Braver, freer and stronger

The end product…after 12 weeks training

EARLY in 2016 I made the decision to dedicate 12 weeks of my life to getting as fit as I possibly could and in April I embarked on The Amazing 12 program run by Claude Abrams at Core Results by Intelligent Strength, Chichester.

For three months I trained five days per week, sometimes twice a day, adopted a strict eating regime and, under Claude’s careful guidance, built my body into the kind of machine that I’d previously only thought possible of elite athletes.

The incredible results that the Amazing 12 gets from regular people like me is now getting noticed all over the world and, yes, amazing is the only word for it.

But for me, it was what happened afterwards that I’m truly grateful for because the Amazing 12 gave me so much more than muscle.

Before A12 I was grieving. I’d recently lost my dad and felt adrift without him. He was my rock, my safe place and my moral compass. I never made a big decision without consulting him. Without him there, suddenly I was the grown up and it scared the bejesus out of me.

imageI have always been a worrier. I hate admitting that because it’s the thing I dislike most about myself. I am strong-willed and forthright and don’t mess about, but I worry underneath. I get anxious and fret. My dad used to be my safety net… he’d catch all my worries.

In the past, I’ve primarily used one method to deal with worry – avoidance. I found my comfort zones and stuck to them. I think a lot of people do this, especially when it comes to diet and exercise. We tend to stick to what we know even when it isn’t working.

To undertake my A12 training, I had to completely and utterly trust someone else with my health and fitness. That was a tough one for starters (because, like most worriers, I try to minimise anxiety by retaining control). I then had to unlearn pretty much everything I’d ever learnt about how to how to eat and train.

Old school bicep curls

So 25 years of mental conditioning needed to go. Basically my comfort zones were a dot on the horizon.

To say the A12 tested my metal is the mother of all understatements. I worried, I doubted, I questioned, I stressed and, for good measure, I worried some more.

But after all that, I stepped up to the bar and lifted the damn weight.

Double kettlebell front squats are not for the faint-hearted

Did the worry go away? No, most of the time I was terrified! But I did it anyway. And that’s the single most important thing I learned: that you can be afraid and do it anyway.

You don’t need to be confident in order to try: you grow confident by trying.

I have spent a large chunk of my adult life resisting change but in the months following the completion of my A12 program, I have changed my job, put my house on the market and cut my hair (this may not seem radical but I’ve been growing it for over a decade. Believe me, it’s BIG!)

I have been able to do all this because the A12 taught me that the things that scare me the most are usually the things most worth doing.


To complete the A12 I had to embrace change, put aside my doubts and push myself through a multitude of fears.

The Amazing 12 challenged my perceived limitations on every level and as a result I am braver, freer and stronger, inside as well as out.

Although I am proud of my physical achievements, that is the real A12 legacy for me. I know I can change and I know I can handle it and that feels good.

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Sue Saunders, Amazing 12 Chichester graduate

Before A12 I would say that I ‘don’t do change’ because I never felt ready. It took a 100kg deadlift to make me realise I’m as ready as I’ll ever be! I think my dad would be proud.

*If you would like to become an Amazing 12 Chichester graduate, discover your super-human qualities like Sue and experience the transformative benefits of this program, the next wave begins on January 9, 2017. For more information and/or to apply, send an email to

Kari (June 2016)


THE day after completing the Amazing 12, Karien Gladman took part in the World War Run in Dorking. She was a little apprehensive beforehand as during the Amazing 12 we hadn’t done a lot of the type of endurance work she had been used to. Kari therefore wasn’t entirely sure how her fitness would hold up.

I got a message from her. “Excellent race,” she said. “Loved the mud as always. I was so strong doing obstacles. Successfully completed several I would not have attempted before. Great feeling!”

Obviously, it wasn’t as bad as anticipated and further proof what the Amazing 12 can do for fitness as well as strength and physique and so many other aspects of our being.

But I wasn’t really surprised. What I noticed about Kari more than the strength gains and physical changes was the rise in her confidence. Here was a South African mother (of a grown-up son who recently graduated from university with a masters degree) in her mid-forties who was unsure of herself in the gym and, in particular, around weights. She’d tried CrossFit, but always favoured the workouts and movements that suited her strengths – mainly cardio.

Kari was described as a ‘plodder’. Now, though, she is anything but. Over the course of three months, I watched her blossom under the barbell. And this lady has real staying power!

“This experience has made a bigger impact on my life than I thought it would,” she said.

Kari considered it a survival-type experience as it was all so new and there was the diet to adhere to.

“The last week, especially, felt that way” she said. “The Amazing 12 worked me in many ways…discipline, determination, limited calories, spurring your team members on. And, and, and…I now realise it [the Amazing 12] was not just about the fitness.”

Kari got the results she was looking for and worked hard for it. “Thank you so much for this experience,” she said.

“I look exactly the way I want to look. My body is toned, my shoulders are not too big.”


Kari had her moments of uncertainty and a few days when she was off-colour, but, generally, her consistency was her strong point.

“Although there were times when I wondered how this would work out for me, I knew I had to believe in you and the program and ride it out,” she said. “I am so much stronger now. I am believing in myself and my abilities so much more.”

And yet Kari has the potential to go much further. I took her as far as I could within 12 weeks – and the photos show clearly how she got leaner and more muscular – but, especially in the areas of strength, I feel we only scratched the surface.

