My Fitness Story.
First and foremost lets get the formal introductions out of the way. I’m Dan. I’m a sports professional, Personal Trainer with a BSc in Sports and Exercise Science. This is my first ever blog, and to kick it off I thought I’d give you a brief introduction of who I am and how my story of fitness came to be.
I have always been in associated in the sports/fitness world. From a young age I took part in any activity and took every opportunity I had to get out and see my friends to play any sport; basketball, football, rugby, cricket and also cycling to unknown places miles away (all this while computer consoles were starting to make a stand against being active). I was a fit and healthy kid. I also took part in extreme sports as it was all I could do to express my want to throw myself and my bike over some big jumps, or inline skating/ skateboarding. I took enjoyment in pushing my body out of it’s comfort zone to attempt things that my brain would tell me to steer clear from. Scars maketh the man in my opinion. I accrued plenty of injuries along the way, but every single one of them brings back a great memory of the fun I had back then. Fortunately for me and my body, I grew out my ‘lust for extreme thrill’ phase and looked at my next challenge. I say I grew out of it…I just chose another path.
Upon leaving school, I decided upon training for the armed forces. Now if you’re in the forces, you will know that training for initiation takes preparation. I spent all my time going to the gym at the fine young age of 15 to begin building up my strength for my training and running (yes running, not jogging) 5 miles per night. The gym session involved me and a friend going once a week as that was all that was allowed at the time. The instructor who oversaw the sessions really helped to point me in the direction of the best methods to use to build strength for all the exercise tests and the endurance methods needed to pass the 5 mile run time that was required.
Now without going into it all I went further than I expected in the forces, before I decided that it wasn’t for me. I grew up around a military lifestyle, but I wanted more than to be told what to do for the rest of my life. I went on my search to find my next challenge to get my kicks while still continuing to go the gym. However I wasn’t getting what I wanted from my sessions and the coach who had inspired me previously no longer worked at the gym. Every avenue sought after for my fitness needs only lead me to confusion. I needed guidance! As we all know now, the internet is packed full of conflicting information that tends to put way too many ideas into peoples minds about what they should do and what they should eat etc. At that time I was an avid reader of many fitness magazines and would try all of the fitness regimes that were recommended, but to no avail. This is not to say that they wouldn’t work for someone else, but they just didn’t work for me. My job at this time was of manual labour, working in the building industry. I was taken under the wings (literally) of the man who is still practically my Dad. He inspires me in many ways and regardless of how much he smokes, he is a machine and had the lat-span that I could only rival to Bruce Lee!
Those days consisted of long days hauling equipment up and down, up ladders and grafting hard all day. I loved it!! It was rounding me into a tough hard working guy, working through the blazing sun but equally through the cold winters (the kind where you can’t even feel your toes in your steel toe-capped boots!). It built my character and those days have shaped me into the man I am right now. The job itself kept me fit for around 15 years. Feeling great when I’d get home you would usually find me heading straight to the gym to continue the burn! Truth is though I still wanted more from my fitness.
I took up many sports during this time including Jujitsu and American Football which I was good at both equally. I played American Football for a local London team. Even though small in stature, I loved the combination that made up the team. There were no two specific body types that were the same. We had tiny framed kickers, bodybuilder looking defenders and tight ends, sumo sized offensive and defensive lines and little me was somewhere between! I cant describe how I was then, but after seeing these guys play I realised that sports could be fun for any person no matter how you were built. I loved the team sports and played some tough games through my time. To cut the story short, I received a fractured sternum and screwed my knee up (all during the same game!) from playing which put me out of everything I was doing at the time to stay active. I couldn’t do any of the things I loved to do. Work unfortunately had to continue, but I put on weight because I was used to eating like an athlete, training practically all week either in the gym or on the field and going to just work.
After healing from the injuries enough to get back to the gym, I decided to train right before I got back on the field. Trouble was I couldn’t afford a physio or a PT at the time and I struggled to get the right results I wanted before I had the injury, and no one would provide me with the information that was consistent. I was getting more and more frustrated with where I wanted to be because of the pain during training, so therefore concluded my days on the field were up.
I moved to Sheffield, where I met a couple of life long friends. One guy in particular named Lee Dubois. I met Lee while playing a version of American Football known simply as Tag Football. The team was full of older guys and youngsters and people who were recovering from injury…I decided to jump right in and play. Small teams, small field, all the fun without the additional injury…I was in! We played tournaments, won medals and I loved it. After playing for some time and speaking with Lee about fitness all the time, he decided to pull me aside one day and ask me about a business opportunity he had because of my passion for fitness. I agreed to join him, however there were problems. I didn’t have a Personal Training qualification! And in order to comply with everything I needed that qualification. Unfortunately due to shortage of work at the time (during the recession), I also didn’t have the money to pull one out of the bag! So after two and a half years in Sheffield, I decided enough was enough and moved back to London where I went straight back to the building trade. From then on I concluded that I was going to make my own way as a Personal Trainer!
