Dorothya, a Sunderland Gym Member
Bill F, a Leeds North Gym Member
The Importance of Exercising
National Fitness Day is the perfect excuse to get back in the gym, try a new exercise class or just get off the sofa and on your feet for some physical activity. On Wednesday 25th September 2019, you can get involved in all sorts of fun events that will get you moving and that highlight just why exercise is so important for everyone. Not that we need an excuse to work out at Xercise4Less!
As part of our National Fitness Day celebrations, we wanted to focus on one of our members from Xercise4Less Sheffield. Let’s turn the spotlight onto Abbie Marshall to see just why exercise plays a vital role in her life.
Why Working Out is Good for You
Abbie Marshall strength trains regularly at the Xercise4Less Sheffield gym and fitness has become increasingly important in her daily routine. She is adamant that “fitness is so beneficial for both physical and mental health”. That’s why Abbie has been active from childhood “and weight lifting was the next thing for me.” As she points out, “not many sports continue to adulthood, so finding something which I can do lifelong was important”.
So, having started weight training in 2015 in her second year of university, what was the initial spark for getting into free weights? “I was setting up some strength training for one of the university teams which I ran. I had the opportunity to join in and then found out I could deadlift quite well.” That was only the start for Abbie though. “I continued to strength train and learnt how to Olympic lift too.” Abbie enjoys weight sessions because she “rarely lacks the motivation to train” but it wasn’t always the case. She’d been going to the gym and “doing just cardio bits and wasn’t motivated”. Weightlifting has transformed that attitude to fitness though. Since then hardly a day passes by that she’s not working out at her local gym in Sheffield and that includes National Fitness Day!
A Lifetime Journey
Abbie is on a lifelong fitness journey and she continually remarks on how working out has helped her in her general day to day life. Exercise has become a vital part of her routine, making her “feel more confident and better” about herself. Abbie also knows that physical activity has a really positive effect on mental health when you’re feeling down or stressed. “When I have a bad day, I know that an hour or two in the gym will help. It’s a great cure for stressful days”. That’s why on National Fitness Day Abbie is so keen to recommend going to the gym. Any final tips on strength training? Try her favourite weightlifting exercise, deadlifts. “They’re a great compound movement which engage wider muscle groups”.
Enjoy Working Out on National Fitness Day Like Abbie
Fitness isn’t just for one day, it’s for life! And at Xercise4Less Gyms we want you to enjoy working out as much as Abbie. She loves training at our Sheffield gym “as they have a range of free weights and the stair climbers!” They’re the only cardio she enjoys in fact; it’s strength training all the way for Abbie.
If you want to try weight training for yourself, join Xercise4Less today and work out in a real gym motivated by friendly fitness staff. Benefit from our free inclusive exercise classes full of supportive members and a gym full of fitness equipment. Take up one of our free unlimited gym passes on National Fitness Day 2019 and you’ll see exactly why Abbie Marshall is a Xercise4Less member!
Transformation from truck stop diner to Porsche owner as HGV driver from County Durham wins a brand-new sports car
Fitness challenge at his local Xercise4Less gym wins Gary French a Porsche – and a five stone weight loss.
When Gary French, a 50-year old HGV driver from Hartburn, nervously walked into a gym for the first time in January 2018, little did he know it was the start of a journey which would lead him to a complete body transformation – and behind the wheel of a brand new Porsche.
Above: Gary French, Marketing, Fitness and CEO.
National gym chain Xercise4Less launched a competition at the start of 2018 to provide additional motivation to people undertaking one of its 4FiiT eight-week Body Transformation Camps. Over 14,000 people took part in the Transformation Camps in 2018, and 14 of those with the most praiseworthy physical transformations were selected by the Health & Fitness team and invited to tell their story, after which a public vote was held on Facebook to choose the winner.
Gary was chosen as the winner after revealing his commendable two stone weight loss, achieved during his first Body Transformation Camp, before enrolling in many further camps – he’s currently starting his eighth!
