Welcome to the podcast

I very much enjoyed taking part in my first ever fitness podcast recently.
I discussed how I got into fitness, why it changed my life – and how I’m now helping others to change their lives too. And what started as a doctor’s instruction to down the fat and up the fit became my hobby, my business and – just occasionally – my obsession.
Many thanks to Paul Burgess for featuring me on this edition of the Athletic Fitness and Nutrition podcast.
Click on the first item on the list and it will open in iTunes:

Quick Muscle Beach day trip…

Filmed last November, when the weather was lousy here, Dan Wynes and I decided to do a quick all-body-part workout together showing some of our favourite exercises for Arms, Back, Chest, Shoulders and Legs – and then crammed them all into a quick four minute video.

And to make you truly jealous of the winter weather, we hopped on a plane and did it outside at sunny Muscle Beach in Los Angeles.

If you want to see these fave exercises, or just like seeing other people doing the work in the sunshine (or even see if my music choice has improved), take a look – its the top left video on www.bitly.com/ChrisVideos

Is it a jailyard?

One of the world’s best gyms – probably the very best actually – is Gold’s in Venice Beach in Los Angeles. They have a good yard out the back for working out in the California sunshine – but one problem is they really don’t like filming taking place.

But when I was there with Dan Wynes we managed to sneak a friendly cameraman’s lens through a hole in the fence – giving a very paparazzi and illegal look to what already appears like a jailyard in the first place!

Take a look at the video, so if you agree…


Update on the mentoring

As you may remember from these weekly blogs (weekly? erm…) I spent a lot of the past six months both in training for a fitness competition – the Pure Elite in Margate last month – and acting as a mentor to a great newcomer to the sport, Dan Wynes.

Dan also entered the contest (but in much younger categories) and – indeed, if it wasn’t for Dan, I wouldn’t have entered the contest – he motivated me to enter, and that was just one of the ‘two-directional’ inspirational and guidance activities that emerged as part of the mentoring process.

The contest itself, and some of the preparation, is to be featured in a TV documentary to be shown early in 2015.  Before that though, here is an article written jointly by Dan and me, and published by my good friends at WatchFit, that describes the mentoring over those six months – and how we both contributed and benefitted from it.  And there’s some great photos from Simon Howard of snhfoto.

Take a look (link below), have a read of both our stories, and I hope you find it interesting – and feel free as always to send comments to me at Chris@FitnessOverFifty.co.uk


On stage in two days!

There are now less than 48 hours to go until the Pure Elite Fitness Model contest in Margate. I’ll be there on stage, and I’m both looking forward to it and apprehensive in equal measure!

This is the first time I’ve competed in Pure Elite, although I have been on a stage elsewhere in similar contests organised by Miami Pro four times in the past – two categories each time, so in fact I’ve been on the stage for eight separate contests.

So why I am apprehensive? It sounds like I’m an ‘old hand’ at this game! Well, there are a couple of aspects about the Pure Elite that make it all a little bit more of a challenge.

Firstly, there are the age categories. For Miami Pro, I have always entered the over 50’s age group in both the Fitness Model and Muscle Model categories; I’ll be doing the same two category names this Sunday too, but Pure Elite has a different age structure, and I’m in the over 45’s, not over 50’s. This means I’ll be competing against guys who are almost 13 years younger than me – and age is certainly a factor in being able to reach peak physical condition. In my other contests, I was usually the oldest on stage by about 5 years; in this one, I’ll be a week away from my 58th birthday, I suspect I’ll be the oldest again, but will have a much greater age gap to the youngest.

Secondly, I’ve also had another fitness-related focus on my mind. I’ve been raising money for a good cause – a young girl called Esme with an incurable disease. The high point of my fund -raising for her was running a marathon in Dublin on Monday this week (the marathon and cash-raising story is on www.bitly.com/chris4esme). I’m not used to much long-distance running, and I was pretty exhausted at the end of the 26 miles. An article on marathon running I read previously suggested runners need 26 days without training to recover post-run, based on a day’s recovery for every mile ran. I certainly couldn’t afford that time off with the Pure Elite being 6 days after the marathon, so I decided to make that 26 hours off-training rather than 26 days! I hope the marathon hasn’t taken too much out of me for the Pure Elite, and that I haven’t taken my training too far off course as a result.

Apart from the marathon, I think I’ve prepared well for Pure Elite. I have been training alongside Dan Wynes, a young guy to whom I have been acting as fitness mentor for the past six months. Even though I’m the mentor, I know that I have learned as much from Dan as he has from me over these past months, and we have both been determined at pushing each other on. Dan has formally challenged me to be the best of my generation present at Pure Elite, and I issued the same challenge to him.

