Jemma (August 2017)

THE PAY OFF: Jemma’s new body after her hard work (Photos: Sue Saunders Photography)

EVERYONE has a story – a past, a life of experiences. Some are worth telling and some not. 

What you may not know about Jemma – and would not from simply looking at her photos – is that as a teenager, she was, quite literally, all skin and bones, down to 5 1/2st (77lbs) and losing a battle with anorexia.

If you had suggested back then that at close to 30 she’d complete a three-month program that included lifting weights five days a week, eating healthily and dramatically ramping up her fitness levels, it would have seemed unfathomable.

What it shows, though, is that no matter how grim things are, there’s usually a way out and a way to move forwards.

Jemma admits that anorexia nearly took her life. She was hospitalised. It caused a lot of misery and suffering. But she survived.

However, Jemma’s relationship with her bodyweight has been a rollercoaster ride. When she was anorexic (for five years between the ages of 12 and 17), she said her skin was grey and her hair falling out. She doesn’t know how she didn’t die.

When you take that as the starting point, she’s done incredibly well to get to where she is now.

Overcoming anorexia didn’t mean the fight with body image had ended. Before starting the Amazing 12, Jemma was still unhappy with her appearance. She’d gained weight. None of her dresses fitted. Looking at her reflection, she was frequently reduced to tears. It’s a scenario that, sadly, many people can identify with.

This time when she saw herself as too heavy, she was closer to 13st (182lbs) than 5st. Jemma admitted it was down to poor lifestyle choices. She held herself accountable. 

“I was lazy,” she said of her mindset before the program. “I used to cry every night looking at myself. I wasn’t happy with how I’d become. But I just didn’t do anything about it. I was drinking a lot, eating take-aways, not doing much exercise.

“Now [after completing the Amazing 12] I know what it takes. I feel so much better. I don’t miss drinking [alcohol]. Whenever I eat bad food, I feel terrible.”

NO GOING BACK: Jemma’s determined to maintain a healthier lifestyle (Photo: Sue Saunders Photography)

Jemma had reached the point where her desire to change was greater than her desire to stay the same. She chose to take action. She made changes. She signed up for the Amazing 12 Chichester almost without hesitation.

Often it takes a lot of bravery to embrace change. There’s a lot of fear involved.

In many cases we, as humans, would prefer to remain unhappy rather than face uncertainty.

Jemma didn’t know the intricate details of what she was signing up for, but she’d seen the results, had read on this website about what the program could do and how previous graduates had coped. Then she decided to take that leap.

If fact, I can’t recall anyone I’ve guided and coached through the program who has been more enthusiastic from beginning to end. She simply didn’t want it to finish. 

That’s not to say it was smooth sailing by any means. It was tough for Jemma. She complained – a lot!

But, as I have written in previous blogs, the limiting factor for Jemma was her thinking and not her strength or technique or fitness levels. I could always see her potential and knew, with her level of willingness, anything was possible.

We worked on it during every session. It’s a process. I tried to remind her that EVERY training session and EVERY day presented an opportunity for change and improvement. That’s the reality for us all.

In 12 weeks I got the best out of her that I could. Through consistency and commitment and application, she lost 32lbs in weight! But the transformation was even greater than that number might suggest, as she clearly developed muscle while also shedding fat.

TOP GUN: Now Jemma has biceps, but not just for show (Photos: Sue Saunders Photography)

She can undoubtedly go on from here to becoming stronger and fitter. Jemma’s already said she wants to do the program again next year, before she gets married.

Her transformation is not just about how her body looks. It is also about what her body can now do, how she feels in herself, her approach to nutrition and the increased self-belief she has cultivated. 

“I feel so much happier,” she said. “Even people at work have commented how I’m back to my old self. There’s no way I’m going back [to being overweight].

ACHIEVEMENT: getting the results she was after (Photos: Sue Saunders Photography)

“I did the Amazing 12 to lose weight, tone up and change my lifestyle. I wanted to better my knowledge and learn how to lift weights correctly.

“It’s made me much more confident about my body. I’ve even had my legs out without tights on! This was a no-no before. And it’s given me the confidence to know what I’m doing in the gym is correct.”

Jemma is so much more empowered. I’ve seen her blossom in the past 12 weeks, not just in physique and fitness, but also in stature and confidence.

This girl showed tremendous discipline. She missed only one of the 60 training sessions and still hasn’t completely forgiven herself even though she couldn’t do much about it.

“I was very dedicated and had great support in my home life which made it easier for me,” said Jemma. “I was worried having a full-time job and the travel and also getting another puppy would get to me. But it was doable and the time has flown by. It was well worth the hard work.

“I was so down and depressed before. But this [the Amazing 12] turned me around. I’ve learned so much. Claude has been the best coach and so supportive.”

There were times I had Jemma do some training by herself in addition to the gym sessions with me – which is all part of the program – and I don’t suspect that she skipped any of it.

FEEL-GOOD FACTOR: discovering how training can be a fantastic mood-enhancer (Photo: Sue Saunders Photography)

Sometimes she was tired and aching, but she still got it done. Often I’d get a text message in the morning telling me how great she felt for doing so.

There were numerous occasions, too, when Jemma came to the gym feeling stressed or worn out or sore or not on her game and practically every time, though, she’d leave feeling much more upbeat and revitalised.

“It’s amazing how that happens,” she’d say repeatedly.

In terms of following and sticking to the eating plan, Jemma found it tricky in the beginning, but had it figured out most of the time.  

“It did seem a bit daunting at first,” she admitted. “But once I got into it I wasn’t having to prep hardly as much and it was simple. I mostly enjoyed it. I didn’t feel hungry at all and having a cheat day made it even easier. I’ll be sticking to a similar way of eating going forwards.”

Jemma’s mindset throughout was ‘I have invested too much into this to let myself down’.

Because she applied herself completely and had total trust in me and the program, the Amazing 12 really worked well for her. The weight kept dropping off and her strength and fitness increased. 

Especially during the last few weeks, I could see her shape changing. By the end, she not only looked like an athlete, she was stronger  – physically and mentally – as well.

TECHNIQUE: creating the arch for a strong bench press

“No-one is going to accuse me of being Photoshopped,” she said. “I’ve worked bloody hard.”

Week after week and session after session, almost without fail, Jemma would repeat, “I just can’t believe…” and would follow those words with “how much stronger I am” or “how much fitter I’ve become” or “how much weight I have lost”.

To say she felt proud and those around her were proud of her also, is a massive understatement. And she deserves every morsel of praise for her efforts.

It’s not as if she lives around the corner from the Core Results gym either. Jemma travelled each day from Waterlooville, near Portsmouth. Most days we’d finish training around 9pm.

PULLING HER WEIGHT: in terms of devotion if not kilos

Jemma may have been impatient at times – actually, most of the time – but she embodied the other factors I consider crucial for progress with any training program: commitment and consistency.

At first she was desperately self-conscious of her movement and worried about how she was doing. After all, she was fairly new to the type of training on the Amazing 12. She’d compare herself to others and be concerned that she was slowing everyone down. She’d fret over never being good enough or that 12 weeks wouldn’t be long enough for her to make the necessary changes to her technique.

Gradually, as she changed and learned and improved, those worries began to disintegrate as easily as some of the excess weight she was carrying in the beginning.

HOT OFF THE PRESS: Jemma’s shaping up on the final day

Her fitness levels altered quite dramatically. Where she struggled during short workouts at the beginning of the program, by week 12 she was going for much longer and with heavier weights and at a higher intensity without compromising her form.

“I feel ABSOLUTELY AMAZING,” she said after she’d finished. “I can’t describe my happiness in how I look and feel.

“Even my fitness has literally rocketed and I can run without stopping and aching. I feel so much stronger and energetic.

“Confidence-wise, I’m even pushing through reps when it gets tougher instead of thinking I can’t do it.”

I recall how, when she started with me and we had a training session before the program to assess her strength levels and how she moved, Jemma told me how she felt she had no upper body strength.

LOOKOUT: keeping a watchful eye on Jemma’s form

Here are some examples of how much progress she made. I started her with 7.5k for the Military/overhead Press and she finished with 26k for reps. For the bench press, she began with 15k and wound up lifting, for reps, 40k. Her back squat needed so much work that I had her begin with a 20k bar with the aim of getting her to squat more deeply and she ended up doing 77.5k quite comfortably (meaning she could do more) for two reps and impressive technique. Her deadlift, for multiple reps, went from 30k to 75k. There are many more examples I could give. On all of those lifts, she has the capacity to continue improving.

Jemma’s determined to keep going. She knows she has to stay on top of the way she eats. She knows how easy it is to start consuming take-aways regularly again and see all the hard work disappear.

There has to be a balance. There is no escaping the fact that to stay in shape and healthy requires paying greater attention to what you eat and how much of it your consume. Like it or hate it, that’s just the way it is.

