It is 8am on a Friday and Lamma Island is already sweltering. Scaling a hill above the village, you can hear them before you see them: grunts and groans and the sound of heavy weights being dropped and dragged along the ground. In a paved clearing in the woods, men and women, some bulky and tattooed, some sleek, their muscles trembling, carry rocks up a steep incline, raise heavy sledgehammers, and pull thick ropes to hoist bags of rocks skyward. This is not a penal colony but Bear Camp, Hong Kong's newest fitness craze: a functional strength and conditioning session that Hong Kong athletes say gets good results quickly. Bear Camp is a kind of circuit training, a series of exercises separated by 45-second rests and uphill sprints. The exercises are what set Bear Camp apart. They borrow heavily from the world of the Strongman competition and use non-traditional equipment such as oversized tyres - weighing between 40kg and a massive 300kg - sandbags, ropes and hammers. Bear Camp is part of Doctor Urso's Fitness and Wellbeing, a fitness company run by Justin Gregory. Not your typical muscle man, Gregory holds a doctorate in cognitive sciences from Oxford University and has been in academia for years, studying at Oxford and conducting research in California. Gregory first got the idea for the programme when he was on the British judo team. He wanted a more intense, more holistic training regimen, and put together the basic tenets of the programme with athletes on the rowing team, and coaches from both rowing and judo. The nature of the movements - such as flipping heavy tyres, dragging a weight along the ground and hoisting kegs of water over your head - use more muscles than traditional exercises, and constantly engage the core. This improves balance, while the sheer intensity of the workouts - the weights, the time constraints and the number of different movements - encourages rapid muscle growth. It's called functional strength because, while working out at the gym may make you look good, exercises like those at Bear Camp make you strong in a way you can use. It's useful for some athletes or anyone doing heavy lifting in daily life. "Working with these awkward objects develops the connection between your body and the object, developing body awareness," says Gregory, noting the unpredictable nature of the exercises brings a lot of muscles into play. When Gregory moved to Hong Kong 10 months ago, he met fellow Lamma Islander Gary Manwaring, who has a background in professional skiing and Muay Thai. Manwaring was working as a personal trainer and boxing coach but was getting bored with the same fitness routine and craved something more challenging and intense. Bear Camp fit the bill and, together, they tailored the programme to Hong Kong, fine-tuned the movements and developed a scalable business model. Bear Camp's rapid success has surprised Gregory and Manwaring, but both have even loftier ambitions for the programme. They're expanding it to venues on Hong Kong Island, then to Kowloon and Lantau. But that is only the beginning; the duo wants to introduce two more kinds of sessions: Grizzly Strongman, a more clearly Strongman derivative strength-training course, and Bushwacker, a military-style assault course and boot camp. Gregory will also bring some of his scientific expertise to the programme. He says he will soon offer genetic testing, blood testing and testing for food intolerance, and then tailor a workout plan and diet regimen to each participant based on their physiology and fitness goals. "It's not just for athletes. Anyone can come to us, and we will tailor their training and diet to benefit their lives. We'll also try to imbue some physiological aspects of determination and mental toughness. That's what we're all about," he says. For details on the training sessions, go to https://www.facebook.com/DOCTOR.URSOs or email firstname.lastname@example.org Sun, 10am-11.30am; midday-1.30pm. Tuesday: 6.30am-7.30am; 8am-9am. Friday: 8am-9am.