Today, 18-year-old Fitness Training Academy graduate, Michael, is passionate about bodybuilding and nutrition, but not so long ago, life was very different. Michael used to be addicted to junk food and gaming, which made him very angry and disruptive at school. Michael explains how finding fitness turned his life around…
“When I was 15 (Year 10), I used to be around 85kg (13 stone). I had too much fat for my liking. I grew up eating junk food, take-aways and McDonalds - I didn’t really think about what I ate. My parents would cook me meals from their home countries – mum cooked me Filipino food and dad Spanish, but my portions were too big. That’s what made me overweight.
“Gaming didn’t have a good effect on me”
I also played a lot of Xbox, console and computer games – that was my life. Gaming didn’t have a good effect on me. Back then I would play with random people online. I’d get angry when I lost, lash out and start again - it was a cycle. I was definitely addicted. I played for four years.
My first senior school was pretty bad. I had a lot of difficulties with the Teachers. I was quite troubled and got detentions for not doing homework. I was fighting a lot and was excluded a lot. I was immature and had an anger problem. I would take everything the wrong way even if a Teacher was just trying to help me by pushing me to go further. I would take it as an offence. I think it was because I played games a lot.
Once, someone was racist towards me. He made jokes about how I looked Asian. I could have just ignored it or reported it, but I saw red and decided to act in a physical way. I could have reacted better to different situations. Eventually, I got moved to another school which was definitely better.
“I became strong and my confidence has grown a lot”
My older brother used to tease me about my weight. It was quite annoying so I started training to lose the fat. I grew a passion for fitness and body-building and during Year 11, I found myself in the gym every day. I was doing cardio, running on the treadmill for 20 minutes, followed by a whole session trying to build muscle. I became strong. Now I’m around 69kg (11 stone).
I stopped eating so much and reduced my take aways. I stopped putting on weight. I did research into dieting and experimented with carb-cycling which worked best for me. I noticed a difference after just two weeks. I looked completely different from how I looked before. Eventually I felt comfortable walking on the beach without a top. My confidence has grown a lot and I’m not involved with Xbox any more.
One day at the gym, I saw someone exercising, but he was doing it wrong, so I took it upon myself to talk to him and help him. We had a good conversation and I taught him how to do it properly and his form was a lot better. After that, I did some research about Personal Trainers, how much they earned and how Fitness Trainers start their careers.
The YMCA Fitness Training Academy is “perfect for me”
After my GCSEs, I had the option of going to college, but my college didn’t offer Personal Training courses, only Sports Science which didn’t really train other people. I looked online for Personal Training courses and came across the YMCA Fitness Training Academy. I decided to sign up.
This two-year course was perfect for me because I’ll gain two main qualifications, plus other qualifications in Kettlebells and Boxing. The whole package appealed to me.
I liked the practical work and having the opportunity to train my peers. We created exercise sessions for each other and did them together in the gym– that was pretty cool! I also liked the theory, especially learning about nutrition.
I’ve now completed my Level 3 exams in nutrition, anatomy and physiology. I’ve also completed my ‘Functional Skills’ in Maths, which I need to pass my Level 3 Fitness Instructing Course.
Helping the family get fit!
My family are supportive and even ask me for help. They’ve cut out junk food now. My dad has got osteoarthritis in his hip and Personal Trainers are trained to work with clients like my dad. As I want to be a Personal Trainer, this is good experience for me. He is on a diet and I help him with his exercises. He takes my advice sometimes! Ironically, my brother has put on weight and now wants me to help him lose it! It’s worked out pretty well.
I don’t have any regrets about doing this - I think the FTA is a very beneficial course. It will enable me to gain my ‘Level 2 Gym Instructor’ and ‘Level 3 Personal Trainer’ qualifications before I go on to university. It’s a win, win.”
Michael is expecting his FTA result in December and has been awarded a place at London Metropolitan University where he intends to study a degree in ‘Sports Psychology and Criminology’ next year.