I sought out everything I could and began my journey back in London. I studied hard while I worked through some very tough times. I got my qualification after a couple of years and it felt amazing! Unfortunately for me by the time I had done so the opportunity in Sheffield was no longer available. My thinking was that London could provide me equally with what was on offer up North. While here, for those that are in the Sheffield area, I highly recommend using the Structure Sport and Fitness gym. Lee is a valuable source of knowledge and I can’t recommend him enough. He helped shape my fitness career because of how much he believed in me. So thank you Lee.
This is where my real journey began as a PT. I continued to work with the manual labour that I had done for many years and trained my clients in the evening. All while learning about my own fitness goals and learning so much that amazed me and made me curious about the human body! I wanted to know everything! So I read more, learned more and used the knowledge on myself before attempting any of it with clients. I learned so much about myself during that time. Fitness and nutrition were now my life! As some of my previous clients will attest to, I loved what I did.
No one client is ever the same, and the challenge became a welcoming part of my week. Not to mention the job satisfaction of getting clients to their fitness goals! I began to look at Personal Training in a whole new light…it wasn’t just for the buff out there, as was previously thought as a teen. It was for everyone! Client’s ranging from those that just wanted to be able to touch their toes, build core strength to the fitness buffs like myself and the ones that just wanted to unleash their days hell of work onto me while the session was going. I didn’t mind! I loved it!
My reading took me to the places where I made my own informed decisions based on consistent advice from reputable sources and trainers that inspired me. Not from trainers who were just looking to give me with the ‘quick fix’ pill. I studied and trained hard which paid off! I gained the athletic body I’d always wanted. I felt injury free because I sought the right advice that I found and tested on myself! I was now my own experiment.
After a few years of training other people, there was still a need for more knowledge. I sought myself to get into a sports science degree. It was easier to keep things local at the time to maintain my work, my clients and my life. I studied my degree at Greenwich and finished with a 2:1 upper class honours which for me felt great to learn and be more. Once again met some friends who will be with me for life.
Now, for anyone else going to university may sound like a normal thing, however I am the first in my family to have ever done so, and I know that to me it’s an achievement that I hold high for myself. So to the people that supported me with that dream, I thank you all (you know who you are if you’re reading this, there are quite a few to mention).
A year after graduation, I found myself out of the gyms. I kept finding that I was constantly scrutinising my workout programmes…I was no longer having fun doing what I was doing because everything felt like a chore. I stopped going altogether and put on weight fast. I started to feel less confident in myself, and lost myself during the process. In my mind I needed to find something that was fun again, because the thought of going to the gym and scrutinising everything I did filled me with dread! How did someone who enjoyed fitness and being active so much come to this?! There were multiple reasons at that stage but the main thing that came into my mind when I looked at myself in the mirror was that I had let myself finally slip, excuses were not going to change what I had let happen. I was enjoying what some might call the good life far too much. I drank a lot more alcohol and ate a lot more crappy food than I had ever done and all for what?!
This is when I began rock climbing. It served the purposes to me of keeping fit and healthy but didn’t have to be structured like my gym routines. It also served to help me enjoy fitness again…All my sports and gym sessions prior to this point taught me that I could have fun and I was always chasing something. Structure is only great if it serves a purpose, i.e. if you want a specific goal and/or achievement i.e. to lose weight or lose fat or run a marathon etc (you get the drift).
Since writing this post my weeks now integrate not only my climbing, but my love for the gym has sprouted once again and I don’t structure anything unless I really have to, because I genuinely enjoy being active and because I now know what I need to do to maintain my lifestyle and figure out that balance. I still spend time enjoying skateboarding with my nephew and he enjoys every moment that I get to teach him how it’s done!
Fitness should always be about having fun…hell life should be fun, so why make fitness any different. If you’re not enjoying it, you’ll fall off the wagon. I know the feeling! We’re only human!
That being said I want my future blogs to help everyone involved to get the enjoyment out of fitness and health. My aim will be to give an insightful read while backing up what I say with reputable sources so that you too can make your own decision about what you think is best for you. So if there are any particular requests that you would like me to discuss in detail then please feel free to drop comments. I want to share and impart my knowledge and expertise with you all and would like to help the many out there in your quest for fitness.
Thank you for reading! Those that managed to get to the bottom of this page without a yawn, well done! I’d like to welcome you to my blog.