GIRL OF STEEL: Jemma discovered her inner and outer strength (photo: Sue Saunders Photography)

Jemma’s come to recognise through this experience how much cleaner food, a dedication to training, following a progressive program and keeping a more positive mindset can be transformative.

“There’s nothing I’d change about the Amazing 12,” she told me. “Everything was spot-on and I felt really looked after and well informed throughout.”

To those contemplating doing the program, she said this: “Do it. You won’t regret it. It was the best experience ever. Loved it. I was so chuffed with my transformation.

“If you want to be physically and mentally stronger as well as improve your lifestyle and fitness, this will help you. But you have to be fully committed and willing to learn.”

*If you’re in need of or desire a transformation, want to learn how to train smartly and effectively, would like to challenge yourself to get stronger and fitter, require guidance with food and nutrition and are inspired by Jemma’s results, get in touch at The next Amazing 12 Chichester begins on September 18. Don’t delay. Places are limited and results are achieved only by taking action.

Week 11: The Power of Now

MIND ON THE JOB: Believing in yourself can make all the difference

DO you ever find your mind continually straying? It dwells on the past or drifts into the future. But how often are you present and in the moment? I mean, REALLY in the moment.

Jemma, now 11 weeks into the Amazing 12 Chichester at Core Results, has a classic case of a wandering mind. And it’s at the root of her anxiety and worry. She knows it.

She’s much better at dealing with it now than when she started the Amazing 12. Jemma admits her stress levels have dropped significantly.

Jemma laughs that I “always bring her back to reality”. Sure enough, without fail, in EVERY session there comes a point when I remind her that all that matters is where we are now and what she is doing in that very second. Not the set she just completed or the next exercise or what she is going to eat next week or what she’s going to wear for her photo shoot or a conversation she had at work that day.

Anything that takes you out of the present moment is a distraction and diminishes the quality of what you are trying to achieve.

There has probably never been a harder time to be present. In this highly technological age, we are continually distracted and our electronic devices are doing precisely that – training and honing us for distraction.

We pride ourselves on being multi-taskers in order to get more done, but it’s been scientifically proven that multi-taskers are actually less effective.  It stands to reason that trying to do more than one thing simultaneously means quality will suffer. The focus becomes the doing rather than the experiencing.

SWEATY NIGHT: But Jemma’s still going strong

The gym or exercise/training arena is a great opportunity to turn off the ‘noise’. For me, training is like moving meditation. It’s why I’m against my clients having their phones on or accessible when they are training. The moment they check in with the phone their mind is diverted elsewhere. If you are on the phone, you can’t be training. You might be doing something, but it’s not training. 

When it comes to lifting weights or attempting anything that has an element of risk or complexity, concentration should be paramount.

Sometimes Jemma will try to carry on a conversation with me while training and, with my eyes, I’ll point to the equipment as if to say, ‘concentrate on what you’re supposed to be doing’.

If you are talking while training there is no way the exercise can be executed with complete focus. You’re missing the opportunity and limiting your results.

Ever notice why some repetitions feel easier than others? It may feel accidental or random, but I reckon it’s because sometimes you are more centred and focused than at other times.

The harder or more challenging the exercise/movement, the more dialled in you need to be.

When I get Jemma to crawl with a foam roller on her lower back as part of her warm-up, initially she may start complaining. But when I tell her she will start again if it falls off, suddenly her complaining ends and she goes into a different mode. In those moments I see what she is really capable of.

This week we had another example. I had Jemma slamming a ball and hitting a tyre with a sledgehammer. Halfway through, she started complaining her back was feeling tight and sore.

CONCENTRATED: Jemma’s in the zone

It’s not uncommon for Jemma to complain and I know she likes a bit of drama, but, nonetheless, I told her we would stop if the discomfort was too great.

With Jemma I’ve come to identify the difference between hurt and pain. Her use of the word ‘hurt’ is when her muscles are being worked with some degree of intensity. Pain is when she has damaged something. Nearly always, she is dealing with hurt. I wouldn’t ever encourage her to train through pain.

Not wanting to short-change herself, though, Jemma elected to carry on. She is driven to get the best results possible. And what was brilliant was that she not only went silent, but connected fully to her body, corrected her positioning and channelled her concentration into every repetition for the remainder of the session.

The outcome: improved form; no discomfort; greater workrate; better workout; higher feel-good factor; more energy.  

Training clearly is a way to bring about more focus and enable us to practice being in that ‘now’ moment. It’s a skill that can be taken into our outside-the-gym-training-area life, too.

It is a massively important skill to have, though far from an easy one to sustain, never mind master.

FOCUS: the main difference between a good and bad lift

To execute a movement to a high standard in the gym, for instance, you need to be switched on and in the zone. For starters, the mind has to stop chattering and firing at you messages that are defeating and unproductive.

When you are completely in ‘the now’, no fear or worry or pain exists. How do you get there? Like anything else, it comes with practice.

When I watch tennis or world class sports people in action, I see that it is not necessarily the advantage in technique or skill that makes the difference at the highest level, but the ability to return to the ‘now’ for each point or second.

With lifting weights, successes are made or broken by our state of mind. Anyone who has been on the Amazing 12 Chichester and is self-aware enough will discover this. Jemma this week had a tough time deadlifting, for instance. Admittedly, she was lifting a heavier weight than ever before, but it wasn’t a weight that was beyond her (or else I wouldn’t have prescribed it). I know that because she was able to lift it.

But in difficult moments her thoughts got the better of her. She couldn’t turn off the internal commentary.

“It’s too heavy,” she moaned. “I can’t do it.”

“It’s not the weight that’s too heavy. It’s the weight of your thoughts that is too heavy,” I replied.

As Eckhart Tolle says in his brilliant book, The Power of Now, “When you are full of problems, there is no room for anything new to enter, no room for a solution.”

Jemma had lost focus. She became consumed by her grip, the previous set, the difficult repetition, the stressful week she’d had, the heat and a host of other thoughts that got in the way of her completing the lift.

DRAG FACTOR: pulling the sled

Remember, it’s our Central Nervous System that calls the shots. The CNS will protect us if it senses a threat too great. The more we keep feeding it messages of concern or worry or fear or doubt, the less chance we have of being granted the strength to fulfil the task.

Here’s the take-away: challenge yourself to stay in the ‘now’ moment. Give your training complete focus. It doesn’t mean you can’t socialise with those around you. It means that when the time comes to actually train or spring to action or pick up the weights, put ALL of your attention into what you are doing.

Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t maintain it for even short periods. But notice what happens when you do. The mere action of noticing will restore you to the present.

In that space, though, you are not only free of worry, but your actions are more deliberate, movements far more precise and, most importantly, the risk of injury much less.

This wave of the Amazing 12 is now nearly complete. The next one begins on September 18. If you want an experience that is challenging, educating, rewarding and, above all else, will deliver results provided the program is followed precisely, contact me at Places are limited, but the potential for growth is great.

Weeks 9 & 10: Stress and resistance

UNDER THE BAR: A leaner Jemma benching

THE Amazing 12 is a program designed to create transformation. At first glance it seems all about the photos and change in physical shape. But, delve deeper, and it’s about a lot more, as was the case with Reg, who recently completed an eight-week version of the program.

It boosts conditioning, optimises strength and can get people, otherwise stuck, functioning properly again. As Jemma, now at the end of week 10, will probably tell you, it can enhance the spirit, strengthen the mindset and increase confidence.

I’ve found, though, that it will work as well as you allow it to. Some people on the program are more resistant than others.

To resist is to create suffering. Take running a marathon, for example. If with every stride you are wishing the race is over, you will suffer. However, if you surrender to the process and stay in the moment, the whole experience – and your results – are likely to be considerably different and more enjoyable.

DECEIVING: Looks easy, but so many struggle with this crawling variation

Jemma had a lot of resistance to begin with – and it was hard – but I’ve watched her surrender – and flourish – as the weeks have gone by.

Fact is, if you drive with the brakes on, you can’t reach top speed.

There are now just two weeks remaining on my current wave.  Two weeks to make the best of the transformation.

STRENGTH: Jade almost down to the ground

Jade this week decided to discontinue. She felt she was becoming too muscular and it was a look she wasn’t happy with.

It’s a shame as she was making outstanding progress with her strength in particular. But I have to respect her feelings and decision.

Jemma, however, is thriving. She’s definitely moving towards top speed. She signed up for the program because she wanted to become leaner as well as achieve other goals. Getting leaner is primarily about fat loss.

In some cases, though, when it comes to fat loss, it can be difficult to shift.

RESOLVE: Jemma’s become better at digging deep

You need to get the nutrition/diet right and nail the exercise/training/movement element.

We’ve heard the expression “You can’t out-train a bad diet” and it’s largely true. There will always be the odd exceptions – the individuals who can eat garbage and still look incredible. But that’s more to do with age and genetics than it is lifestyle. It won’t last forever.