“This has opened an Aladdin’s cave for me,” she said. “I love feeling strong. I am walking with my head held high.”

Kari seldom, if ever, complained. She’s the type of person you give instructions to and she tries her best, always attempting to maintain a calm exterior. And, as a coach, all I can ever ask for is that my students offer their best effort. She missed in total three days (because of work commitments) – two in week 4, one in week 9 – but was always devastated to have to do so.


I remember one particular session when Kari suddenly realised – for the first time – that she actually had muscles. Tall and slender, Kari was smitten with her biceps. But I was seeing changes in her physique, strength, movement and performance throughout.

I recall how at the start she was finding it difficult to military press for reps with 12.5kgs (27.5lbs), yet by the end she was working with 27kgs (59.4lbs). Similarly, her bench press working weight went from 12.5kgs (27.5lbs) to 33kgs (72.6lbs). Kari’s back squat for multiple reps more than doubled – from 17k (37.5lbs) to 36k (79.2lbs). Best of all was her deadlift. We started with unbroken reps using 30k (66lbs) and finished at 72.5k (159.5lbs)!

Kari was a pleasure to work with and get to know. The above numbers underline her progress and successes. The photos illustrate all Kari’s hard work and what happens when effort, improved eating and intelligent training are all combined. Now she can feel immensely proud of her achievement, enjoy her new body, put it to use and, armed with more confidence, set about attacking the many other challenges on her bucket list.

How did she enjoy the program? “Loved it,” she said. “Loved it!”

Now she’s considering doing a six-week version of the program – usually reserved for those who have already done 12 – in the New Year.

*Do you want results like Kari’s and/or to transform your fitness, strength and physique? I’m looking for a few more committed individuals for the next wave, beginning on September 5 at Core Results Gym. Places are limited. If you would like to know more about the Amazing 12 Chichester program, please contact me at 

Sue (June 2016)

Sue websize (1)

I REMEMBER clearly earlier this year returning from the gym having watched 43-year-old mum-of-two Sue Saunders work on her corrective exercises in her bid to return from shoulder surgery (May 2015). I said to my wife, “I can’t see Sue being ready [in time for the Amazing 12]”.

That was my judgement based on what I had seen to that point. The start of the Amazing 12 was only weeks away. But then something happened: Sue made miraculous progress. The shoulder loosened up and felt much better. Kudos to the team at Core Results for that. And, all of a sudden, Sue went from being a ‘No way’ to a ‘she’s ready’.


It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for her. Sue’s worked with me on the Amazing 12 as my photographer since I started. She had seen all my previous graduates. I’d also worked with Sue as a coach, so there was already a strong element of trust both ways.

Sue had talked about the Amazing 12 with her father shortly before he passed away. This gave the challenge added significance. Naturally, she was concerned about the shoulder flaring up or not being up to the task. She had other concerns also: finding the time; devoting fewer hours to her photographic business; the impact on family life; coping with the sense of guilt from focusing on herself; not wanting to let anyone down.


Her husband told her to go for it. Her two children were supportive from the get-go. We scheduled some time in the gym for me to take her through some movements to test out her body and there didn’t seem any problems. I gave her the green light. Sue then made the decision to proceed.

She didn’t know precisely what she was letting herself in for, but knew she wanted to do it. I reassured her that the intention was – and always is – to enable her to become stronger, fitter and in better shape without causing injury. This program is adaptable.

As you can see from the photos, Sue did staggeringly well. Look at the photos and realise the difference in weight lost between the start and finish was only 3lbs, yet the transformation and increase in strength was impressive.


It wasn’t smooth sailing – and something like this seldom is. However, Sue missed only one day of training and she was gutted about that. She really wanted to be ever-present.

This was an adventure and all adventures, almost by definition, are lined with uncertainty, moments of joy and times when you have to dig incredibly deep and feel close to the edge of your comfort zone. Sue had several of those moments. The key is to keep going – and she did. There was never any question of that. Hopefully, I can coax her to explain in her own words in due course how the experience felt and what she gained from it.

There were some specific goals she had which were overcome. For example, her previous best deadlift (for one rep) was 82.5kg, yet by week 7 Sue was knocking out reps with 80kgs. By the finish, she had nailed 92.5kgs for multiple reps without putting down the bar.


Five days after her photo shoot I got her back in the gym and we did some strength-testing (above). She managed a single-rep deadlift of 102.5kgs (225.5lbs)!

To say Sue became stronger is an understatement. I remember the first day I ever trained her shoulders (going back a few years) and her grimacing as she pressed overhead a 7.5kgs bar with 1.25kg plates dangling on either side. To show how far she has come, by the end of the A12 she was shoulder-pressing for reps and sets with 16kgs dumbbells in each hand – and with more comfort than she is even aware of.

I watched her display tremendous grit to better her squatting with a weight that had left her stumped the first time we tried it. Her fitness levels soared as well. I recall Sue saying one day how amazed she was by the speed with which she was able to recover from day to day without ever feeling sore.

In the strength-test session, Sue hit 60kgs (bodyweight) for one rep on her bench press and did a chin-up from a dead-hang (arms straight) with 14kgs attached. As a fitness test, I had her do a 10-length challenge with an empty prowler after five weeks of training. She recorded a time of 2mins 45 secs. When we retested at the end of the program, her time was down to 2mins 27 secs for the same distance. Clear improvement!

