DURING the final week of the Amazing 12 Chichester, Jo Walsh celebrated her wedding anniversary and Ben Brundle had a birthday. Both came to train at the gym on those respective days.
It’s not that they put the training first. They put themselves first. That’s what getting fit, strong and healthy is all about.
While it may sound selfish – and a lot of people have a hard time reconciling that – the reality is that it’s incredibly selfless.
A stronger, healthier, more vibrant and confident you helps everyone you come into contact with.
However, it wasn’t always straightforward for Jo and Ben. Each struggled through the Amazing 12 in their own way. For Jo it was commitment and diet and Ben understanding what to eat and when and taking responsibility for that.
But there are many positives to take from their experience. Firstly, both made it to the finish. Not everyone does that. Jo became stronger and fitter. There can be absolutely no doubt about that. She was even showing me her biceps on the penultimate day, saying “I can actually say I now have muscles”.
For example, I had her do an endurance test on the prowler which the fastest girl at Core Results could complete in just under 2 minutes.
In week one, at which point Jo hadn’t done any exercise for about 18 months, it took her 4 minutes 49 to complete. Jo was shattered. The same test, at week 11, took her 2 minutes 50 and though she was tired at the finish, Jo wasn’t as wrecked as the first time she did it.
During the weeks when Jo was fully committed, the changes to her physically were extremely noticeable. But then she’d lose her way again, her commitment would wane and whatever gains she made would recede.
But it’s those weeks when she had her head together and was focused, organised and driven that Jo should savour. Because that’s where the promise is. That’s where the formula for success existed. That’s where there was more than a glimmer of hope. Had she completed the 12 weeks the way she did those weeks this would be a vastly different story.
“I’m most pleased about how much stronger I am,” she said. “I can say I faithfully followed the program to week 7, but, as you know, I struggled afterwards.
“Thank you for your support. I didn’t put in 100 per cent, so I don’t hope for 100 per cent results. But I am glad I did the program.”
Jo has fought with depression for about a decade. “I think my depression would have been worse without it [the Amazing 12]. Some days the gym was the only thing I (literally) got out of bed for.”
She found getting out of bed early to go for runs the toughest part. Jo’s not a morning person. She said she did it (running) for four weeks and then stopped.
So, considering she didn’t run for eight weeks or follow the nutritional plan for the last five and attended 80% of the gym sessions, losing 8kgs (17.5lbs) was an achievement and more than halfway towards what was her overall weight-loss goal.
She weighed 15st 8lbs at the start and finished at 14st 5lbs. Her body fat went from 46% to 42% and muscle mass from 29.5% to 32%.
It’s clear to see, because lean muscle is a fat-burner, that the more muscle you have the less fat your body holds on to. Nothing builds muscle better than lifting weights.
“I don’t plan on stopping,” said Jo after the photo shoot. And she hasn’t. She’s been in for a few weight-lifting sessions with me, has been doing some yoga and running sprints uphill in a group organised by my wife, Jamie, who also did the Amazing 12 Chichester.
Jo’s always had solid lifting ability. She’s strong in the bench press and much better than I recall her being at shoulder pressing. I saw muscles on Jo I hadn’t recognised before.
She can be so determined when she wants to be. By her own admission, she’s an “all-or-nothing” person.
But that can change. I’m a firm believer that anything can change. ANYTHING! But you have to want it and work at it. Not for a moment or weeks or months. But until you make it happen.
When she used to belong to a weight-lifting group around 2015, Jo’s best shoulder press for one rep was 30k, but on the Amazing 12 she got to 32k for reps. Similarly, her best bench press for three reps used to be 46k and Jo reached 49k on the Amazing 12 for repetitions, a number that would undoubtedly have been much higher had she not missed as many gym sessions as she did.
Jo has aspirations to one day complete a chin-up or pull-up. Of course, it can be done. But the same rules about commitment, consistency and patience apply.
I hope Jo takes from her experience the successes she had so she can build on them as well as a healthy view of where she faltered so she can work towards overcoming those challenges the next time they appear.
The great thing about Jo is that while she had many ‘falls’ doing this program, she kept getting up. And that she’s continued since the Amazing 12 was completed shows she has the spirit to eventually succeed.
For Ben, whose devotion to the training side of the program was first class (he came to 95% of the sessions), the obstacle was diet and sleep.
Had been able to nail down the eating he’d have had stunning results. I’m in no doubt about that. By the time he had wrapped his head around it, most of the program had elapsed.
It made it more difficult that Ben got up each day early for work and sometimes didn’t hit the pillow until late. Towards the end he was working double shifts – day and night – which is madness. But he has a baby on the way and needed the money.
Probably no-one made as much progress in terms of strength gains than Ben, who was a raw beginner (no previous lifting experience).
I remember the week before the Amazing 12 started, when I gave Ben a few training sessions to show him the movements. He struggled with 8kg dumbbells on the incline bench press and I had to drop him to 6kg. By the end of the Amazing 12 he was doing multiple repetitions of the same movement with 25kg! That’s an improvement of more than 400%!
Ben did pick up a chest injury around week 7 that he felt was going to derail his chances of finishing the program. It affected his mojo, for sure. It took Ben over a week to get back into his stride. We had to taper off the weights to protect the injury and build him back up.
Again, I recall before the A12 how he struggled to shoulder press with 12kg for reps, yet finished the program knocking out repetitions with 47.5kg!
He couldn’t squat without his heels coming off the floor or deadlift with a flat back, yet learned those movements really well over the weeks and grew in strength. He was deadlifting 85kg for reps with ease. He has so much more potential.
Fitness-wise, when he first did the prowler test it took him 2 minutes 45 seconds. He gave everything he had and was shattered. Ben eventually got his best down to 1 minute 44 seconds by week 11 – not too far off some of the fittest guys at Core Results.
Ben was a pleasure to train. He was usually first to turn up at the gym. He helped put away the weights and get them out. He didn’t grumble. He learned techniques quickly.
I’ve said this before but will repeat it again: results on the Amazing 12 can only be achieved by the individual.
To do that, you have to show up, follow the instructions and do the work.
As Phil Earley, one of my Amazing 12 coaching colleagues in Newcastle, has said, “This is the Amazing 12, not the Miraculous 12!”
What Ben’s experience has confirmed to me is that no matter how hard you train, you won’t get the results YOU DESERVE without following a healthy eating protocol and getting sufficient and quality sleep each day.
Lifestyle gets in the way of results. For Ben and Jo, that was often the case. But they now know where to focus their attention the most.
The next Amazing 12 starts on May 8 (8-week version). The next Amazing 12 will be in September. If you want to be a part of either wave, send an email to Claude@intelligentstrength.co.uk. You need to be committed. Then the results will follow.