The idea of having a personal trainer was for me about as appealing as giving up beer for the new year. But with a spirit of adventure and an attitude that considered that you could perhaps teach an old dog new tricks I decided to give it a go. A few weeks on I can safely say it's one of the best decisions I've made in many a year.
Now if you are equally cynical, or perhaps you're already a gym bunny (I'm not sure of the origin of that phrase but I quite like it) then I hope these words may still be of interest. If you're a tubby type or just too busy then you should definitely read on. In fact that probably captures the whole lot of you so without further ado, let's be having you.
There are a raft of complicated conditions that may affect us as we grow old; knees, backs, shoulders, hips all begin to creak, but ailments are not purely the preserve of the ancient. The God's honest truth is that we are all different and that's why having a personal trainer allows that unique appreciation of you and yourself. This is what makes this thoroughly indulgent preoccupation not just incredibly good value but infinitely worthwhile. Let's face it we can all (well most of us) go on a Park Run, or grunt a bit in the gym, we can swim or cycle if we really want to, or we can go for a good brisk walk, but as I have recently found there is nothing like securing the help of an expert to really show some improvement.
Needless to say that means meeting someone who you get on with, someone who understands you, who you can chat to, someone who will set the bar at the right height – not too low, and definitely not too high. Yes this person has to be someone who, despite your busy schedule, or your private nature, is someone you want to go and see.
With the encouragement of my wife and the recommendation of my daughters, I arrive at Be Fit in an unlikely part of Kenton, Newcastle. Don't let the hidden away location put you off, it's a gem of a gym and in Michael Curn I have found someone who I believe (and that's one of the key ingredients) can and will make a difference. To say he cares is an understatement, but equally he's relaxed, charming, funny as well as genuinely keen to help. In my case there's a string of minor issues with the chief culprit being a dodgy knee. Now if you are really ancient and are thinking that gyms are merely for the body building bore, well think again. My body may be a temple, but it has been a ruined one for many a year, and it needs all the TLC it can muster. By having a personal trainer, whether you have arthritic joints that need gentle work or you want the body of a Grecian god, everything is possible, and that's the real key to keeping it personal. While I wouldn't be as indiscreet to discuss people I have met on this recent journey I can report that their background and persona is as varied as it is refreshing. The one common chord is a genuine desire to be fit, or fitter at least.
For me my routine is now fairly routine, or is it? Superficially, it follows a pattern but then everything changes. I tend to go for an hour, I change into my kit (though many come ready for action) and the first 25 minutes or so take in a series of stretching exercises. What a 'doddle' I hear you say, and yes it is really, but it's crucial too. This is the time when you can let it all out. It's a cross between a chat, a bit of a moan about what's not working but most importantly it's essential preparation for your work in the gym. It also doubles as a way to unwind, something that none of us should take for granted. Michael also uses this opportunity to spend some of the time (well with me at least) to explain the importance of his 'if it flies, swims or runs diet'. I won't go into that now, diets are all a little cranky, but it does demonstrate to me that he's someone who really cares about fitness...
I mean really cares. He also loves the variety each appointment of each day brings.
From stretching, we head next door to the gym. It's a relatively small space and because I tend to go outside peak times there have seldom been more than four people in at one time, which I really like. That said, it's a friendly place and because you are working with your own trainer you feel very much at home. Music plays, it varies dramatically, my request for Show Boat has yet to be heard and each day the mood seems to differ. As Michael explains, 'Every day is different, none should be the same, I often plan a workout but it doesn't always go to plan.' If that sounds like someone who doesn't have a clue then nothing could be further from the case. What this means is that if you are having a specific problem he will swap things round and work on it. Interlaced with this will be advice on basic matters such as posture, diet (yes he constantly mentions the importance of the gut) as well as a whole range of other chit chat. Concentrating on my knee initially, all the work has been focused on strengthening this joint, and you know what it really does help. OK it's always going to be my weak link but it's definitely in better shape now. 'Let's do some moonwalking,' Michael piped up one morning. 'I can't moonwalk,' I unhelpfully replied. 'You will by the end of this', he retorted. OK Michael Jackson may have been a tad better but I had at least mastered the movement required.
In effect what is happening constantly is an assessment of how you are and the action needed to improve your mobility, strength and ultimately your fitness. As Michael puts it, 'I guess I'm more like a body mechanic than a personal trainer'. I think he's right too. One person he 'trains' travels many miles just to have work done on arthritic fingers. I guess that is the key. It's all entirely personal.
The fact that no workout is the same and nearly all exercises differ makes the process exacting without hurting and varied and engaging. Let's face it, we are all different. What Be Fit offer is somewhere you can push yourself as far as you want while at the same time getting vaulable advice, assessment and to a great extent the confidence to journey on. As my session ends I pick up my usual pre-departure drink and book another appointment... it's all incredibly smooth.
There are many ways we can spend our time and money. From a former 'gym' cynic, I can safely say finding a personal trainer has not just been an investment in my health and wellbeing, it has also allowed me a welcome (and necessary) look at my way of living, and that for anyone, whatever our age or physical fitness is something we should all do more regularly.
For more information visit www.be-fit.co.uk
Be Fit, Gosforth 0191 213 5300