Last year I turned 40 and after seeing the beginning of a noticeable weight gain due to a few years in this desk-based job versus my previously non-static freelance career ?I was extremely eager to get fit and fight these beginnings of middle age creep. Turning 40 was quite a milestone for me and in the 9 months since, I have felt the best I have felt for almost the entire last decade. I put this increased verve down to a specific fitness programme I embarked on and the life lessons it taught me.
Now, I'm a very typical female; I've tried all the diets - Atkins was a pain in the ass, the 5:2 diet worked for a while, grapefruits before every meal just became gross, I even tried meal-replacement shakes, for which there are no words for their joylessness(and headaches).
I've toyed with classes (hello Pilates, un-guided gym sessions, learning to run) all of which were fairly hateful. Everyone says that, like relationships, with fitness you just have to find The One - the one regime and routine that suits your life, time, personality etc.
Well, I tried, but I was lost. The One and I had never met.
Then one day I was scrolling through Facebook and came across something interesting called The 8 Week Transformation and my interest was piqued for several reasons. A) they claimed the reduction of a dress size in 8 weeks or 'your money back', which I thought was a very brave promise. B) The studio was based near where I live, and C) it seemed to be a more holistic approach where your diet and training were closely combined with ongoing coaching.
Ongoing coaching! This?seemed like what I needed. That kick in the ass to follow through on my good intentions (I've never been great at keeping things consistent - its a Gemini thing I believe).
So I set up a meeting with Damian Hall, the founder of Complete Personal Training and the mastermind behind The 8 Week Transformation. He chooses only 9 people for each programme and me meets them all prior to see if they are dedicated to making a change to their lives and fitness outcomes. This is good for two reasons - so that there are like-minded people training together for the same goal, and also so that he can gauge the levels of success in advance (he has to know he can follow through on that 'or your money back' promise after all!).
On meeting him I was struck by his innate passion and belief in fitness as a positive force for people's lives. And also his knowledge. This guy trains elite athletes as well as us regular people. He continuously puts himself through on-going training and education in the latest ?fitness, health and nutrition innovations and techniques. He has a mentor in the UK whom he regularly visits. He lives and breathes fitness and it shows. He is also a terribly nice person, never making you feel silly, insecure or as though you can't achieve your goal. After talking to him for an hour about my lifestyle and non-fitness levels, he got me. I was hooked on the concept and determined to begin (and finish) the process.
And that's how it began, here's how it played out...
The aim: To get fit for 40!
The method: The Complete Personal Training 8 Week Transformation Programme.
What's involved: A 8 week series of personal training sessions and bootcamps merged with targeted, specialised nutritional coaching - all mixed up in an ?always on? private Facebook group for added accountability and support seven days per week.
Length of time trialled: 8 weeks
How it worked?: After an initial and in depth consultation with Damian Hall, the founder of Complete Personal Training, to see if I was dedicated enough to take it on, my personal plan was formed. Damian recruits for the 8 Week Transformation in a specific way where he almost matches personalities and fitness levels, so that the groups (of nine only) per programme have a compatibility that grows into a successful support network. He takes great care in this process, it being a key cornerstone in his fitness concept that is grounded in transparency.
Once set up in the private Facebook group, you meet your fellow Transformation crew at the first session in Damian's Dalkey studio. After that you are put on a rotation of one PT session per week with two other Transformation ?team members?, as well as a larger boot camp session with access to 16 classes should you want to. Damian, who has trained many elite athletes, educates on nutrition and has rules to abide by - carbs only after training, no sugar or dairy, and a huge increase in water and green tea along with supplements (pro-biotics, multi-vitamins, omega oils as basics). And here's the real clincher - when following the programme, you must post a picture of everything you eat and drink on the Facebook page so Damian can see what you are up to (and give out where needs be!). And that's where the real bonus is - if you feel you are faltering or failing, post your wobble on the page to be met by waves of intense support. Either cries of ?you can get through this? when hit by sugar cravings, or helpful 'don't beat yourself up, start again tomorrow? posts if you did hit the Dairy Milk. This was, for me, the transformative element as it helped create a mindful way of eating during a time-frame where new physical habits were being built via the training schedule,
And what of the training? It was focused HIIT and Tabata based - all intensely cardio focused and performed under a very watchful eye each and every time.
Result:?I lost 12.4lb, 2% body fat, 7 inches off my tummy and 4 off my hips. And I felt the fittest I've ever felt.
My Thoughts : At the start it hurt like nothing I've known, but results come quickly and the impetus to carry on is forged. From not being able to do a squat properly, I can now hold a plank for a full two minutes and I can do rounds of burpees! The other thing that stood out was not only the superior knowledge and skill of Damian and his trainers, but also their kindness - it's a tough 8 weeks to embark on, and they get that, it feels like a truly transformative experience and when it was over, I missed my team (who became like pals) and the habit of posting in our little Facebook group each day.
Recommended For:?Anyone who wants to get in shape, learn how to manage their fitness for the future and clean up their diet in a meaningful and mindful way.
After the eight weeks finished I continued to go to a few bootcamps and Damian gave me a HIIT workout routine to do at home. I also make sure to walk five days per week minimum and I have taken up yoga via a YouTube channel that I love! (more on that to come).
All in all, the 8 Week Transformation was something truly life-changing for me, and I put that down to that complex, mysterious thing of finding 'The One'. This worked for me for so many reasons and now, a few months after, I am still mindful of how much I move, how I eat and maybe more poignantly, how important and precious my health and fitness really is.