the real key to athletic gains is commitment. “Dedicate yourself to the max to be the athlete you want to be or get to the fitness level you want to get to,” Gronk instructed. “Anyone can be fit, it’s just all about the hard work you want to put in.”
My own workout was an exercise in fishing out of one’s watery depths. Despite a carefully chosen ensemble highlighting a supposedly ironic sense of detachment from body image, the aesthetic and athletic distance between my modest cuddliness and the considerably more angular on-camera professionals and Miss Massachusettses that made up the rest of the demo class felt like more than a single day of jumping onto boxes and dragging sleds could make up for, and invoked anxieties undetected since the early days of the Bush Administration.
As I noted everyone else seeming able to intuit exactly where and how to be, I thought of the Gronk Zone motto, “Get your mind right,” and began to realize that merely seeing and being a part of a process and culture did make those mythical “gains” seem more attainable. The power of having motivated, accomplished peers was palpable, and welcoming.
A visit to the Gronk Zone can push you out of your comfort one, and serve as a reminder that sometimes the most exhausting part of the gym is walking in. Once you break that sweat, you might even put yourself on track to accomplish something worth spiking about.
If You Go:
Gronk Zone: Boston Sports Club Wellington Circle
70 Station Landing, Medford
$32/ class, schedule atbostonsportsclubs.com/page/gronk