The most intensive period for us was a week’s dedicated training taken as a trip to Gold’s in Venice Beach, Los Angeles, ending the day before travelling to Dublin. That week in Gold’s was the toughest week’s gym training of my life, and my thanks go to Dan for encouraging me on so much – and also to Rob Riches of True Performance Nutrition (the USA-based company for which I am an ambassador) who joined in the training there and further helped both Dan and me reach new reserves of strength and dedication to achieving the best body we each can.

Coming forward to today, I checked the mirror and scales this morning, and feel happy with what I saw. I’m at the lowest bodyfat for five years, just beating my final number on the Gold’s trip – the bodyfat actually went up significantly in Dublin due to the mega-high carbs fuelling my run on Monday.

Have I done enough to repair the fitness diversion caused by Dublin, and to be a worthy opponent to those competing alongside me on stage? I hope so.

My wife Jenny and Dan’s girlfriend Liz are in the front row of spectators on Sunday, and will be screaming madly for both of us during our separate times on stage. I hope they get to see their chaps have met to the challenges we gave each other with success. We want our ladies to see us achieve results to make them proud of the two of us.

More next week, when Pure Elite will be over – for this year, at least!

Two weeks and counting…

It’s now only just over two weeks to go until the Pure Elite championships. With every passing week, the training and nutrition gets that little more precise. Before I go into details, however, a quick recap…

The Pure Elite fitness modelling contest is on November 2nd in Margate. It’s an event where the competitors are on stage with not much on in the way of clothing, and there is a team of judges to study the physique, presence and presentation of those competing – and a theatre full of spectators, and TV cameras, to catch every move. Fitness modelling is a lot like a bodybuilding contest but, as I’ve said before, with smaller muscles but bigger smiles and bigger swimming trunks!

I’ve done such competitions before – I’ve just counted to realise I’ve actually done eight – yikes! – but this is my first with Pure Elite. It’s also my first in the over 45 age group, as previously I had been in an over 50 age group. I’m also entering the non-age restricted body transformation category, totally new to me, where I hope the fact that I’ve lost over a third of my bodyweight in fat over the past few years will help my chances.

IMG_4809I’ll be there with Dan Wynes, to whom I have been acting as mentor for the past six months with this specific contest in mind. Dan is entering different categories to me – as he’s 21, he doesn’t qualify for the genteel environs on the over-45’s. Genteel? I doubt it!

The overall aim of all the competitors is to increase the amount of muscle, and reduce the amount of fat covering those muscles. All of the exercise and nutrition practices are focussed on delivering those objectives. There’s a few other parts involved in chasing success – for me that’s posing practice, body shave (yuck), spray tan (double yuck) – and I’ll talk about those nearer the event, but here is a flavour of the exercise and nutrition sides from my own viewpoint.

I am pretty good on both exercise and eating correctly all year round – but for the past few weeks I have ‘turned up the dial’ on both these factors. If I had to summarise the approach in one line, it is we are now doing more of the good things, and less of the bad things.

On exercise, I’ve moved my fat-burning cardio from 4 days a week up to 7, and increased it from 40 minutes to 50, all on a cross-trainer. I much prefer the steady state approach to intervals, as I can use the time for emails and the like and don’t have to be focussed on keeping detailed track of time minute-by-minute. I can also get into the rhythm from my music, man. I like to keep the heart rate well in the aerobic zone, at 120bpm plus or minus 5. I do this cardio session first thing at the gym, as the last hour of my overnight fast, before going home for a decent break-fast.

On resistance training, or weights, I have again turned the dial up. I used to train an average of 5 times a week – one each of ABCDE then two days off (ABCDE are Arms, Back, Chest, Delts and Elevators) – Delts is shoulders, and Elevators is the new marketing-friendly word for legs invented for my system! Now I try for six times a week, doing double legs and only one day off: ABECDE – and upping each workout to 8 exercises rather than 7.

On the nutrition side, I’ve cut down on carbs Mon-Fri. I don’t normally keep a detailed record, but I try for around 2500 calories a day with around 250g of protein, 250g of carbs and 50g of fat. That’s all done by estimation and eyeballing amounts, which I’ve become OK at doing. Now, I’m being more precise – keeping the weekends with the numbers as they were before (but with more accurate measuring), but Monday-Friday I’ve now cut the carbs down to 100g while leaving other macronutrients the same – giving around 1900 calories per day. Of those carbs, I see the sugars are the key thing to avoid, and I have those sugars just as fruit, and that only as part of my post-cardio breakfast and post-workout meal. The increased carb amounts at weekends is a carb ‘re-load’ and helps the body not get too accustomed to the low carb routine.