Above: Gary French.
After years of no exercise, truck stop treats and full English breakfasts, at the start of 2018 Gary realised his body was suffering the consequences of his unhealthy lifestyle, finding himself out of breath climbing the stairs and unable to touch his own toes. Motivated by a fear of missing his children’s big milestones, Gary overcame his nerves and joined Xercise4Less Stockton-on-Tees, booking in a personal training session with Natasha Livingstone. Several weeks later he joined his first Body Transformation Camp.
Gary said: “I’m so excited to have won this car. As the competition was coming to an end, there were two Porsche Boxters parked outside the Porsche garage nearby, and I said to my wife: “this car has my name on it”. Little did I know, it actually did! It’s an amazing added bonus to my transformation and the perfect way to celebrate how far I’ve come.
“I wanted to lose five stone so I could still be around in 20 years to see my little girl walk down the aisle and to watch my son walk out for Middlesbrough as their first team goalkeeper! It was nerve-racking walking into the gym that first day, but I was quickly put at ease. The camp was fantastic – I formed great relationships with everyone, and we all shared information and support. Our camp came to an end, but I was totally hooked and so were the rest of the camp. I had lost two stone in eight weeks and I was over the moon.
“As well as the personal training sessions with a phenomenal and extremely helpful personal trainer who was on hand to answer any of our questions, the camp also helped me get to grips with my diet and improved my mental health. It lifted my spirits, confidence and wellbeing and helped me deal with the daily grind of life. I can safely say if I hadn’t walked into the gym that day, I think I could have been looking at heart failure, a stroke or worse in the future.”
Above: Gary French.
Gary’s next challenge will be to take on the annual coast to coast cycle ride in August. He hopes to complete it in 24 hours, raising funds for the Children’s Heart Foundation at Freeman’s Hospital in Newcastle.
Peter Wright, Xercise4Less CEO, said: “We’re delighted for Gary, he’s a very well deserving winner of this amazing Porsche prize. He has worked so hard, never losing sight of his goals, but I think surprising himself by how much he enjoyed it along the way. If you’d have told him he would be signing up for eight of our Body Transformation Camps and taking on a Coast to Coast cycle ride 18-months ago, I don’t think he would have believed you, but there’s no stopping him now.”
Above: Fitness Manager, CEO and Gary French.
The Xercise4Less Body Transformation Camps include three personal trainer led sessions every week, access to the personal trainer and other camp members for support and advice via an online community hub, plus complimentary access to the Xercise4Less mobile app. Click here for more information.
Above: Fitness Manager, CEO and Gary French.
The Strengths of an Xercise4Less Gym
How would you fancy taking on a 90kg monster dumbbell press, a 200kg duck walk or a truck pull? Don’t worry, they’re not requirements for joining an Xercise4Less gym! But one of our Cumbernauld gym members has taken those enormous challenges on to compete in the UK’s Strongest Man.
The 28-year-old Scott Milne is one of Scotland’s strongest men and can bench press an unbelievable 190kg. Scott is focused on building his already awesome body to prepare for his next strong man challenge this year. Scott packs in intense work out sessions of over two hours five times a week. Where? At his local Xercise4Less gym in Cumbernauld!
But what drives Scott in his quest to be the UK’s Strongest Man?
Sustaining Your Motivation to Work Out
To do what Scott does requires a huge amount of determination, for this superbly strong man, “what motivates me most is my two girls Eilidh (9) and Aria (2) and my amazing fiancé”. Scott feels that “as long as my girls are proud of me then I know I am doing something right”. In fact, his fiancé, Maizy, was the person who got him hooked on body building in the first place when she took him on a date to Scotland’s Strongest Man competition. Maizy is herself a competitive power lifter and naturally trains at Xercise4Less Cumbernauld . Scott certainly has the perfect support network to sustain his grueling workout sessions and enormous nutritional needs.
