Supporting role: Phil Kite and Dominic Bowser

September 1, 2018

Former Reece Group chief executive and novice rower Phil Kite is set to compete in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge in December, which will see him and three others spend 50 days at sea rowing the 3000-mile journey as Team Tyne Innovation. The 57-year-old has partnered with a range of North East experts and innovators to help with the “world’s toughest rowing race” – including Dominic Bowser of Sound Mind & Body Gym, who is responsible for getting Phil’s body and mind ready for his epic voyage. Here, they explain more

Phil Kite

I spent 30 years working and championing engineering and it was time for a new challenge in my life.

I see competing in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge race as an opportunity to take part in an extreme physical challenge and also a way of doing my bit for the North East by showing that the innovative spirit is very much alive and kicking in the region by incorporating innovation generated by our businesses, colleges and universities in the project.

The challenge is both physical and mental. Claire, Dave, Guy and I will spend 50 days, rowing two hours on and two hours off for 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We can expect a 20 per cent loss in weight, extreme tiredness, hallucinations, and painful wear and tear, particularly on our rear ends!

I first met Dominic in 2012, when I joined Reece Group and the Chairman John Reece – himself an adventurer – thought I needed to get in shape.

For me, training on my own is not fun, so the mentoring Dominic provides keeps me focused on the end game.

He is providing a combination of yoga, strengthening and conditioning and endurance exercises. This is in addition to my rowing training three times per week at the Tyne Rowing Club at Newburn.

Dominic understands that it’s important to get in the mind of the individual and see what motivates them. It’s also about the right mental approach and good nutrition. It’s a holistic approach to training – not just turning up and exercising for an hour three times a week.

Apart from the training, fundraising has been the main challenge. It costs £100,000 to take part in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge and we are looking to raise over £200,000, so once we sell the boat post-race we can give £150,000 to charity and make a real difference.

I currently have no major concern about being on the ocean. I’m more concerned about will my body and mind last the journey. At 57, I already have a few miles under the belt so feel I need to be in the best shape I can be to last the trip. The next few months of training will be really important.

Dominic Bowser
I qualified in Florida 22 years ago at Florida’s Fitness Institute and American College of Sports Medicine and have since worked with a variety of people, aged from five to 85, professional sports people and teams to weeklong training camps and detox holidays.

Sound Mind and Body was started to bring different professions, consultants, physiotherapists, nutritional therapists and psychologists together to work as a team to help people reach their goals.

I first met Phil five years ago. He was typical in that he was a very successful, ‘well-fed’ business man that had neglected his once fit rugby player body.

Phil was training at the gym for a few months but found that training by yourself didn’t motivate him; he’d always been a team player. After discussing options, Phil went for a taster session at Tyne Rowing Club. This was the best thing he could have done and Phil has since gone from strength to strength. He’s lost a load of weight and improved his posture.

I’ve trained international rowers, mountain climbers, ultra-runners, triathletes and professional sportsmen and women, but never someone to row the Atlantic.

I began by talking to Phil about what he wanted, what problems other competitors had found when they had completed the challenge, his available time to train and the areas he felt he was lacking. We also looked at the position he would have to spend most of his time in rowing, the boat and space available on it, the equipment he had available to him and what other professionals he would need help from such as nutritionists, psychologists, rowing coaches.

Phil’s conditioning training involves yoga, stretching and foam rolling for flexibility, recovery and injury prevention three times per week. Also, strength training three times per week to improve the muscles needed to row and balance, and core training three times per week.

As Phil gets closer to his challenge, we will maintain the frequency of his training but the type and volume of training will change, tapering off towards the end so he is in peak condition and not tired when he sets off.

Once Phil is at sea we will have limited access via email. He will be well prepared by this point and should only need us if there’s a problem.

Before he sets off I’ll be telling him to enjoy every minute. He’ll become one of only a handful of amazing people that have rowed the Atlantic.

Team Tyne Innovation

Sound Mind & Body