By Robert Wardy

Baby Steps


Call it 14 years ago I was getting into pretty good shape, both physical and mental.

This good Englishman wasn’t denying himself gin and tonic. Also red wine accompanied by dark chocolate. But I was drinking in healthy moderation, not like the proverbial fish. No more fags. And I wasn’t fat. The story the scales told was deceptive. You probably know that muscle is way heavier than fat. Under Richard’s guidance I’d shed lots of ugly flab and replaced it with muscles in places I didn’t even know there were muscles. The scales were correctly saying that I hadn’t lost a dramatic number of pounds. But the change in my body was dramatic, since muscles had replaced flab.


As for mental health: being strong and looking fit does wonders for anyone’s self-image, woman or man. Peanut butter? My go-to treat after a work-out with Richard.


The regime suited me down to the ground. Richard was training me three times a week. I was born with a crooked pelvis, so lunges and similar exercises are not for me. Richard worked round my limitations. I quickly discovered that the bench press and deadlift were my absolute favourites (they remain so to this day). I have plenty of upper-body strength, so I’m a natural bench presser. Also relative to my torso my arms are very long. That means I can lift a barbell off the mat with relative ease. Why? Simple geometry and physics: it’s that much easier for me to shift the weight off the ground and not fail to complete the lift. Of course the workouts included other, complementary exercises: for example, squatting. Cardio isn’t my favourite activity – I’m lazy. Nevertheless even the cardio sessions that followed the strength work were fun. I made steady progress and remained injury-free.


So far so good. But then I got greedy. Why not up the weights quickly? Richard patiently explained that sudden increases were not the way to go; that pushing too hard and too quickly against my current limitations would end in grief.


Did I listen to my expert trainer?




And much sooner rather than later I hurt myself.

Then – and high time too! – I decided the smart thing to do was to follow the expert’s advice.


How Richard helped me to heal up and continue to improve without further injury is next time’s story.



Robert Wardy