Turf Games is back with a bang this summer, and it’s bigger than ever. The competition will be held from 1 to 3 July 2022 at Ealing Trailfinders Rugby Club.

Sponsored by Under Armour, Turf Games is not your average competition: it’s a three-day functional fitness festival showcasing some of the fittest folk around.

Success depends on teamwork, strategy, and the will to keep going until your tank is completely empty. 

What are the Turf Games?

Turf Games is a global, team-based functional fitness competition offering an inclusive, community-focused challenge in four countries.

Created in 2017, the London Games focus on three different fitness levels: Elite, Intermediate and Everyday.

The London Summer Festival is predominantly a team-based competition. Teams are comprised of five athletes in male, female or mixed categories.

“From its roots,” says the founder of Turf Games, Andrew Manteit, “it was a social competition, a way to bring fitness professionals within London together.

“It was a chance for people who trained regularly in gyms to feel part of something, have a goal to work towards and train for.”

How many people compete in the London Turf Games?

Over 2,500 athletes are competing this year in London.

“Team spots sold out for most categories in two weeks when they went on sale in February,” says Manteit, “and we have a waitlist of 300 teams (1,500 people).”

What are the Turf Games categories?

Everyday: Entry-level, for individuals who exercise a few times a week and are new or relatively new to fitness competitions.

Intermediate: For individuals who have a fitness or sports background, or have regularly competed in fitness competitions.

Elite: For elite athletes and seasoned competitors.

What makes the Turf Games different to other competitions?

While the games are meant to be challenging, the atmosphere, DJs, and spectators form part of the Game’s unique appeal.

“The atmosphere is amazing,” says Manteit. “The music is pumping, and the crowds get behind the athletes.

“Turf Games history is embedded in the fitness community and its development has been aligned with the needs and demands of the growing fitness industry, and the number of people seeking out ways to test themselves.”

All You Need To Know About The Turf Games 2022 | Men's Fitness UK

What exercises are involved in the Turf Games?

Depending on the category, each team will compete in four to six workouts over the weekend, challenging teams in different fitness areas – including endurance, strength and power.

The Games include a range of functional fitness exercises, including wall balls, sleds, ergs, rope climbs and the ‘worm’.

“The worm is a long sandbag that all four team members hold together, while doing things like ground to overheads, thrusters and squats,” explains Luke Ebron, a videographer from Belfast, who’s competing in his eighth Turf Games this year.

“It involves a lot of communication with your team and a solid understanding of everyone’s ability.”

Are there any Turf Games events for individuals rather than teams?

Last year ‘The Engine’ was launched, where individuals or pairs of athletes compete in a separate competition focused more on cardio fitness than strength.

And The Engine workout is every bit as challenging as the team events. It gives individuals who aren’t in the team competition the opportunity to do a longer workout, consisting of running, SkiErgs, bikes, and rowers.

The Engine is a timed workout, and competitors will be assessed depending on their age/sex category.

Why should you enter the Turf Games?

Whether you’re a seasoned Turf returner or new to Turf Games, you’re guaranteed to be challenged.

Matt Slevin, 33, PT from Windsor, is entering the Engine for the first time. He’s completed Ironman, marathons and ultramarathons, and is seeking a new challenge.

“I’ve ticked off everything I want to do,” he says. “The Engine is basically cardio, so it goes in my favour, because I have a cardio and not a CrossFit background. I can run, bike and do SkiErg, and I want to learn more across the board.”

Turf gives individuals the opportunity to test themselves, and it provides a goal to motivate their training,” says Manteit. “They get to work as a team, either with people they already know, with new faces, or through the ‘Free Agent’ scheme, where athletes buy an individual place, and we put them in a team.”

How to train for the Turf Games

While you can be highly proficient in functional fitness techniques and overall fitness, as a team it’s almost impossible to train specifically for the event because they keep the exact workouts secret.

“I’ve only experienced them releasing the workouts four days before, which gives you no time really to practice,” says Luke Ebron.

“So, if you’re training with your team members, it’s going to boil down to getting your hands on the worm, talking to each other when training, knowing each other’s weaknesses and knowing each other inside out, so you can adapt on the fly.”

How to do well at Turf Games

Fitness will be an essential component of your success. However, effective teamwork is also crucial.

Manteit agrees: “Clever team tactics and good teamwork will allow teams to work faster and more effectively, maximising their score. A live leaderboard tracks the teams’ progress, and at the end of the day, after all teams have competed, the winning teams will be at the top.”

“For the team leader,” adds Ebron, “it’s all about strategy and knowing each team member. And communication. For instance, if he’s at the top of the worm, he’s making the calls etc., so communication and strategy are probably the biggest things for the team leader.”

What is the Turf Games like?

The London festival is more than just a competition. “Turf is about camaraderie with your friends, pushing each other and working together,” concludes Manteit. “It’s an experience – a social day out.”

Luke agrees: “The organisers make it as fun but as serious as possible. Plus, there are a lot of vendors there. It’s a really great environment, and a place where everyone can meet up once a year. It keeps getting better.”

For more information, head to turfgames.com

Words: Sarah Haselwood