I can’t deny Sue was challenging to coach, but I mean that in the nicest possible way. Sue undoubtedly helped me to grow as a person and coach. She asked questions every day. That’s just how she is – wanting and needing to comprehend the hows and whys for everything. She kept me on my toes. In return, I enjoyed encouraging her to challenge her perceived limits and prevail.


Initially, strength was her focus in order to regain the confidence to use her body as she could pre-injury, but then her attention switched to body shape and wanting to get an elusive six-pack, drop body fat, feel confident and lean enough in her body to wear shorts again and achieve a physique that reflected how hard an effort she had made.

I had to keep reassuring her that the program will deliver if you stick with it. It’s only normal when you haven’t been somewhere to ask or wonder what is around the next corner. Then we hit the final week – the peaking stage – where preparation is everything. Sue continued to display great strength. She knocked out 45 quality chin-ups in fairly short time in one particular session and told me on a scale of 1-10 for difficulty (with 10 being tremendously hard) that it felt like only a 5 or 6!

Sue’s an extraordinary and multi-skilled lady. She juggles a lot of balls. She’s a perfectionist. She also confesses to not liking change. But she’s also very funny, determined, committed and delivered results which exemplify what the Amazing 12 is all about.

I’m proud of her and grateful to have had the opportunity to work with her to write this chapter in her life. I hope enough of my philosophy has rubbed off on Sue to help her recognise this as the beginning and not the end and that with the right mindset and patience she has the potential to continue taking on and conquering any challenges she dares to set for herself.

*Want to be the next candidate for the Amazing 12 Chichester? I am taking applications for the wave beginning September 4 at Core Results, Chichester. Contact me at

Week 12: It’s not the gold medal that matters most


AND so it ends. Sue (above) and Kari have crossed the finish line. Photo shoot done. My work is done (for now). What an experience. I am delighted with their results. They both looked amazing. They achieved their goals. I’m very proud of their efforts.

The photos are souvenirs, mementos of the journey, the hard work, focus and accomplishment. It’s like a gold medal, a reminder of what you achieved.

Athletes and sportsmen compete for medals, but a medal isn’t won in one race or contest. It’s won each day over months and years by training smartly, often hard, eating the right foods, getting the right amount of recovery, taking care of your body, overcoming obstacles, picking yourself up when you fall and cultivating a successful mindset and making sacrifices.


Training is a process by which the intention is to make progress towards a given objective. In the Amazing 12 I have ONLY 12 weeks to get the best out of those I coach.

Like Sue said a few times this week and before the final few days of the peaking stage, “this [pointing to herself and her body] is what we worked hard for [not the photos].”


It’s true. You can’t remain at your peak. It’s physically impossible. That’s why it is called a peak. But you can, by continuing to train and eating sensibly, maintain a physique and fitness and strength levels within touching distance of optimum. It’s a balancing act. We have other things in life. But I hope I have helped Sue and Kari to realise a few things: the value of health and a strong body; how food affects our systems; how much our thoughts determine our outcomes; that to make advancements doesn’t mean we have to repeatedly hammer ourselves close to the point of no return; that intelligent training needs to be progressive and structured and success comes through discipline, commitment, patience and not giving up.

I know these impressive ladies have been through a lot these past three months – which have passed so quickly – and I hope to share with you what they have learned and experienced. I will post their pictures and full stories in due course.


They are thinking of what comes next. They have the gold medal and gold medals create opportunity. What will they decide to do with it?

Thanks for following their adventure. The next group will commence at Core Results on September 5. Would you like to be a part of that? Would you like to see how far this program can take you in three months? I’m taking applications for the next wave.

Drop me a line at for more details. I’m happy to answer any questions.

Week 11: Deadlifting, mindfulness and the impending finish line


WE have reached the stage in the Amazing 12 program where it is noticeably tougher. The deadlift, in particular, presented some challenges this week at Core Results. Sue felt as if she was nearing her limits. She pulled 92.5kgs off the ground repeatedly. That’s more than she has ever done. Kari did the same with 72.5kgs – way more than she has lifted before starting the program.

However, Kari’s form broke down during some of the sets. So we lowered the weight and practiced the technique with a lighter weight. This was a valuable experience and not a failure by any means. The deadlift may seem straightforward – and it is – but it can also be very technical and those fine details are essential when you begin asking your body to overcome heavier loads. To ask that question of a body that hasn’t been already primed is courting disaster. Body type and mobility make a difference to how easy it is to master the deadlift. But nothing beats practice and patience.


It got me thinking, because while we don’t do deadlifts too often on the program, we deadlift practically every day of our lives. Some of us realise it and some of us do not.

Whenever you take from the ground a weighted object you are effectively performing a deadlift. Mothers and fathers picking up their children are deadlifting. Labourers at work. Children at play…

It is not always enough to go to the gym. The gym is just the beginning. It’s how you lead your life that matters most. The gym is where you learn and refine the skill under supervision. Out in the world is where you get to put your gym skills and gym strength to use.


The time spent in the gym is relatively little. But if you do not apply what you learn you aren’t really changing much. If I train you to deadlift once per week and the rest of the week you lift objects from the ground with bad form, which movement pattern do you think will prevail?

