It’s not the gold medal that matters most
AND so it ends. Sue and Kari have crossed the finish line. Photo shoot done. My work is done (for now). What an experience. I am delighted with their results. They both looked amazing. They achieved their goals. I’m very proud of their efforts.
The photos are souvenirs, mementoes of the journey, the hard work, focus and accomplishment. It’s like a gold medal, a reminder of what you achieved.
Athletes and sportsmen compete for medals, but a medal isn’t won in one race or contest. It’s won each day over months and years by training smartly, often hard, eating the right foods, getting the right amount of recovery, taking care of your body, overcoming obstacles, picking yourself up when you fall and cultivating a successful mindset and making sacrifices.
Training is a process by which the intention is to make progress towards a given objective. In the Amazing 12 I have ONLY 12 weeks to get the best out of those I coach.
Like Sue said a few times this week and before the final few days of the peaking stage, “this [pointing to herself and her body] is what we worked hard for [not the photos].”
It’s true. You can’t remain at your peak. It’s physically impossible. That’s why it is called a peak. But you can, by continuing to train and eating sensibly, maintain a physique and fitness and strength levels within touching distance of optimum. It’s a balancing act. We have other things in life. But I hope I have helped Sue and Kari to realise a few things: the value of health and a strong body; how food affects our systems; how much our thoughts determine our outcomes; that to make advancements doesn’t mean we have to repeatedly hammer ourselves close to the point of no return; that intelligent training needs to be progressive and structured and success comes through discipline, commitment, patience and not giving up.
As you can see from the photos, Sue did staggeringly well. Look at the photos and realise the difference in weight lost between the start and finish was only 3lbs, yet the transformation and increase in strength was impressive.
It wasn’t smooth sailing – and something like this seldom is. However, Sue missed only one day of training and she was gutted about that. She really wanted to be ever-present.
This was an adventure and all adventures, almost by definition, are lined with uncertainty, moments of joy and times when you have to dig incredibly deep and feel close to the edge of your comfort zone. Sue had several of those moments. The key is to keep going – and she did. There was never any question of that.
There were some specific goals she had which were overcome. For example, her previous best deadlift (for one rep) was 82.5kg, yet by week 7 Sue was knocking out reps with 80kgs. By the finish, she had nailed 92.5kgs for multiple reps without putting down the bar.
Five days after her photo shoot I got her back in the gym and we did some strength-testing. She managed a single-rep deadlift of 102.5kgs (225.5lbs)!
To say Sue became stronger is an understatement. I remember the first day I ever trained her shoulders (going back a few years) and her grimacing as she pressed overhead a 7.5kgs bar with 1.25kg plates dangling on either side. To show how far she has come, by the end of the A12 she was shoulder-pressing for reps and sets with 16kgs dumbbells in each hand – and with more comfort than she is even aware of.
I watched her display tremendous grit to better her squatting with a weight that had left her stumped the first time we tried it. Her fitness levels soared as well. I recall Sue saying one day how amazed she was by the speed with which she was able to recover from day to day without ever feeling sore.
In the strength-test session, Sue hit 60kgs (bodyweight) for one rep on her bench press and did a chin-up from a dead-hang (arms straight) with 14kgs attached. As a fitness test, I had her do a 10-length challenge with an empty prowler after five weeks of training. She recorded a time of 2mins 45 secs. When we retested at the end of the program, her time was down to 2mins 27 secs for the same distance. Clear improvement!
I can’t deny Sue was challenging to coach, but I mean that in the nicest possible way. Sue undoubtedly helped me to grow as a person and coach. She asked questions every day.
That’s just how she is – wanting and needing to comprehend the how’s and whys for everything. She kept me on my toes. In return, I enjoyed encouraging her to challenge her perceived limits and prevail.
Initially, strength was her focus in order to regain the confidence to use her body as she could pre-injury, but then her attention switched to body shape and wanting to get an elusive six-pack, drop body fat, feel confident and lean enough in her body to wear shorts again and achieve a physique that reflected how hard an effort she had made.
I had to keep reassuring her that the program will deliver if you stick with it. It’s only normal when you haven’t been somewhere to ask or wonder what is around the next corner. Then we hit the final week – the peaking stage – where preparation is everything. Sue continued to display great strength. She knocked out 45 quality chin-ups in fairly short time in one particular session and told me on a scale of 1-10 for difficulty (with 10 being tremendously hard) that it felt like only a 5 or 6!
I’m proud of her and grateful to have had the opportunity to work with her to write this chapter in her life. I hope enough of my philosophy has rubbed off on Sue to help her recognise this as the beginning and not the end and that with the right mindset and patience she has the potential to continue taking on and conquering any challenges she dares to set for herself.
THE day after completing the Amazing 12, Karien Gladman took part in the World War Runin Dorking. She was a little apprehensive beforehand as during the Amazing 12 we hadn’t done a lot of the type of endurance work she had been used to. Kari therefore wasn’t entirely sure how her fitness would hold up.
I got a message from her. “Excellent race,” she said. “Loved the mud as always. I was so strong doing obstacles. Successfully completed several I would not have attempted before. Great feeling!”
Obviously, it wasn’t as bad as anticipated and further proof what the Amazing 12 can do for fitness as well as strength and physique and so many other aspects of our being.
But I wasn’t really surprised. What I noticed about Kari more than the strength gains and physical changes was the rise in her confidence.
Over the course of three months, I watched her blossom under the barbell. And this lady has real staying power!
“This experience has made a bigger impact on my life than I thought it would,” she said.
Kari considered it a survival-type experience as it was all so new and there was the diet to adhere to.
“The last week, especially, felt that way” she said. “The Amazing 12 worked me in many ways…discipline, determination, limited calories, spurring your team members on. And, and, and…I now realise it [the Amazing 12] was not just about the fitness.”
Kari got the results she was looking for and worked hard for it. “Thank you so much for this experience,” she said.
“I look exactly the way I want to look. My body is toned, my shoulders are not too big.”
Kari had her moments of uncertainty and a few days when she was off-colour, but, generally, her consistency was her strong point.
“Although there were times when I wondered how this would work out for me, I knew I had to believe in you and the program and ride it out,” she said. “I am so much stronger now. I am believing in myself and my abilities so much more.”
And yet Kari has the potential to go much further. I took her as far as I could within 12 weeks – and the photos show clearly how she got leaner and more muscular – but, especially in the areas of strength, I feel we only scratched the surface.
“This has opened an Aladdin’s cave for me,” she said. “I love feeling strong. I am walking with my head held high.”
I recall how at the start she was finding it difficult to military press for reps with 12.5kgs (27.5lbs), yet by the end she was working with 27kgs (59.4lbs).
Similarly, her bench press working weight went from 12.5kgs (27.5lbs) to 33kgs (72.6lbs). Kari’s back squat for multiple reps more than doubled – from 17k (37.5lbs) to 36k (79.2lbs).
Best of all was her deadlift. We started with unbroken reps using 30k (66lbs) and finished at 72.5k (159.5lbs)!
The above numbers underline her progress and successes. The photos illustrate all Kari’s hard work and what happens when effort, improved eating and intelligent training are all combined. Now she can feel immensely proud of her achievement, enjoy her new body, put it to use and, armed with more confidence, set about attacking the many other challenges on her bucket list.
How did she enjoy the program? “Loved it,” she said. “Loved it!”