Age is just a number when you feel strong, fit and healthy.
London health business information manager Stewart says he has turned back the clock 25 years in just 15 weeks at Ultimate Performance.
The 49-year-old ICT Senior Business Relationship Manager has forged an incredible new physique in a matter of months after years of feeling tired, run down and unfit.
Lifting weights has not only given Stewart an incredible new body, but a boost in his health and an anything-is-possible mindset.
Now training is something he describes as ‘medicine’ he wishes he’d found decades ago as he approached 50 in the best shape of his life.
“Age is nothing,” he says. “I feel better now than I did 25 years ago.”
“Seriously, I feel better now at nearly 50, physically. I just wish I’d had done this 25 years ago. Where could I have got to?”
Stewart says he had been a ‘January gym-goer’ and never saw the results he wanted before starting personal training at Ultimate Performance in London.
He hadn’t done any fitness or training for five years – but 15 weeks of consistency and dedication to his diet and training has paid dividends for Stewart; completely revolutionising his health and fitness.
Stewart, who described himself as ‘skinny-fat’ before he started, went from 15% body fat down to a shredded 4.5% at his leanest and lost around 5kg in weight.
He explains in his own words how his diet has changed, how he forged his new body and the transformative effect of weightlifting on every part of his life…
What inspired you to come to UP and start this journey?
It was partly realising I was getting near 50 which was a bit scary and thinking I can’t be in this shape at 50.
I looked around online for trainers and was looking at where I choose and what I choose.
I came in, met the team, looked around and just got started. I just thought ‘let’s do this’.
I had seen the results, but I didn’t have high expectations. One of the first things I said to my trainer Harry was that I just wanted to feel comfortable wearing a pair of shorts.
I wouldn’t have worn shorts before. I used to refer to my body beforehand as “I need to get this ‘old corpse’ into shape.”
That was the kind of mental place I was in with how I felt about me coming close to 49.
I thought I have to do something with this
What was lifestyle and diet like before?
My diet was a lot of ready meals. Nothing drastically unhealthy. I thought it was reasonably healthy. A lot of Marks and Spencer’s bang-it-in-the-oven things, a lot of wine and a lot of sitting down of an evening tired from getting in from work.
I commute so when I get home it’s 7 pm or 8 pm and then just chuck something in the oven and eat.
It wasn’t the healthiest in hindsight.
How were you feeling health-wise and mentally? What were your diet and lifestyle doing for that side of things?
I was tired, partly from work and partly from my diet. I was run down. We had had a couple of bereavements in the family the year before. I wasn’t feeling that good about life; work had been a bit bad.
You get into that rut of routine living. I would walk through the door and open a bottle of wine and then take my tie off.
It was that kind of lifestyle of not really healthy living.
How much changed when you started this?
There was an instant change in diet. I was quite surprised by the content of the diet and the amount of protein in it, then the amount of carbs I normally ate when I measured them compared to what I was put on.
If they told me to do something, not eat something, change your lifestyle, stop drinking; I did it. I stopped drinking, started eating differently, started drinking a lot more water, going to bed a lot earlier; just generally having a much more structure routine.
Did UP’s holistic approach to body transformation help educate you on how to manage stress and get on top of your diet?
Yes. But not in a direct way. So it would have been through some of the supplements.
I didn’t question anything. I started upping my omega-3, taking vitamin D, zinc and magnesium; I did the lot.
Harry told me to try these herbal teas to help go to bed of an evening because he knew I’d given up the booze.
It had a huge effect without me even realising. Then before I even knew about it I was sleeping through the night so much better than I’d slept in months.
That changed my mental position more than anything.
I just felt more refreshed in the mornings. I was tired from training anyway, so a combination of the diet, the training, no alcohol just completely changed my lifestyle and patterns.
It was a different mentality.
Because I felt better so quickly it was easy to adjust to it and say ‘fine. This is just what I do now.’
Feeling like this, does it motivate you to carry on?
That motivated me. But it was the want of getting somewhere different to where I was.
It was an escape coming to the training sessions in some ways. My brain could switch off from work so I didn’t have to think about work for an hour.
It was an hour about me just thinking about what I was doing and nobody else mattered.
You’ve got the attention of someone focused on you making sure you’re focusing on yourself, so it puts you in a very different place very quickly.
Your whole mental attitude just changes very quickly and you want it that much.
Were you ready for such a profound mental change from weight training? People think it’s just throwing a few weights around.
I think I was actually looking for something like that. So as soon as it started it was a subconscious realisation of ‘Oh! This is what I needed.’
It’s like your own medicine and finding the cure. Within the first couple of weeks, it was just right.
When did you first start seeing results?
The first few weeks there was definitely fat loss and I was feeling different rather than worrying about looking different.
Probably around four or five weeks I suddenly thought ‘wow! That’s different’ because I’d get the updated photographs on a weekly basis.
I thought ‘yes that’s just me, that’s just me’. Then suddenly I thought ‘oh that doesn’t look like me anymore’. Then it grows really quickly from there.
Week 10 we did a photoshoot and there’s no way I thought I’d ever do something like that.
What was it like to see the results so quickly?
It’s really strange because I look back at those pictures and I can’t believe still that I did that then at that stage.
Then looking at the photos I was just amazed at how we got there. I’ve no idea of how in 10 weeks my body just changed that quickly and became something completely different.
Age is nothing. I feel better now than I did 25 years ago. Seriously, I feel better now at nearly 50, physically. I just wish I’d had done this 25 years ago. Where could I have got to?
It’s just a testament to Harry and pushing me in the right way.