As you get older and life becomes busier and inactivity begins to triumph over activity, shifts start to happen in the body.

Beyond the nutrition and training there is also recovery and sleep, which are vital and I have talked about previously.

For the best possible results you need to have all four working for you.

However, in some cases – and I have seen this quite a few times – when the eating and training is perfect or nearly spot-on, the fat still refuses to budge.

So what is this additional fifth factor?

It’s called STRESS.

You might think the opposite – that stress burns energy. But, on a metabolic level, it doesn’t have that effect.

DEPTH: Jemma couldn’t even squat properly when she started, but has improved immensely

As Dr. Jade Teta, who has worked with thousands of clients and specialises in metabolism and hormones as well as health and fitness, explains: “If you’re eating right, training well and still not shifting fat, there’s a high possibility stress – and too much of it – is the obstacle or cause.”

Stress is generally regarded as a ‘bad’ word, but it’s not always the enemy. Stress raises cortisol and our bodies need cortisol. But too much of it becomes problematic.

In the world of lifting weights and training, for example, stress is a crucial factor in bringing about change.

The key, however – just as with food, drink, exposure to sunlight and practically anything – is in THE DOSE!

It’s when stress or food consumption or being inactive or watching TV or being glued to your phone or worrying or being negative or feeling angry and irritated becomes excessive that problems begin.

BREATHING: Learning when and how can make all the difference

The trouble with stress is when it reaches the chronic stage. And, because we are all so different, how much we can tolerate will vary.

No matter who we are, though, the human body can withstand only so much and, often without warning, decides to down tools.

It’s as if the body is saying ‘you didn’t do anything about it, so now I will’. We don’t want to wait until we get to that point.

Every time you go to the gym and train, your body is being subjected to stress. This stress, when combined with adequate recovery to follow, is what brings about an adaptation and makes us stronger and/or fitter.

There’s a fine line, though, between pushing our bodies hard or challenging ourselves in order to create an adaptation response and doing it so often and beyond what we can cope with that something eventually snaps or breaks.

VARIATION: a new tool on circuits day

Getting the measure of how hard to train or how heavy to lift is a critical part of effecting change. The poison, as they say, is in the dose, which is why more is not always better.

We need to manage the stress rather than allow the stress to manage us. In the gym environment, that’s where having a coach can be particularly useful.

Stress, though, comes under many guises. It is around us all the time, as I have explained earlier. Many of us are under stress and don’t even realise it because our world is filled with stimulation.

Any time you resist life you are effectively fighting and in stress mode. Complaining, as I’ve written about in previous blogs, is an example of resisting.

So let’s go into more detail as to how this can derail fat loss. Dr. Teta calls our metabolism a “stress barometer” in so far as it is always trying to get us back into balance. When our bodies are out of balance is when the metabolism is kicked into action.

Our bodies are wired to deal with any stress as a starvation response. If your body thinks it is starving when under stress, it will try to bring you back into balance. It does this by making you hungrier, craving foods and diminishing your motivation to exercise.

Why? Because eating more and moving less enables you to store fat around the liver, giving the body easy access to fuel for when the next stress attack arrives.

As Dr. Teta explains, “if you want to know if your metabolism is under stress look for these signs: increased hunger; unpredictable energy; mood issues; cravings; sleep disruptions.”

I’d bet that the vast majority of us can identify with these characteristics. Our lives are filled with pressure in the work place and family life and general survival (paying bills etc). And if, when feeling hungry and faced with cravings, we then add to the mix poor food choices, we are doubling the stress attack. 

When stress levels are high, we need to redress the balance.

So how do we do this?

Try to increase or introduce the following into your lifestyle: Exercise in the right amounts; play sports and games; walk daily – this is not just critical for activating the lymphatic system (which is a whole other subject), but great for relaxation; take time out to read books; have a massage; go to a sauna; spend time with animals; take hot baths; listen to music; meditate; have sex; laugh; spend time in nature and outdoors.

The Amazing 12 Chichester is a holistic training program that maximises in a specific time period changes to physical composition, strength and fitness by applying intelligent progressions and teaching good movement techniques. It focuses also on healthy and sustainable eating practices. But I try to take it further and address the other components in life that are required to enable us to function to the best of our ability. If you are interested in uncovering your full potential, can be committed to the program and want to be a part of the next wave, starting on September 18, or a future wave, email me at


Reg (July 2017)

JUST BEGINNING: the first stage of Reg’s transformation (Photos: Sue Saunders Photography)

TO make a significant and lasting change, you have to be a willing participant in the process. If you need to lose weight or body fat or have a desire to get fitter or want to overcome some form of addiction, no-one else can do the work for you.

Screaming at and pestering and forcing someone to change doesn’t work. At least not in the long term.

So when Reg first came to see me, it was with the full understanding of what he was taking on. His wife had bumped into Stacey Satta shortly after she’d completed the Amazing 12. They’d previously worked together and chatted about Stacey’s experience. Stacey passed on my details. Reg’s wife and I then began a conversation.

It was clear from the beginning this wasn’t going to be a typical Amazing 12 transformation. Reg, at 6ft 1in, is a big man. Lifestyle had directly contributed to him piling on the pounds. He had reached a whopping 25st.

EARLY DAYS: Reg working hard

Drinking and eating the wrong stuff had taken its toll. As a dentist of 24 years, Reg admitted he didn’t move a great deal during his working day. He was consuming two litres of Pepsi Max daily, drinking wine, eating large portions of food. Combine that with a lack of movement and, before you know it, your body changes shape and composition and begins to strain under the increased load.

Reg had a problem with his heel and, periodically, his knees. He had to miss a few sessions early on because of the pain, but Reg could feel how the addition of movement, training, healthier eating and drinking water to his daily routine was making him feel much better. From 40 training sessions, Reg missed five. 

He admitted before starting: “The image I had of myself was not the true me. At home we don’t have any mirrors. They are only from the neck upwards.”

Basically, Reg thought he was slimmer than he actually was.

But one day Reg was out shopping, saw a full-length reflection of himself and was shocked. “I know I am overweight,” he conceded.

PROGRESSING: every session he gets better

When we first talked, I made it clear this was going to be a long-term project. Although Reg wanted to sign up for the eight-week program, I knew he’d need more. So did Reg.

But he had a family holiday planned and we went into the eight-week program with the mindset of it being just the beginning of a grander transformation. This was the first phase.

Reg, 49 and the father of three children, was unhappy with his physical appearance. Moving was difficult. Breathing was even challenging at times. Going up steps was taxing. Yet he was up for the job.

DETERMINED: Reg has the drive to succeed

Reversing years of neglect doesn’t happen in a few weeks, though. You take it a day at a time. Slowly, you replace unhealthy practices with healthier ones. It took a lot of courage for Reg to enter a gym from scratch, expose the truth of his condition and even take off his shirt to be photographed.

It shows, though, how committed Reg was. As someone who comes from a family five generations deep in the medical profession, he knew his health had to improve. “Getting fit [again] will allow me to do more things,” he said.

Reg hadn’t even returned to his native Ghana for years – decades –  because of his weight! The last time he saw his mother, Reg weighed 17st. “She was so aghast when she saw a picture of me recently,” he said.

When he came to England in 1990, Reg weighed about 13-14st. He was 18st when he got married in 1997.

REPETITION: perfect practice makes perfect

Prior to the Amazing 12 (8), Reg hadn’t trained for three years. He played golf regularly – and to a good standard – but hadn’t done any other kind of exercise.

He wanted to lose weight, get fitter and gain leaner muscle mass. But there were obviously concerns.

Would he be able to stick to the diet, find the time to train each day, be consistent in his training, be fit enough, handle training with other people?

BENCHING: Reg on the final day of the program

We did a week of training before we officially started. I wanted to show Reg the movements and see how well he could move his body.

Reg trained mostly evenings – at a time when he’d usually be reaching for food – although several times we started early in the morning; whatever was needed to get the job done.

ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT: Reg’s grip is wider than recommended, but as he loses weight his form will get better

Reg was obviously strong and powerful. But he was panting hard from any kind of prolonged exercise of a slightly higher intensity. He’d bide his time going from one movement to another, doing what he could to manufacture extra recovery. 

Steadily, though, we progressed. Reg was always in good spirits and great company for those he trained alongside. You couldn’t meet a more likeable man. He tried hard, always.

HIS NEMESIS: Reg’s love and hate affair with crawling

I got him doing things he hadn’t done since he was probably a baby – like crawling. This he found harder than anything else – and it was only the warm-up!

The first time we tried, I had him crawl forwards about six feet and then backwards. He just about made it forwards and couldn’t reverse at all!

Fast forward eight weeks and Reg progressed to a 30m crawl without stopping. The look of amazement on his face was priceless. He made it back about a quarter of the way before needing to stop.