Is it having an effect? Well, the scales say I’m down a few pounds, and the percentages show that specifically the bodyfat percentage is also down – which is the plan. Also, the gym performance is not deteriorating, so I’m still adding some strength along the way. We will know in two weeks time, I guess, although there’s a few more macronutrient manipulations to come.

There are a couple of factors that will influence all of this:

Firstly, Dan and I are off to do a week of concentrated gym and cardio training, plus spot-on nutrition, in Los Angeles, the spiritual home of fitness. It’s a chance to catch up with True Performance Nutrition, the company for which I am an ambassador. That trip should be good for the contest preparation.

Secondly, and less good for the contest, but something I have to do (nay, want to do) is the Dublin Marathon. This is just six days before the Pure Elite. I’m running to raise money for a very poorly little girl who lives near us – please read the story and perhaps offer a few quid on www.bitly.com/chris4esme – I haven’t really worked out the likely effects on my stage presence of expanding my cardio that day into a 26 mile trip, except to say that I think I may give the E workout a miss for a few days after! I definitely think marathon day will be a significant carb re-load day, and I will need to drop lots of carbs in the few days between the run and the contest.

So – two and a bit weeks to show time. Dan and I will be as ready as we can be, we will be cheered on by the manic supporters that are my wife Jenny, and Liz – Dan’s girlfriend – plus others from Dan’s family. We plan to do the best for ourselves, our good ladies and our families. And I want my ninth event to be my best ever!

Four weeks and counting…

It’s just four weeks until I head to the stage for the Pure Elite Fitness Model Championships in Margate on November 2nd. Actually, checking the calendar, make that nearer to three weeks – gulp – and there’s a lot to be done in those remaining days!

For newcomers, this activity involves standing on a stage in a packed theatre with very few clothes on (there are some clothes, it’s not that extreme!) – and being judged on physique, stage presence and model attributes. Think of it as a bodybuilding show without the nasty drugs, and with smaller muscles, but with bigger shorts and bigger smiles! It’s a much more aesthetic and marketable look than a typical professional bodybuilder.

I’m no stranger to this sort of thing – I’ve competed four times in the past, all with the Miami Pro organisation. But this is the Pure Elite organisation and it’s a bit more of a challenge for me – why is that that? With Miami Pro, I was in their over 50’s category – indeed I’m their current World Champion for that age group. But Pure Elite has a different age category structure, so I’m in the over 45’s. This makes a difference as I will be on stage just two weeks before my 58th birthday, so I will be alongside competitors up to 13 years younger than me – and in this game, it’s a lot easier to look good and do well if you are younger.

I’m entering three classes – Fitness Model, Muscle Model and Body Transformation. Muscle Model requires more muscle than the more elegant Fitness Model look, but it’s still nothing like a pro bodybuilder in appearance. And I hope my transformation of losing a third of my body-weight in fat since turning 50 will help me in the final category.

In these final few weeks, I’m training alongside Dan Wynes, who I have been mentoring in fitness for six months. Dan is also entering the show – in different categories to me since he’s only 21. Indeed I wouldn’t be entering this one without Dan’s insistence that I should (although Jenny, my wife, says I didn’t need much convincing!).

Snapshot - 201Over this week and next, I’ll be trying to coax a few last pounds of fat off, and add a wee bit of muscle here and there by turning the dial up on all my training and nutrition activities. I’m now up to doing pre-breakfast cardio 6 days a week rather than 4, and I’ve increased the afternoon weights workouts similarly – with more intensity, and determination to set new personal performance records. On the nutrition side, I’ve reduced my daily calories a little, I’m cutting the sugar and other fast carbs significantly wherever I can, but increasing the protein to make up some of the calorie reduction from the reduced carbs. To help on the nutrition side, I’m also checking I’m taking the right supplements, most of which are from True Performance Nutrition.

The plans from next week are that the training and nutrition parameters for me and for Dan get turned up one more notch – which we will do as part of an intensive week of pre-contest ‘fitness immersion’ in Los Angeles. This is a trip we have scheduled to absorb some of the atmosphere of the fitness capital of the world, and try to live with almost perfect pre-contest training and nutrition for a week.

One interesting point is that the contest journey Dan and I are making is being filmed for a TV documentary, with filming both in the UK and on our LA trip. With an eye to promoting community activities, the documentary is designed to show how mentoring works and benefits both the mentee and – more unexpectedly – the mentor, and also how our initial mentoring relationship has built into a strong friendship that transcends the generation gap between us.

