One month down, three to go, and I am so happy to report that I am raring to go more than ever! I’m not aware that I harboured doubts about my resolve and tenacity when it came to undertaking this Ultra-FIT athletes training plan with John Shepherd, however it was a leap into unchartered waters for me and I took nothing for granted.

John’s encouraging, empathetic and clearly knowledgeable style of coaching has suited me perfectly. It often feels more like a collaboration than a one way process of him barking orders at me whilst I perform the exercise until total failure and possible despair! We are working together, I am doing my utmost to meet and excel in everything he is giving me to do and so far

I feel that I am not letting either of us down

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As for benefits so far, I am honestly sensing greater speed, power and endurance. I know not to expect too much after a single month, but there is no doubt my body is now functioning at a higher level than it was only a few short weeks ago.

This week we forged ahead with powerful exercises like squats, steps drills – sprinting up three at a time (all well and good for someone of John’s height, not so easy when you’re giving away about 8 inches!), single leg squats with back foot hooked on a heavy metal chair and the lead leg taking the weight in a controlled and measured manner. Really tough!

But toughest of the lot was the new addition to the repertoire – a real killer but a fantastic challenge!

Assume a full press up position with the arms fully extended. Then slowly ‘walk’ your hands away in front of you whilst keeping you body perfectly straight and aligned at all times. Go as far as you can before walking the hands back to the start position again. Believe me, this hits everything, gradually at first and then totally! But what a strengthener.

The idea is to increase the distance you can stretch out and come back from. A friend has set me the target of reaching my full extension and returning. I have accepted the challenge!

The most impacting moment this week (and for many weeks) actually didn’t happen at Crystal Palace or within the training session with John all

Returning home to shower and prepare for the rest of my day, I dropped into the local Waitrose for a few healthy provisions. The checkout lady noticed my workout gear and rather tired and dishevelled appearance and asked me if I’d been running. I replied that I had done some running as part of an overall training programme.

She told me she used to run but had to stop. And with clearly moistening eyes explained that she had been stricken with Multiple Sclerosis and could not longer be active. The sadness and emptiness was so evident and we both sorted out my shopping with tears in our eyes.

It was such a stark reminder that we take our health and mobility for granted so often

We go to bed fit and well and just assume we’ll be in the same state when we awake and this will be our process day after day year after year. But the truth is that it can all be taken away in an instant, at any time for any reason. Each and every day we are fundamentally healthy, mobile and active is a blessing and one we should not so easily forget.

This week has also been a short week. Only one session in fact. The reason is that on Friday I was embarking for Paris at first light with a wonderful group called Techbikers. Our mission was to cycle 325km all the way back to London by Sunday evening and raise at least £50k to provide education for disadvantaged children internationally.

With this in mind John scrapped our Thursday morning session and encouraged me to conserve my energy and ready myself for the cycle marathon. I did as I was told and prepared for what was to be the most wonderfully challenging, exhilarating and worthwhile of experiences….

Check out Week 1, Week 2, Week 3 and Week 4 of Parisa’s Ultrafit Challenge and grab a professionally designed fitness plan yourself!

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