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The Confidential Challenge: for her (part 3)

Helen Ramsbottom takes time out to tone and considers the pros of a true pro

Written by . Published on July 16th 2010.

The Confidential Challenge: for her (part 3)

Week 6
Six weeks into the challenge and I’m feeling (and hopefully looking) fitter. Getting back into exercise hasn’t been the easiest thing to do, combined with a very busy lifestyle, but making time for it has paid off.

Six weeks in and I can see the difference. Some of my gals fell about laughing when I pulled a Popeye pose, flipped my biceps about and enquired ‘Which way to the beach biatches?’ But seriously I’m proud.

Sporadic spates of varied fads are now a thing of the past. Dabble at dancing, a bit of yoga bending and running, a few weeks on the run. I’d never put my body through its paces in a planned project such as this. And that was half the challenge, setting time aside for energetic me moments.

Mentally I approached this by getting my head around it being a set stint of time within which I’d have certain rules to play by. Proceeding with this perspective will help my success. Personally if I approach something with a ‘this is it for life’ outlook, it seems unmanageable and inevitably leads to me questioning ‘How am I going to do this forever?’

The answer: Small steps. Realistic goals. I can do anything (within reason) for the 16 weeks. Check.

Base Training
My personal trainer, Darren from Elite Fitness Training, has been right on the money on easing a new way of life into my life. At the outset, Chris Grimes and I were given a ‘base’ training programme. Designed to introduce us back to exercise with sensible exposure, this sets the foundation and prepares the body for things to come. There’s absolutely no point going all out, nailing it at the gym, half killing yourself and then being unable to keep up any momentum.

The first four weeks had two days a week that were rest days. The other days saw a couple of runs, a kettlebell session and a visit to the gym. Week four saw me away for four days, which I felt quite frustrated about as by my nature if I’m doing something, I’m doing it properly and I was conscious while away that I wouldn’t be down with the programme, so to speak.

I managed a couple of runs along the Cornish coast and some non-strenuous sightseeing but that was it. After only four days out when I next went to the gym I could already feel the lapse. I guess the fitter you get this affects you less so, but ever the eager beaver, as soon as I returned home I was back in the gym.

The Upgrade
My upgraded gym programme features three chunks of cardio. This consists of bike intervals, sprint intervals and rowing intervals, back to back. Darren accompanied me to the gym to set realistic levels and what I should aim to build up to over the visits.

Swiftly moving over to our friends in the free weights room for that part of the plan, I discovered that one of my arms was weaker than the other while doing a certain move. Darren pointed out that if I’d been using a machine my stronger arm would have taken on more pressure from that exercise and not helping the weaker arm at all. I won’t dwell on why one arm would be stronger than the other but using dumbbells ensures you’re working all muscles properly. Another notable nugget from Mr Casey.

These types of exercises are for specific body part conditioning. Working targeted muscles in isolation, this is different to the benefits of a kettlebell workout- they work a variety of muscle groups in one go. Both types of training are ideal for my objectives of toning and improving appearance, not forgetting great for fat burning too, making sure you keep up the pace. Lunges, squats, lateral rows, bicep curls, tricep dips, press ups (on a medicine ball no less) and dead lifts to name a few, all with a variety of different weight combinations. Super sets on some, a new concept for me, this sees some of these in immediate sequence without a rest. Phew.

Six weeks in and I can see the difference. Some of my gals fell about laughing when I pulled a Popeye pose, flipped my biceps about and enquired ‘Which way to the beach biatches?’ But seriously I’m proud. Since a boy at school once said I had ‘big arms for a girl’ (cue a mid-puberty die moment) I’ve had a hang up about baring these bits. And seeing results I’m as ever, spurred on.

At the end of week five, Chris and I had a 10k run so Darren was careful with our training to ensure the lower body wasn’t put under too much pressure. My time from last year had been 1h 11m 22s and this year saw me come in at 57m 36s. Wow.

Rare pic of arms on show pre-challenge

The training we’re doing isn’t directly for this type of activity but to see this change in ability was astonishing for me. (I may have done it last year half pissed after celebrating United winning the league the day before, but I maintain this only made me run even faster to get it finished. Minor detail.) This was an illustration of immense improvement for me.

The Measurements
So how did this all actually measure up?

Click here for the table.

I’ve lost over 11 cm in two weeks. Winner. Things are tightening up nicely. The only stat I’m not happy with is the depleting chest size. Honestly. I went to frikkin M&S to get a proper bra measurement only a few months ago, duly replaced all my bras and have now lost a cup size already. Darren’s reassurance of it all being in proportion with the rest of my body changes is the only thing from him that I’m not buying. But on to buy more bras...

Week six was also to be bombshell week. Chris and I were sat there minding our own business to receive an email titled ‘THE TIME HAS COME...’. The message outlined how we were to have zero, yes zero, alcohol for the next 30 days. Apparently this was always the intention. Hmmm didn’t see that in the sign up small print. Noted that this news was also broken over email rather than in person too eh Darren.

Hot topic: Pros of a true pro
The first two weeks of activity were part of a ‘base’ plan. Designed to introduce Chris and I into the new regime gently. Previously I’d tried my hand at personal trainers in the gym, and this had always been memorable but not for the right reasons. Last year for instance, I had a session at my gym. The day after I couldn’t even hold my hair dryer up. If I wanted to use my hands at all, I had to bend my whole body to manage any movement. Not good. It had been part of some three session starter pack. I didn’t get anything from this to be honest apart from a fair degree of pain and an incentive not to bother again.

As part of this challenge, I’d pre-arranged a pass at Virgin Active, explaining what I was doing, so Darren could accompany me and run me through my programme. While we were in the gym, mid training, one of the gym’s personal trainers came over and rudely asked Darren whether he was a member of the gym. I interjected stating that I was (which he knew) and that I’d arranged a pass with someone on the desk for him to accompany me.

‘Who?’ he again impolitely demanded. Not known for my patience in the face of appalling attitude he got off lightly. I sharply told him to go and check under my name. How unnecessary. Was this a reaction in the face of a threat? He could see how we were training and must have picked up on the expertise but why should that cause such an issue? And in the face of fuss there are ways of talking to people and that wasn’t it. Manners cost nothing.

Subsequently, I then get into a whole ‘corporate policy’ email thing with Virgin Active who won’t allow Darren into my gym with me again. I'm hugely unimpressed. I asked for specific reasoning as to why I shouldn’t be allowed to bring a training partner in with me if I’ve prearranged it and it is periodic? Company policy. Company policy. Blah blah. Bollocks.

I think if someone wants to bring someone to the gym with them they should be able to. I’d asked for a pass once a month and Darren wasn’t canvassing for other clients while he was there so there shouldn’t have been an issue. All it has served to show is that I have scepticism about the quality of the service my gym are offering me and I’m thankful we can go to Darren’s gym the next time. In conclusion any gym personal training I’ve had previously has not come anywhere near the level I’ve received from Elite Fitness Training. Seek out your own carefully selected trainer people.

Darren Casey is Master Personal Trainer and Director at Elite Fitness Training. If you’d like to follow a plan similar to ours, designed for you click here to be added to the mailing list for when it launches.


Confidential Challenge for him (Part 3)

Confidential Challenge for her (Part 2)

Confidential Challenge for him (Part 2)

Confidential Challenge for her (Part 1)

Confidential Challenge for him (Part 1)

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