He lost about 2st in weight overall, but most of it fell off his lower body which is why the comparison photos don’t look dramatically different. His trousers were all hanging loose. His legs no longer fill his jeans.

But this eight-week stint wasn’t so much about a transformation of body shape. Reg’s transformation was more about what you CANNOT see in the photos. It was about starting a man on a journey to get himself healthier, stronger, fitter and leaner.

POWERHOUSE: lots of raw strength in this man (Photo: Sue Saunders Photography)

Body fat will disappear over time – with commitment and consistency to training, diet and improved lifestyle. The loss of two stone from the body of a 25st man is less noticeable than on an individual half his weight or less.

But beneath the cloak of excess fat is a strong body waiting to come out. If Reg keeps going, as he says he will, his full transformation will be revealed.

SKY IS THE LIMIT: Reg keeps working towards his goal

The greatest pride I have from watching and training Reg is in how he now moves so much easier, how he recovers from prolonged bouts of more intense exercise far better and the weights that he found to be a struggle to move about four weeks into the program are significantly lighter than what he was lifting relatively effortlessly at the finish.

In the first weeks, he had trouble bench-pressing 32.5kg for multiple reps, yet finished with nearly 70kg, which was nowhere near his limit. He also had difficulty strictly shoulder-pressing 15kg for reps in the beginning, yet increased his working weight to nearly 40kg in two months.

THE PROWLER: Reg starts to move with more bounce

Fitness-wise, I had him push the prowler up and down the gym 10 times as fast he could at week 1 and then again in week 7. His time dropped from 4 mins 32 seconds to 2 mins 51 seconds and, if I’m honest, there was more in the tank. A week later he even started jogging with it!

Those are just a few examples, but Reg’s transformation was, for me, a dramatic and inspiring one for more reasons than I have already stated.

This is a story of a man with the odds stacked against him. A man who could very easily look at the task before him and be overwhelmed by the enormity of the mission, but instead chose to take it on with the mindset of ‘I’ll get it done no matter how long it takes’ and ‘I have to do this because the alternative is much worse’.  

Reg’s attitude was excellent, his spirit strong, his laugh infectious, his commitment first class and, with us both being sports nuts and Liverpool FC supporters, his company super-enjoyable.

The intention now is for Reg to resume the program in September, this time for 10 weeks, but he will have the experience of knowing the movements, recognising his abilities, understanding the diet and his body will be better conditioned.

If you are seeking results, need guidance on lifting, training and nutrition and ready to make the commitment to make that happen, send a message to for further details on the Amazing 12. The next wave begins on September 18. Places will be limited. 


Weeks 7&8: What does your vision look like?

SLAMMING: with the ball and sledgehammer

THE question of ‘what do you do when you are finished?’ to an Amazing 12 graduate is about as standard as the ‘where do you get your protein from?’ query to a non-meat-eater.

Jemma tells me that she is often asked what happens when the Amazing 12 Chichester is over for her.

It’s a question I have written about in previous blogs and continues to – and probably always will – surface. Obviously, people are curious to know what is the next step beyond the Amazing 12. It’s a valid question.

Jemma and I joke that her answer should be, “Well, I thought I’d go back to doing no exercise, drinking alcohol and eating whatever I liked.”

Clearly, Jemma has no intention of doing that.

In fact, she said to me this week: “I don’t want to stop [the A12]. I love it.”

Jemma is clear on what she doesn’t want to do, but uncertain as to how to continue moving forwards in her training.

A starting point, though, is to have a vision. That’s what is driving Jemma right now. It doesn’t have a time frame. It’s a goal and a mental impression of where and how she wants to be. The Amazing 12 is a vehicle towards that goal.

When the Amazing 12 finishes, the task is then to continue making progress towards the end goal, in whatever shape and form that may be, and that could mean enlisting the assistance or expertise of whoever can help, if need be.

Without a vision, though, you won’t know where are you heading?

Jemma’s vision is to regain her body, confidence and the strength she’s always had but just hasn’t ever realised it. The clearer and more defined her vision, the greater her chances of succeeding. If the vision she now has fades, she may lose impetus or motivation. If her vision changes, she may take a different direction.

But my point is: first find your vision. Make that your focus. Use your vision to drive you onwards and leapfrog all the bumps and obstacles that come your way. Be committed to the vision.

BIG LEAPS: Catriona started with no lifting experience

Catriona succeeded in her goal to learn how to lift weights and now she wants to maintain the physique she has built.

She and Reg have finished their eight-week stints. Jemma and Jade are now into week 9. 

Catriona continued to train with me and Reg returned to action after a 10-day break.

In just over a week of inactivity, big Reg could feel the difference. “My God, I’m glad I decided to train,” he said. “I needed that.”

But now he’s off on holiday and that can be a pivotal time. It’s good to get rest and allow your body to recover after a long training stint. Sometimes, though, too much rest can lead to laziness, a loss of motivation and deviation from healthy eating habits. Before you know it, you could be back to Square One. 

NATURAL STRENGTH: Reg deadlifts 100kg like it’s nothing

Reg, though, has a vision, which is to get himself closer to 18st from the 25st he started at. That vision is what spurs him on.

Week 8 was a particularly good one for Jemma, having missed her first session (during week 7). She was annoyed about that, because she wanted to finish the 12 weeks without skipping a single workout.

But these things happen and it’s not worth beating yourself up over. Jemma moved on and quickly.

UP AND DOWN: Jade’s gaining fitness and strength, but finding the eating a challenge

For Jade, who hasn’t missed any, it’s been an up-and-down couple of weeks. She’s been battling with the nutritional side of things and  admitted to me she’s strayed several times from the plan. Also, with the training there are clearly some days she prefers more than others.

It happens. Some people find the eating guidelines hard to follow and some do not. Catriona strolled through. Jemma had some issues to begin with but now admits, after getting into her stride, “it’s not complicated and there are loads of options. I now find it quite easy.”

With the training, though, I often say it’s usually the movement and training your least enjoy that you need to do the most.

TECHNIQUE: Jade and Catriona holding form

Let’s remember what the Amazing 12 is: a program designed to bring about the best possible results in a given time period.

Sometimes the training can be a hard slog or deeply challenging – mentally as well as physically – which is a necessary part of making improvement and bringing about adaptation. You just don’t want to go there too often. 

The real examination is to see how you respond in situations like that. Do you rise to it or shrink away from it?

Jade’s least favourite day happens to be the one Jemma likes best. And while the program feels like it is sailing by for Jemma, Jade feels as though it’s dragging. That’s just how it is. We’re all different. 

PROGRESS: Jade nailing those chin-ups

In spite of her moments of impatience and missing eating certain foods, Jade’s making progress. There aren’t too many people on this program – men or women – knocking out 65 chin-ups in 15 minutes at this stage. In most of her lifts, she is well ahead of the curve.

But Jade can be difficult to please (which she admits) – except for when you play Country and Western music during training! She can be quite tough on herself. I keep reminding her that results come from being patient and following the script – precisely what she finds difficult to do. 

DRIVE: Jemma’s focus and commitment is paying off

Jemma’s been on the ball and, to be honest, I’m staggered by how her fitness and strength has improved. She has also dropped more than 1 1/2st in weight.

“I want to give it everything I have,” she said. “I don’t want to finish this and be left thinking ‘what if?’ I’ve made a lot of sacrifices and don’t want to let myself or anyone else down.”

The question you want to ask yourself is ‘have I done everything possible to give myself the best chance of achieving the results I was after?’

As you can tell, attitude plays a big part in success. And on programs like the Amazing 12 – and challenging circumstances in life – your attitude is pivotal.

To spice up the training I added a little competition into the mix. At Core Results this month there has been a gym challenge that involves pulling a sled up and down the gym six times for a given time. It’s a 50k load for ladies and 70k for men. I decided to incorporate it into the program.

SPEED: Jade sprinting for a quick time

Jade, unsurprisingly, has notched up one of the best times and Jemma, incredibly, isn’t far behind!

But to give Jemma’s accomplishment some context, the first time she tried (at the end of week 7), her time was 2:18. Four days later she did it in 1:37 – a difference of 41 seconds!

In fact, everything is beginning to look easier for Jemma even though it should be tougher. Why? Because she’s getting stronger and her mental resolve has shifted. 

GRAFT: Catriona, typically, working hard

Catriona also made huge improvement with the sled time from 2:25 to 2:09 to 2:04 – which is 21 seconds in a week!

When I compare Jemma now with the girl who started two months ago, I see someone not only leaner, but more confident and positive and undoubtedly better conditioned.

What makes Jemma trainable, in spite of her propensity for complaining (which I addressed a few weeks ago and, admittedly, has reduced), is that she’s open to learning and making changes.

Jemma takes it in. She gives it a go. She doesn’t always get it first time. She doesn’t always remember. But she is willing.

As I heard someone say this week, “You’re either in or in your way”. Which are you?

