The February 2021 Client of the Month is someone who’s continuously impressed me with his dedication to keeping fit – even when it meant giving up his habitual tipple in the evening. I’m very excited and happy to announce that Simon is the February 2021 Client of the Month!
Simon contacted me in mid-October last year, looking to find some direction with his training. He particularly wanted to focus on building strength, as he was already a keen runner who was in decent shape.
Simon recently made the move from London to Bath and has enjoyed discovering this beautiful city – especially during his twice weekly runs across the Bath skyline. Simon’s previous personal trainer in London concentrated on building muscle and strength, so I wanted to continue his good work and push Simon even further.
Due to lockdown causing the closure of gyms, Simon had been missing strength training and its associated benefits. Together, we began to plan a programme that would help Simon regain his flexibility and mobility – and help him develop his strength so that he could continue to run pain-free.
My first session with Simon was on a cold and damp autumn morning just before dawn. Forging ahead with our plan to increase Simon’s strength, I set up the mobile squat stand with an Olympic bar racked. I did a quick demonstration with a light weight and then it was Simon’s turn.
Simon performed 10 reps with poor mobility and then immediately turned to me to say, “I don’t want my legs to feel sore tomorrow”.
“Ok, well, I’m afraid that’s just going to happen,” was my not entirely unsympathetic reply.
Begrudgingly, Simon went on to perform the next four sets. After the final set, he baulked at the thought of squatting again. However, strong legs are at the core of every athlete’s performance and are vitally important – especially for runners. I like to train legs early in sessions to help prevent bad techniques developing that could potentially lead to injury. Any of the ‘big lifts’ put a strain on the energy system, so I always like to schedule them early in any workout.
After our initial stand-off, Simon agreed that training legs was an essential part of the process – which was just as well, as I wasn’t going to back down! After doing some deadlifts (another great exercise!), we started working on the upper body and he finally relaxed – that winning smile was back and Simon made his first step towards becoming a Client of the Month.
Like many of us, Simon is a very social character, so lockdown has been tough for him. However, as Aristotle wrote, “knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom”. As we worked together on his weight training, Simon found that it wasn’t only benefitting him physically – it was also significantly helping his mental health as well. This is something that many clients experience as they progress with their training.
Happily, Simon has also seen some fantastic improvements in his mobility and strength since Christmas. Those annoying injury niggles that were bothering Simon when we first began training are fading – and I find that I’m loading the van with heavier kettlebells on a weekly basis.
In addition to his weight training, Simon has also begun doing hill reps. He lives on a very steep incline, so he’s able to easily do a 10 minute mobility session and a pulse raising warm-up before he tackles a set of 10 hill reps. This is definitely not for the faint hearted, so Simon deserves top kudos for this! Simon also has the privilege of having the beautiful English countryside on his doorstep. He makes sure to take full advantage of this by going running twice a week over the beautiful Bath hills.
One of the things that really clinched the title of February 2021 Client of the Month for Simon was the fact that he gave up alcohol – much to the delight of his trainer! Alcohol consumption was on the increase in the UK in 2020, with sales increasing 18.1% from 2019 (an especially astonishing statistic considering that bars and pubs were closed for most of the year). However, no one could deny that COVID-19 made 2020 a particularly stressful year. For many people, drinking at home became the ‘new normal’.
However, since Simon stopped drinking, he found that both the duration and quality of his sleep has improved. This gave him more energy to be able to work effectively, which in turn gave Simon more free time to exercise. Simon was able to build a really healthy cycle – less alcohol equalled better sleep, which gave him more energy, which meant he exercised more. This all culminated in Simon experiencing improved mental and physical wellbeing. Simon told me, “I cannot believe how well I have slept and felt since giving up the booze. As a result, I have more energy and time for my family and we’re enjoying life together. Being more active with the kids and having the energy to keep up with them has been great motivation to continue drinking less.”
One of the often overlooked aspects of alcohol is what a drink can actually contain. A bottle of wine will have approximately 625 calories, some of which comes from the sugar that boosts the alcohol content. This process is called ‘chaptalization’ and is also designed to assist the yeast during the fermentation process. Some cheaper wines will even include processed sugar as well.
However, sugar isn’t the only addition. Sulphur dioxides are one of the most common additives in wine, usually known simply as ‘sulphites’. This is used to preserve the grapes and prevent oxidisation during the winemaking process. It’s also one of the few additives that must be displayed on a wine bottle’s label – but only if the sulphur dioxide exceeds 10mg per litre.
While the amount of sulphites in a glass of wine is small and harmless, an excessive consumption of wine over the course of many months can potentially cause issues. In fact, there are even some vineyards that are currently producing organic wine that’s sulphite-free.
While a glass or two of wine every once in a while is perfectly fine, adults in the UK are consuming more alcohol than ever before. It’s important to remember that too much sugar (processed or natural) can be bad for your health – especially when combined with alcohol and sulphites.
This is why it’s fantastic to see Simon improving his health and wellbeing by committing to drinking less.
2021 – A BETTER YEAR!
With lockdown restrictions being gradually eased every few weeks and the success of the mass vaccination programme, it looks as though the UK is heading back to some semblance of ‘normal’ after a year of the pandemic.
However, as schools reopen their doors, gyms dust off their weight racks and society prepares to ‘go back’ to normal, some aspects of our old lives shouldn’t return. Simon is going to lead by example and I encourage you to follow in his impressive footsteps: stop excessive drinking, start lifting weights (yes, even the leg exercises!), get out into the English countryside and run up those hills.
It’s time to restart our lives, but let’s not go backwards. Let’s move forward into a healthier, stronger, fitter and happier way of living. We must learn from these past 12 months. Another pandemic could very well hit us again and we need to be better prepared. Having a BMI of 35-40 means that the chances of dying from COVID-19 increase by 40% – not to mention the other health complications that can also arise.
So let’s not fall into old habits, but instead use Simon, the February 2021 Client of the Month, as a shining example of living healthier to be happier.