We take a look at how Chris Zaremba has followed some of his own advice and remains motivated to keep training, having already reached a good level of fitness at 57.

My life is pretty much focussed on fitness these days. At 57, it’s now both my hobby and my means of income. I’ve been fitter than the average person of my age for a few years now and maybe it’s worth looking at why I continue to try to improve, despite having reached a level of fitness that’s good for my age.

But first, a little recap. Although fitness is important to me now, it wasn’t always this way – up to my 50th birthday, I was unfit – with each year from the age of 20 seeing me slide to ever worse levels of fitness and health than the year before. By the time I’d got to the half-century, I was clinically obese and according to my doctor, heading for a heart attack unless I changed my ways.

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At 50, I decided to make some big changes. For the next few years I used the old-style and simple ‘Exercise More, Eat Less’ approach.

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I knew nothing of macronutrients, hadn’t heard that some fats are ‘good’ and some ‘bad’ and didn’t know what nasty little blighters those grains of sugar are – but I did keep my calories to an average of 1800 per day for those years – and every day completed 40 minutes on a cross-trainer to burn what the machine said was 500 calories.

Unscientific? ‘Yes’ – but I dropped about 5 stones over those years. I was happy with the progress made, as was my doctor especially with the numbers he obtained from my various tests. But I hadn’t been in the weight training part of the gym yet and my weight loss had been both muscle and fat rather than just fat.

A chance meeting with top fitness professional Rob Riches five years ago led to him becoming my personal trainer. Rob devised a resistance training programme and eating routine that would add back some of the muscle that I’d lost in the weight loss phase.

I enjoyed my fitness regime even more and in the next couple of years after the initial meeting with Rob lost a further stone, but this time it was just fat and I added muscle too.

It would have been the most natural thing in the world to ease off, to drop the exercise frequency and intensity to keep fitness to that current level, not to press for further improvements.

Wind the clock forwards a couple of years, by which time I had reached a level of fitness that is pretty good for someone of my age and I guess, this is where I could have decided to level off – try to maintain that level and not to push it further. But I was hooked, I train twice a day I do cardio upon waking and a resistance session in the early evening.

I love the feeling of being fit not fat and am still excited every time the scales show a 0.1% drop in bodyfat, or if I spotted a hint of a muscle where there wasn’t one visible before. So I continue the double daily gym trips, plus
sensible nutrition to this day.

One of the reasons I continue to love the fitness lifestyle is that I constantly discover new avenues to explore in fitness and I am always learning. A couple of years ago, I decided to study for my personal trainer qualifications, which I achieved through Premier Training in 2012. Since then I’ve gone on to study further courses including additional certification in nutrition. I hated learning at school – but love it 45 years later.

These days, providing personal training and fitness consultancy, plus the occasional motivational speaking role, has become a major focus of mine. So much so that early in 2013, I left my ‘real’ job and my fitness activities now form my income.

Not such a hard decision in retrospect: I was 56 when I made that choice, I was beginning to look for early retirement options and retiring into something I enjoyed was a natural change. It took courage at the time, saying farewell to a monthly salary, but I’m glad I did it.

Now I enjoy helping others to get fit as much as I like it for myself – every time one of my clients reaches a new fitness target, I think I’m as happy as they are. And I get the same feeling every time an audience member tells me that they are motivated to improve following what they’ve heard from me in a presentation.

To reach a broader audience, I also write for ultra-FIT and elsewhere and have created a few YouTube videos. A TV documentary about my fitness transformation was made and shown in 2013, and I am looking forward to more writing and video work in the future. The next project in this area is a six-part TV series on fitness, which is scheduled for production over the coming few months.

I’ve found that the acquisition of a level of fitness has led me to enjoy many other sports and activities that I couldn’t have dreamed of in my obese days. In the past 12 months, I’ve ran my first marathon and completed triathlons and mountain treks – all of which would have been unimaginable for me a few years back.

All of these are things I can enjoy with my wife, Jenny, who has been a fan of these activities for years and is now happy I can do them with her.