The next wave of the Amazing 12 Chichester begins on September 18 at Core Results. Do you want a life-altering challenge? Have you got the commitment to see it through? Are you after results from your training?  Do you want to learn about how to eat to get leaner? You’ve seen the results the Amazing 12 can deliver. Make your application today. Places are limited. Send all messages to:

Catriona (July 2017)

THE EVIDENCE: eight weeks of graft and dedication (Photos: Sue Saunders Photography)

AS a doctor of more than 20 years, Catriona knows how the body works. She understands the importance of health. She came to me in the spring after plucking up the courage to finally sample the world of weight training.

Until then, the Scottish 50-year-old mother of two had preferred to do cardio as her chosen form of exercise – and lots of it.

Weight-lifting and weight-training seemed too intimidating. Going to a gym was a scary proposition, as was having personal training sessions.

Catriona, being someone who likes to be good at what she’s doing, knew she’d be out of her comfort zone using weights and wrestling with frustrating periods trying to learn new techniques.

She’d heard about the Amazing 12 several years ago through her husband, who I used to coach. It took her that long to decide the time was right for a change.

Catriona admitted to me she was unsure of her abilities to do the movements in the program. We were, effectively, starting from scratch.

“I avoid doing the things I can’t do,” she had told me. “I don’t want to look stupid.”

But the tipping point came when she noticed how some people who do nothing but cardio – as she was doing – took on a scrawny and skin-and-bones look, which didn’t appeal to her.

RAISING THE BAR: Catriona achieved a physique in eight weeks that years of cardio could not

So she set out to become stronger and acquire some muscles. I’m talking and about lean muscle, not big, bulky muscles.

Catriona was, admittedly, already in impressive shape. Her aim was to put on weight rather than to lose it. She wanted to become fitter and stronger. I remember looking at her when she had her ‘before’ photos taken and thinking how Catriona already had a terrific figure and what the Amazing 12 (or 8 in her case) could do for her.

“I’d like to improve my core and upper body,” she had told me. “I’d like to have some muscles and be more toned.”

It was important, too, that she didn’t get injured.

Other concerns were how she’d feel having to avoid a glass of wine or two each night with a meal. The longest she’d go without was about two-three days. It was something she enjoyed.

However, Catriona was genuinely amazed by how she had no craving at all for wine during her eight weeks on the program and, even when it was over, she didn’t feel the urge for a drink.

PRACTICE AND MORE PRACTICE: Every session is an opportunity to improve

Just as importantly, perhaps, Catriona has started to look at her training differently. She’s realised the importance of lifting weights and not overcooking the cardio.

“I wanted to incorporate weights into my regular exercise regime but had never used them before and needed the confidence to do it,” she said.

Understanding that Catriona was a beginner, I handled her carefully. As she said, confidence is what she needed. Push too hard, too soon and confidence can get irreversibly damaged.

EYE OF THE TIGER: committed to getting the best results possible

That’s not to say we didn’t have some testing moments. There were many of them. But Catriona was great to work with. She understood all I was explaining. More importantly, she acted upon my advice. She didn’t complain hardly at all.

“I feel empowered as I have challenged myself to do something new and achieved it,” she said.

As you can see from the photos, Catriona achieved some outstanding results. There was a clear bounce in her step.

Not long after finishing her transformation, Catriona went to the gym in Cardiff, where she used to live. “So many people said I had changed,” she said. “I’m really happy with myself.”

PERFECTIONIST: Catriona doesn’t like to ‘fail’ at anything

I recall her saying during the final training session just before the photo shoot, “It’s unbelievable. It does make your abs look better. I’ve never had abs in my life.”

To get those results just meant following the program. Truth be told, Catriona admitted to me several times how she sneaked in extra cardio sessions when I told her not to – some habits are hard to break and temptations more difficult to avoid than others.

From a dietary perspective, though, Catriona said she had no difficulties. She told me one day, “It’s simple. You just follow the instructions.”

For some this is easier than for others. While Catriona admits she has difficulty following her own advice, she at least took mine.

“The diet reduced my weight and also body fat,” she said. “It was relatively easy for me.”

POSITIVE: Catriona realised how important a part your mindset plays

The hard bits were some of the lifts. In fact, in her first session back after the shoot, Catriona had, by her reckoning, a wobbly session, especially with deadlifts. It nearly reduced her to tears. This had more to do with feeling like she had failed than hurting herself.

Weight-training can challenge us in unexpected ways. And that’s not a bad thing.

Catriona sent me a message a few days later, admitting: “Sometimes it takes an overwhelming breakdown to have an undeniable breakthrough!”

I try to cultivate a positive mindset and Catriona took that on board, difficult as it was at times. For example, she explained: “Told to do 10 reps but only manage 7 – at the beginning of the course I would think I’d failed if I didn’t complete the 10. Now I think, fantastic, 7 is better than 2! I try to think of the positives.”

EARLY DAYS: Pushing the prowler

In previous posts I’ve highlighted some of the progress Catriona has made, like taking her time for a challenge pushing the Prowler on week 1 from 3:30 to 2:50 on week 7. For a short time trial that requires all-out effort, that’s a massive improvement.

I remember when Catriona came to see me at Core Results Gym prior to starting. We went through some of the program and she could barely squat to any depth. I had to contemplate alternatives, but instead stuck with the back squat and, steadily, she made great improvement, finishing after eight weeks at 80% bodyweight for high reps and with much-improved form.

LEAN MACHINE: Catriona discovered the benefits of lifting weights and acquiring stronger muscles

Similarly, Catriona’s bench press went from 17.5kg to 28kg, her deadlift from 40kg (using blocks) to 65kg for reps and, using a lat pulldown machine, she went from 17.5kg to being able to do a controlled chin-up, something she’d never done previously and without us ever attempting one during the program.

I couldn’t have hoped for a more committed individual. Typically, this and nutrition are the toughest challenges on the program, but commitment was never a factor with Catriona.

She was in practically every day, punctual and smiling and ready for action. She skipped a few sessions, but for reasons that were unavoidable and never because she didn’t fancy training.

HAPPY CUSTOMER: Catriona described the experience as ‘fantastic’

For her the final week was the toughest. “The weights were heavier and the diet stricter,” she said. “But I still enjoyed it.”

In terms of satisfaction, Catriona summed it up like this: “Amazing, fantastic, unbelievable!”

She added: “I think the whole experience was excellent. If you’re thinking of doing it, just do it.”

If you’re ready to take Catriona’s advice, have commitment and want to know more about the next wave of the Amazing 12 Chichester, starting September 18, drop me a line at

Week 8/6: Where has complaining ever got you?

HARD AT IT: Catriona is all business here

THE Amazing 12 Chichester is now at the halfway stage for Jemma and Jade, whereas Catriona and Reg have come to the end of their eight-week version.

This weekend, when they have their photos taken, I’ll see, visually at least, how much progress Catriona and Reg have made. It’s already quite apparent, though.

A few moments stuck out for me this week during training at Core Results Gym. One was when Catriona deadlifted 65kg for multiple reps and sets with good form and stayed strong throughout. She weighs only 51kg (having lost 4kgs since beginning the program – that’s the lightest she can remember being).

But considering she had zero lifting experience when she started and a few weeks back had struggled with a weight that was significantly lighter, it was quite a proud moment to see that sort of progress.

STEP AHEAD: Reg is moving faster and better

The second was during a warm-up when I had Reg push the prowler. Instead, though, he started jogging with it. So to have seen Reg go from a hobble to struggling to crawl to walking quickly to a light run was quite a staggering transition given that at a starting weight of 25st-plus, he had issues with his knees and heel that caused him to miss a few sessions.

Those were the highs. But there were some lows. This week more than any other I noticed the level of complaining reach a new level.

Complaining is nothing new to a gym environment or my waves of the Amazing 12 Chichester for that matter. This program isn’t exactly a walk in the park – and it can’t be to get the results that are achieved. I’m used to listening to grumbling.

It’s also quite a British thing to moan, especially about the weather and traffic and whatever else. 

But it made me think about how self-defeating complaining really is.

I understand some people complain to let off steam or to deal with fear or to get attention or without even realising how much they do it. But I can only reach one conclusion.

Complaining is simply a waste of energy.

Here is my question: how does complaining enable or help you to become the best version of yourself?

UP THEY GO: But Jemma frequently faces her doubts

I hope that if you try to answer it sincerely, it stops you in your tracks and makes you take stock of how pointless complaining is. At the very least it should make you assess for a moment how much you might be complaining about things and how much you are selling yourself short by doing so. 

When I look at successful people or high-achievers or people we generally aspire to be like, I don’t see complainers. I see doers. I see people who take action. I see people who are effective and, more importantly, decisive at making changes.

I see people who get on with things. I see individuals who refuse to join in the drama and are focused on what they want to achieve. I see people who use their energy to inspire, motivate and encourage rather than blame or complain. I see people who find solutions rather than moan about the problems.

