So, I hate the gym. I mean, I REALLY hate the gym. Not because I am lazy or do not believe in keeping fit and watching one’s weight, but because they are boring, sweaty, soulless places where you either go to show off or bumble around on machines one has no clue how to use! Back in my corporate life, I not only had a corporate gym membership but also lived in an apartment with a residents gym – both I tried to avoid like the plague. I have always been more of an adventure or outdoors sports enthusiast, cycling, horse riding, rock climbing, hiking anything that did not require me wearing skin tight lycra and bouncing around on a conveyer belt going ENDLESSLY no where!
Cue David Arnot, personal trainer to celebrities, athletes, bodybuilders and now little old me. On my first meeting David, I was somewhat taken back by how young, laid back and how unlike he was from any image I had in my head of a personal trainer (Army drill sergeant telling me I am a worthless maggot and to get down and give them 20 – 20 of what?). Originally hailing from Scotland, David made the move to London seven years ago to begin his career in the health and fitness industry. After graduating with a BSc in Sport Science he went straight on to study for his PT diploma. David was soon spotted as one of the industries most promising personal trainers. The renowned Reach Fitness Gym based in Clapham London, where he is still currently based, quickly snapped him up. Always keen to learn and meet his clients’ individual demands, David has continued to grow his academic portfolio, he is a qualified Charles Poliquin Biosignature Practitioner and has also undertaken further nutritional courses with the world’s top sports nutrition organisation – ISSN.
So, first came the science bit, rather than scales and BMI and any other abbreviations that I would not have a clue about. David Arnot is a qualified Charles Poliquin Biosignature Practitioner, what is that you may ask!?! Well there are 12 major body fat sites that can be quickly and accurately tested by a pair of skin callipers; sites include the cheek, chin, pectoral region, triceps, umbilical, supra iliac, subscapular, mid axillary, quadriceps, hamstrings, knee and calf. Measurements from each site are then compared and this identifies which areas of the body have excessive levels of fat relative to the other body fat sites. Some people may have excessive fat in just one area, while others may have several problem areas. These measurements plus your weight can then determine the percentage of body fat overall. The experience of being measured is somewhat odd, having your fat pinched, measured, recorded and then analysed feels very personal. David knew more about me in one hour than some people will ever know; my lifestyle was laid bare in a graph, colour-coded to show “problem areas” and even before we went over my (appalling) food diary David already knew what I was or was not doing right.
As it turned out, my boozy Michelin star lifestyle was not killing me but it was not doing me any favours either. As a busy lady who during the week barely sleeps or eats and lives off adrenaline and champagne, my problem areas were that my metabolism was rubbish from not fuelling myself properly and thinking that not eating would mean not putting on weight. Oh how wrong I was!
So after submitting my food diary for two weeks, David advised me what I should have been eating, which was basically A LOT MORE! First issue to tackle: breakfast. I hate this meal, I am not a fan of anything marketed for breakfast consumption and because of my body clock and working hours I cannot stomach food early in the day (I blame working in the City where breakfast was a bucket of coffee). However, in order to train I had to eat breakfast, so I would have the energy – something I skipped a few times only to live to regret it and almost a) pass out or b) throw up. I started to eat gluten-free oats and yoghurt and swap coffee for green tea. It was still a struggle, but I knew that David’s advice was sound and that I should actually listen for once in my life.
Second issue to tackle: booze. My working week involves a lot of events, dinners out, cocktails and “business” drinks – so much so that when I wrote my drinking diary I was horrified. Some days I had not eaten any food but consumed my own body weight in alcohol. David’s unimpressed face alone could have prevented me from drinking ever again but the fact it was making me fat (and unhealthy) was the deal breaker. So much to the amazement of my colleagues, friends and loved ones I gave up drinking – not just here and there, but totally in the run up to Christmas and New Year! I was even tee-total at my office Christmas party (hell may have frozen over that day)!
Third issue: three square meals a day. So some days, I eat a 12-course Michelin dinner, then the next I do not eat at all, not because I chose not to but I am busy or forget or I am not hungry. David was not impressed, it was time to make sure, and no excuses, and I ate three times a day and ate something good. So faced with this, I entered my local supermarket for the first time since I moved to Marylebone to buy food. Vegetables, greens, chicken, steak, venison, fish, milk, eggs, cheese – everything back to basics – if it had an ingredients list on it I did not eat it. Everything was fresh, home cooked and healthy and guess what – I loved it. I love to cook, but rarely bother for myself, and David had sparked a new found love of making great food that encouraged me to get creative!
With my healthy eating plan sorted, it was on to the actual gym part. David Arnot had his work cut out – it is a known fact I do not being told what to do, let alone travelling south of the river to be told what to do and then sweating like an extra from Flashdance. So why did I do it? Curiosity? Insanity? No, for once I wanted to allow someone to prove to me that gyms are not evil places where dreams of that beach figure go to die and David was to be that person…
Visit the website for David Arnot – Personal Trainer and look out for part two of my personal training experience…