When Life Knocks You Down – Do A Burpee!

Just over a year ago I walked into my neighbour’s garage for my first ever personal training session. In the past, just the thought of exercise was more than enough for me plus with a lean frame – or skinny beanpole look – I never actually felt unfit or the need to be fitter. In fact, I was more than happy to watch other people do exercise whether it was running or doing some mad obstacle course.

That’s not to say I’d never tried to “get fit”. I joined a gym several years ago and followed the tradition of paying a fortune to only go a handful of times to sit on an exercise bike and watch TV. When I was in my late teens I also owned some metal spring contraption that was sold in Argos and was endorsed by Mr Universe. How he got so ripped using it I’ll never know as I kept breaking it due to it’s crappy design rather than my amazing strength!

Why Start Training

Fast forward to that fateful day in December 2015 when I was relieved of my alien cyst baby. My amazingly lean and “much desired” physique was probably not because of that superb metabolic system that kept me fit and healthy whilst stuffing my face with cake, but more to do with the fact that my insides were as useless as the spring metal contraption bought several years back.

So why start training? When I came out of hospital I was just over 11 stone. Had I had to undergo further surgery, drug courses or even another day of hospital food then I’m not sure I’d have done well. By training I could hopefully build up my weight so that if difficult times arise again then my body should be able to cope better.

I also wanted to improve my fitness. The reasoning for this is that I could gauge how I was doing week in/week out. Whilst I was able to function in the lead up to surgery, I wouldn’t have been able to run, do weights or partake in anything fitness related. Maintaining fitness should benefit me health wise, but it could possibly act as an early warning system should there be any other issues to deal with.

First PT Session

My first PT session was very basic (not the picture below). Squats and planks if I remember rightly – and neither were particularly successful. I couldn’t lift a 15kg bar off the floor – even a 2kg plate felt heavy, and sit-ups were painful and uncomfortable. As for burpees – I could get just about get down on the floor, but getting up was a struggle. Thankfully I survived that session just about intact – and then I went back for more!

Surprisingly I enjoyed the training sessions and after a few weeks Becky, my amazing trainer, unleashed me on her Llanelli Beach Bootcamp. In a matter of months I went from doing nothing to one PT session a week to two bootcamps, one sprints and one PT session a week. Not bad for someone who was adamant they’d never ever be seen on the Machynys sand doing exercise!

One Year On

Training has been a big challenge, but it has been good seeing progress. For example, due to a shoulder dislocation at the end of 2014 I struggled at the start to one arm press even a bottle of water – I can now one arm press a 10kg kettle bell. I can burpee, do full press-ups, do weighted sit-ups, do deadlifts, run, etc.

Last week I did my first split jerk session with 20kg going overhead (above – image c/o Becky). I’ve also managed to row 5K, and also do a couple of 5K Park Runs – the last one coming in under 30 minutes.

I also have sand in places sand should never be and own more training clothes than normal clothes! I’m also still enjoying the sessions – even the cold, wet and windy ones down on the beach. Who’d have thought that would happen, eh?

Hi-Ho-Silver Linings

Whilst I expected the fitness side of things to improve – the process has brought other unexpected benefits. I think it’s made me more confident and I’m sure it’s better for my day to day wellbeing. I try to stay relatively stress free these days and exercise definitely seems to help. There’s also the friendship side of it plus I get to do exercise stuff with Jude, which is pretty cool.

So one year of training done.. what’s next? At the moment the next stage is to keep on training! I’ve no plans to do anything “big” like a marathon, but I do want to be able to run a 5K non-stop, improve my PBs etc. I’m probably fitter now than I’ve ever been and I feel a million times better for it.

In truth I don’t think I’d have got into this had it not been for the operation so that dark December cloud definitely had a big silver lining. It’s easy to become complacent about exercise but no one is ever too old to start trying to improve your fitness. The other point from this post is that it’s important to grab the positives from every situation and that step in to a neighbour’s garage 12 months ago ended up being a step into a much wider world.