Most importantly, I see people who have the antidote to complaining: gratitude.

FEELING IT: Jade’s getting stronger

That’s to say that if you complain, you generally see things negatively and if you are grateful, you see things positively.

This isn’t something you are born with. This is learned and practiced behaviour, which means it can be reversed or changed – if you want it to be.

However, I still catch myself complaining. We all complain. But the degree to which we complain and the time we spend complaining is significant and varies.

The key to my statement is that I ‘catch myself’ complaining, meaning I realise it’s something I do from time to time almost unconsciously or habitually. But I’d rather not and I try not to.

TRIUMPH: That moment in the deadlift for Catriona

Some of us, though, are chronic complainers. You don’t have to be Stephen Hawking to figure out that if you complain a lot you can’t be very satisfied.

If you’re not satisfied, it’s not the complaining that will change your circumstances. It’s taking action that makes the difference.

A friend of mine and former British boxing champion from the 1980s, Gary De’Roux, once said to me when I was complaining to him about something during conversation many years ago, “don’t complain. Do something about it.”

His words packed a punch. Gary’s a no-nonsense sort of guy. Sounding off doesn’t do anything but produce hot air. Your situation remains the same and you run the risk of creating negative energy around you.

DOUBLE TROUBLE: Jemma taking on the weight and how it makes her hands feel

On a neurological level, though, there’s good reason to take complaining seriously. There’s a direct link between complaining and negativity. And there’s a strong connection between negativity and depression as there is between negativity and worry and, consequently, stress.

Stress affects all aspects of our health and well-being. In its most negative form, it is draining and weakening and life-threatening. Stress also raises our cortisol levels, which makes it harder for us to sleep soundly. This, amongst other things, limits our ability to grow and recover. It can also lead to weight and fat gain.

Yet research shows that most people complain at least once every minute during a typical conversation.

REFLECTION: Do we see things as they are or as we want them to be?

Complaining, though, can feel good to some of us, because sometimes you feel as if you are sharing an experience that’s bothering you and getting a worry off your chest. But every time you complain, you wire your brain to do more complaining.

Studies out of Stanford University in America have shown that complaining shrinks the part of the brain responsible for intelligence and problem-solving. This is the same part of the brain that deteriorates in patients who have Alzheimer’s.

In my world of training people to get stronger and fitter and move better, I hear complaints all the time that range from “do we have to?” to “I can’t do that” to “this hurts” to “that’s too hard” to “I’m bored with this food”  to “can’t we do this instead?” etc. The list is endless.

DR. DREAD: Reg finds crawling more daunting than anything else

Complaining is a disease as well as a form of resistance – not accepting things as they are. Resistance is going against the flow of life and thus makes what you may be complaining about even worse.

Let’s not confuse complaining with speaking out. One is negative and the other positive. As author Eckhart Tolle wrote, “When you complain, you make yourself into a victim. When you speak out, you are in your power.”

Getting and achieving results more often than not doesn’t involve a process that is enjoyable or easy. You have to make a sacrifice. But you can either fight it or accept and get on with it or find a solution. I know which options make the most sense.

GETTING ON WITH IT: Catriona in work mode

Essentially, complaining is wasting valuable time. As Randy Pausch wrote in The Last Lecture, “if you took one tenth of the energy you put into complaining and applied it to solving the problem, you’d be surprised how well things can work out.”

However, if you are locked into a pattern of complaining, you’re going to have to work hard to change it.

Training the body is a process of change through repetition and adaptation. So when we complain there’s a process of practice and repetition taking place in our brains. We’re hard-wiring ourselves to get better…at complaining!

Complaining, from my experience, weakens my attitude, makes my thinking more fragile and leaves me more likely to fail in a given task. It takes away any pleasure, too.  

MIND GAMES: Once Jemma tames her thinking she will go to another level

As they say, “Complaining is a zero return investment.”

If you are aware you complain a lot and don’t mindfully try to fix it, you’ll simply get better at it and the issues or problems taxing you will remain or escalate. However, if you are aware you complain and want to change, you can try to tackle it the same way you would if your aim was to change your fitness levels or lose weight or gain weight or get stronger.

You show up every day with the intention and commitment to do better than the day before. And like learning any new skill, initially, you have to think hard about and work hard at it – until it becomes your default response.

Complaining is verbalising a negative thought. Your thoughts determine your actions. It’s impossible to think negatively, act negatively and yet produce positivity.

Here’s the challenge.

  1. Each time you complain, catch yourself and try to either think of a positive alternative or solution instead.
  2. Don’t beat yourself up if you struggle or else you’ll just be complaining again. It’s a process and will take time.
  3. Try going 24 hours without complaining and see what happens.
HURT: This week left Reg’s legs feeling a bit sore

The Amazing 12 Chichester isn’t just about the physical. Often our bodies are an expression of what and how we are thinking. So to make a complete transformation and get the optimum results, we sometimes have to start with the mind and our attitude. 

We can only be as strong as our weakest link and often that is in the way we are thinking.

Progress requires patience, time, effort and consistency. Complaining just means you don’t enjoy the experience.  

Think you have what it takes to do the Amazing 12 Chichester like Catriona, Reg, Jade and Jemma? Catriona is continuing for another two weeks before she goes on holiday and Reg is going to do the same before he takes a summer break and then embarks on another round of the program in September.

I’m taking applications for the September wave that begins on the 18th and ends in mid-December. Contact me at for more details or if you have any questions.


Week 7/5: Measuring progress – the hard evidence

BACK TO BASICS: Learning to crawl again

I’VE seen it happen again and again on this program. Changes. Physical and mental.

Take Reg – all 25st of him. When he first walked through the door, he moved uneasily. He was carrying a heavy load – a load he had got tired of lugging around and needed to ditch. His movement was laboured.

So where do I often start? I get my clients crawling. Some like it and some do not. But I have them do it, because it’s basic and effective. It resets the body. It boosts the brain. It’s good for co-ordination, core stability etc. That’s why children first learn to crawl before walking and running. It develops their motor skills, strength and balance. 

Seriously, Reg could hardly crawl more than five paces forwards. In reverse, he couldn’t move – at all!

BENCHMARK: Reg is lifting and moving so much better than when he started

But now, at the end of seven weeks on an eight-week version of the Amazing 12 Chichester at Core Results Gym, he can cover 30ft in one go without stopping. It’s a clear, measurable display of progress.

I use the prowler a lot as well. For those unfamiliar with this bit of kit, it’s a type of metal, weighted sled. You push it. It taxes you. You feel it and sometimes hard. But it can work wonders – IF you get the dose right.

So I had Reg cover 10 lengths of the gym with the prowler in the first week, his instructions being to give it his best and not stop. But he did stop…several times. It took him 4 mins 32 seconds. His legs hurt. He was breathing hard, a reminder of how lacking in condition he was. “My God,” he said repeatedly.

Roll on seven weeks and at about 7am with the sun shining. “Let’s do it again, Reg,” I said to him. “I’m curious to see how long it takes.”

FEEL THE FORCE: working hard under the dusk sky

Reg had been moving so much better that I felt he and I both needed to know the difference.

Here’s the outcome: Reg marched that thing up and down. He could probably have gone quicker were he able to run. But he paced it evenly and didn’t stop. His time: 2 mins 51 secs!

The same day, but in the evening, I did the same to Jemma. She was dreading it. It was steamy and, of course, Jemma hates sweating. We’d done a full workout. She said she was feeling tired, that her legs ached as she’d done some sprints that morning. I’ve heard it all before.

THREE PEAKS: coming to the top of the deadlift

I tried to encourage her to believe in herself. Then I walked over to the prowler and uttered those words: “Let’s do it.”

Filled with nervousness, Jemma’s head spiralled into the usual chaos and doubt. Once she realised it was happening, she had to focus. “Just do your best,” I said. “I’m just curious to see how you do.” Then I added, “You know it’s going to be better. You’re fitter, stronger, lighter and faster. Just pace yourself.” She did.

First time she did it, Jemma bombed. She stopped frequently, utterly spent, hands hurting, legs burning, mind racing. You name it, she had it. Her untrained body got it done in 4 mins 16 secs.

GOT IT: Jemma nails her technique with the sledgehammer

So how did she do in the re-run – and bear in mind this was only five weeks later? Her time was 2 mins 30 secs!

Jemma almost burst into tears. She was that delighted and shocked and emotional and surprised and thrilled.

What’s even better is that she could – and will – go faster before we finish the program in another seven weeks.

FINDING HER SPEED: Jemma goes into another gear

In five weeks Jemma has lost a stone in weight, but much more has gone on.

“My muscle tone has improved,” she said. “I feel better in my clothes. I don’t feel hungry hardly at all. I feel less stressed and have had only one anxiety attack since I started [compared to what used to be at least weekly].