Another interesting aside is that just 6 days before going on stage, I am running in the Dublin Marathon – a commitment I made to raise funds for a very poorly little girl who lives near us (look at www.bitly.com/chris4esme to see more). Doing what I can to help Esme is a high priority, and it’s just bad luck – or perhaps over-eagerness on my part – to have two such significant, challenging and personally-important events just six days apart. I’m still working out how to juggle the training and nutrition involved in getting off a plane in London from LA, then getting on to one for Dublin, running that Marathon and then being stage-ready for Pure Elite a few days later.

Jenny is also running the Dublin Marathon – and we’ll try to run together throughout, even though she’s a much better distance runner than me. And, being the amazingly supportive wife she is, she will be shouting her socks off for the two of us when Dan and I hit the Pure Elite stage – as will his girlfriend Liz and his own family, all joining Jenny in the front row of go-mad spectators!

Chris meets Dan at BodyPower 2014

Chris meets Dan at BodyPower 2014

If you’d like to read Dan’s blog and his views on fitness generally and this contest in particular, find it on www.DanWynesFitness.Wordpress.com – and I’ll be giving more information on my exact approach to nutritional changes next week in my blog – then it will be Los Angles, Dublin, Margate in the following blogs. Then it’s an easy downhill run to turning 58 and then Christmas!

The countdown has begun…

It’s now seven weeks until my next appearance on the contest stage, and Stage 1 of my pre-event preparation has been under way for a week.   Hang on, I hear you cry (almost), I thought you had retired from competition earlier this year, Chris?  So what’s afoot?

Indeed it’s true that I declared after my contest appearances in April that my on-stage competition days were over.  After all, I had just won the Miami Pro World Championship for my age group (the over 50’s), for both Muscle Model and Fitness Model, so it did rather seem like a good time to retire.  I had achieved one place better than the same event last year, so the progression of runner-up to winner to retirement sounded pretty logical to me.

But then, in May, I met young Dan Wynes and his girlfriend Liz.  Dan knew of my story, and he asked if I would act as his fitness mentor.  I agreed, but only on the condition that he set himself a real and specific target – entering a fitness modelling contest similar to the ones I had done.  The Pure Elite contest was chosen because the date of the event, 2 November, was then about 6 months in advance of that initial meeting between Dan, Liz and me.

Chris meets Dan at BodyPower 2014

Chris meets Dan at BodyPower 2014

It was then Dan’s turn to make a condition – he would only enter Pure Elite if I retired from being retired, and entered the event as well.

The conclusion of these mentor/mentee negotiations was therefore that Dan and I will both compete in the event – although in very different age categories – he is 21, after all.

So, that’s how I come to now be following Stage 1 of the preparation for an event that wasn’t on my radar 7 months ago.

This is, I’m sure, going to be a tougher competition than my last ones – a key reason for this is the age categories.  In my last contests, the category age was 50 and over; in Pure Elite, its 45 and over.  So, as I will be entering the stage just a couple of weeks away from turning 58, I’ll be facing competitors up to 13 years younger than me.  You may think that gives me more years of preparation time, but it doesn’t actually work that way, one reason being that I didn’t do any sport or lift weights seriously in the gym room until well past 50.

All of which means I’m going to have to work extra hard to do well on 2 November.  Which I will indeed do, as I relish a challenge.  And I have the bonus of training up to the date together with Dan – while I am mentoring him for these final few weeks, he is also doing his very best to encourage me too (not that I need much encouragement, the truly un-wonderful smell of the spray tan is beckoning to me already).  So yes, darling Jenny, it’s another round of spray tans, body shaves and grumpy carb-light Chris for you to put up with – one more time.

So what are these preparation stages that I mentioned all about, and what constitutes Stage 1?  I’ll explain all in my blog this time next week.

And if you want to follow Dan’s progress for these final few weeks too, check out and subscribe to his blog Danwynesfitness.wordpress.com

New Approved Personal Trainers

As you may know, I am a Personal Trainer offering my services on exercise, nutrition and lifestyle advice to a range of clients.  I do this in person in South Bucks and Central London, and by Skype consultancy sessions elsewhere.

But I can’t be everywhere and available at all times, so to help meet the demand country-wide, I’ve set up a network of other Personal Trainers that I know and trust to deliver a high-quality, client-centred personal training service.  All on this network have the right qualifications and insurance of course, plus they have shown to me their ability to support clients of the age range that I tend to specialise in – my ‘quintastics’, those over 50 in other words!

Very few of these Fitness Over Fifty Approved Personal Trainers are themselves over 50, but they have all shown to me they can work successfully and built a good rapport with the client even if there is an age difference.  But they all work with clients yet to meet the golden half-century mark as well!