If you workout every day, but spend the vast majority of your time seated or slumped at a desk or on a couch, what shape will your body adapt to?

I see all the time people lifting by using their backs and they complain about having a bad back. Figure that out.


Changing a movement pattern is tough in the beginning. It requires almost continual thought, devotion and concentration. Kari found it a little overwhelming at times trying to focus on all the components of the deadlift to be able to execute the movement well. But with practice comes change. She’s made tremendous progress from when we started.

Over time that which we once had to think hard about becomes second nature and a new pattern emerges.


The Amazing 12 tries to teach that. We’re honing skills and eating habits week in, week out. You get good at what you practice the most.

“I’m more mindful of my body now since starting the Amazing 12,” said Kari. “I’m more aware of how my core influences my posture and how important it is to engage core muscles when lifting.


“I have also learned to listen to my body and not push it to pieces – that it’s not just okay to have rest days, but crucial.”

For Sue the injury she sustained more than a year ago was enough to make her more conscious of how she moves day in and day out. “Once you’ve had an injury and been debilitated, you become more mindful,” she said.


“But coming from a place of injury and movement recovery, the Amazing 12 has given me back my confidence in the way I move. I no longer hold myself stiffly to protect my shoulder or worry about lower back pain when picking up something heavy.

“Lifting heavy weights teaches you to respect your body. I am proud of what my body has accomplished during these three months and I’m now confident of being ‘fit for purpose’.”


Next week Kari and Sue head towards the finish. It’s about getting them to peak for the photo shoot. The aim of the program is to achieve the best results possible – strength, fitness and shape – in 12 weeks. The photo shoot is just a way of illustrating the change in shape. But the real gains are made in strength (intelligent programming), fitness (conditioning work), technique (from practice), confidence (reaching the finish, overcoming challenges), health (eating better) and training knowledge (self-sufficiency).

“The 12 weeks have flown by quickly,” said Kari. “It’s unbelievable to think we have only one week left. I’m going to miss the training sessions. But I’m looking forward to building on what I have learned and to include more cardio in my training. My legs are craving a long run.


“I’m also looking forward to having a cleaner diet. I’m more mindful of nutrients and how to fuel my body. The Amazing 12 showed how head-strong and disciplined I can be when required. I was fortunate enough to share the experience with a lovely training buddy, too. She [Sue] is an inspiring lady.”

Sue has mixed feelings. “I will miss the training,” she admits. “I have loved it, despite it being tough at times and pushing me way out of my cautious comfort zone. I will miss the friendly banter and comradery of my training sessions with Kari and Claude.


“I am anxious about what happens next and where to go from here. Now I’ve climbed Everest [well, nearly], I like the view. I will, however, be glad to have more time to focus on other important things in my life. I’m looking forward to getting back to ‘normality’ in terms of my family and running my business.

“There is no doubt you have to make sacrifices for the Amazing 12 and that is why it is an accomplishment for those who undertake it. Nothing of real value is easy to come by after all.

“While I am sad the Amazing 12 is nearly over for me, I am happy I did what I set out to do and more. I have achieved something I didn’t think was possible a year ago and, what’s more, come this Friday I can eat cake!!”

*Do you think you can do the Amazing 12? Would you like to find out more? The next phase of the Amazing 12 Chichester begins on September 5 at Core Results. Contact for more information and/or to book a free consultation.

Week 10: And then there were two…


TWO weeks and only two students of the Amazing 12 Chichester now remain.

Ross chose to drop out (for personal reasons) at the beginning of the week. Sue and Kari have soldiered on.

We had some hot evenings and gritty challenges this week. But the ladies did incredibly well. Sue’s deadlift has reached 90kg for repetitions. She even sneaks in the occasional pull-up when I’m not looking and then grins at me mischievously because they now feel so easy to her. Kari, too, is deadlifting beyond what she has ever achieved previously and her strength increased in all the other movements.

I’m turning the screw a little more, not because it’s necessary, but more because they are now ready.


These final two weeks will, much like week 10, skip by quickly. From my experience, this stage is what brings about the most significant results.

With the end in sight, thoughts inevitably turn to ‘what’s next?’ In reality, it’s a question that should have been asked (and answered) long ago.


If you run a business, you’d want it to grow. You would need to know your projections for years to come. Try to view your body in the same way. How do you want it to perform and look one, three, five and 10 years or more from today?

As with any business, neglect your body, too, and it will crumble. Feed it, invest in it and strategically create ways to nurture and challenge it and it will grow and provide healthy returns.


So for Sue and Kari this is really just the beginning and not the end.

“I have loved and am loving every second,” said Kari. “I will say this again and again…I don’t want this to end.”


It’s been a rewarding process for me to see these two ladies genuinely thrive.

“The Amazing 12 is getting tough now,” admitted Kari. “But I’m still loving it and amazed by how far I can push my body. Lifting could potentially become my drug, thanks to you.”

But I asked them both to think ahead to what could become their next challenge or to what they’d like to achieve down the road.


“If money and time were no object, I would love to do another Amazing 12,” said Sue.

“It wouldn’t be for a while, but certainly soon enough to capitalise on the progress I have already made. I’d also love to learn to box. I have always fancied that.