Weight training often gets relegated down the list of ways people get in shape, even though it’s the most effective method. Had you considered training with weights before?
I hadn’t really thought about this thing before because it’s quite intimidating. So when you’re this skinny-fat guy, you wouldn’t think of going to this sort of environment to train.
You wouldn’t do it on your own. But the difference was coming and meeting the team.
Then realising that this is what they do and this is how you learn to train in that environment. That’s what makes the difference.
My relationship with Harry grew over time but it developed into a mentorship or teaching relationship where I’ve used that since training with him full time where I can train on my own now. I can have that reference point to always go back to, so it’s a really good foundation course.
Having that teaching and that foundation. I still feel very much at that beginner stage and I’ve got a lot to learn still, but I can see what I want to achieve over the next year and the year after that.
It’s going to be 60 the next one, and I’m not going to be a fat 60-year-old, that’s for sure.
Your ambition grows the more you train.
After the first 10 weeks, I thought ‘I can do this, I’m not too bad at this.’ So I carried on a bit longer.
Then I did another chunk of training with Harry, and your goalposts just move a bit more every time you achieve something, and you want more.
Did you surprise yourself?
I was surprised that I could do it. That I’m actually a lot stronger and more capable than I ever imagined I would be and I can take whatever you chuck at me and I’ll just deal with it.
You go all your life looking for hobbies and sports and things to entertain you and then you stumble across something that you should have done 20 or 30 years ago.
My brain just switched a gear and thought ‘this is what I like’ and I’ve not looked back. I’ve enjoyed every minute.
How did you find the training?
It was challenging. Highs and lows. There were a couple of times where I thought I might have died during the sessions.
But that feeling of once you’ve completed a session was such a high it makes up for that.
It was very much a rollercoaster. The intensity is challenging, to say the least.
Even making the vague noise that you can’t do something isn’t going to be tolerated when you’ve got a trainer hanging on you telling you you’re going to do it and you’re not leaving until you’ve done that extra two reps.
You just have to bite the bullet and do it.
How does it feel to have done through this and pushed your boundaries so far and developed this incredible resilience and mental toughness?
You just need to push further. It goes back to the boundaries thing. If you get to a point where you think ‘If I can do that, how much further can I go? How much more can I do and how much better can I make my body? Can I be stronger? Can I be bigger? What’s the limit?’
Does this mentality carry over into different aspects of your life?
I would say my patience has improved. I’m not an angry person. That was another comment my trainer made when I first started training was how angry I was.
I think it was more anger and frustration with the state I’d got into. Whether it was anger at getting older or whatever.
But I’m a much happier person since I started training. I think that is reflected into my work.
My team has noticed that I’m not quite the angry manager I was. I’m generally a happier person while I’m training.
I think my close family have noticed how much more relaxed I am. To be around, I’m a much nicer person when I’m training.
What were the overall results you achieved?
Initially, I lost a lot of weight. It might have been around 4-5kg which came off in fat.
My weight dropped down where I thought I’m getting too thin. My body fat went down from 15% to 4.5% to the absolute lowest.
Then I started gaining some muscle and a bit of body fat. I liked looking really lean. Now I’ve probably put on what I lost easily in muscle.
Can you compare what you were like just a year ago to now?
There’s been a 100% difference. Completely different.
I’m still not where I think I could be. I never will be satisfied, but that’s part of the game.
In some ways, it has become a bit of a challenge. It’s a sport, it’s a pastime, it’s a hobby, it’s a lifestyle.
But when I look back at old photographs I see the difference and I’m astounded at what I’ve done.
Even when I see the 10-week pictures it’s amazing – I’m like ‘and I look better than that now? Is that possible?’
What made the transformation process so successful for you?
Definitely the training and the trainer; I could never say enough about Harry and what he did.
I think a combination really. Harry’s training and his will to get me where I wanted to go.
Then my commitment to do everything he told me to do no matter how trivial it was, from drinking a certain amount of water or X amount of whatever, then that’s what I did to the letter.
What was the most enjoyable part of your transformation journey?
The speed of the changes in my body. I still can’t mentally get over how quickly my body has changed. Just the joy of training; I can’t describe it in words very well.
Life before training and life after training are just different in how I feel and the actual sheer pleasure of actually coming in and working your body and doing something with it is something you can’t really describe. It’s amazing.
There is a joy in the physical discomfort. It sounds a bit perverse but I’m not a masochist.
You train for 40 minutes or an hour and you come away afterwards and you can feel the difference in your body.
You know you’ve done something good for it and within a few weeks that part of your body has changed. It’s awesome. You’re the master of your own body. You can do whatever you want with it; you can mould it.
How do you feel after you walk out of the gym after a session?
Buzzing. I came here tonight and I’m not even training but just walking into the building brings that buzz back. You just know what it feels like to train out there.
It’s a fantastic atmosphere.
You can just feel it. People are all working to get somewhere. Everyone is trying to achieve something, but bloody hell they will work for it! You go to a commercial gym and there are too many people posing with phones.
You walk in here and you can’t help be inspired just to see other clients.
Would you recommend UP?
Absolutely yes, I could recommend it to anyone who is just not happy with where their body is.
Whether you’re overweight, underweight or just feeling weak, whatever age you are – the team here are just inspiring.
If you put yourself in their hands they will get you to where you want to be if you will let them do that.
If you’re willing to put yourself into someone else’s hands, trust them and let them do what they do and do what you’re supposed to do and whatever they tell you, you’ll get there. It’s straightforward.
If you’re inspired by Stewart’s incredible results and you’re ready to start your own body transformation, speak to us about our Personal Training Plans or BOOK A CONSULT NOW!