Hi, I’m Nick, Aurora Mind and Body’s personal trainer and I’d like to tell you a little bit about me. You may have noticed over the last month or so that I’ve written a few blog posts at Aurora Mind and Body, but I realised I haven’t formally introduced myself. Today (19th May) is world IBD day, a subject that is near to my heart. IBD is totally ingrained in who I am, so this seemed like a good day to do it.
Looking back to my younger days I was quite an active child growing up but at the age of 16 while studying for GCSE exams, I began experiencing some worrying symptoms which would change my life forever. With numerous trips to and from the hospital to see specialists for tests, I was eventually diagnosed with a condition called Ulcerative Colitis.
This condition is one of the main forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease and is often discussed as a condition that causes ulceration and bleeding of the lining of rectum and colon. As with many other autoimmune disorders it can affect the body in other ways too, such as fatigue, pain, diarrhoea, weight loss and anemia. I have experienced all of these symptoms.
While there is no cure, the symptoms can often be managed with medication although surgery can often be the end result. In my case, at the age of 17 I’d had so much time off through ill health and hospital stays and visits, that I left college early. When my symptoms were more under control through an extensive cocktail of drugs, I entered the world of full time work.
Fast forwarding a few years, I started a career in the computer software industry, where I remain today. This is a varied and interesting job with many facets. Many hours of my day are spent sitting in front of computer screens looking at data, writing software, building and testing computer code and helping customers with queries. But one of the mainstays is that it’s quite a sedentary job and as I have to travel a long distance to work, I also spend quite a bit of time in the car.
Many years of doing this, on top of the medication and a lack of physical activity on my part all took its toll on my body. Now into my thirties, I had done no real strenuous activity for many years. At the age of 35, my elder son was a strong swimmer having learned at school and my younger son wanted to learn but the school no longer offered swimming lessons. So I overcame my fear of the water and we learned together in the baby pool at the Oasis!
Realising I needed to become stronger to be a better swimmer and to better support (or keep up with!) the kids, Nat and I joined us all up to a local gym which also offered a nice swimming pool. Having never set foot in a gym before and not knowing what to do, we took up the opportunity of a gym induction and signed up for some personal training with an amazing lady who taught us how to use the gym equipment safely. She would go on to transform my relationship with exercise.
I remember that first training session well… I’ll never forget it. Ego and a brain that thought I was still 20 took over. I did everything that was asked of me and then some. And then the session was over and I realised that the gym was upstairs and I needed to walk downstairs. Oh dear! I suffered with muscle soreness for days afterwards. This was the point in time where something changed in me, as I had a stark realisation of just how unfit I had become. I needed to get fitter and stronger to set a good example to our kids and make sure I could carry on doing the things I enjoy doing into later life. Most importantly, I wanted to keep up with the kids as they grew up!
Why I became a personal trainer
Some years later I wouldn’t say I’m a well-oiled fitness machine like some people seem to be. But for the first time, I’m actually ok with that. We don’t all have to be elite athletes to enjoy life, to improve ourselves and our mental and physical wellbeing (which are all closely linked). For many people (me included), the world of fitness can be quite intimidating, especially as a newcomer and when you don’t know what you’re doing, the advice and support of a caring and knowledgeable fitness professional can make all the difference. I’m lucky that in my case I had lots of support from my personal trainer and from my family. This realisation was the reason I decided to study to become a personal trainer myself, to ‘pay it forward’ so I can help others on their physical and mental fitness journeys. I’m enjoying the challenge.