Becoming stronger and fitter than I’ve ever been12th March 2018
I was never really a fan of exercise.
Looking back to my time at secondary school I now realise that I was spoiled. Jedburgh Grammar had tennis courts, a climbing wall, 100m running track and even a dry ski slope – and because it was in the Borders it felt like we had “double rugby” every afternoon.
Growing up in the hometown of Scottish rugby greats including Gary Armstrong, Roy Laidlaw and his nephew, current Scotland number 9 Greig, you’d expect a tall, broad-shouldered lad like myself to be fully into the sport. Even more so when you learn that my P.E. teacher was Bill Johnstone, the now retired BBC Radio commentator, and nephew of the legendary Bill McLaren.
But, honestly, despite Mr Johnstone’s insatiable passion for it, I hated playing rugby and those cold, damp winter afternoons at the Glebe, in the shadows of the magnificent Jedburgh Abbey, really put me off exercise of any kind for a long time.
My lifestyle has always been very sedate and so it’s little wonder that I piled on the pounds (and the stones) over the years.
It’s not that I didn’t try, though. I regularly get notifications on my phone of Facebook memories from a few years ago that say things like “I think I’m addicted to exercise” (I clearly wasn’t!) and “that’s 5 days in a row at the gym!” (and probably the drive-thru).
Yes, I tried. Probably quite half-heartedly. But I tried.
As we now know, it didn’t work and eventually reached the stage where I was struggling to put one foot in front of the other and that’s when I realised that I needed professional help. This came in the form of Adele Mackenzie, a personal trainer at the Jamie Tulloch Health Club in Inverness.
I don’t remember much about my first session with Adelle, other than being really apprehensive beforehand and very quickly becoming completely out of breath after 5 minutes of warming up on the cross-trainer.
Luckily, Adele keeps a record of everything and I asked her if she’d kindly dig out her notes from that very first session. Here’s what Adele told me after looking back:
“We did a lot of technique etc in your first session followed by 2 rounds of 30 seconds work, 30 seconds rest of the following.
6kg kettlebell squats
6kg kettlebell swings
6kg kettlebell clean & press
10kg kettlebell upright row
6kg kettlebell lunges”
That’s a total of 6 minutes of work with 6 minutes of rest. But I was knackered and I remember feeling sore the next day.
Fast forward the clock and I’m now at the gym 5 or 6 times each week. My usual schedule is:
Monday – Circuits class or gym session
Tuesday – HIIT class or high-intensity gym session
Wednesday – Boxing class AND a high-intensity gym session
Thursday – Kettlebells class or high-intensity gym session
Friday – Gym class
Saturday – High-intensity gym session
Sunday – Rest (although I was at the gym yesterday!)
I’ve also got a bike and once the weather gets a bit better I’ll be out at least once a week, hopefully twice.
When I look at what I did in that first session it’s hard to believe that I’m now doing 5, 6, even 7 exercise sessions per week, especially when you look at some of the content of those sessions. And, even more surprisingly, I absolutely love it.
That first session contained a lot of kettlebell exercises so I asked Jonathan Clark of Form & Function Fitness, who takes the kettlebells class that I now attend if I could takeaway his notes from the session.
I’ve just added it up and during that particular kettlebells class there was 29.5 minutes of high-intensity exercise and just over 10 minutes of rest. And instead of using a 6kg kettlebell I use a 10 and a 12.
Unbelievable. This is the first time I’ve done a comparison. Getting to this stage was relatively gradual but the result is that I’m now stronger and fitter than I’ve ever been. And it’s not just about conditioning my body, exercise has also worked wonders for my mental health too. I’m more confident than ever and much more focussed at work and at home.
I’m also determined to hit my weight target.
A lot of the gym sessions I do are part of the Manup project that I’m part of at the Jamie Tulloch Health Club. It was designed by Jamie to help guys who need a kick up the arse to sort out what they eat and the exercise they do – and it’s safe to say it’s working!
I’ll tell you more about what it involves next week.