Zack George is the UK’s Fittest Man. This isn’t hyperbole. This is fact. The 30-year-old Leicesterian is a man of many muscles and, in 2020, he was officially certified with that title after conquering the CrossFit Open and proving himself to be the Best of British. CrossFit, for those unaware, is uber-exertion, the ultimate method of punishing and rewarding your body, a series of strength and conditioning exercises that can really test the limits. Some do it for fitness, Zack does it for sport.
And it all started with a promise of a PlayStation, with Zack’s dad vowing to purchase the games console for his overweight teenage son if he got moving and got active. The gym proved to be a drug and the PS controller was quickly put down for total body control. Then, the gruelling but rewarding world of CrossFit eventually proved too attractive.
Now he’s part of the G-SHOCK roster, a union he didn’t hesitate to commit to after being a lifelong fan of the brand. And he’s been putting the new GBD-H1000 through its paces during his many, many Crossfit training sessions and programming workouts. We caught up with Zack, between sessions, to discover how it feels to go from chubby teen to the UK’s Fittest Man, what it takes to get there, and how G-SHOCK continues to help his game...
For our everyman reader, what exactly is CrossFit?
CrossFit is a mixed training method which combines weight-lifting, gymnastics, and bodyweight movement. It’s literally brutal. It’s getting the movements done but with great technique and speed.
You feel as if you’ve been working out for 20 minutes when it could have only been two. When you go through such a short intense workout it’s just a strange sensation. You don’t hear any of the music that’s playing, you’re literally so focused and dialled-in to that workout and you’re just thinking about doing the reps as fast as possible and your transition time and good movement. Once the workout is done, that’s when the pain really kicks in and you’re on the floor. Then it stems to the longer, endurance stuff...
What’s your own training routine like?
Obviously my training schedule is pretty intense. I train twice a day, Monday to Saturday and then I’ll do one training technique swimming session on a Sunday. At the beginning and end of the working week, it’s an hour-and-a-half fitness workout in the morning, and then I’ll go back to the gym late afternoon for another. On Wednesday the training will be followed by a swimming session. Saturday has a much quicker recovery time between sessions, just to get used to doing a lot of volume within a short space of time, like within a competition.
When did you know it could be a full-time profession?
It was only when I was about 24 when my dad showed me a video of the 2013 CrossFit Games. It was a swimming and bar muscle-ups event. Then they were doing hand-stand press-ups and all sorts. I’ll be honest I was also watching it thinking ‘What the hell is going on?!’ But these athletes looked ripped as hell, strong as hell, and they could do so many things across fitness. And straight away I knew that this is the sport I wanted to be in.
When you look back at those pictures of you as the ‘chubby child’ of 12/13, what do you think and feel?
It’s not something I regret. I feel it’s part of the journey that I’m proud of that has shaped me and my mentality now. At that age it gave me mental resilience and a goal. It really enabled me to focus on my health and nutrition, and consequently get into the fitness industry. It also gives a lot of people empathy that I’ve come from that background. People could have assumed that I’m just naturally genetically gifted, but it’s the complete opposite. That background has given me a lot of grounding.
You’re now officially the UK’S Fittest Man! The job’s done, isn’t it?
For me it’s just another step towards the Big Goal. That’s to be in the Top 10 at the CrossFit Games. The title was, however, a pretty surreal moment and took a couple of months to sink in, to realise what I had achieved, and to enjoy it. Your body is in such peak condition during the Open that, when it’s over, it goes on a massive downer.
The end goal is to get on that podium. You shouldn’t achieve a goal and stop there. Set the next one straight away. It’s goals leading to goals.
How has G-SHOCK benefitted the UK’s Fittest Man?
I’ve always been a massive fan of them, the durability and the chunky style. I always remember as a kid I had about seven of them, all different colours, including a love-it-or-hate-it purple and yellow. It’s been a brand I’ve really loved so it was natural for me to tie in when they brought out the fitness watch. It’s become an amazing feature for my training. It’s virtually bomb-proof, I don’t ever have to worry about breaking it or taping it up for my routine, and it’s solar-powered - from both natural and artificial light - so I don’t have to worry about charging it! Importantly, the style of it means that I don’t just wear it as a training watch, but as a fashion watch. It’s pretty easy to endorse a brand when you were in love with them beforehand!
So you have to be a super-duper elite athlete to enjoy all the GBD-H1000 advantages?
Not at all, even for the beginner - many of whom I see come through my gym - the basic stopwatch function is great for interval routines or AMRAPs (an acronym popularised by CrossFit that stands for “As Many Rounds As Possible”), and setting goals for splits. It fits really well to mobile phone apps. In no way do you have to be an ‘elite athlete’ to benefit from the numerous features, it's scalable to everyone.
Personally, I have to mention, I use my phone, a lot. And I lose my phone...A LOT! But with the G-SHOCK, there’s a feature where you can call your missing phone with a special ringtone, even if it’s on silent. That’s certainly benefited me, a lot!
Find out more about the G-SHOCK GBD-H1000 at g-shock.co.uk