“I’d like to train for and get a kettlebell certification and take up yoga or pilates to sort out my mobility issues.

“And then, when I’ve done all that, I’ll enter Ninja Warriors UK!”

Kari, who’s always been more of an endurance-based athlete, said she’d like to get to Base Camp Everest, climb Mount Kilimanjaro, complete the Marathon des Sables, do the Big 5 Marathon in South Africa.


“I’d also like to spend a month in Kenya with a Kenyan athlete and learn how to run properly,” she said.

“And now, having nearly completed the Amazing 12, I’d like to compete in a Body Fitness competition (in my wildest dreams still).”

In the week that Muhammad Ali, one of my heroes, died and was buried, I think it’s only fitting to think big, as Ali would have done, and to be fearless in your approach, as he always was. For if a young, skinny black kid from Kentucky could grow up in racially oppressive times to become the most famous sports figure in history, doesn’t it make all our dreams seem more achievable?

My parting note for the week comes not from Ali, but John Maxwell, a leadership guru, who said: “Small disciplines repeated with consistency every day lead to great achievements gained slowly over time.”

Sounds almost exactly what the Amazing 12 is all about. But it can be applied to practically everything. The underlying message is that to make a difference you first need to get started, don’t give up and realise something is better than nothing.

*The Amazing 12 Chichester wave starts next on September 5 at Core Results Gym. Send an email to for more details or to arrange a free assessment. Spaces are limited, so make contact early to avoid disappointment. 

Week 9: Habits and Six-packs

WHAT makes us successful or unsuccessful? One thing I know that plays a significant role is our habits.
Do you have winning habits or ones that lead to failure?
For example, if your aim is to lose weight and your habit is to indulge in a tub of chocolates or stuff your face with fast food or down 2 litres of Coca Cola every evening, it’s not exactly a winning combination.
Habits are not just physical. If your desire is for less stress and your habit is to fill your to-do list each day to the brim or leave everything until the final minute, again it’s counter-productive.
So ask yourself how do your actions and does your lifestyle support your goals?
As an  Amazing 12 transformation coach, I have to do my part and deliver the program in the gym, offer guidance and instruction on technique and manage the weight and reps for each movement. I have to advise on diet. But to get the most success from this program for my clients, I need to adopt successful habits: I aim to be punctual; I plan each session ahead of time; I pay attention when my clients are lifting….
If you are doing the program, winning habits might include preparing your food ahead of time; bringing a protein shake to each session; clearing your mind of worries before training; arriving early to warm-up and do some foam rolling; eliminating foods from your kitchen that you know you shouldn’t have in order to avoid temptation etc…
I am not talking here about the need for an overhaul of lifestyle, but more how we can be derailed by habits that undermine what we want to achieve.
They say it takes 21 days to change a habit. The Amazing 12 consists of 60 training sessions. There’s a deliberate routine, structure and almost ritual to the Amazing 12 training and diet. Habits are changed and established through repetition. Excellence follows practice. Good, productive habits are what deliver results.
Think about this quote from Craig Ballantyne, who wrote an excellent book The Perfect Day Formula: “When you eliminate bad habits, it becomes easier to stick to good ones, which in turn allows you to make better decisions and secure faster results.”
Sue, Kari and Ross have now completed week 9 and each has faced challenges along the way. We’ve worked on ‘bad’ training habits and we continually talk about mindsets. We are now approaching the final three weeks – the home straight, so to speak.
As I’ve detailed in previous weeks, some have struggled more than others. But “success is simple when we accept how hard it is”. That acceptance is what enables us to walk through any walls that come our way. When you don’t accept it, you are more likely to quit or falter.
While all 12 weeks in this program are important, for me the final three are where the greatest changes occur. It’s the climax of the journey. However, you need to put in the work for the first nine to be able to scale those walls in and reap the benefits of the final quarter. There are no shortcuts.
The A12 is a program where you get out what you put in. This week wasn’t the best as far as attendance is concerned. Through work, Ross skipped two sessions and Kari one.
Strength gains have still continued, but every day missed (unless through injury) is an opportunity lost to gain more strength and achieve your best.
By ‘best’ I don’t mean achieving a six-pack! That’s just a bonus for those who by the end have a lean and muscular body and depends largely on your starting physique.
The six-pack has become a bit of a fixation, however, like it’s a badge that represents true strength and fitness.
My fellow Amazing 12 coach Jon Compton, who runs the Wimbledon Strength and Fat Loss Club in London, put out a video recently about the obsession with gaining a six-pack which seemed quite timely as Sue and I this week had quite a few conversations about it.
But I think it can (wrongly in my opinion) be regarded as the dividing line between success or failure, which I think is missing the point of what training and the Amazing 12 is all about.
Jon articulated it in more industrial language than I care to that while the aim at the end of the Amazing 12 is to reach a peak – which is illustrated by photos of the start and finish and very specific to each person – the program is about much more that isn’t always so visually noticeable.
Having a six-pack is sustainable, but only if you are prepared to make sacrifices or are genetically predisposed to a body that doesn’t hold much fat. However it’s not as useful as being strong and fit. Is it?
“Having a six-pack is a consequence of completing exercise and diet, but does not demonstrate strength,” said Ross.
“Having strength, both physically and mentally, is a particular goal of mine and the six-pack, which has always eluded me, is simply a visible by-product, much like having big arms or a chest.
“Strength is hard to measure, as mental strength is down to the individual and can change through many variables. Physical strength doesn’t necessarily mean the individual has mental strength.”
For Sue, the question of the importance of strength and aesthetics has changed from when she started the program.
“It’s not because I’ve changed my mind, but more because I’ve changed my body,” she said. “I’m as strong as I want to be – I have achieved what I set out – and now I want the next three weeks to deliver something more.
“My other goal starting the Amazing 12 was to shed 5% body fat, so that is what is driving me. A six-pack would be the icing on the cake, though I’d choose leaner legs over the abs.
“It will be interesting to see what happens there. In the 25 years since I started exercising, I never shed fat from my legs until I started running, so let’s see what the A12 can deliver.
“Interestingly, going into week 10, I feel like I almost want to put the brakes on in terms of strength development, because I build muscle quickly and my arms and shoulders are now well developed.
“So aesthetics are important to me. Strength and six-pack both matter because they have an affect on how I feel about myself. But I could live without the six-pack (I have until now!)
“However, I couldn’t imagine life without strength. It’s such a big part of who I am. It is my hobby, my stress-relief, my armour, my empowerment.”
Kari also feels as if there’s a tipping point with strength gain, which is a common and hard-to-budge mindset for women who falsely fear that gaining strength from lifting weights equates automatically to big muscles.
You only have to look at the lighter weight categories at the Olympics in weight-lifting to see that strong women aren’t overly muscular.
“I want to be reasonably strong, but not very strong,” added Kari. “I don’t want to look like a man, compete with their strength or come across as intimidating. I still want to ask a man to open a jar or a bottle top for me when I struggle. I never want to lose my femininity.”
In terms of appearances, Kari is after the strong and lean look. “I want to be toned and have nice abs,” she said.
While the focus always seems to be on the obvious – that being aesthetics – I think the hidden but equally important prize of the Amazing 12 is in developing physical and mental strength, training competence and honing habits which can lead to a healthier, better, happier, more capable, skilful, confident and productive you.
Just don’t let the six-pack image obscure your sight of that.

