Back in May, I started a six week training program with personal trainer, Dan Chapman. I needed a new challenge – it seemed like I’d just been teaching spin and doing nothing else for ages. I wanted to get stronger but had no idea where to start or how to go about it. Considering I love me some fitness, I am not a gym person at all. I never know what I’m meant to be doing and always just feel like a bit of a twat – and well, let’s be honest, there’s a lot of twattery that goes down in gyms that can make them pretty off-putting. So, I liked the idea of having some guidance. It was a grueling six weeks. I’m sure it was for Dan too, ’cause I ain’t exactly an easy client.
Dan is a ‘transformation specialist’. He can help you mold your body into a lean, mean ball of six-pack rippling muscle mania, should you so wish. But where he trains people for the aesthetics, I train for the feeling, so we come at this from fundamentally different viewpoints. Dan got me involved initially to do his ‘6 Week Shred Up’ training plan. I expressly said I wasn’t that interested in dramatically transforming my body, I just want to get stronger.
For the first couple of weeks, I went along with a nutrition plan Dan had given me, but due to certain issues I have with food, it was really only serving to stress me out and was affecting my enjoyment of the training sessions.
We had an open, honest conversation about it and kind of hit reset. From that day, our training really took off. The language of our sessions changed – there was no more talk leaning out or getting a six pack. Our focus was purely about the physical training and I felt way more comfortable.
I give Dan mucho credit here, ’cause really, my little strop made him have to approach the training with me in a way he probably doesn’t have to with most clients. I’m fit, I’m hard-headed and I know my body. I’m glad I got a trainer who was willing to adapt his methods and not try to force me to train in a way that ultimately wouldn’t make me happy, all in the pursuit of a six pack (which I don’t really care about having).
I came into the training with a messed up rotator cuff and recovering from a lower back injury. I was training with Dan three times a week, teaching spin 6-8 times a week and training up a new group of spin instructors at my work five days a week. In short, I was knackered! As I said, I was not an easy client. While I might like to think I’m Wonder Woman, there are days where, as much as I’d like it to, my body just isn’t gonna do certain things.
Without a doubt, I was doing a whole hell of a lot during that six weeks. My body felt battered but I was definitely feeling the benefits of the strength training. Some days I’d feel invincible, others, I could’ve fallen asleep standing up. On the days where my back or my shoulder were acting up, Dan would quickly adjust his planned sessions to accommodate what my body could or couldn’t do. There were a couple of sessions where we just stretched or used a foam roller on my back for half an hour.
I hate being injured or limited in any way. Every day I felt like I wanted to get in there and fling heavy shit around, but I’m grateful Dan was there to be a voice of reason and ensure I didn’t push myself too hard and cause further damage.
Started from the bottom…
I guide hundreds of people through super tough spin classes every week and if I do say so myself, I’m really frikkin’ good at what I do (I mean, I was named ‘Most Moving Instructor of the Year’ in 2016 by Classpass! OK, tooting of own horn officially finished now). I only point this out to say, when you’re really good at something, it can be hard to enter an arena where you’re not so skilled. For me, that’s the gym. I’m at the top of my game, spin-wise, but put me in a gym and I’m clueless. It’s tough to relinquish your control, admit you’re out of your depth and have to go from a leader to a learner.
I can teach back-to-back spin classes in my sleep, but I’m not great at strength, or motherf*cking squat jumps (which were sent directly from the devil himself), or that lat pull down machine (which can also piss right off). Having to set your ego aside and admit ‘hey, I suck at this and it’s gonna take me some time to get better at it’ is a necessary process.
Dan did a great job of designing my sessions so there was a gradual improvement over time. It was subtle, not forced and it was great to have him there to point out when I was leveling up or my technique was getting better. Often you don’t notice those little victories yourself.
A true transformation
Dan is a transformation specialist and I’m not sure I had the type of transformation he gets from most of his clients. I can’t boast dramatic weight loss or post before and after pictures to wow you (though I’ve had a lot of people tell me how buff I’m looking lately). But that’s not really what I was after to begin with. I love my body, I love exercise and I simply wanted to learn some new tricks and get a little stronger along the way.
In that sense, I’ve had a true transformation. I can now walk into a gym and feel confident about what I’m doing. I feel at home in the weights section. I’m not intimidated at the thought of heavy weights or trying out training methods I’m unfamiliar with.
I’m stronger, my posture’s better, my core strength is improving, my arms are pretty ripped, I can do way more push ups than I could six weeks ago. As someone who was stuck in a bit of a fitness rut and desperately needed to switch things up, I take all of that as a major win.
Transformation isn’t always about the aesthetics. My body was wicked before this – it just happens to be super charged now.
To train with Dan Chapman, check out his website – he comes highly recommended by me.