From kettle bells to rope and beyond…


Earlier this year I started a training regimen that was quite frankly a shock to my system. After years of relative inactivity, I embarked on a new adventure into what I hoped would result in a fitter me.

I’ve been hard at it, at least twice a week for past few months and I have to say it is making a difference. People are saying I look different and although I don’t see the gradual improvements myself, I can definitely say it’s an improving picture! My PT sessions continue to be strenuous and never seem to get any easier and I guess if they did, then Philip (my personal trainer) wouldn’t be doing his job would he? Recovery times have definitely improved and where I struggled to drive my car after the first sessions, I’m now more or less fully recovered after a day or so.

After embarking on this regimen, I bought a Nike Fuel band and this has really helped me to stay focused on achieving my goals on a day-to-day basis. This neat gadget tells you how active you’ve been by using an accelerometer to measure the movement of your body, which it turns into fuel points for you to accrue. It’s very motivational and combined with the training, it’s helped me keep momentum. As it stands right now, I’m on a 61 day unbeaten run where I’ve hit my goals every day.

I’ve even bought my own boxing gloves and wraps, such is my pugilistic enthusiasm for weekly boxing pad sessions. Your own gloves make a huge difference in boxing as the gym gloves are ill-fitting and smell really bad. The wraps go under the gloves and they give you the confidence to hit the pads hard without hurting your wrists. The gloves, although entry-level training affairs are great too, well padded and impressively branded by Everlast.

If you’d have told me in January that I’d have my own boxing gloves and I was quantifying my exercise using a wrist device, I’d have thought you mad!

The key driver for me has been the trainings sessions, with each session different and seemingly getting harder than the last. There’s a marked difference for me when I go to the gym alone, left to my own devices I have a good workout but never push myself to the very limit. It’s certainly not in my psyche to drive myself to the edge and over it as I see in other people. I fully accept I need spurring on and I’m completely fine with that. Augmenting training sessions with mini workouts suits me just fine at the moment due to my current lifestyle.

I said at the outset I just wanted to get fit and I think I’m on the journey there with some way to go. I’d like to think by the time I hit 50 in December this year, I’ll be even further down the track. Watch this space…


A new regime


When the kids were younger we would go to the gym regularly on a weekend – they would go in kids club and we would go have a good workout. I seemed to have enough time back then to fit in at least another 3 or 4 workouts a week around that. You kind of get into a rhythm on it.

But as the kids grew and circumstances gradually changed it for some reason became quite hard to fit the gym into our lives. I still played tennis though but over time as new jobs happened, this too dissipated.

Although I still kept quite active with long walks and the occasional sporadic burst of activity, keeping fit slipped down my personal agenda and if you’ve read my posts over on Globetroffers, you wouldn’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to deduce I might put on a bit of timber as we say in the North.

And then earlier this year, Mrs D got her determined head on and decided enough was enough – she was going to do something about her fitness. This was definitely borne out of the annual slobbing around at Christmas and turning over a new leaf in January routine, but this time it felt different. So we went back to our old gym where we were founding members back in 1997, Virgin Active. It’s still a vibrant, busy place and was as good a place as any to start the journey back to some kind of fitness for us both.

Julie joined first and I soon after, getting the taste for it. It’s interesting how a different mindset kicks in: a determination to do something about it. For me it was principally about losing the rather manly belly I’d developed and getting some fitness back, feeling better and having more energy. Work in recent times has been brutal with lots of travelling, stress and eating the wrong kind of stuff (although my diet isn’t so bad, I do have dirtbag food tendencies) and I had to do something to mitigate this.

So the obligatory induction session with a young fitness coach called Philip got me hooked in again – evidently it was all change in gym-land with the high-tech machines shunned for old school freeform exercise using what are essentially medieval torture instruments to beat your muscles into submission. Kettle bells, climbing frames and huge rubber tubes called Viprs all formed the new workout regime.

My inbuilt geek alarm sounded at 115 decibels and of course, I had to get some new gym kit. The old stuff was simply not up to scratch being a few years old and following in the tracks of other middle-aged men in other sports, notably cyclists, I had to get my hands on the latest gear. Nike is my brand of choice and after identifying the latest shoes – flyknit neon yellow trainers, see header pic – I hunted out some rather slimming Dri Fit black kit and we were away.

Now I don’t know about you, but at my age – 49 – I need additional ‘encouragement’ to get this fitness party started. So I signed up for a personal trainer, the same young chap who showed me the ropes (as it were) when I started, Philip. I have an hour a week with him and he essentially puts me through physical hell, thinly disguised as a lifestyle choice.

As it happens, Philip is excellent and by the looks of it, the pick of the trainers at the gym. Every week we do something different – we never do the same things twice and it’s never dull.

It’s torture, but not dull torture.

I couldn’t walk for three days after the first session, the second session resulted in me not being able to lift a fork to my mouth to eat and the third session made it impossible for me to get off the sofa. This sounds horrendous I fully realise but the sessions themselves are hugely enjoyable and I look forward to the day when I am a) able to complete the tasks competently and b) not feel it until Wednesday.

I’ve had a rugby inspired session that I loved because it’s a game I love and played back in the day, a tennis focused session as I’m keen to pick up my racquet again this summer and the latest, a round of pugilistic boxing training. All hugely knackering but highly enjoyable. Philip keeps time and pushes gently, assessing what my limits are and by and large, ignoring these and pushing me on further.

In my 50th year, I figure now is a good time to reclaim my body from the slow and inevitable decline that is around the corner. I’m starting to feel fitter and although the aches and pains are still lasting a little longer than I would like, by the summer we should see some progress. I also have my eye on a couple of jackets I want to start wearing again!