Week 8: Attitude is everything


WHAT if I told you that your attitude shapes the way you move? Would it make you think differently about your attitude?

Consider how fear, anger, happiness, confidence, doubt, positivity etc all impact on your body, muscles, nervous system, posture, energy, motivation, vibrancy and concentration.

The opposite can be true also – that movement can alter your attitude, which is why many people do exercise or train.

Kari, Ross and Sue, who are training with me on the Amazing 12 at the Core Results gym, are all contrasting personalities with different mindsets, jobs and lifestyles. It’s been interesting to observe their ups and downs, how they face challenges, how they impact on each other and how they have adjusted to the program week by week.


I call Sue “high maintenance with humour” and I mean that in the nicest possible way. Kari is steady, but has moments where (metaphorically) she beats herself up. Ross is up and down. When he’s down, he’s really down. When he’s flying, he’s like he can conquer the world and will help everyone around him to do the same.

This week, Kari was doing a particular movement that I could see was challenging her. She didn’t get the amount of reps she was aiming for and looked at me, as if to say ‘what’s going on? Why can’t I do this?’

I could see clearly, though, that there was doubt in her mind as she was getting set to start. She was intimidated. We’ve all been there before. Trouble is, the doubt quickly became a reality.

So I asked her, “What was going through your mind as you were about to start?”


She replied: “That I hate this exercise [which happens to be Sue’s favourite].”

Call it hate or fear, sometimes the two can become one. But the bottom line is that Kari was questioning herself and, consequently, virtually defeated before she began. So we had a bit of a pep talk and discussed how to make the mental shift.

I’m not saying it’s easy, particularly when weight-lifting. But remember we become good at what we practice the most.


One of the most impressive examples of mental strength for me is when an Olympic weight-lifter fails an attempt at a massive lift and then, minutes later, comes back to execute it perfectly. That’s real strength.

Kari composed herself and as she stepped up for the next set her body language was different and she proceeded to not just exceed the amount of reps on the movement that had thwarted her minutes earlier, but she tripled it!

This week Sue came up short on one particular movement, but I expect her to trump it next time she tries. Why? Because she’s a fighter and going to be more determined (motivation), she knows what she is up against (experience), she’s will be stronger from the training (adaptation) and we’ll make a few technical tweaks (skill). And if she falls short again, we’ll try once more the week after.

“I bring everything to my training,” said Sue. “The good, the bad and ugly. Training is the time I give myself to be free. It isn’t something I do to keep fit. I do it to stay happy. I never have a problem motivating myself. But it also means I take all my emotional baggage with me. If I’ve had a shit day with the kids, it ends up in the gym. If I have a bad day at work, it ends up in the gym.”

That could be a trainer’s nightmare. But Sue has the ability to use that anger or anxiety to her advantage. “The good news is that I get to work out the stress and frustration,” she said. “The bad news is that my trainer gets it in the neck a lot [sorry, Claude]!”

I’ll be honest. If I don’t believe I can get the best out of someone, I won’t take them on. But I know I can work with Sue. In fact, despite what she has said, she is great to train.