The Importance of Working Out at Xercise4Less for Strong Men and Women
Now of course we love working out at our local Xercise4Less gyms but why does a top-class athlete like Scott love our Cumbernauld gym so much?
Amazingly Scott has a Xercise4Less members from the very first day the Cumbernauld gym opened. As Scott tells it, “after using Xercise4Less East Kilbride, when my local gym was closed, I was really impressed with that there was at least two of everything.” For a strongman like Scott, keeping up the intensity of your workout is very important, it “makes a big difference when you don’t have to wait for machines to be free to get your workout done”. Scott is quick to praise the encouragement of our Cumbernauld gym team, “the staff have been great from day one with all their support really helping my progress”.
Getting into World Class Shape at Xercise4Less Gyms
What muscle-straining workout does Scott need to be one of the strongest men in the UK? As you’d expect from a dedicated athlete, he always starts each workout with about 30 mins of stretching and mobility work before lifting any weights. Then he starts a typically fierce workout session at Xercise4Less Cumbernauld where he’s “spoiled for choice” with the range of fitness equipment available:
- Incline bench 3 sets of 6 – 100,120,130kg
- Dumbbell flys for 8 – 20-50kg
- Seated shoulder dumbbell press for 8 – 30-50kg
- Barbell upright row for 3 sets of 8 – 50kg
- Dumbbell row for 8 – 50-65kg
- Wide side grip pull downs, up the stack until fail for 8
Ready to lie down after reading that? Perhaps some food would help, let’s see what Scott eats on a daily basis.
Super Nutrition for a Weight-Lifting Super Man
What does Scott’s amazing 7,000 calorie daily intake look like?
Let Scott explain. “Before the gym I have my 2nd meal of the day which usually consists of 4 slices of toast, 6 poached or scrambled eggs and a pint of fresh orange juice.” That’s just for starters. About an hour later Scott has his SAS Unleashed pre workout supplements before his workout at Xercise4Less Cumbernauld. During this session, he’ll “will drink around 2 liters of SAS Amino MX”. Immediately after his workout, he’ll drink a “SAS Mass gainer shake around 1000 calories” to start to repair his hurting muscles. When Scott gets to work, he has another meal of “chicken or mince and rice”.
Xercise4Less Gyms Welcomes All Fitness Levels
Scott Milne is an incredible athlete who loves working out at the Xercise4Less Cumbernauld gym, but you don’t have to be a strongman to get the most from our welcoming gyms.
When you sign up to a Xercise4Less gym membership, you join an inclusive community of people of all sorts of fitness levels from pro athletes to complete beginners. Our top-notch Personal Trainers work hard to make it easy for you to find the right workout for your body. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a longstanding member like Scott or a complete newbie. Join your local Xercise4Less gym today to start transforming your health and fitness.
Endometriosis and me – From surviving to thriving
Endometriosis? Yes, I can see you screwing your face up wondering ‘how on earth do I pronounce that?…’ (en-doh-me-tree-o-sis) and ‘what on earth is it – sounds contagious?!’
Well, it isn’t contagious but it’s as nasty as it sounds. Endometriosis is a condition that affects as many as one in 10 women. It causes the lining of the womb to grow in places it shouldn’t like; outside the womb, fallopian tubes, ovaries, bladder and bowels. And, just like womb lining, it also tries to shed every month causing inflammation, internal bleeding, scarring and in most cases excruciating pain (doubled up on the floor, crying, screaming, wondering-if-you’re-actually-dying kinda pain).
So, why am I telling you this and what’s it got to do with the gym?
Well, one of the less recognised Endometriosis symptoms is fatigue (you know that feeling when you get into bed at night and think ‘I honestly just have no more energy, all I can do is sleep’?) and one of the best recognised anti-dotes to fatigue is exercise – there are others, more on those later.
