So with my diet sorted and the booze cabinet firmly locked, it was time to hit the gym. When I first entered Reach Gym in Clapham, I was somewhat taken back by the lack of machines, not a treadmill or cross trainer in sight – result! With lurid green walls dotted with motivational quotes – and what seemed to be some sort of torture rack – I was intrigued to see how David Arnot would put me through my paces… All I can say is that after week one, I would have begged for a treadmill!
First things first – training gear, David hated my trainers as they did not allow me to move or balance properly so thanks to Nike and a pair of florescent pink Free Bionic trainers I no longer had to train barefoot. I also invested in some lycra, yes you read that right, lycra gym clothes! I was one headband away from Mr. Motivator! Once I was appropriately attired, it was time to start with the basics, the squat.
Like me, you probably think “how hard is it to squat? I know how to do that”. Well, it turns out there is a science behind it and there is such thing as a good squat and a bad squat. When we started, I relied on my legs, as a horse rider and ex gymnast I have always had strong legs, but in doing this I was not using the biggest muscle in my body, my bum. David had me trying to squat with my legs up against the wall so I was forced to use my glut muscles. I had no problem with squatting low as I have good flexibility but my legs tried to take over thus making me lean forward – and David was having none of this. So through weeks one and two we focused on making sure I could squat, and squat properly. From hugging a tree in Regents Park to squatting on a tire to David screaming “bum, bum, bum” at me, we finally got there. I had mastered the squat, gold star for me, to the point I could squat down to the floor and back, straight back without having to sit on anything and no rolling in on my feet or ankles. It seems a small achievement, but being able to squat is the basis for weight lifting so without the basics mastered one is prevented from progressing to the next stage: cue weights.
When I first meet David, I told him I wanted to tone up and not beef up, Madonna was NOT my fitness role model. So when David suggested come week three that we were going to start weight lifting I was somewhat reluctant. Weight lifting has those connotations of steroid fuelled beefcakes with pulsating veins, oiled up, kissing their guns, plus the cage-like structure in Reach Gym was downright scary, like something from a horror movie used for torturing lost backpackers in Eastern Europe. We started small, mixing squats with a weighted bar on my shoulders, then as I was able to do that with ease David added more and more weights. What I liked about David’s style is he is a good judge as to each client’s likes and dislikes. I can be somewhat of a defeatist so knowing how much weight was on the bar would have put me off even trying, so David just didn’t tell me until I lifted it and succeeded, which then gave me an overwhelming feeling of achievement. He also knew I did not like being told what to do, so was very subtle in his ways: “Just 2 more reps and you can have a break”, “Five more squats and you can have some water”, “If you can get over 100 metres in 2 minutes I won’t make you do it again” – this method worked (and correct me if I am wrong, David, I only grumbled a few times but still got on and did it!).
With squats in the bag and squatting with weights progressing, we moved to deadlifts, pushups, chin-ups, resistance training, TRX and my least favourite the vertical climber (I am still formulating a plan to steal this and destroy it), mixed in with warm ups/warm downs on the rower, bike and mats. Little by little, my hate for the gym was slowly washing away. A change was occurring and I was not sure I could put my finger on it. All my colleagues and friends thought I had joined a cult. Changing my diet, sleeping patterns, drinking habits and actually getting up and heading south of the river to be mentally and physically abused, even I was starting to think I was a little addicted! Was it the results, which had started to show? Was it the masses of energy I now had? Was it the feeling of accomplishment from seeing something through and sticking to it? Was it the fact that, let’s face it, David Arnot is pretty easy on the eye and built like an Abercrombie & Fitch model? Was it proving to the doubters I could do it and like it? My answer? All of the above. By week 4, I was converted, so much so that I made conscious decisions even while reviewing restaurants as to meal choices and pairing wines, I went jogging around Regents Park on the weekend, I packed my gym clothes on a press trip – and not just for show, I used them! With two weeks left and the final push, with Christmas and New Year poised to ruin the end result, I was a new woman, I was hell bent on finishing what I had set out to achieve. With David in my corner (and nagging in my ear) I knew I could achieve it, finally I dared to believe!
Visit the website for David Arnot – Personal Trainer and look out for the third and final part of my personal training experience…