Let the first life you change be your own.
“I looked at myself in the mirror…” that’s how it usually begins, right? Well that’s not how it happened for me. I was always into sports from an early age. I tried every sport I could do, given the fact that I was growing up in what has been called ‘the troubles’ in Northern Ireland.
Physical dereliction of the urban landscape was rife when I was younger. It was a natural playground for me and my circle of friends. My friends and I were excellent climbers and physically very fit.
We were never in our homes and always out ‘playing in the street’.
In today’s world of computer games and consoles, mobile phones, internet tablets and everything else which makes you a couch potato, it’s difficult to believe that only a few decades ago a child’s experience of living was richer – when it came to physical exercise.
Some of our playing environment was dangerous but there is nothing like climbing a crumbling yard wall or shoeing your way over the rafters of derelict houses to sort out the development of your homunculus sensitivity, general proprioception, motor learning and strength.
Nowadays, if you have considerate parents they take you to places to be ‘active’. When I was younger we just were.
The sports I loved growing up were all contact sports. Gaelic athletic sports like Football and especially hurling. I still have a passion for hurling to this day.
I also enjoyed Martial Arts and I’ve tried my fair share of them, from Karate, Penchak Silat, Free Style Kickboxing, Full Contact Kickboxing, Boxing and Muay Thai.
Now being punched and kicked is no longer and option for me, I am a little too old for that, but I’ve recently taken up Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Judo. The grappling arts are a whole new adventure for me and I have thrown myself into them, excuse the pun.
So, while I never exactly looked at myself in the mirror and said “Oh shit!” that’s not to say that I did not have a mid-life crisis of sorts. I went to University and got a great education then worked in a variety of jobs that I enjoyed. But there was always something missing.
As I approached 40 I became hugely dissatisfied with what I had achieved in life thus far. Despite the fact that I am blessed, married to a beautiful and wise wife and we both have two incredible children together.
On paper I was being productive but I could not honestly point to one thing that I had done in work that had really made other’s lives better. That to me was important, it was a turning point and I knew I needed a change. What I did not know was what that meant or how to go about it.
As I sat in the living room of my house I put my head in my hands and prayed for guidance. In those days it is funny how faith only came to me when I needed something. I guess my confused cry was heard. I called my brother, only to discuss the situation and to share my dilemma. Paul without hesitation said, “Leave your job and come and work for me, you can help me manage the Gym.”
I was shocked, this was not the answer I was looking for, nor expecting. Paul at this time was already well known for his body transformation program and had just taken over the famous Centaur Gym.
Established in 1960, by Victor Kemp, Centaur Gym had hosted sporting and bodybuilding greats Bill Pearl, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno and Beril Fox. Its weights and benches were fabricated in the old Harland & Wolff shipyards. It was Harland & Wolff shipyard that built the Titanic and many other famous vessels.
Centaur was my old gym I had started training there in 1988. In the mid-1990s I had brought Paul to train there, lift weights and hit the bags with me. Now, the iconic Centaur Gym was under new management, it had become the crucible from which Paul would develop a program that would change the face of the Fitness Industry and my life. The Amazing 12 Week Physique.
As a 12 Week Physique coach, the wheel has turned full circle and I have arrived at a place where only very few people stand. I genuinely get a chance to change people’s lives. I know it sounds mad; but I do this on a regular enough basis and never tire of its wonder.
That ability and opportunity which had eluded me for most of my working life was handed to me by my younger brother. I remember encouraging Paul to train with weights as I had done, to see what he has become and how sharp he has tempered his mind makes me enormously proud. He is the best at what he does.
Not only that, but his real genius lies in the fact that he can bestow this incredible gift to anybody. So finely tuned and surefire are his methods that you can’t miss. I am nothing special, I think, but my clients think differently. So what is extraordinary is the fact that Paul has developed a way to make ordinary people ‘exceptional’? I just follow Paul’s framework, as a strength coach and fitness professional all solutions lie therein. Now, the coaches in Centaur Gym are probably the most experienced in the world at what we do. What do we do? Well we change people’s lives, making them the best version of themselves in the shortest possible timeframe. My job is not work it’s my vocation, it’s a pure pleasure.