So, in September last year, two months post-surgery, to remove more scar tissue, I decided it was time to get back to the gym and get stronger, healthier and fitter. The stress of surgery and underlying anxiety had caused me to lose a lot of weight (I weighed less than 7 stone when I first joined) and I needed to get that back on.
First visit to Xercise4less Derby
Starting at a new gym can be a bit like starting a new job, you don’t know anyone, and it can all be a bit intimidating – except it wasn’t! I’ve never been made to feel so welcome and I soon joined up to a transformation camp with the aim of gaining weight.
Three weeks into my first Transformation camp, I’d gained over a kilo in weight but more importantly I’d gained confidence, reduced my anxiety and made some incredible friends. Now on my third camp – I’m fitter, stronger and feeling better than ever! My back pain is all but gone, my fatigue has gone from being a daily drag to only affecting me two or three days a month – and even then, I’m so motivated that I’ve been able to push through!
So yes, exercise is a brilliant tonic for improving quality of life with a chronic illness but it’s important to recognise, it’s more than just the exercise. Having a robust, achievable and balanced meal plan (including chocolate) plays a fundamental role in keeping my body and brain fighting fit.
I’ve also recently started PT sessions with Derby’s female PT – Caitlin! Now, I might be biased because she’s one of my best friends (thanks Transformation camps!) but she is also one of the best PT’s that I’ve ever worked with – in the few weeks we’ve been working together, my weight has jumped up again and for the first time in over a year, I’m doing the skinny jean dance – and not just because I’ve got serious Endo bloat. Every session I’m hitting new PB’s further improving my confidence and I’m seeing real results with how I look – something I didn’t think I’d care that much about.
Caitlin’s advanced nutrition knowledge also means that my own nutrition has kicked up a gear and I’m eating better – again, contributing to a reduction in my endo symptoms! I’m really excited to see how much further I can progress in the coming months – I really wouldn’t be where I am now without Xercise4Less Derby, my amazing and patient boyfriend, Jamie and you, Caitlin – Thank you!
For more information, head to the Endometriosis UK website.
Woman who drank three cans of coke a day achieves life changing transformation by dropping an unbelievable three dress sizes in the space of just three months.
Terri Hill joined an Xercise4Less weight loss transformation camp to help her lose three dress sizes in just three months, enabling her to address her unhealthy lifestyle and totally regain her confidence. Terri Hill, 29, from Darlington, had always eaten whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted, without having to worry about her weight.
“I never really realised the consequences physically as I skated regularly. It was about a year after I stopped skating that I noticed myself feeling sluggish and not as confident in myself.”
Terri’s diet was a huge contribution to her weight gain. She would often eat two breakfasts, fast food – such as KFC or McDonald’s – for lunch, two or three bars of chocolate and three cans of coke a day. Terri felt her weight gain was holding her back. She didn’t feel as confident in herself as she used to be and she felt embarrassed. Her friends and family also began to make comments, which made her determined to lose weight.
“They would say things like, ‘Do you want a biscuit? Of course you do!’. A friend of mine once said they couldn’t make me look slim in my friend’s wedding pictures because, although they were good at photoshop, they weren’t a magician.”
In January 2018, Terri organised a weight loss competition at work to encourage both herself and her colleagues who wanted to lose weight to get fit in the New Year. She then joined Xercise4Less in Darlington in February 2018 when she felt she was beginning to hit a wall with her training goals. It was there that she signed up to a life changing Xercise4Less transformation camp, which ran for eight weeks between March and May 2018.
“The Xercise4Less transformation camp was a great kick start and helped me get to know the gym, the staff and make some friends too.
“I also met a personal trainer there who I worked with for a few months afterwards to keep me on track!”
Since starting her weight loss journey, Terri has changed her mindset from wanting to be skinny, to wanting to lead a healthy, balanced lifestyle. She has ditched the KFC lunches and Coca-Cola multipacks in favour of lighter lunches, fruit and protein bars.
