Member Journey – Ben Smith
Name: Ben Smith
Occupation: Primary School Teacher
Member at Leisure at Cheltenham Leisure Centre, Cheltenham
Ben Smith, a 30-year-old primary school teacher from Cheltenham, decided he wanted to lose weight, and even though he’d been a member at Leisure at Cheltenham for over a year his fitness level was quite poor and he felt it was time to do something specific in order to achieve this goal.
Smith embarked on a six-month journey, followed by a Precor camera crew that filmed his progress. Having previously encountered some negativity towards being overweight while trying get fit he wanted to set an example that while it may be a struggle for ‘normal’ everyday people to lose weight and get in shape, it can be done.
Apprehensive at first, and feeling quite self-conscious about being in the gym, he tried to ignore what others were doing and focused on his personal journey. His starting point was to get into a routine working out two to three times a week, for around 45 minutes to an hour, focussing on cardio.
I believe tomorrow will be even better because of what I do today
Smith says: “Getting started was the hardest hurdle, but I quickly made progress so it was easy to persevere as I could see an improvement.”
Once in a routine he then started to set manageable goals, such as using the Adaptive Motion Trainer (AMT) for an extra five minutes or burning more calories using the same programme on the bike.
“Staff at the gym were very friendly and didn’t judge me in any way. They helped me adjust the programmes and changed my exercises and routines so that I was able to get the most out of my workouts.”
Christopher Davis, Fitness Suite Supervisor at Leisure at Cheltenham comments: “Ben was determined to have a go at anything I asked him to do, which is a great attitude to have. His initial training consisted of a mixture of CV exercise using the Precor treadmill, Adaptive Motion Trainer (AMT), elliptical cross-trainer and bike. The training was supplemented by a strength programme of high intensity exercise using body weight and a selection of functional training equipment.”
Smith states: “I found the Precor equipment very intuitive right from the start. I loved getting into cardio and my favourite piece was the AMT, as it took the strain out of my joints. Using Preva networked fitness I was also able to amend and store my workouts, which is an amazing feature - it really motivated me to keep going. I especially liked the hill climb challenges, as interval training was a key part of my workout routine. The milestones, for example walking five miles or climbing the Eiffel Tower, made me feel like I’d achieved something during the session and motivated me to continue, as I was always curious as to what the next milestone would be.”
Davis observes: “Ben was able to demonstrate that despite body weight it is possible to use a wide range of training techniques that some may consider beyond their ability. Perhaps even more importantly, he started to realise how, with exercise and weight loss, it is effort that is key and not necessarily slogging it out for hours on end.”
I believe in the power of the human spirit
After making such a great start, sadly, Smith was plagued by illness and was out of action for nearly four months. Not one to be deterred, he ‘hated’ not being able to exercise and managed to get back in the gym for the final four weeks of filming.
“I was really enjoying exercising, seeing the progress and achieving targets – it was motivating and ultimately what made me want to continue with the programme. While injured I hated not being able to work out and the idea that my own body was failing me was disheartening, especially as I had been making good progress.”
I believe fitness is key to living the life I desire
Davis contributes: “With Ben our aim was to elicit an entire lifestyle change in which the gym forms only part of the solution. Ben had some injuries and pressures along the way, which made things difficult at times but his ability to pull himself up and carry on should be an inspiration to all those wanting to make a significant lifestyle change. Making small, sustainable changes to both lifestyle and behaviour is far more powerful than any short term quick fix.”
Smith concludes: “Losing weight changed my general mood. Whenever people commented that I looked different it made me feel happy that what I was doing was making a noticeable difference. It’s amazing the motivation it gives you to carry on. My goal now is to keep going and to carry on losing weight. No one said it would be easy. You never know how hard it will be until you give it a go and if there are hurdles along the way then that’s okay. The important thing is to find an inner strength, get back up and carry on, which is exactly what I am doing.”