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Olympic body challenge: Feel good to look good

Personal trainer Will Pike shows Matthew Jenkin that the way to achieving a body beautiful starts from the inside
Matthew Jenkin with personal trainer Will Pike
Photo by Matthew Jenkin

If there was a pill which could make me both look good and feel great, believe me, I’d buy the drug store.

In the absence of a miracle cure for obesity and depression, I turned to the gym for answers.

I am a third of the way through my three month challenge to look and feel like an Olympian before the London 2012 games, with the help of the UK and Europe’s number one nutrition brand, Maximuscle.

But despite looking considerably more svelte and slipping, rather than squeezing, into my skinny jeans, I’d be lying if I said I felt like a million bucks.

Truth be told, the initial buzz of seeing my belly recede has worn off and most days the gym feels more like a medieval torture chamber than a sanctuary of wellbeing and happiness.

Fortunately, like a white knight dressed in tracksuit bottoms and a sleeveless vest, Gym Box personal trainer Will Pike power-walked into my life to tell me working out needn’t be a chore.

Using a more holistic approach to exercise, Will believes that you’re more likely to achieve that buff body if you feel beautiful on the inside as well.

Apparently you can have your protein bar and eat it after-all.

‘A friend of mine is a healer and life coach and that’s helped me a lot to understand my mind and my body, the way I look, see myself and the way I train,’ he told me when we met this week to discuss how I can achieve my seemingly impossible fitness goals.

‘Using his advice I am able to approach my clients, not just training them harder but also helping them break down any mental barriers they have for training, to enjoying exercise, to enjoying their diet and life, as well as helping them push themselves a bit harder.’

He added that training is not just about results.

As much as we all want to look like a go-go boy with washboard abs and buttocks like two scoops of butterscotch ice-cream - a pressure which most gay men have felt at one point or another – Will believes the future of fitness will also include powering our minds as well as our bodies.

He said: ‘I’m working on a coaching program which also teaches people how the body works, what happens when you’re sat down all day, every day, how the mind works with the body and getting people to feel great.

‘People want to look good but they also want to feel good. If they start feeling good from the word go then results are secondary.’

A good place to start is to incorporate movements and exercises that you enjoy into your work-out regime.

It stands to reason that if you’re not comfortable, you will automatically dislike it.

But like Marmite and oysters, some exercises are an acquired taste.

That shouldn’t necessarily be an obstacle though.

‘Sometimes I don’t want to train,’ admitted Will.

‘I feel great afterwards but it’s hard to go, to do the work and do something I’m not comfortable with.

‘But you can change that about yourself and find something you enjoy about the sport or exercise.’

As he talked me through the program he had drawn up for me, I realized that unlike many old school body building regimes, Will’s work-out was less about pumping just one area of the body each gym session and more about stimulating all the muscles.

From press-ups to lunges and bar bell presses to squats, every part of me was being stretched and molded into shape.

But while Will doesn’t subscribe to the usual maxim of ‘no pain, no gain’, I won’t achieve the body I’m aiming for without some bloody hard work.

Will said: ‘In training itself, your body can always do more than what you think. Whatever you do – strength, flexibility or cardio – you always have your voice that stops you from hurting yourself.

‘You have to focus on the feeling of your body instead. Your body will tell you when you can’t do any more.

‘In strength training, bench press for example, lots of people will get to a point and they can’t do it. That’s a mental thing.

‘Proper failure, the bar should still be travelling until you can’t do any more.

‘Stopping because you think your body has had enough, it’s a mental block.

‘If you think from the word go that it’s going to be a hard set, then it will be. Don’t over think it. Just do it and feel your body as you do it. ‘

Of course, don’t forget that all important warm-up and most surprisingly, remember to engage your glutes. That’s buttocks to you and me.

Because those buns of steel don’t just look great, they actually help support your body, aiding you in other strength exercises.

So despite a literal pain in my backside after lunging like a member of Monty Python's Ministry of Silly Walks last night in the gym, I remembered Will's pithy motto - 'Keep calm and move your arse.'

If you're not in London but would also like to benefit from Will's work-out wisdom, he is launching an online coaching service soon.

Will offers people also wanting to take a more holistic approach to fitness a six to 12 week 360 Degree Change package, which includes healing, lifecoaching, personal training and nutrition advice.

See below for Will Pike's top five tips on looking good and feeling fabulous or check out his blog.

Along with a healthy diet plan recommended by Maximuscle nutritionist Gareth Nicholas, I have been working out three or four times a week, including taking the Maximuscle Promax Diet shake and Thermobol and CLA-1000 supplements.

Follow my Olympic body challenge progress on Twitter @matthewjenkin

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