Dan squareThe latest additions to the register of Fitness Over Fifty Approved Personal Trainers are Felicity Day in Southampton (below), and Dan Wynes in Telford (right).  Both of these have existing clients, their own fitness experience and knowledge to make them worthy additions to the list of Approved Personal Trainers.   They also bring new locations served, as there were no previous Approved Personal Trainers living either in Shropshire or South Hampshire.

Felicity APT in FOFIf you are looking for some guidance, motivation or inspiration – whether its just a single piece of advice, a weekly training session, or something in-between, and you live near Dan or Felicity, then I suggest you check out their profile and email contacts on www.FitnessOverFifty.co.uk/APT.

Indeed, you can see the full listing and details of Approved Personal Trainers that cover the country from Aberdeen to Devon (sorry Cornwall – and Northern Ireland –  I’m still looking!) by searching on that page.

I know the skills, enthusiasm and dedication of all the trainers listed, and I recommend each of them.

I hope you have a fit-increasing, fat-reducing sunny weekend – whether using a personal trainer or your own motivation!

Fit For Life

I spend a lot of time in gyms these days, either trying to improve my weight-training performance or working on removing some layers of fat – usually both. For this week’s blog, I thought I’d explain why I’m doing this in the first place – and how this spreads into other areas of life. I hope this will show that the level of addiction with gym-based stuff brings benefits outside of the weight room – and I my case, how it’s changed my life completely and forever.

A little personal history first, if I may. Up until the age of 50, I was lazy – did no exercise and ate all the wrong things. I hit my 50th birthday at a weight of nearly 18 stone, officially obese and with a bodyfat percentage figure that I can’t imagine. Something else hit me at the same time – a doctors warning that I was in a pre-diabetic state and was heading for some other serious health issues.

I used that message as a serious jolt to my system, and spent the next few years getting fit – lots of cardio in the gym, and eating much more nutritiously. After a couple of years, I added resistance training to the mix. Which brings me to where I am now – about 11.5 stone, with a bodyfat level of 11% which has dipped to about 7% for fitness and muscle model contests – including my win for my age group at the Miami Pro World Championships in April.

So I could talk and write for ages about nutrition, cardio and resistance training. Indeed, I often do. But there have been many benefits to my adoption of a fitness-focused life – and I hope that describing these will encourage you to spend more time on fitness activities.

Firstly, there are obviously the health and longevity benefits. If I hadn’t changed course 7 years ago, I think I’d now be over 20 stone and pretty much immovable, being out of breath just walking across the room. If I was still breathing at all. Now I hope I have many years of fit life ahead if me and will reach 60 in a couple of years fitter and healthier than ever.

I’ve discovered sports I couldn’t dream of doing – I ran my first ever 1k fun run six years ago, then progressed through 5k’s and 10k’s and now regularly participate in marathons. I’ve also bought a bike or two, and now cycle up to 100 miles on some days. Add in the swimming, triathlons and mountain walking, and the fact that Is I have discovered the joy of exercise – something alien to me 10 years ago.

But there are other benefits. I feel much better about myself mentally, more positive for the future. I now believe it’s never too late – for anything – rather than the pessimistic outlook I used to have.

I share many activities with Jenny, my wife. She had pretty much given up on me from a fitness perspective, and we spent too much time apart – as she went off for a run, while I stayed in and watched TV (and probably phoned for a pizza). Our time together has probably doubled, and is much more enjoyable.

Outside of my family life, I’ve become involved In the community through the local running club and organising and presenting fitness training sessions for other, local, over 50-year olds. My oldest regular attendee is well Into his seventies and has progressed in fitness to have a metabolic age of 44 and is still improving. At the other end of the age range, I’m a mentor to Dan Wynes, a fitness star of tomorrow. It’s a particularly good feeling to be able to pass on the benefits of fitness I’ve had to others from 20 to 70 and behind – and be respected as a result. This level of respect, the feeling that I’m doing something that genuinely helps others and be appreciated as a result, is a feeling that was unknown to me in my past life.  So, yes, I have the trophies and a bit of glory on the way, but they are matched in every way by the other joys of being healthy, enjoying life and making a difference to others. It’s infectious, and I hope – well, if you haven’t caught the bug yet, that maybe this article has helped.

By the way, I’m the co-host of a new fitness magazine TV programme. Called ‘Fit Happens’, the show is on Sunday evenings at 8:30, repeated on Wednesdays at 9:00. It’s on the Community Channel – which is FreeView 63, Sky 539, Virgin Media 233. Each week I’m joined by sports nutritionist Keith Cormican, and I hope you get the change to watch – and maybe get some further inspiration towards the benefits of a multi-activity, fitness-focused life!