“I’m more aware of the choices I am now making and how organised I have been. I feel more cheerful and don’t feel the need to drink alcohol. My mental block on my pain barrier has improved and I’m more able to deal with pushing through for more reps.”

TWIST AND LUNGE: The blonde doctor blazing through the circuits

Like Reg, Catriona is entering the final week. I took her through a tough circuit session this week and thought, at 50 and all bronzed, that she looked like some sports bikini athlete. Catriona didn’t stop.

I asked her later that day what changes she had noticed and, still too tired to elaborate, she texted me, “I have abs.” This was followed by, “not a very deep answer, but I’ve been striving to find them for years!!”

HEATING AND HITTING: Banging the tyre in the sun

Catriona was fit and lean before she started the program. Now she’s fitter, leaner, stronger and has muscles she didn’t know existed.

I gave her the prowler challenge, too. At the finish, as she was lying on the floor, I asked, “how do you think you did?”

“Slower,” came her reply.

GRAND SLAM: Great way to finish the early-morning session

In fact, she’d reduced her best time from 3 mins 30 on day 2 to 2 mins 50 seconds – an improvement of 40 seconds!

Naturally, she was delighted.

Jade, on the other hand, is tougher to please. She’s one of the fittest people I’ve had start the program. Having trained and played sport for years, getting her results was always going to be more challenging.

LITTLE AND LARGE: Jade may be smaller, but packs a punch

She wants to be lean above all else. She’d sacrifice strength gains for being leaner. I notice changes already. It’s obvious to me she is becoming leaner and stronger and fitter. But Jade’s a little fixated with the scales – the scales of doom that send out a false representation of what’s really happening to our bodies and yet we still rely on them as a marker for progress.

“I’ve not seen too much physically yet,” she said. “I haven’t noticed it apart from a few inches off my waist.”

HITTING THE MARK: Jade’s on course to reaching high standards

She said she felt tired and heavy in the legs all the time. On the plus side, she was happy with making more time for herself and enjoying being able to train every day.

“I’ve enjoyed being a bit more selfish in regards to doing things for me, making sure I have time to train and putting myself first more often than I usually do.”

I’m still super-confident Jade will take a different view of her results come the end and that she’ll be doing pull-ups and plenty of them (which is what she also wants). She’s missing her comfort foods, but sticking to the nutrition. If she keeps it up, she’ll get impressive results. She’s just impatient and shining her attention on what she feels is missing without noticing the wonders of what is going on with her body. Sound familiar?

PUMMELLING: the tyre gets a bashing

Her strength is already at a level where few women I’ve coached on the program have reached in 12 weeks. And while she maintains she’s not got much endurance or bothered too greatly about becoming strong, Jade’s working harder now during the longer workouts and keeping up a good pace.

When I had Jade re-take the prowler test, she knew she had to approach it differently and she did. Her time went from 2 mins 28 in week 1 (when she shot off too quickly) to 2 mins 3 seconds at the end of week 5.

And remember, the better the athlete the smaller the changes are likely to be. For Usain Bolt, a difference of 0.01 seconds to his sprint time is as significant as, say, two seconds over the same distance for a sprinter in school.

MIX AND MATCH: Four individuals with different starting points, body types and technical abilities

You can’t argue with the the times and other feats of strength I have logged and will write about later. The ‘after’ photos always reveal the extent of composition changes.

But in terms of satisfaction, regardless of what I say or the evidence I provide or how the photos look, the individual has the choice where to cast their attention. 

The formula for happiness and contentment is fairly straightforward: be grateful for and appreciate what you have rather than yearn for what you do not. By the same token, appreciate what you have achieved more than what you failed to achieve. The decision is yours.

The next wave of the Amazing 12 Chichester will begin at Core Results on September 18, 2017. I’m taking applications. If you want to see results and are committed, drop me a line at for more information. 



Week 6/4: What exactly is success?

HAMMER TIME: Jade in the hot sun

MOST of us think of success in terms of victory or completion or getting something right or doing well.

That’s totally understandable. That’s how most of us are raised or conditioned to think of success or what we are exposed to seeing. That’s how we tend to use the word.

There isn’t really a right or wrong answer to what it means. Each person has their own definition of success.

John Wooden, the great American basketball coach, coined his own understanding. “Peace of mind attained only through self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to be the best of which you are capable.”

Jemma and Jade, who this week completed week 4 of the Amazing 12 Chichester at Core Results Gym, both said that to them success meant “doing their best”. Jade added that, for her, being successful meant being happy.

And yet sometimes when Jade does her best, she doesn’t feel happy, because she feels she should have achieved more. Catriona, now at the end of week 6 of 8, often feels the same.

DETAILS: Catriona the perfectionist

I would argue that for most of us success is defined more by the outcome than it is the process.

Each week teaching the Amazing 12, I deal with reactions and responses to effort that result in disappointment as well as joy and satisfaction.

Success is just a moment in time.

Professor Sarah Lewis said, “We thrive not when we’ve done it all, but when we still have more to do.”

In simpler terms, the journey is more important and rewarding than the ending.

In the context of the Amazing 12, the goal for some is to just reach the end of the program. For others it is to cherish each stage and moment or to hit certain targets that they have determined to be important, while some, like Reg, will consider the Amazing 12 as a part of a grander objective.

Successes, though, can be big or small. They can come every minute, hour, week, month or year.

SOLID FORM: Jade squatting low, keeping her torso upright

And while we see failure as the opposite of success, can failure actually be a success? Isn’t success and failure only a relative term?

After all, we tend to learn more from our errors than when things run smoothly. I’m not suggesting we try to fail, but if mistakes and struggles have great value, shouldn’t we also celebrate setbacks as successes?

I have heard it said that “the choices we make under pressure define our character.” Character is something we should all endeavour to develop.

Character is what keeps us strong when everything around us is falling apart or chaotic or difficult. Character is what enables us to be resolute in the face of a storm of opposition. Reputation is what you are perceived to be, whereas character is who you really are. You can only reveal your true character by exposing yourself to arduous and testing circumstances.

In terms of the Amazing 12 and strength and fitness training, one’s character will come under examination in order to improve and usually when we are being challenged.

To those who dislike or resist change, understand that there is no progress without change.

FOCUS: Jemma’s in the zone with these lunges

In week one, Jemma, for instance, would get uncomfortable whenever she felt her muscles burn or if a weight felt or looked too heavy. Those were character-testing moments.

But now, four weeks into the program, I can see the changes in her. I notice how she’s got more inner steel when the going gets tough. She grits her teeth instead of panicking. She embraces her strength instead of conceding she is weak.

I got an excited text from her near the end of the week. She’d been running in the morning. I told her to try to complete her course without stopping. When she tried it in the first week she had to stop eight times and found it tiring. But now she’s able to do it non-stop.

“I’m so thrilled,” she wrote.

In the four weeks since she started, Jemma has lost nearly a stone in weight. She’s noticed her body firming up, that she can run better and faster, that her recovery from exercise is improving. “It’s mad how much stronger I have become,” she said.

She hasn’t missed a day of training, though sometimes her mind is elsewhere. Concentration and focus are areas I try to work on with her in every session.

PERSEVERENCE: It took Jemma a while to get the hang of this, but she did

She gets anxious and stressed a lot, but the training always seems to help. “I’d much rather do this [Amazing 12] than just work out in a regular gym,” she said.

Making progress is a success for Jemma. “I would say putting in as much effort as you possibly can and knowing you’ve done your best to achieve results,” is how she defined it. “And if you have a goal, then reaching it is a success, too.”

But how we frame our goals and achievements will make all the difference. For example, Jemma felt as if she had struggled with one movement last week as she didn’t do as well as she had wanted. Then I revealed to her that, in fact, she’d completed more reps and lifted a heavier weight than a few days earlier on the same movement. In the space of one second she went from feeling like a failure to a success just by altering the perspective.

Jemma also expressed how she wanted to get as strong or as lean as some of the other girls who have done the Amazing 12. But then she felt disappointed at the prospect of it not being possible. She decided for herself what success and failure would mean. Most of us do. 

I answered her in the same way I do everyone else: You can only be the best and strongest version of yourself.

HIGH STANDARDS: Jade likes to be pushed

Jade, like Jemma, has been ever-present since week one. She’s now a third of the way through. She found defining success to be a tough question in spite of the fact she’s achieved quite a lot in athletic terms.

“Success is having a goal and completing it,” she said. “I want to be the best I can be.”

But what is being your best?

SET-UP: Jade’s strong in the deadlift

Jade admits she can be lazy. She told me before she started the program that she wants to “better herself” and “more of a push”.

Being ‘our best’ is relative to a given time frame. It could be for one game or a season or over a number of years or a lifetime. It needs to be quantified.

I would suggest that being the best you can be is striving for mastery, because mastery is rarely achieved.

