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When I started with Stephen, he described me as "wired and tired". I think that summed it up really well. Over the years, as my career became more demanding and we had children, I think my tiredness levels had steadily increased with a consequential impact on my activity levels. I found myself making excuses instead of going for a run or training and, if there was ever a conflict between work and a planned session, I would choose work. I did not consider myself unfit, as I always engaged in some form of physical activity, albeit on an increasingly sporadic basis, but I did not realise that my fitness levels were steadily declining. 

The first lockdown in March 2020 should have been an opportunity to reset things. Unfortunately, stress levels with work went up, work increased and, coupled with working from home, meant that I was at the desk longer and leading an even more sedentary lifestyle. By the time I first went to Stephen in September 2020, I had gained 8kg from March. 

The first thing that struck me about him was his energy and enthusiasm. He was genuinely interested in what he was doing. This was clear from the assessment process where he kept asking questions and taking an active interest in what I was saying. I had been through this process with other trainers before but they had generally been going through the motions. I understand now that, along with carrying out a physical assessment, Stephen was assessing me mentally in terms of attitude, motivation and resilience. He used all of this to prepare a plan that suited me, would push me without breaking me and would allow me to achieve sustainable gains. 

I also liked the fact that he asked about specific goals and, when it came to diet, he gave me good information on what I should be thinking about when it came to food, rather than prescribing a diet. He identified some parameters but left it up to me to follow them or not. He did encourage but his approach is to educate rather than dictate. I have to admit, it took me about three weeks to change my eating habits but it immediately paid off in terms of my energy levels and how I was feeling. 

I must also credit my wife with her support on this - she really got us going on the change in eating habits. These changes were not huge and I am not one for diets. I did not give up alcohol and I still ate massive amounts of food; I actually think I ate more! It was just that Stephen showed us that what we ate was more important than how much we ate. He has never asked us to look at or count calories. We made changes that were sustainable and worked for us. 

The training itself is always varied and challenging. My wife is also working with Stephen and we see that he personalises our programmes every week. He takes into account our physical and mental differences and pushes us both in different ways. He is constantly adapting our programmes and puts huge time and effort into it every week. My wife and I now encourage each other with training and it has added some healthy competition in our house where we are constantly trying to better one another. 

I would be lying if I said it was easy. It's not. But if you have ever trained before, or tried training, you will know it is not. Like everything in life, if you want results, you have to put in some effort. It is, however, very much worth it. I look and feel better. I am mentally more balanced and less stressed. Within three weeks of starting training, I remember remarking to Stephen that I was feeling amazing and had loads of energy. He smiled. 

Finally, one of the best things about Stephen is his enthusiasm and authenticity. He genuinely gets excited when you start exceeding his expectations and it is infectious. It drives you on and makes you want to do even better. And that's what you'll be after this experience - better.

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