Fat burning, carbs, crunches, abs, bio-metaphasic rhythms, shakeweights, running machines, protein shakes, meal replacements, calorie counting...
The buzz words, the conflicting research, the slinky muscled bodies, the Americanisms, the shopping channels, the spandex, the celebrity diets and dvds, the miracle pills, the surgery. The list goes on...!
Don’t you just want to hit the desk with your face?
We know we did.
So there we were, Daniel and Teresa, husband and wife.
We had just hit middle age, we'd three kids, and between us well over twenty years in various I.T. and Retail jobs. See the waistlines.
Dan was asthmatic after years of smoking, had two major leg operations, and sported a lovely collection of man boobs and spare tyres from the "Evil that is Maltesers", a completely sedentary job, and was getting out of breath just tying shoelaces.
Teresa was "enjoying" the aftermath of 11 pound babies and motherhood, and feeding a growing husband.
Then there were the numerous silly sounds getting out of the moulded bum shapes in the sofa. We were getting our kids to fetch the remote and take our shoes off. Any outdoor playing on their trampoline was soon curtailed, having to feign injury after 20 seconds to cover the fact that we couldn’t breathe.
When Dan fell over playing a bit of back garden football with the boys, it was such a shock to his system, jarring his bones and winding him utterly, he came to the shocking realisation that he was no longer a sprightly youth!
Dan had also given up weighing himself, and had taken to judging weight by leaning over in the shower trying to see his danglies—if he smashed his head on the shower screen he knew it was time to knock the pies on the head for a while. Unfortunately this method was becoming too regular and painful...
SO what to do about it?
Well fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your viewpoint, we both absolutely loathed jogging.
Dan would get very quickly bored at gyms, and could not do anything relying on his own self-motivation. It wasn’t quite the case of being dragged kicking and screaming to things, but he certainly needed someone to provide constant support.
Teresa hated people watching her in the mirrored gymnasiums and felt very self-concious amongst the gym devotees.
Without doubt, as we'd had many years experience at it, we were both lovers of the settee. Any good intentions of doing some exercise would be swiftly batted down by excuse making and sheer laziness. Far better to watch Grand Designs, Gadget Show, How I Met Your Mother or something else stored on Series Link. With little ones running around, and after a soul-sapping day at work, it was far easier to direct the household activity from the comfort of the sofa, rather than putting trainers on and getting sweaty.
But let’s face it, this had to stop. And you’re reading this because you’ve come to the same conclusion.
So we needed to do something about the state we were in. We just needed resolve, motivation and something that we wouldn’t get bored with. Good grief, doesn't that sound doomed from the start...?!
Time for a reality check!
What did we really want, then, at our ages and place in life?
What wasn’t likely to happen, no matter how much we'd like it, was the conversion of 20 years worth of lethargic lifestyle into 20 year old Rugby World Cup player, 2012 Olympic Athlete, Jason Statham lookalike, Catwalk model or Brazilian Beach Volleyball player.
Perhaps if we had a magic wand, a time machine, the pay packets or the ability, then these goals would be achievable, but let’s get real here. We're both past our prime, have lots of demands on our time and we have other interests other than fitness. Quite frankly we don’t want to be in the gym the amount of time it would take to accomplish those examples above! We enjoy our kids, pottering about and computer games too much! And those bloody Maltesers are still so fiendish...
However, being "Fit for Life" is certainly a lot different to obsessing over calorie-counting, taking supplements, drinking protein shakes or being gym zealots for the rest of our lives.
To us that would be tedious; and how easy is it to lose sight of what’s important here. Unless you are a proper sportsman or dedicated enthusiast, you should be fit for life, not live for fitness!
So here's our list of things we wanted to change, and in no particular order:
1) Not making stupid grunts and gasps trying to rock to a standing position from the sofa.
2) Not getting out of breath bending over tying shoelaces in the morning
3) Not wheezing at the end of a sweaty trudge up the stairs
4) Not having the big belly, bingo wings, fat back and rounded hunched shoulders in the holiday photos
5) Being able to play with the kids without looking for excuses
6) Not being last on the Parents Race at school sports day
7) Being a scary Daddy to any boyfriends my 18 month old daughter plans on bringing back in the future
8) Being able to be healthy role models for our children
9) Having the health, speed, strength and ability to protect our family for the future
10) Being able to do one full proper pull up—i read somewhere that every Man should be able to do one
11) Being able to drop and do at least 10 proper press-ups
The Answer to Health and Fitness is not a pleasant one!