“My saving grace, I think, is my humour,” said Sue. “During the Amazing 12 there have been a few ‘I don’t know whether to laugh or cry’ moments and I’ve always ended up laughing. My attitude hasn’t changed, but my resolve has strengthened – we must all make time to do the thing that makes us happy and allows us to let off steam.”

Kari’s relationship with training is different. She admits she was addicted to getting muscle soreness that comes with training excessively. Prior to signing up for the Amazing 12, Kari had done little training for the best part of four months.


She now thinks it was her body’s way of shutting down, as a way of protecting itself. “I’m convinced that was the case,” she said. “It was like I went into training hibernation as a way to recover.

“I’ve always smashed my body to pieces by over-training. The Amazing 12 has taught me to slow down and listen to my body. In order to perform better, my body needs rest periods and proper fuel.

“My body has also taught me that it’s stronger than I ever thought. My mind has always stopped me from lifting heavy. If the weights looked too heavy or the monkey bars in a race looked too difficult, I would decide I could not do it.

“The mind still plays tricks during a session now and again [like this week]. So I know not to walk into something with negative thoughts as you would have already failed. ‘Know you can and you will’ is going to be my motto going forwards.”


Ross is still on an emotional roller coaster. He has a demanding job as a paramedic. This week he had to train after attending a nasty suicide. He also has PTSD, which affects his sleep. Often this, when combined with working shifts, leaves him tired when training.

The doubts about whether he will be successful in transforming his body remain. “I’ve struggled with the diet,” he said. “Although my strength has grown, my attitude is, ‘what will be, will be’. I’m doing everything that’s asked, but not getting the results.”

Ross trains hard and I’m excited by what he can achieve in the remainder of the program, but he isn’t seeing the results he has predicted for himself at this stage. Therefore, he still has a tough time believing the Amazing 12 will deliver what he is after. To some extent, it is like he is driving with his brakes on and complaining the speed isn’t quick enough.

I’m still confident he will be singing a different tune come the end of June.


Sue, however, has reached the point that if she were to finish now she’d be satisfied.

“My shoulder [which she had injured a year ago] is now strong again and I’ve got full range of motion back. I am also a better person for indulging myself in this bit of time where I feel me,” she said.

“The Amazing 12 hasn’t just made me physically stronger – I’m happier, healthier and better for my family because of those things.”

*The next wave of the Amazing 12 Chichester begins on September 5. If you would like to know more details and/or make an appointment for a free consultation or have any questions, please email me at

Week 7: Breaking barriers…with ease


IN her CrossFit days, when Sue completed her heaviest deadlift, she remembers it being a struggle – the type of lift where you are dragging the bar slowly up your leg, shaking and grimacing and groaning at the same time. It wasn’t pretty.

Fast-forward roughly a year and to this week, just beyond the halfway point of the Amazing 12, and Sue managed multiple deadlifts with a weight that was fractionally less than the 1-rep max she achieved 12 months ago. She did a victory dance, of course, to celebrate.

These were not ordinary multiple lifts either. Sue did them all pretty easily, which confirmed to me there is plenty more in the tank. And she executed the lifts with good form.

Later that same day, Kari had a similar experience with the deadlift. And she, too, took the bar to standing multiple times, using sound technique (although there’s a few things I want to still work on with her) and a weight that was only marginally less than the best she had ever lifted. Kari, being tall and lean, isn’t built for the deadlift, which made it even more impressive.

So the progress – measurable and visual – is all becoming evident and being achieved without going close to excessively overloading the body.


That’s not to say the Amazing 12 is easy. Far from it. Ross said this week, “I can feel it’s getting tough now. I feel like this is when the [real] hard work is going to start.”

The more I coach this program, the more I appreciate the beauty of the process. If I had asked Sue and Kari in week 1 to do those deadlifts, the chances are they would have either failed or hurt themselves or struggled or looked at me nervously.

Success with lifting is as much about confidence as it is strength. We all possess the strength, but it’s difficult to manifest it when our heads are filled with doubt or fear and our bodies under-prepared. So to see Sue and Kari lift so effortlessly was satisfying to see. It tells me how much they are beginning to believe in themselves and how far they have come.


“I have learned over the past seven weeks I have more gritty determination and willpower than I thought,” said Kari.

“My engine is stronger than I ever gave it credit for. I am learning to fuel my body with the right foods and regular meals. Food no longer scares me.

“And it’s not only okay for a woman to lift. I think women SHOULD lift. It’s a fantastic sensation and creates fab, toned muscles.”

Ross, whose arms and shoulders are becoming like sandbags, still has plenty in reserve. He really struggled in week 1, but his strength has returned at an astonishing rate and the best part is that his technique gets better the greater the challenges I throw at him.


He joked “I never doubted you for a minute, you know, Claude. I totally believed you from the start.”

Of course, here’s a man who only a few weeks ago was teetering on the edge because things weren’t shifting fast enough for him. He was struggling with aspects of the diet. Everything got on top of him. But you wouldn’t recognise him now.

“I have really learned how to listen to my body,” Ross told me. “I rest when I am tired, drink plenty, eat the right foods and stop training when in pain.

“I’ve always had a die-hard attitude to life and this was evident in my CrossFit days. But now I value my body and, at nearly 47, I take greater care of it.

“Much like the care I give others [as a paramedic], I now give to myself. If I need a snooze, I no longer feel guilty, but look at it as my body saying it needs a break.

