Personal Trainer, 54
My name is Nigel Powell. I’m 54 years young and I’m a qualified and REPS (Register of Exercise Professionals) registered Gym Instructor and Personal Trainer. I first had a six pack at the age of 53 and I’m now the fittest and healthiest that I’ve ever been. But it wasn’t always this way.
I’ve always been reasonably active. I played Saturday and Sunday League Football in my 20s and early 30s, which was hindered by an anterior cruciate ligament rupture and subsequent reconstruction in 1994. I then played five-a-side and did Tae Kwon Do in my late 30s and early 40s. Still enjoying my life and not really worrying or considering what I was putting into my body, like most people, there was the slow march of weight gain through my 30s and 40s.
As the kids got older and I started to have more time I started doing a bit of running and a few 10k obstacle course runs. But everything was aching more. I just accepted it as the natural aging process. Then in 2016 I developed sciatica and had my longest ever absence from the workplace (6 weeks). Not being able to move around very far and very slowly, I put on around half a stone in 2 weeks. For the first time ever, I was aware that I wasn’t burning any calories due to my inactivity and I realised how vulnerable to weight gain I was. In fact how we all are. I was just shy of 14 stone and the heaviest I’d ever been. Which, at my 5 feet 8 and a half (the half inch is important when you’re this height!), classed me as obese.
The bad back and sudden, easy weight gain was a wake-up call. The time off work permitted me to do huge amounts of research about fitness in your fifties and, after seeing a Chiropractor, a muscular-skeletal specialist and four different GP Doctors (all who told me different things, including one muppet who said I shouldn’t run for 2 years), I slowly started to become active again. Walks became hill walks. After a couple of months I joined a gym and did some cycling and gentle jogging on a treadmill (I still prefer treadmill running now as, for me, it does feel easier on the knees than pavement pounding, plus I find it easier to vary the speed).
I slowly started some resistance/weight training. I was really cautious to start as it felt like carrying weights was increasing the weight of my upper body, squeezing and compressing my spine and potentially pinching my sciatic nerve again. I did some specific core work, using bodyweight exercises and light dumbbells to help strengthen my back. I learned about nutrition, ate more protein and fewer carbs. Slowly increasing the intensity of both the cardio and strength training, I lost body fat whilst preserving and strengthening my muscles.
I now have a varied fitness regime of cardio, cross fit, circuits and weight training. I train, on average, 3-4 times per week as, like most people, I have a busy life as a worker, husband, parent and because recovery days are just as important as training days, at any age, but even more so in my 50s. Some days I train for just 25 minutes, because I’ve learned how to train smarter.
As I said earlier, I‘m now the fittest and healthiest that I’ve ever been. I can’t believe how much energy I have, how positive I feel and I think I look pretty decent too (my wife thinks so too!). One of the biggest things for me though is that I rarely get ill. I get about 20% of a cold and that’s about it.
The way that I feel, along with what I’d learnt and studied over the last few years made me want to help others feel this way too. So, in 2018, I officially studied for my Gym Instructor and Personal Trainer qualifications. Now I’m happy and very much enjoy being in a position to help others achieve their fitness and nutrition goals, live much healthier lives, to stave off and recover from chronic disease and be able to be active for the rest of their lives.
Even if you just take away some of the principles from the content of my site, to discover a fitter and healthier you, I hope this helps you too.