Where to start with talking about Philly, and the Performance & Fitness Academy. I suppose I first brought my 2 girls there to do the Saturday work-outs for Kids. I felt it was important for them to embrace fitness as part of their routine as something of benefit in itself, and not just as part of another sport. They needless to say loved the classes and go every Saturday.

My wife, Margaret, liked the set-up, and decided to try boot-camp classes for her own health & fitness. A couple of the new friends she had met in the Academy strongly recommended Philly’s nutrition course as something that was really good, and worth doing. So, for Christmas, she signed both of us up to do the January course (I wasn’t overly offended).

The Eating Bit

I was always very active and played and coached a lot of sport. I am just off 6 foot tall and broad shouldered, and while I sometimes carried a bit of excess weight, it was never that visible, and I knew that if I ate a bit ”healthier” (whatever that means), I could lose half a stone easily enough.

You see, we never ate that badly. We did not eat many take-aways, and ate a decent amount of fruit and veg. I exercised regularly, if probably not routinely enough. I don’t drink that often. I’ve seen “operation transformation”, and I wasn’t making any of the mistakes most of the people were making. Yet, I was still carrying about 2-3 stone too much weight around.

Since doing Philly’s course, and with the on-going support, I now know that while we were doing 90% of things right, it’s the 10% that not right which keeps you from being where you should be. To identify that 10% you need to have the nutritional knowledge which I simply did not have. But Philly does, and that’s the point.

There is a lot of spurious information out there about food and nutrition and you need someone with the proper training and knowledge to point out the things are important, and the ones that are just plain false.

The best thing about the way Philly works is that he explains to you the important thing and allows you to set your own eating regime. We are all different, with differing busy lives, and we all have our own goals. What works for me, may not work for you. But working will Philly with allow you to work out a model that works for you and fits your life and circumstance.

For me, the important thing was to find something that was sustainable long term. Not something that you do for a couple of months, and then slide back into the same old pattern. I now have the basic knowledge to do this and am very happy that what I’m doing I can, and will, continue to do. It allows me to go out for a nice meal, but plan for it, so I don’t over eat that day and don’t allow the weight to creep back up.

The best part is knowing that you always have a resource that you can check in with who has more knowledge then me. So, if there is something I am unsure of, I’ll just “Ask Philly”.

The Training Part

As Margaret had been going to training in the Academy for about 6 months, and really enjoying it, she was always encouraging me to try it, and do a few classes.

As I mentioned I played and coached sport all my life, mostly basketball. Once I stopped playing competitively, I still remained active either going to the gym, or running and swimming. After so many years of team sports I really enjoyed exercising by myself. I found it gave me great head space to put the ear phones in and go for a 40 minute run. But while I was happy with what I was doing, I was aware that it was not really as focused or consistent as it should.

In March I signed up to do the 8-week small group training programme with Philly and Collin. (again, with prompting from the irrepressible Margaret).

I had done some weight training in the past, but mostly it was programmes which friends who knew a little more than me had set up. It mostly consisted of going to a gym floor, and doing a programme you did not really understand, and getting no feedback on things like your technique, or how you should aim to progress.

Having completed one small group, and now just starting my second 8-week programme, I can safely say it is a much better way to go.

The programme is designed to cater for people at any levels of fitness or experience. In my group there are people who are quite fit (not me), and people who were not quite so fit (possibly me). The great thing about the group training is that the other participants are very supportive. Whatever their level, they are all there to get a better, and improve their own fitness and health. The only competition is with yourself, to get better. The group I train with are such a great bunch of people, and I always look forward to the next class.

As I keep saying to Philly, I am just there to steel his knowledge. Technique is so important in strength training, and the coaches work really hard with you to improve your technique. Good technique means you get the maximum benefit out of everything you do on the floor.

I have learned so much in such a short time and continue to every single class. I have also progressed well over the last few months. I am stronger and fitter. My core is much stronger, and my flexibility has improved. This is all down to the focused nature of the programme, and it gives you such a solid foundation to move forward with your training whether you stay with the small group or move to other classes.

Things I’ve learned:

Nutrition is key. No matter how much you train, you will not get the progression you want without the correct eating habits.

Getting and maintaining the correct eating habits is not hard, and is sustainable, once you have the correct information. All you need to do is “Ask Philly”

Training wise, consistency is the Key. Everyone is my group made great improvements, but the best improvements were made by the ones that made every session. This is something I will take forward with me.

Your legs will be stiff for the first week, as you will be doing movements you are not used to. This will be gone be the 2nd week, so don’t worry about it.

Burpees are not as bad as everyone says. They’re grand.

You will hear Philly say “this is going to suck”, just after he gives you a set of exercises to do. (It rarely does).

Philly often looks grumpy, Colin always looks happy. They are both sound, (even if they are from Newbridge), and are both great to work with.

If you do the programme, and commit to it, you will not believe the difference in how you look and feel. You will know this as people will comment on it. (Us Irish are rubbish when people say nice things to us, but get used to it, as they will.)