Well, there you are. And here I am. You’ve clicked on this page, so presumably you’re expecting some kind of explanation. So here it is; I will make every effort to keep it as brief as possible.
I was always an active, sporty child. All the way through school, I played football, rugby, cricket. I was a decent enough sprinter to reach county level, at which point I was hopelessly outclassed. I remember one time at some county championships, I was at the start of the 200m. Looking around at the field, it seemed to consist solely of huge, musclebound slabs of meat in running spikes and lycra. And me, a stick thin weed that more closely resembled an escaped prisoner from a gulag. I was so terrified of making a fool of myself that a little bit of wee came out. Worse still, I finished fourth and therefore qualified for the final. In which I came seventh. I had not intended to start this page with an anecdote about wetting myself at an athletics meeting, but that’s what has happened so I’m just going to have to live with it.
Anyway, you get the point and can probably see where all this is heading. As I reached my late teens, I was introduced to the delights of cigarettes and alcohol. I was still playing rugby, and I guess was fit enough (and had a high metabolic rate) to not see any real difference in either my weight or my fitness. But then something happens one day, and you are forced to reevaluate things. I drank and smoked my way through my twenties, and even had a brief period in which I joined a gym and went regularly for about a year. I ran a couple of half marathons. But I was not, in any meaningful sense, fit.
Rather than bore you with a list of events that combined to finally make me realise I had to do something, I’ll bring you up to date as quickly as I can. A few years ago, my sister bought me a book for Christmas called ‘Born To Run’ by Christopher McDougall. It’s a great book, and if you haven’t read it, you should. It turned me on to something called ‘barefoot running’, which it’s fair to say probably changed my life. Although I had made more of a commitment to try and run regularly, I wasn’t really feeling it. I was definitely a pavement plodder, trudging along in my massively heeled (and massively overpriced) running shoes. After reading Born To Run, I immediately bought a pair of huarache sandals and taught myself how to run in them. (You can find out what a inept job I made of it by reading some of the early posts in this blog.) Almost overnight, I actually ‘got into’ running. I started writing about it here. It was great, I had a new lease of life. I began logging my runs, competing with myself. I also got injured. A lot.
So what happened when I got injured. Well, er… Nothing. I couldn’t run, so I just didn’t do anything. And then as soon as I was able to, I’d start running again. It was good, insofar as I believe any exercise is better than no exercise. But I couldn’t avoid the truth – that I could go for days or even weeks at a time without running.
Here is my problem with a running as a means of keeping fit and losing weight. It works, but only if you are absolutely 100% committed to it. And by that I don’t mean going out and doing it two or three times a week. I mean doing it five or even six times a week. This is just my opinion, but if you work in an office and think that you’re doing enough exercise by running 8-10 miles a week, you are wrong. I work from home, and although my weight had come down a little bit from when I was not doing anything, I was still probably the best part of about 10-12 pounds overweight. I was also aware of the fact that although running is a great thing to do from an aerobic aspect, it does precisely nothing for developing muscle strength.
Six or seven months ago, I was lent a book called ‘Younger Next Year’ by Chris Crowley. (Which I still haven’t returned. Sorry mate.) It talks about what happens to us as we age, and how modern life (in terms of routine, diet and so on) has tricked our bodies into basically decaying and breaking down long before they should. It’s a good read, if a little gung-ho at times. But essentially, it states that if you want to be fit, healthy and happy as you go through middle age and enter old age, then… [drum roll] You need to exercise. Sounds pretty obvious, right? So why is it that most people don’t do it? And more to the point, was I doing it?
The book recommends (among other things) joining a gym. No shortcuts, no excuses – just join a gym, suck it up and go there every day if you can. The benefits are huge. Everywhere you look, you see the consequences of what happens to people who have not exercised throughout their lives. It ain’t pretty. So I started looking at local gyms, and getting myself back into a mindset of doing that kind of exercise again. One problem: I HATE GYMS. Just loathe them. Everything about them. I hate the environment, I hate the people, I hate the machines and I hate getting other people’s sweat on me. But tough shit. Got to do it. I phoned and spoke to someone at a new gym that had opened just a few miles down the road. Just had to run it past my wife (as she was also interested) and would call them back to arrange an induction.
Later that day (LITERALLY THAT VERY DAY), I received the following email from the same friend that lent me the Younger Next Year book:
We do this for 12 weeks. 3 evenings a week. https://www.freeletics.com/en/get_coach
It looks difficult and the chances of me sticking to it on my own are slim. If we did it together, then I think it would be doable and may even be fun.
Hmm. Freeletics. Interesting. A workout plan that doesn’t actually require going to a gym. That I could do at home. That I didn’t need any equipment for, provided I had something to attempt pull ups with. Like a lot of other people, I ended up watching Levent’s video (which has a mere 6.5m views to date):
Now I was really interested, not least because my body shape at the time was quite similar to Levent’s in the ‘before’ shot on this video. So I gave it a go. Admittedly, I was very much attracted to the idea of a quick fix, of working my arse off for fifteen weeks and looking amazing at the end. I’ve had to be a little more realistic with my aims, but in a good way. I’m not looking for a quick fix, I’m just doing this until I can’t do it anymore. But for anyone reading this, I can tell you categorically that Freeletics works. I immediately found out that despite all my running, I wasn’t fit. I wasn’t strong. I was completely useless in those early workouts. And now – I’m a lot less useless. It’s horrible at times, like anything that requires massive effort. But it is worth it, I promise you.
I set this blog up for one reason really – I like writing. I was doing quite a bit of running so I thought I’d write about it. Occasionally I will write about other things as well. But once I started Freeletics, I thought I’d write about that instead. And it kind of took off a little bit. The blog went from having virtually no regular readers to getting a couple of thousand a month. Still small fry, but great for me. I’ve had emails from people all over the world. All in all, it’s been a brilliant experience.
I’m based in the UK, and it’s fair to say that Freeletics is not a big thing over here. Hopefully this blog can help introduce people to it, because I really believe that it’s the best way to get fit and stay fit. It’s hard. That’s the point. But you will feel great, mentally and physically.
A final point about this blog. I have no affiliation with Freeletics whatsoever, so I don’t have any vested interest in anyone purchasing their app, whether from a link on this site or wherever. I do think it’s a brilliant thing, but I also want to be able to offer criticism if I think it’s warranted. I also want to be able to use words like ‘bugger’, ‘arse’, ‘tits’ and ‘shit’ without getting told off.
That’s about it. Get some burpees in your life. You’ll hate them.