By setting an objective that cannot be achieved it means you keep working and practicing and refining and there is no end game – unless you give up, in which case you definitely won’t succeed.

When there is an end game, it means that you stop. Then what? Who wants to stop when the value is all in the process?

RINGING THE CHANGES: A long, but steady journey ahead for Reg to get back into shape

Reg has understood from the beginning that the solution to losing weight and regaining his fitness isn’t a quick fix.

His aim is to get down to 18st from 25st. At his peak, Reg hit 26st. He stands 6ft 1in. “I may have to do this [Amazing 12] three times!” he said. “I’m looking at about a year [of training and eating well].”

Working out each evening has helped him. “It’s usually a time when I would get hungry and eat,” he said. Instead, Reg is training, building muscle, moving his body and developing his fitness.

Sometimes it is more about introducing more good habits into your lifestyle than it is removing the bad ones.

Reg had to miss one session this week. He hurt his knee playing golf. But the next day, he and Jemma put in a good shift.

POWERHOUSE: you can see why Reg has a strong drive to his golf game

“Once you’ve done a session it feels good,” said Reg as we finished with some sledgehammering on to a tyre.

While Reg’s knee is his problem, Catriona is hindered by an old shoulder injury, leaving one side clearly weaker than the other.

It doesn’t cause her pain, but it is the weakest link in her chain and the Amazing 12 has exposed it to the point that she maybe now realises the importance of addressing it.

In reality, Catriona can only be as strong as that shoulder allows. As the body is all connected, you can’t take the shoulder out of the equation.

Her list of definitions for success included “believing that you can” and “overcoming fear” and “learning something new each day” and “not giving up” and “celebrating small victories” and “understanding you control your own destiny”.   

PROGRESS: At week one Catriona could barely squat with any depth

Those are all positive and valuable. But I want to put it out there that success can be in everything and I mean everything.

I’ve alluded to how we learn the most from when things don’t go according to plan or when we are enduring hardship.

When we switch our attention to how we can benefit from ALL experiences, success is around us continually. You just need to recognise it. 

Winston Churchill captured it best for me. “Success,” he said, “is the ability to move from one failure to another with enthusiasm.”

The next wave of the Amazing 12 will begin in September. This isn’t a program just to improve strength, conditioning, body composition and technique. There is so much more. It will challenge the way you think, prepare, plan and live. If you want to be considered for the program or to find out more, please send me an email at


Week 5/3: The curse of expectations

ANOTHER ONE IN THE BAG: a tough, but progressive week

IT doesn’t matter what I say or how often I write about and explain it, people will have expectations of what they want to happen and what they can achieve and how quickly.

Impatience and unrealistic expectations almost go hand in hand.

But you have to ask, why are so many of us that way?

William Shakespeare once wrote, “Expectations are the root of all heartache.”

From my experience, not only are these expectations often unreasonable, they are one of the primary causes of disappointment, failure and the decision to quit.

I’ve had it in practically every wave of the Amazing 12 Chichester I have run. And the craziest part of all is that the expectations are self-determined.

Imagine that – you become the source of your own disappointment!

For example, Jemma, who along with Jade has now finished week 3, might say to me, “my scales show I’ve put on weight this week.” I’ll reply, “Are you trying to lose weight or lose inches and fat?”

She’ll say, “Inches and fat.”

I’ll typically respond with, “So why are you paying any attention to the scales?”

It’s the same when it comes to movements or exercises that are difficult or challenging. To master or gain competency in a movement isn’t going to happen overnight. It requires time, patience and practice and more practice. To want – and expect – it to happen any quicker is unrealistic and, most importantly, skipping the best part of any skill development, which is in the process of learning and mastering.

STEADY IMPROVEMENT: in form, fitness and body shape for Jemma and Reg

Reg and Jemma both admitted they’d invested heavily in getting out of shape, which is a process in itself. For years Reg has been drinking almost seven bottles of wine per week, litres of Pepsi Max daily (and before that fruit juices on a large scale), overeating and not moving enough. Jemma said she was drinking up to two bottles of champagne weekly, eating chocolate, drinking wine etc.

It soon adds up, as they eventually realised. And then they reached a point where they wanted and needed to do something about it, but the task seemed huge and kept being delayed. Finally, they each took action and signed up for something like the Amazing 12.

But to think the excess is going to disappear instantly isn’t realistic. And if you’ve neglected the movement of your body for long periods and have a static job, your body is going to need re-training in how to function optimally. It takes time

This week I had a rare bout of stomach illness that knocked me sideways for the best part of six days during which I didn’t train at all and moved little. But it reminded me in a short time – because my body felt awful – how crucial it is to move.

Once I recovered, though, I didn’t go back immediately to what I was eating and lifting before. It was an integrative process.

Similarly, someone who is not fit (aerobically and anaerobically) isn’t going to develop magical fitness in only a few sessions. The best and lasting results come steadily and are hard-earned. 

Progress can be impeded many ways: by rushing or not pushing hard enough or trying too hard all the time or being deflated by successes you deem to be too small or slow. Getting the balance right is key, which is why a coach is useful to those who can’t manage that fine line well by themselves.

Reg and Jemma both admitted they couldn’t (at this stage) do this by themselves. They need guidance.

STRENGTH: Jade’s developing fast

Inevitably, when you get a group training together there will be situations where one or the other excels in a given task. 

But comparing yourself to others is another disaster area.

“Why is she looking lean and I am not?” or “why are they lifting big weights and I’m not?” or “they got all their reps and I didn’t”.

No wonder it is said that “comparison is the thief of joy”.

There are fewer better ways to throw yourself off your game than to become preoccupied with what everyone else is doing.

On the Amazing 12, everyone is on their own, personal journey – or at least they should be. While the program fits everyone, it’s not identical for everyone.

If you’ve had a lifetime of comparing yourself or setting unrealistic expectations, it’s not going to change overnight.

Like a body that’s been allowed to get out of shape, you have to work on your thinking and the patterns of your thinking to get it into shape, too.

I try to make it clear that everyone is unique – and I mean it. Our bodies are all different. Things like long and short limbs are genetic and cannot be changed. While some of us can naturally move fast or are more adept at going steadily for longer or are stronger physically, we can improve our strength, speed and endurance.  

Some of us will lose weight or body fat fast and others will do so slowly. We are all physiologically different, which is why comparisons often don’t serve us well.

The universal objective, though, is to improve towards our intended goal, not to be upset or feel derailed by becoming envious of the progress others are making.

BUSY NIGHT: all four come together

The Amazing 12 program is about making you the best version of yourself – not the best version of someone else or your imagination. And I certainly don’t have the ability to make someone with short legs develop long legs or vice versa.

My current group of four training at Core Results Gym all bring something different – and positive – to the table. Catriona has endurance. She’s focused and doesn’t slacken. She wants to be the best she can be. She even had to whip a few of the others into line this week with a call of “stop complaining!”

Catriona, like Reg at the end of week 5, is happy that she’s shed 4kg and flattened her tummy, something she’s never been able to do from years and bucket-loads of cardio.

NATURAL: Jade’s always been sporty

Jade has natural athletic ability. She’s competitive, got good technique and is dynamic and strong. Jemma is enthusiastic and committed. She’s so into the program. Big Reg is a mood-enhancer. Everything’s so jovial around Reg. He brings laughter to the group. He’s realistic about where he is. He does his absolute best and is strong.

This week had, for the first time, all four training in the same session. Jemma, who’s complained of tiredness a lot this week, was concerned she wouldn’t be able to keep up with Jade and Catriona. But keeping up is not what it’s about. Instead, use others who may be quicker or better to improve your performance, as Jade and Catriona often do. 

GOT TO START SOMEWHERE: Reg’s bulk makes it hard for him to grip any narrower

Reg has had to step up his game since being joined by Jemma and, for one day each week, Jade. But he’s become much fitter for it and everyone has noticed. 

Jemma’s eagerness for change often gets the better of her, though. She’s already made great strides and there’s nothing wrong with wanting improvement, which is why everyone is on the program, but it’s how we go about it that matters.

And, as you can probably tell from most of my previous blogs, it’s what goes on in our heads that gets in the way of what our bodies can deliver. I’m continually reminding the group of what they have achieved rather than what they failed to achieve. So far, in a short time, it’s considerable for them all. 

My advice to anyone training – and especially on the Amazing 12 – is take each day as it comes and use it as a stepping stone. Do your best. Don’t label your sessions as good or bad. Don’t go home and look at yourself in the mirror 10 times every day. Don’t keep stepping on your scales to torture yourself.

Turn up, follow the program, eat the right foods, be patient, experience the journey with all its ups and downs and try to be better than the day before. That’s how the best results occur. 

Remember this: “Peace begins when expectations end.”

My next wave of the Amazing 12 is going to start in September (exact date to be determined). I’m already accepting applications. For more information, please contact me at