Vivacity’s January #shedit campaign inspired more us of to join the gym and get fit. One person already using the gym to transform his life is Andy Bowes, whose visits to Vivacity Premier Fitness have helped him to shed the pounds, get fit – and feel great

Andy, you look great! But what were you like before you joined Vivacity Premier Fitness?
I was huge, though I didn’t realise it because I don’t have any mirrors at home. You just buy bigger and bigger clothes don’t you? I was over 22 stone, so I couldn’t walk up the stairs without sweating.

What was your wake-up moment?
Towards the end of 2016 I went to see my mate, a professional fighter. He won his fight so I went to congratulate him. He was being interviewed at the time and when the interview appeared on Youtube I could see myself in the background. I didn’t realise I looked the way I did – you have your own mind’s eye of what you look like and I was nothing like I thought.

Is that what prompted you to go to the gym?
I got upset with myself and resolved to do something about it. I have been to the gym on and off since I was young and I had always said to myself that if I ever got to that state I’d definitely do something about it. That was the trigger. So in the New Year I asked my friends whether anyone knew of a good gym. A friend recommended Vivacity Premier Fitness – he goes there all the time and raves about it. So I took the tour and could see it was clean, well-equipped and looked after. I’d always been a body builder. In those sorts of gyms there are no TVs; it’s all iron plates and big lumps walking around all over the place. And I was one of them. I had never gone to a gym purely for fitness. This time I went with completely different goals, to get physically fit.

What was your exercise regime like to start with?
I set myself a target of going at least five days a week, for just 45 minutes to an hour each time. My initial fitness trainer, Steve Patterson, advised me to begin with a warmup. So I’d walk for ten minutes on the treadmill then go around a set course of resistance equipment before cooling down on the bike. That’s what I did for six weeks. Then after a review with Steve my programme changed and more was added in.

Were you able to try more equipment as the weight started coming off?
Yes. I was losing about 2.5kg to 3kg a month. But I only weighed myself every four to five weeks because to me it wasn’t so much about the weight, but rather my shape and whether I can move about without getting exhausted. It was all about fitness and shape for me.

Did you address your diet too?
Oh yes. When I went for my induction at Vivacity I had my blood pressure checked. It turned out I was in hypertension two; I had no idea. So I had to go to the doctor to be approved for training. The doctor advised that I cut back on certain foods, while Steve suggested other dietary changes that would make a big difference. I stuck to the advice I was given. The doctor told me to buy a blood pressure machine and record two weeks of data to track my progress. Well, over the two weeks, with a healthier diet and my new exercise regime, my blood pressure dropped rapidly. It was so motivating!

Was it difficult getting back into the routine of going to a gym, especially as you were now doing a different type of workout?
There were a couple of weeks in the first few months when I only got down there a couple of times because of work pressures. But I was still paying for my membership, so I gave myself a kick up the backside to go! Then things changed. After another exercise review and changes in exercises, came fresh motivation. In May I started running on the treadmill for the first time since school. I ran for a minute, got completely out of breath and was pouring with sweat. But I was impressed I actually ran for a minute.

That’s a great start!
I was still weighing in quite heavy then. But from that point I progressed by adding a couple more minutes of running each day. The first time I ran five minutes straight I was dead impressed! The motivation built up with the distance.

Have you reached your target weight?
I haven’t got a target weight – I’ve got a target shape. I’m 40 in a few months and one of my major goals is to be the best possible me by 40. I’m a lot further ahead than I thought I would be, and a lot of that is thanks to Steve and Andrew, Vivacity’s incredible fitness instructors who have helped me along the way. I’ve set myself more goals for beyond 40. I’m down the gym five or six days a week and do lots of classes. I also do most of my running outdoors now, so I can enjoy the fresh air as I go.

What are your next steps?
I’m going to push myself further. In October I’ll be doing the Perkins Great Eastern Run Half Marathon and I have an obstacle course booked for July 14 – the Iron Run at Kettering. I also want to become a Les Mills Instructor, to pay it forward, and encourage others. Having gone on that journey myself, I’d love to help others lose weight and get fit too.

● Start your fitness journey at Vivacity gyms and become a healthier, trimmer, happier you, with energy to burn. With no annual contract, an abundance of fitness classes and a three-stage personalised fitness plan 2018 is the year to make a change. ● Find out more today: 01733 864000,

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