My fitness journey started on basketball courts when I became a semi-professional player at age 16. My passion for basketball was apparent. Training sessions were a two-hour commute into London from home, which were funded by supportive and patient parents.
Basketball is classed as a non-contact sport, but it's far from it. As a young boy who played against and with grown men, it was suggested that in the off-season I should hit the weight room to increase my size and strength. At age 16, I was only 150 pounds with a lean and fat-free body. I can't remember my first few days in the gym, but at age 17 I probably just looked around and imitated others who may or may not have known what to do.
I tried to combine both disciplines and pushed myself to the limit during basketball training. My basketball career ended when knee troubles put my leg in a cast for eight weeks with the prospect of a possible serious operation. I was given a fifty-fifty chance of a successful outcome from the operation, so I ended my basketball career at age 18. I was crushed. Basketball was my life and I was good at it. Still, I continued to train at the gym as a form of therapy.
Basketball taught me that if you want to be successful it takes hard work, dedication and discipline. It can be applied to anything in life. Hitting the weights was no different. I enjoyed the gym environment. I trained with enthusiasm, but had no purpose or vision. As the shape of my body changed, I was hooked. When others in the gym came and went, I stuck with it.
What followed was an obsessive passion for training with the mindset that "more is better." I was left with a physique that looked good, but was wrecked; I suffered from chronic pain on a daily basis. I was in my early 30s at that point, and old age came and bit me.
I spent most of the following years training around injuries, predominately lower back pain, which stemmed from a weak core and overdeveloped abdominals. I addressed the problem through therapy and Swiss balls and emerged with a physique that wasn't bad for age 39. I was left wondering if this is what middle age was all about. I didn't have to accept it.
I'm lucky in that I need no outside motivation to push myself in any aspect of life. My passion had a detrimental effect on my body, but it's a mistake I won't make in the future.
At age 39, I found an old picture of myself in my early 20s; I was lean and ripped. It was a watershed moment, which motivated me to seek the next chapter in my training. At that point, I made a conscious decision not to accept where I was physically.
The Internet is a wonderful tool for information, but it isn't easy to come across quality information. I use a number of websites for inspiration, especially Bodybuilding.com, but I try not to be inspired by people who I cannot relate to. I'm inspired by natural athletes and people who struggle to get in shape and find training difficult. I feel there is a good community of these types of men and women on BodySpace, all of whom help and motivate me daily.
A big motivator is progress pictures that I've taken. These photos remind me of my strengths and weaknesses. They allow me to step back and view myself at a given moment in time and see the changes to my body.
Staying healthy is priority number one; anything done in excess is foolhardy and destined to fail. With age has to come moderation. For the type of person I am, that's a hard pill to swallow. I treat every workout with the thought and respect it deserves. Mentally I can go as hard and/or as long as I could in my 20s, but anytime I start to cross that threshold my older frame reminds me to be steady.
I would like to help and assist others who don't find training as easy as I do. I might be able to offer an opinion or advice on how to achieve their goals. I love to think that I could compete, but I'm always in a competition with myself. I think that's good enough. No competition can replace the motivation and expectation that I place on myself.
Enjoying training consistently is hard for new and experienced gym-goers. It's a results-driven business and in this day and age we want fast results in every walk of life. One of the slowest changes is to your body, so workouts have to be fun, productive, and progressive. Even if you workout consistently, the room for error and wasted time is enormous. It doesn't have to be as hard as people want you to believe.
Stop comparing yourself against extreme physiques because they require extreme measures with their dieting and training.
Rob Riches built a fantastic physique. He performs well functionally and adapts to different sports, which demands respect in my eyes.
Bodybuilding.com enabled me to stay motivated. BodySpace helps me meet and interact with like-minded individuals from around the world. I'm happy to be part of a fitness community.
- "The Waiting Room" by We Are The Ocean
- "Lassitude" by DJ Fresh
- "Gonna Make You Sweat" by CNC Music Factory
- "Weak" by Skunk Annasie
- "Passive" by A Perfect Circle
Thanks: I would like to thank Active Life Gyms for their support and my fiancee, Wendy, for putting up with my obsession on a daily basis.