From the moment I lost considerable weight, I have been approached by people and companies looking to align my success with their products.
One of my personal trainers, Scott, asked me about my goals. He may have been expecting me to say that I wanted to be lighter, stronger and faster, but instead I told him that I wanted to be able to climb trees, swing from bars and jump over walls. I wanted to be able to play with my boys and I wanted to be more flexible and supple. This pleased him greatly and over the past few months, I’ve been hanging from bars, practising on rings and crawling on the ground
So, when my friends at Strathmore Water invited me along to their Do More event with Commonwealth Games Gymnastics superstar and Do More Ambassador Dan Keatings, I pictured Dan being overwhelmed by my grace, strength and ability on the apparatus.
What can I say? I have a vivid imagination and an overwhelming amount of self belief.
Plus, look at me on these rings!
If ever there was a blogger prepared for an event, it was me. What I wasn’t prepared for was the scene I witnessed on my arrival. For one moment, I thought I had arrived at a One Direction event, not one for Dan Keatings. For it was full of screaming and hyper children.
I have often questioned the value of using athletes to promote physical activity to the masses, but seeing how the children responded to Dan, my views have changed (a little). These children were in awe of Dan and in turn, I was in awe of them.
In the waiting area they were jumping up in down, doing cartwheels, splits and various others moves that made me wince. I shared a look of fear and bewilderment with some of the other adults present.
To get us warmed up, we played a version of Tig. Two youngsters and I were charged with catching every other attendee, making them stop and wait till someone crawled under their legs, before they could resume running
I felt like Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, as I ordered the ten year old on my left and the twelve year old on my right to take the flanks while I assaulted the main body. I also pictured a lion hunting gazelles. I did say I had a vivid imagination.
Ten minutes later, my pride was shattered and I was lying on my back, gasping for breath. I had forgotten how fast and light on their feet, children could be.
I had also forgotten that I had often wondered how gymnasts looked like they did. With cover model physiques and muscles upon muscles. The first training session provided an answer. I was only just recovering from chasing the kids, when we split into three groups, with my group enduring a strength sapping circuit class. The presence of Dan Keating did momentarily give me a boost.
As I did planks, press ups, burpees and crunches, my eyes were drawn to the other two groups. One session had the kids focusing on their floor work and the other had them working on their pummel skills. Both groups showed more talent than I could ever hope to achieve and my own efforts on the apparatus were met with laughter and even some applause, as I seemed to invent new ways of landing. Most of which involved my backside.
Throughout the morning I was amazed and impressed by the skills and attitudes of the kids present. Hidden amongst them might be future champions, but in my eyes they also represented hope. We often read about how inactive the youth of Scotland are, but here were a large group of kids who had honed some impressive skills and who genuinely loved what they were doing and who hung on every word of advice Dan gave them.
However, despite all their hard work, there can only be one, and it was left to Dan Keatings to make the final judgement and decide upon his star pupil:
I spoke to Dan later about his success, his future goals and his training. Like Libby and Robbie before him, he is determined, dedicated and disciplined while also humble and passionate about his sport. With Glasgow hosting the Gymnastic World Championships in 2015, he has another challenging year ahead.
He too spoke about the children, about how impressive they were and how important it is to get them involved and to keep them engaged. His own training started at five years old, as he prepared to follow his family into Thai Boxing and it shows the value of being a Try Athlete at a young age. We can’t predict what sports and activities our children will enjoy, but we can try and let them Do More of them and allow them to discover new talents and their own interests.
I started joint Personal Training (PT) sessions with my girlfriend, Teresa, partly because I wanted to support her and I do enjoy doing activities with her.
We cycle together, we go to classes together and now we even run together via Great Run Local.
It made sense to train together. Especially with our trip to Australia only 11 weeks away (eek). Plus, I enjoy any opportunity to train.
I do my own PT with the brilliant Scott Devenney PT and have great fun crawling around, hanging about and playing with bars and sticks (this is great fun and tough). If you want to improve your movement and feel stronger mentally and physically (and feel like a kid again), I really can’t recommend Scott enough.
My sessions with Teresa are with Christine Docherty and they are different. I absolutely love her Kettlecise class (and Zumba, but don’t tell anyone) and when Teresa said she was doing personal training I didn’t have to be convinced to sign up.
With her, we play with Battle Ropes and Kettlebells. We spar with boxing gloves (Teresa enjoys this, just a little too much), we sprint (oh, the sprints) and we squat.
Whether it is Zumba, Metafit or Kettlecise, it has become clear that Christine likes squats.
She combines these lethally with stair sprints and stair jumps.
And it is fantastic. Not just because I’m with Teresa, but because Christine, like Scott, provides a great variety of exercises and knows both our weaknesses and our strengths.
We train in a park and watched classes of people simply sprinting up a hill. Again and again. Yes, it may be effective, but how quickly would you tire (no pun intended) of that?
Having both Scott and Christine encourage and challenge us (especially about our food diaries) is complementing and enhancing what we do throughout the week. It is making us feel fitter and stronger.
And this is the point of my ramblings. I often advocate that we should find and do activities we enjoy. This is still true, but we should also fill our days with a variety of activities.
Personalise how you exercise.
Try not to focus all your efforts on one activity. Be, as I ALWAYS suggest, a Try-Athlete. If possible find others to train with and with whom you can be accountable to.
Blend your approach to exercise and you will have a smoother journey to fitness.
Think not just about classes or running but think about all the little changes you can make to your day. From using stairs more (you don’t have to jump them four at a time) to gardening and investing in a good personal trainer (they DO make a difference), everything you do should make you feel healthier and happier. Do any of us really need more than this?
SpogoUK have set me the challenge of coming up with this week’s #1PercentMore Challenge. Over the past few months we’ve seen amazing efforts at planks, burpees, wall squats and various other body weight movements. The times set and the repetitions recorded have been fantastic and although I’ve usually found myself in the lower half of the Spogo leaderboard, I’ve enjoyed the Challenges.
Now, it’s my turn and my #1PercentMore Challenge is simple. Imagine if we could encourage 1% of the population to be more active. Not those that are already physically active, but those that are relatively sedentary and even those that do some activities. What impact would that have on the health of the nation?
I’m asking each of you to encourage, inspire and/or introduce someone to a new activity. Make them (and you!) a Try Athlete. Post updates of your efforts (and hopefully successes) on social media, using #1PersonMoreActive and let’s get more people, more active, more often.
Small steps and small changes. It could be walking more or playing with the kids more. Getting onto a bike or into a pool. Anything that gets them (and you, remember) moving, just a little more.
One step at a time and one person at a time.