Call it 15 years ago I wasn’t in the best shape, physical or mental.

I was drinking like the proverbial fish. I was smoking 3 packets of fags a day. And I was fat. As for mental: my self-image wasn’t all that great (after all I was drinking like a fish, smoking like a demon, and I was ​fat​).

First things first. I quit the fags cold-turkey. So I put on even more weight. I replaced a cigarette addiction with a peanut butter addiction.

Then the light dawned: ​hey Robert, do things you couldn’t do when you were a smoker​! Number one on the list was get in shape. I was a childhood athlete. So maybe I should work out, shed a few pounds, maybe even get a date…

I checked out Cambridge gyms.

I found a place that suited me. It was called the ​AMAX ​(RIP). It was a no-nonsense gym with plenty of free weights. But I didn’t know one end of a dumbbell from the other, so I needed a trainer. There was a young guy working at the ​AMAX ​named Richard Patman. I really liked him from the word go. Richard Patman was obviously really, really strong. AndwhenIaskedhimforadvicehedidn’tpatronisemeortrytosellmeapacketofexpensive goods. He showed me the weight racks. He explained the difference between dumbbells and the other stuff. He patiently taught me how to lift weights without hurting myself.

I couldn’t believe my luck!

Richard was an employee of the ​AMAX.​ I asked him whether he also worked for himself as a personal trainer. He said ‘no’. I persevered and convinced him to train me. We talked money. Richard asked for next to nothing.

We shook hands.

That’s how a fat, out-of-shape, recovering nicotine addict became Richard Patman’s first ever client.

The relationship changed my life. Literally.