My interest in fitness-how it all began
One typically cold and rainy night in Chesterfield England way back in 1980 I was feeling very bored flicking through the only three TV channels we had being BBC1, BBC2 & ITV hoping to find something entertaining when a documentary called `Pumping Iron` came on. Not knowing anything about this I decided it may be worth watching, so I settled down and was completely shocked by the size of these monsters filling my small TV screen, after about 15 minutes I realized these were real people and not some camera or computer enhanced figures. Right from that moment I knew I was destined to become a `Gym Rat` for life! Immediately after the show ended, I called my friend who had also been watching equally impressed.
“Did you see the size of that guy? and what about that Arnold character with the weird last name?” we both agreed on a time and set off the next morning to a sports store in the local town center to purchase a cheap weight set of plastic sand filled weights, well they seemed good at the time. In our eagerness we hadn`t considered how we were to get them home. Since neither of us could drive at that time we had to walk the 5 miles home carrying a 100lb. weights set! After a few very hard & long hours we finally got them home by which time we were both so tired and sore we didn`t start working out for another week! And that`s how it all began.
Overtraining with little gains
So, six months later I’m training like crazy, seven days a week sometimes twice a day. Constantly waking up the next morning unable to move because I’m so sore through over training No-Pain-No-Gain, right? I’m quite proud of the fact that I’m able to get rid of the soreness each day just in time to hit the weights again. No thought to any kind of diet, eating everything in sight and drinking lots of beer at the weekends, dressed in muscle shirts everywhere I go showing off those tiny biceps to anyone who is crazy enough to look! Of course I’m not making any gains and have no idea why, but by now I’m totally obsessed with the weights, like a drug I must have my fix of iron, yes I have progressed from the plastic sand filled ones to real iron weights and no I didn’t walk home 5 miles with these, I ordered them from a catalog along with a lightweight bench.
The kitchen is my gym, mum not happy!
I’m working out in the kitchen now which has turned into my gym with dad spotting me on a 150lb. bench press, this is getting hard work as dad isn’t sure he can lift this, come to think of it I’m not sure I can either! Now this really isn’t an ideal situation to have to carry all the equipment from a closet, set up the bench and all the weights which is a workout in itself. Work out, then put them all back again in the closet afterwards, and all the time we are keeping mum out of her kitchen, and she isn’t too pleased to say the least. This goes on for a further two years with very little gains to show for my efforts, and then I finally see the light, and much to mum`s delight, I decided I really need to join a gym.
My first experience of a real gym
This is great, a real gym with real bodybuilders working out there. In fact, it’s an old Doctor`s surgery that someone has turned into a gym with very old equipment, some of which is homemade. The gym has no name and comes complete with a hole in the roof above the leg press machine. Now winter in England is no joke as its freezing and always seems to be snowing on leg day. Each time I emerge from the leg press in a light covering of snow. I love this place, it has real character and I’m still working out almost every day with of course no gains to show for my pains, plenty of pains at this point.
Great advice from a guy who knows
One day I get lucky and meet the owner, a real genuinely great guy who informs me I’m over training and need to cut back to three sessions a week if I really want to develop muscle and strength, and also pay attention to my diet. I never considered I was doing too much and being a `gym addict` now I’m worrying about what I will do on my four days off. But I take his word for it and do as he says, and like magic I start developing muscles without the previous pain, now I’m experiencing a nice soreness that isn’t severe.
I’m getting to train with lots of experienced people now all offering great advice, and I’m in the best shape since I started and start to realize the mistakes I made in the beginning. Two years later the owner moved to another part of town and opened a fantastic gym! This place has much more modern equipment, bigger building, a name and no holes in the roof and still going strong today. On my four days off I’m studying about various aspects of everything associated to the gym, correct form, nutrition, cardio etc. By this time, it`s four years since I first started working out. I have a great training program, and for the first time I really know what I’m doing in a gym, in fact to the extent that I’m now a certified personal trainer.
Time to move to the USA
In 2001 I swapped the cold weather of England for the hot weather in South Texas! After I worked for one of the `Big name` gyms a short time I then found the perfect place to work. As an independent trainer I found I was more able to work on my own style rather than training like everyone else. So basically, if you come to me as a client you will be getting well over twenty years’ experience and I will be more than happy to give you value for money and really help you to the best of my ability to help you bring the best out of yourself without over doing it, and to reach your fitness goals, but to first start you out on the correct path.
My own gym – The Backyard Gym
In 2018 I opened my own gym called `The Backyard Gym` which saw me move away from personal training slightly, to focus on my real passion of self-defense and kickboxing. I have devised my own style of self-defense called `Street self-defense` which is a no-nonsense approach martial art based on evading and escaping an attack, the elaborate moves on the movies look great but will not help you at all if you’re attacked simply because they don’t work, this does!
You don’t have to be Bruce Lee or a black belt to defend yourself. Street self-defense works for anyone-from young kids being bullied at school to the elderly out walking their dog at night-and allows everyone to effectively protect themselves and is proving to be a big success.
Here at the Backyard Gym we are running an ongoing campaign to try and help young kids overcome this terrible issue by giving them the confidence and skills to protect themselves. It`s one thing to know what to do, but, it`s another thing entirely to have the confidence to stand up to a bully and use those skills. That’s why I believe we have developed the all-around package for kids to successfully be able to do both and live their lives free of bullying.
A serious message to end with
This is the final part of my story, the part that has the serious message that I want to get over to anyone who may be thinking of starting out lifting weight. I don`t claim to know everything, but from my own experiences and mistakes I feel that I`m qualified to offer some serious advice. The first three years or so I pretty much wasted by throwing myself headfirst into this without any serious thought behind what I was doing, it was very much trial and error, mainly error I must admit. All this pain and wasted time could have been avoided if I’d have thought to seek the help of a good trainer to start me out on the correct path. But then again, looking back now some twenty plus years ago I`m glad to have made these mistakes because it really makes me aware of how a client is feeling when first coming to me for help, and I`m very happy to guide them away from that kind of start I made. I know firsthand the `No-Pain-No-Gain` attitude can be a very dangerous guide to follow and certainly know what it feels like following this style of training.
Well, I hope you enjoyed reading my bio as much as I enjoyed telling it, I know a lot of it sounds amusing, but it also carries a very important message about safety and starting off in the correct manner.