“So I’ve had a change in mindset which I feel will be better for my long-term health.”


Ross’ outlook becomes more positive with each week. He keeps us all amused with his jovial humour and knowledge of trivia. He’s now exploring what his next challenge will be after the Amazing 12 and talking about doing it again next year.


Sue’s also been assessing how she wants to move forwards – training and living.

“I have learned from doing the A12 I can adapt. Not easily [as I don’t like change], but I can do it if I need to – like drink my coffee black and eat tuna for breakfast. I may not like it, but it can be done.

“Things you thought are never going to change, can change. This makes me feel stronger more than the fact I smashed my PB this week. Now I know I can adapt.”

The A12 has also reinforced what she knew about herself – “for example, how once I focus I’m like a laser beam. I still surprise myself at how dedicated and focused I can be.”

All in all, aside from Sue pulling a muscle in her shoulder, it was a demanding but smooth week. Having injured herself badly previously, Sue obviously feared the worse.

But she was back in training the next day none the worse for wear and declaring with passion, “I’m not missing a session!”


Week 6: The ‘Everest’ connection


IF climbing Everest were easy, what would be the value in doing it?

Very little beyond admiring the view or using it as a stepping stone to something more demanding, I suspect. When we really challenge ourselves is when we grow or discover sides to ourselves we never knew existed.

Sue said before she started the Amazing 12 that this program was her ‘Everest’. Her late and dear father could relate much more to climbing than he could training in a gym. And when times have been tough on this program, Sue has switched her attention to her father, as though she were calling on superpowers.


Going up Everest is never going to be smooth sailing even for the most esteemed climber. But there is still a tremendous amount to be gained from scaling such a peak, just as there is in completing the Amazing 12.

I am using this analogy in relative terms, of course.

Sticking with the analogy, I am effectively the guide leading my group – Sue, Kari and Ross – up the mountain. Everyone is making great progress and on course as i put them through their paces at Core Results. There are no slackers. But along the way we’ve had questions asked and some difficult moments. All a part of the journey, I say. The goal is to reach the top and learn from overcoming the different obstacles faced along the way.

The hiccups thus far have been few, in fairness. Kari had to take a few days off in week 4 for work, Ross missed a few sessions in week 5 because of sickness and this week he tweaked his back while squatting, admitting he’d failed to check his breathing. These things happen. But it was a wake-up call for Ross.

“I realised what I did,” he said. “It could have been much worse. I’m actually grateful for it. It made me realise how important set-up is on these lifts and just the slightest loss of concentration can result in injury.”


So here we are, at the end of week six. Last week it was Ross who was in the tunnel of doubt, but he has now seen some light and is in a much better place. In fact, he was looking like a powerhouse at the end.

“This week’s been a real turning point for me,” he said. “I’m beginning to believe. I can see things happening. I feel really elitist to be doing this – not in a I’m-better-than-everyone-else sort of way, but more like this is a really special thing to do.”

It was the turn of Sue this week to lose the faith, if only very briefly. Again, metaphorically-speaking, she has had to battle with her thoughts and uncertainty, though never to the point of not continuing. Sue hasn’t missed a day. It was more like she was asking the guide – again and again – are you sure we are heading the right way?

For the guide (me), the answer is always an obvious ‘yes’. But a dark cloud can mean something different to a guide than it does to the inexperienced climber. To the climber, there for the first time and unsure of the terrain and conditions, it’s dicey territory, especially if you don’t relinquish control. It’s that trust thing all over again.


As the guide, I have the knowledge of how to get to the top and in the best and safest way. That’s my job. That’s my objective. I know the pitfalls and I have a method for dealing with them. But to travel with me, you need to have faith in me.

This week we had a small pep talk about mindset because I really believe – and I see it week in, week out – that limits are imposed by the mind rather than the body.

I don’t train to discover a limit, because where do you go when the limit is established? Instead, I don’t seek limits and seldom venture close to them. The aim is to continue progressing, because it’s about convincing the mind what is possible.


This week Sue overcame a  few challenges, one of which had stumped her last week – and she did it without much difficulty. What Ross can do now compared to the first week, when he struggled, is ridiculous. And Kari, a very steady operator, improves with almost every session though even she had a little roadblock this week.

When this journey is over, however, I’m confident they will feel like they have never felt before. They’ll look back on this experience and to the uneasy and questionable moments and wonder why they ever doubted themselves or me.

It’s normal. How many people who have confronted their ‘Everest’ haven’t faced periods and moments of uncertainty or anxiety? You just need to keep moving towards your goal. Focus on how far you have come, what you have accomplished, what are your strengths, what you CAN do…


No wonder they say your mind fails before your body. The mind gives the orders. Tame the mind. Feed it with information that strengthens and not weakens it. There are many lessons to be learned on this path.

It takes 12 weeks to scale the Amazing 12. You need to be equipped: eat the right foods; bring the right attitude; stick to the plan; stay focused; keep showing up.

I’m not at all worried. Sue, Kari and Ross are all precisely where I want them. Like I said, I know the way ahead. I know they can all make it. I know they can all achieve fantastic results. They now have to trust themselves as we move ever closer to the peak.

“The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a person’s determination and belief.”

The last session of the week was another strong one. Ross, with a smile back on his face, turned to me and said, “I feel on top of the world right now.”