I hurt myself. Nothing too serious: yes, I’d both strained my lower back and inflamed an elbow’s soft tissue, but the pain levels were moderate and my range of motion was not badly restricted. It was plain fool’s luck that I hadn’t inflicted real damage on myself; and I learnt the salutary lesson that reckless exercise is all too likely to prove worse than no exercise at all

Richard took me in hand. No scolding, no ‘I told you so’: he’s all intelligent tact. I don’t mean that he’ll gloss over where you’ve gone wrong: Richard tells it as it is. There are all too many unscrupulous ‘trainers’ out there eager to take your money and feed you whatever line of dangerous nonsense they figure will appeal to your vanity. Richard Patman treats his clients as grown-ups. He has honest respect for your intelligence and ability to learn from your mistakes. Such respectful honesty is all too rare a commodity.

The first couple of sessions post-injury were strictly rehab. Richard has many strings to his bow. He is a highly expert and certified sports therapist. He devoted the necessary time to giving me deep tissue massage which quickly made the pain go away. That didn’t prepare me to immediately resume the routines which had been working so well before I messed myself up: pain relief – welcome as it is – doesn’t mean the underlying problems have gone away. Richard eased me into a measured programme of light cardio so my cardiovascular fitness wouldn’t suffer and carefully supervised rehab strength work taking me right back to the basics: for example, I was bench pressing with only the bar, and that only for a few reps at a time.

I was resigned to an indefinite convalescence. But I had learned patience – invaluable for healthy exercise – not to mention life. By listening to the expert I learnt to listen to my body, to distinguish between the healthy efforts which maintain and gradually increase strength and reckless efforts bound to end in tears. And to my delight my injuries mended much more quickly than I had anticipated. Before long I was fighting fit and ready to make new strides.

There are several extremely important lessons to be gleaned from my mistakes.

First, proper exercise is all about setting realistic goals. Do not decide off your own bat that you will shed 25 kilos before bathing suit season (which is right around the corner)! Richard is also an expert nutritionist. You want to lose all that weight? He will assemble an integrated exercise regime and diet to get you where you want on a realistic timescale (and don’t forget that beautiful muscles weigh more than ugly flab).

Second – and this is crucial – eliminate fantasies. Bodies come in very different types. Someone like me with a crooked pelvis has no future as a ballet dancer. A slender person has no future as a competitive power lifter. A wonderful side-benefit of good training is that it helps you see yourself more realistically. I don’t just mean in terms of physical abilities; you will find yourself able to be more honest with yourself about your career possibilities, for example. Expertly supervised training focuses and liberates the mind. That might sound quite bleak: but harmful fantasies aren’t helpful dreams! We should nurture the dreams spurring us on to impressive achievements. I’d ask Richard whether I might eventually press double my body weight (the serious lifter’s holy grail). ‘That’s possible.’ When? ‘That depends on how the workouts go.’ I asked Richard whether I might ever deadlift 200 kg (I weigh 70 kg). ‘No.’ Richard is the man to exclude fantasies and make your dreams come true – if you have the patient ambition and perseverance to make that happen.

Interested? Then you should master the three most important things to foster physical fitness. That is next time’s story.

 

Robert Wardy TBC