I spend a lot of time in gyms these days, either trying to improve my weight-training performance or working on removing some layers of fat. Usually both!
I’m Chris Zaremba and in this article, I thought I’d explain why I’m doing this in the first place and how this spreads into other areas of life. I hope this will show that the level of commitment I have to gym-based activity brings benefits stretching far outside of the weights room and, in my case, how it has changed my life completely and forever.
A little personal history first, if I may.
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Up until the age of 50, I was lazy, did no exercise and ate all the wrong things. I hit my 50th birthday at a weight of nearly 18 stone (252lbs/114kg), and with a bodyfat percentage figure that I can’t imagine. Something else hit me at the same time: a doctors warning that I was in a pre-diabetic state and was heading for some other serious health issues.
I used that message as a serious jolt to my system and spent the next few years getting fit: lots of cardio in the gym and eating much more nutritiously. After a couple of years, I added resistance training to the mix, guided by top fitness professional Rob Riches. As part of that, I took early retirement from my role selling dodgy derivatives trading software to even dodgier financial institutions.
Which brings me to where I am now which is about 11.5 stone (161lbs/73kg), with a bodyfat level of 11%, which dips to about 7% for fitness models and muscle model contests including my wins for my age group at the Miami Pro World Championships last year.
So I could talk and write for ages about nutrition, cardio and resistance training. And indeed I often do! But there have been many benefits to my adoption of a fitness-focussed life, and I hope that describing these will encourage you to spend more time on all types of fitness activities inside and outside the gym.
Firstly, there are obviously the health and longevity benefits. If I hadn’t changed course eight years ago, I think I’d now be over 20 stone and pretty much immovable, being out of breath just walking across the room. That’s if I was still breathing at all. Now I hope I have many years of fit life ahead if me and will reach 60 in a couple of years fitter and healthier than ever.
I’ve discovered sports I couldn’t dream of doing.
I attempted my first ever 1k fun run six years ago, then progressed through 5k’s and 10k’s and now regularly participate in marathons. I’ve also bought a bike or two, and now cycle up to 100 miles on some days.
Add in the swimming, triathlons, mountain walking and my latest thing of rowing and the fact that is that I have discovered the joy of exercise and physical activity something that would have been totally alien to me 10 years ago.
And there are other benefits. I feel much better about myself mentally, more confident and positive for the future. I now believe it’s never too late for anything, rather than the pessimistic outlook that the obese me used to have.
I now share many activities with Jenny, my wife. She had pretty much given up on me from a fitness perspective and we spent too much time apart as she went off for a run, while I stayed in and watched TV (and probably phoned for a pizza). Our time together has probably doubled, and is much more enjoyable.
Outside of my family life.
I’ve become involved In the community through the local running club and organising and presenting fitness courses, presentations and personal training targeted mainly at other over 50-year olds, but attended by all age groups.
My oldest regular training client is well into his seventies and has progressed in fitness to have a metabolic age of 44, and is still improving! At the other end of the age range, last year I became a mentor to 21-year old Dan Wynes, now in stunning shape and without doubt a fitness superstar of the future.
It’s a particularly good feeling to be able to pass on the benefits of fitness I’ve had to others aged from 20 to 70 and beyond and be respected as a result. This level of respect, the feeling that I’m doing something that genuinely helps others and being appreciated as a result, is a feeling that was unknown to me in my past life. It’s a great sense of satisfaction, being of genuine help to people, that I never obtained from that old software sales role.
So, yes, I have quite a few trophies in the cabinet and had a bit of vain-related glory on the way! But they are matched in every way by the other joys of being healthy, enjoying life and making a difference to others. It’s infectious and I hope, if you haven’t caught the bug yet, that maybe this article has helped!