Fitness mentoring across the years

Chris Zaremba has been in fitness for a few years. Now 58, he is the current Miami Pro World Champion for both Fitness Models and Muscle Models over 50.

A few months ago, he decided to help a newcomer to the fitness contest world, Dan Wynes, now aged 21, by acting in a mentoring role for Dan. How well would this work, especially with the couple of generations gap in age between them? They each have their own views, first, let’s hear from the mentee:

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The mentee’s story – Dan Wynes

I met Chris Zaremba for the first time at this year’s Bodypower Expo in Birmingham’s NEC Arena. And whilst being an incredible inspiration to me, we realised that we were very similar in many ways. After mentioning that I wanted to go into competing and follow in his footsteps he introduced me to the Pure Elite contest at the end of 2014.

Whilst being a qualified Personal Trainer I had no clue about how to get ready for a show and how to get into peak condition. I asked Chris if he could help and become my competition mentor. He agreed, we swapped contact details, and then the planning began – I had taken a step in the right direction.

That’s what life is about to me – I like to challenge myself and push the boundaries. Today, a few months later, I couldn’t be happier that I made that decision.

Not only has Chris been an incredible mentor, but our relationship has blossomed and we have become very close friends. One area that Chris has shown me great help has been tracking and organisation – up until this prep I am ashamed to say I never really tracked my own progress, which thinking back I still don’t really understand why, although I do track my clients.

I now record everything, and have a file of sheets that I have named “The Checklist to Success” which includes all my fitness related actions – Macros, Supplements, Workouts and Cardio, the weights and minutes of each workout and how many hours sleep I’ve had. I also now take monthly photos so I can see any changes, positive or negative, and I can adapt or change if necessary.

I have found this hyper-organisation extremely useful as it keeps me a lot more driven and excited to better myself each workout and every day.

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So that I begin each day right, I get up at 5 am and cook my day’s meals, then head off to the gym to do my fasted morning cardio (I prefer LiSS) for 45 minutes, then 10 minutes of Chris’s abs routine afterwards. The day’s main resistance workout is later in each day. Each month Chris and I meet, and have a day of insane gym workouts – last time we did three in one day, we then track each other’s progress and take progress photos.

I have found that working with someone who has a similar goal as me has really ‘upped the ante’ and made my motivation go through the roof. We push each other immensely in our sessions. Although there is such a big age gap between us – Chris at 58 and me at 21 – there is no difference at all or no excuses, as he is a highly motivated individual such as I am.

We both share a love for a healthy lifestyle and his attitude is inspirational. Which is why we get on so well and have become such good friends.

My advice to anyone looking at competing or even just starting to work out is just do it, life is too short to delay things. The sooner you start, the sooner you will be where you want to be. Just have confidence and believe in yourself and nothing can stop you. I was very lucky to find Chris as my mentor – you won’t have him there in person, but you can still attain your dreams, as I’m sure I will.

The mentor’s story – Chris Zaremba

I’ve done many things in fitness over the past seven years or so, and it’s always refreshing to try something new. And the most recent ‘something new’ was when a young chap came up to me at a trade show and, after a chat, asked me to be his mentor in the fitness world.

I wasn’t entirely sure I knew what was expected of me as a mentor – something less than a trainer, something more than sending out blogs and info. Anyway he said three things that made me inclined to accept, and a fourth that sealed the deal.

The three things were that (a) he was a fan of Rob Riches and his company True Performance Nutrition – I too am a supporter of Rob, and I’m an Ambassador for the company, (b) he thought that everything I had done in the fitness world was great (flattery gets you everywhere with me!), and (c) his girlfriend, who was with him, was very keen to see him progress to reach his goals.

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The fourth was that when I questioned him about perhaps training with a deadline of a competition, his eyes lit up and the enthusiasm flowed from him. I was convinced.

So that how I met Dan Wynes, then aged 20, and his girlfriend Liz. Without that chance meeting, I doubt our paths would ever have crossed as, although we had those things in common, he lives 130 miles from me, and is about a third of my age. As soon as we agreed the mentoring relationship, we immediately ‘clicked’, and our friendship has grown ever stronger over the months that we’ve been working together.

Dan and I communicate daily, discussing obvious areas such as training and nutrition, but also topics such as stage presence and posing for the contest, workout planning and recording, social media positioning, photo and video shoots, self-promotion and publicity. All areas which, although I wouldn’t claim to be an expert, are ones in which I have gathered some experience over the years.

Every three weeks, Dan and I see each other for a full day of catch-up including workouts and taking progress photos for the growing mass of documentation.

And Dan’s progress has been nothing short of phenomenal – which is a maximum of 1% of my input, and 99% of ABCDE on his (that’s Absolute Bloody-minded Commitment, Determination and Effort). I’ve never seen anyone train as hard or as consistently, or be so perfect in adhering to nutrition rules, with Rob perhaps the only other contender.

I’ve learned that the mentor gets as much from this relationship as the mentee. The time I’ve spent with Dan has re-invigorated my own training, such that I’ve now decided to enter the same contest as Dan, the Pure Elite at the end of 2014, even though I thought I’d retired from competitions after my last win in April.

Seeing the training and up-coming contest world though his new-to-it-all eyes has refreshed my outlook too. Dan asked me to mentor him so I could pass information and tips to him; little did either of us realise that I would benefit at least as much from the passion and energy flowing in the opposite direction.

In a few weeks, Dan and I are heading to LA for a week of totally focussed training, returning ten days before contest date. The plans we have for that week has me training like a 21 year old, as Dan and I encourage each other for the final pre-contest period.

My wife Jenny and Liz will be sitting together in the audience in that theatre in November. Jenny remembers, as I do, the thrill I experienced at my first contest, four years ago, and I know Dan will never forget his own stage debut either.

Dan will be in unbelievable shape on the day, and fizzing with enthusiasm and energy. For my own part, I will have absorbed some of Dan’s fresh-eyed wonderment at the day, and I hope that attitude comes across on stage.

Without doubt, and whatever the result, both mentor and mentee will have learnt and grown from the months leading up to that day. Come the end of the contest, I’m sure that Jenny and Liz will be proud of their chaps.

Good luck to Dan and Chris on Pure Elite Contest day – we’ll bring you the results and photos of course!

Photos by Simon Howard of snhfoto

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