Another area I’ve enjoyed is on-stage competition. Not as a bodybuilder, I couldn’t do half of the things I like doing such as my running and cycling if I put that amount of muscle on, but as a fitness model. I’ve come first in my age group in the British Championships in ‘Fitness Model’ for my age group in both 2012 and 2013 in contests organised by Miami Pro.

I also came second in their World Championships for 2013 and I’ve committed myself to have another try for the number one spot in 2014. Even though I provide personal training to others, I still have my own trainer, Russell Lee from Reel Health and Fitness.

People often question why a ‘PT uses a PT’ – and my answer is that Russ is able to encourage me to new heights of achievement that I couldn’t reach on my own. Russ found ways to help me to previous contest successes and has now taken on the job of helping me prepare for those World Championships in 2014.

Another area I’m enjoying is through Rob’s supplement company, True Performance Nutrition. I was the trial subject for the over 50’s for the ripped fat-loss product and following my success with that project, Rob asked me to be an ambassador for the full range of supplements. This is something I’m happy to do, I’m a regular user of the products and believe in their effectiveness – and therefore happy to use myself as an example for their use in the 50+ age range.

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Clichés and clichés!

Over the years, I have reached a few conclusions that I guess have become clichés – I certainly use these phrases with my clients today. Firstly, there’s, ‘The body you own is where you’re going to live for the rest of your life, so you really should look after it’ and secondly, ‘No-one else is responsible for your health and fitness’.

I know those are obvious points, but they bear repeating. A third line I used for myself – and sometimes still use for clients who need that bit of extra motivation – is less fitness related, it’s that ‘Life is not a rehearsal’ and by the time you are fifty, it’s likely that well over half of it has gone already.

I read in an advert once that, ‘Self-belief is the most powerful force on the planet’ and that’s another phrase I have come to agree with – and I try to instil in my clients.

For me, fitness started off with a warning from the medics. It started as an obligation, something I had to do rather than chose to do. But now, am I a fitness addict? I guess so, because if I don’t get my gym fix for a couple of days then I am a less-nice person, which I think is the definition of an addict. I hope I haven’t gone beyond addict to being obsessed though.

I enjoy my real ale, wine and good food too much – but I always ensure that for everything I consume that isn’t perfect for fitness it is worth the deviation from the straight and narrow and it’s not just eaten out of boredom. Time for another cliché I think, one that I use with my clients often, ‘Food is not a hug’.

I am massively lucky that I’ve been able to turn that medical instruction into my hobby, then into my passion, then into my business.

I sometimes think of a few lines Rob told me fairly soon after we first met in 2008. He said that four things would happen if I followed his advice: (1) I’d get a lot fitter obviously, (2) I’d have a great time doing it, (3) I’d meet some really nice people on the way and (4) if I was lucky, I may get just a little bit famous. Five year on from those predictions, I have to say Mr Riches was spot on.

Even though my start in fitness was later than most, I’m making a good attempt in putting this second half-century of mine to good use for others and myself. I won’t be putting the brakes on anytime soon. I guess I’ve taken that, “Life is not a rehearsal” line really to heart.

I am massively lucky that I’ve been able to turn that medical instruction into my hobby, then into my passion, then into my business.

I am at that very happy status where my hobby is my job and it’s an activity that absorbs me, keeps me healthy for the future and helps others along the way. It is indeed a great feeling to be helping other people discover the joys of fitness in their fifties and the messages of thanks I receive add to the many joys of my fitness life.

Even though my start in fitness was later than most, I’m making a good attempt in putting this second half-century of mine to good use for others and myself. I won’t be putting the brakes on anytime soon. I guess I’ve taken that, ‘Life is not a rehearsal’ line really to heart.

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Pollyanna Hale Health and Lifestyle coaches
Lost 13 Kg in Total
Mel, 32y Location: London, United Kingdom Working with Pollyanna changed everything. I lost 13kg, got toned and have more energy than ever! Get same results!

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Chriz Zaremba Fitness Consultant
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Chris, 50y Location: London, United Kingdom Lost 45kg after the age of 50 and now competes and wins physique competitions and runs marathons Check our weight loss plans