“I am motivated to find balance in my life between my health, being stronger and also eating the occasional pizza!
“I spent a lot of time on Instagram looking at other people’s transformations and loved reading about the difference people could feel in their mental state.”
The results of her change in lifestyle have been incredible. Since joining Xercise4Less Terri has dropped an amazing three dress sizes in the space of just three months, going from a size 14 dress size to a size 8. Working out up to five times a week at Xercise4Less, she has shed the pounds in that time, dropping from more than 12 stone to just 10 stone. It has been an incredible weight loss journey for Terri over such a short space of time, highlighting the life changing impact of an Xercise4Less transformation camp which everyday people can enjoy.
“I train between three and five times a week, depending on the week! I usually do spinning once or twice and weight train two or three times.
“I was able to look forward to enjoying Christmas this year without feeling guilty. It’s about balance for me, I want to train on days I can and eat Christmas pudding on other days!”
“I’ve always been a bit of a fitness fanatic, but it was actually my boyfriend that got me into lifting. I joined X4L around a year ago, and never ventured from the cardio section for about 2 months. It wasn’t until I started lifting that I really started to enjoy my training, and it was then that I started seeing the best results!”
“When I began training again I set myself goals, the long term being to develop my physique and be comfortable in my own skin again. Goals have to be smart, and it is important to set short goals that will all lead you up to achieving the end goal. Competing was one of those goals, and it sure has pushed me the last stretch of the way.”
“I currently follow flexible dieting (IIFYM – ‘If it fits your macros’) but ensure I still eat clean and get my micronutrients in as well rather than purely focusing on my macronutrients.”
“In terms of training, I try and lift weights 4/5 times a week – and as my diet progresses towards my competition my cardio increases.”
“At the minute my split is working on two upper body days and three lower body days as I find my upper body progresses quicker than my lower. This is then split into: Back and biceps, shoulders and triceps, quads and calves, hamstrings and then glutes.”
“I currently have Personal Training sessions once/twice a week with Matt Seaman who has really helped develop my weakness and motivate me on days when I could have just thrown the towel in.”
“There has been lots of challenges, but the most important thing is that I’ve overcome them and come out stronger from it. Everyone is going to experience set backs along the way, but it is important to get back up and continue fighting for what you want.”
“My biggest challenge has probably been my digestive issues – I struggle with IBS/IBD and over the past 3 months have been really poorly and under a lot of medical investigation. For me it has been trying to overcome the physical feeling of giving up and just stopping my day to day activities because of my illness. If anything, physical activity and the gym is my release and my focus. It helped me get through it all.”
“On top of that, one thing that I know everyone can relate to is slow progress. I remember there has been plenty of times when I have looked in the mirror and thought “but I look no different” and that is hard. It’s hard when you work your backside off and then don’t see results. But progress is progress, and you don’t realise at the time but you are progressing you just don’t realise it.”
“It’s not until you compare yourself to when you started you realise just how far you’ve come – and that is the best motivation to continue!”
“I’ve been training for almost a year now, but decided to do a show in winter of 2014. I began my ‘cutting phase’ of my diet back in February with my coach Lainey Keogh, but then postponed my show from the 3rd May to 19th July as a result of me being particularly poorly these past few months. My macros have now increased to ensure I don’t peak too early, but my training is remaining the same – just slightly less cardio at the minute (which I’m not complaining about!).”
“My biggest goal is to just inspire and motivate others. I would love to be an influence into someone’s fitness journey, and to think that I could have helped them in some way would just be amazing.”
“With consistency anything is possible! That is always my favourite piece of advice – if you want something enough give 110% into it every day, no half measures. Also, don’t be afraid to lift weights! There is so much stigma around women lifting weights and getting ‘big’ and it’s not true. Since starting lifting I’ve seen the most progress, I have been lifting heavy all this time and I’ve dropped 2 dress sizes!”