Dan's Krav Maga Instructor spoke of a simple mantra, one that stuck in the back of our minds and balances everything we see both in the fitness industry and all the various everyday lifestyles.
“Eat like a grown up and get off your arse more”.
Wow, Moses missed a trick there. That should be one of the commandments!
There is no magic bullet to diet and fitness. There is far too much silliness and marketing, profiteering and gobbledegook, claim and counter-claim. Indeed, when we saw the shopping channel advert for the infamous shakerweight we realised that the whole thing was descending into farce. The ever growing need for companies to make profit just obfuscates that mantra!
Come on let's face it.
We all know full well that eating a KFC in front of the telly on a Friday night, after a week sat in front of a computer, is not a particularly good idea.
We haven't spent millions of years evolving on the crap that people are trying to sell you.
When you combine it all with the various muffins, ready meals, chocolate, crisps or big plates of dinner we've had all week, it’s probably safe to say that after years of doing this we're not exactly going to be in peak physical condition!
Perhaps had we not spent 6 hours a night on Call Of Duty, or every evening watching BBC1 and Channel 4 until bed time, Saturday nights out on the razzle and then Sunday mornings lying in, we would be looking at a different sized pair of jeans.
Indeed if we had, over the years, eaten like our Grandparents and spent a few more hours a week playing five a side football, squash, rock climbing, ballroom dancing, volunteering in our local park or whatever else gets us out of breath and a wee bit sweaty, we would not be looking like we are now; our lifestyle habits would already be well ingrained and our life would revolve around these active interests--we'd all look like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie...probably.
So what we've both learned in all of this is that the real key is to eat clean and basic, and get off your arse and do something physical that you really, really enjoy.
Don't be under any illusions here. If there’s the slightest mental reservation, where your mind begrudges doing the activity, it just isn’t going to work. You would just be setting yourself up for a fail. It’s no different to a New Year’s Resolution; seriously what percentage of those ever work?
Unless you’ve had a personal epiphany at the end of Christmas regarding life long fitness, the newly purchased and expensive membership at David Lloyd, Virgin Fitness, Bannatynes or whatever is going to last what, 3 months?
So why a Personal Trainer and not a Gym?
Much like everyone else, previously we would go to a new Gym, enjoy the tour of the facilities, listen to the induction delivered at the only time we would ever see the gym instructor, forget most of the instructions on how to use the machines, feel like a fish out of water next to the testoreone-fuelled gym monkeys throwing weights around, lose heart and interest after about 6 weeks and then cancel our memberships 15 months later.
What an expensive period of good intentions, masked by self-delusion!
But then surely that is better than a relatively expensive Personal Trainer? Aren't they all usually ex-military instructors, Ironman tri-athletes or aerobics nymphs who have no idea what it’s really like to be an out of shape, demotivated Homer Simpson or Miranda wannabe who really don’t like being uncomfortable and looked at? Don’t they all talk excitedly as though they’re wired up to the mains, and use far too many “amazing” and “awesome” words for the most mundane of things? Don’t they use too much house music, when you can’t stand the stuff and then shout all over it? Aren't they going to shout at me?
Well speaking from our personal experience the answer to all this is a resounding "Yes".
And that’s exactly why we decided to have a complete change of direction during Dan's mid-life crisis, and become Personal Trainers ourselves so that we could offer people what worked spectacularly for us. Surely other people had the same history, hang-ups and views as us and weren’t getting what they needed?
We needed Time Efficiency, Bang-for-Buck, Expertise, Motivation, Challenge, Results and a shoulder to cry on... Who doesn't?!
The Smart Money goes on Personal Training from people who are just like you, but who have actually got results! For all those reasons: do you get all of those in a gym membership? That's why we will never pay for another standard gym membership again. For us it's just not cost effective!
So what now?!
If you’re anything like us, or most of our friends, the battle with self motivation and cost effectivess is a constant one.
Incredibly we would do an enjoyable activity on a Monday evening, really get a buzz from it, spend the rest of the week Googling/ YouTubing and really looking forward to it, then bizarrely spending all of Monday trying to think of reasons and excuses not to attend that evening!
What kept us going were the motivational people we met, finding that physical activity that just "clicked", getting the correct and logical nutritional information, and noticing real change delivered quickly and permanently.
So now you've spent an age reading all this, make the decision and get on with it :) You can even click me to speed it up!