WISBECH: Eight hours in the gym and 6,000 calories - another day in the life of a strongman
FEATURE by: ADAM LAZZARI TRIPS to restaurants, theatres and cinemas are typical couples pastimes, but two Fenland lovebirds have a more unusual way of spending their time together. Wisbech s strongest man Robert Chapman, 36, from Murrow and his girlfriend
Story by: ADAM LAZZARI
TRIPS to restaurants, theatres and cinemas are typical couples' pastimes, but two Fenland lovebirds have a more unusual way of spending their time together.
Wisbech's strongest man Robert Chapman, 36, from Murrow and his girlfriend Sofia Gentile, 27, from Wisbech, dedicate eight hours every week to pumping iron.
They work-out at Ironworks Gym, in Wisbech and have ambitions of becoming world champions.
But they certainly suffer for their art. A typical week's shopping bill for the two of them, plus two children, is anything between �160 and �200 per week.
Mr Chapman, a civil engineer who won the Ironworks Gym Strongman competition earlier this month, said: "I have to eat all the time. I always think about food. I'll wake up in the middle of the night and feast. I have to fill myself with as much protein and carbohydrates as I can to make sure I get bigger. It's not easy but Sofia spurs me on and gives me a kick up the backside when I need it.
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"My motivation is simple. I just want to be as big and strong as I can. I realised I would never be tall so I thought I might as well make myself wide."
Mr Chapman said: "Martin Green, who runs the gym, has suggested I enter the British Strongman Championships.
"I'm going into qualifying next year. Last year's winner won with 190kg on the bench press, and I can already do 200kg, and I think I'm good enough on the squat, I just have a couple of other area that I need to work on."
While an average male adult will eat around 2,500 calories a day Mr Chapman aims to consume a massive 6,000 calories a day.
Miss Gentile, a teaching assistant, was one of two women to enter the Ironworks competition and finished behind ladies' winner Lorna Robinson.
She aims to consume 3,500 calories a day, 2,000 more than most women.
She said: "I've been working out for a couple of years now. I knew Robert through a friend but we got together through the gym.
"We push each other to be as good as we can. My legs are as strong as most 18-year-old lads I now need to work on my upper body. Robert's at the stage now where he can enter national competitions. I hope to do it one day.
"You get an amazing adrenalin rush when you progress to bigger weights and see the difference in your body.
"It might sound unusual but we know a few couples who workout together."
Miss Gentile's daughter, Olivia, eight, even joins them on their trips to the gym.
She said: "Olivia loves it. She's too young to do proper weights at the moment but she buzzes off the atmosphere."
A typical day's eating schedule for Wisbech's strongest man, Robert Chapman.
5.30am: A large bowl of porridge.
6.15am: Four slices of toast with peanut butter and jam.
6.45am: Four egg whites.
Mid-morning: Carbohydrate and protein bars.
Lunch: Three or four chicken breasts with rice, mashed potato or pasta.
Mid-afternoon: Apples, bananas and cottage cheese.
Mr Chapman will also eat a large, carbohydrate-strong evening meal. Spaghetti bolognaise with garlic bread is a common choice.
He will also usually drink four large protein shakes a day and snacks on sweets, chocolates and peanuts.
Miss Gentile will usually stick to a similar routine, but with smaller portions.