Meet James, My Journey So Far!

Updated: Jan 13

So why I am so passionate about fitness and how I am in the position I am today?

Here we go, the story goes around 5 years ago I had the privilege and opportunity to receive sport specific strength and conditioning, plyometric based training from the world-renowned Michael Johnson Performance (MJP). I found the coach Brock Christopher particularly inspiring and someone I got on with very well from day one of training.

This coincided with the fortunate opportunity of training with the now World Record Holder and Olympic Champion Adam Peaty. A couple of friends and myself decided to start to train in the school gym before our school day began. Most mornings we found we were sharing the gym with Adam and after a few weeks of exchanging the odd words here and there we began to get to know Adam and his coach Mel a lot better. Coupled with the MJP coaching Brock was delivering to me the penny was finally dropping in terms of understanding how every extra 1% counts towards improving performance, health and wellbeing. For years academy football managers, other sport coaches and my dad had told me how swimming would benefit my football but the egoistic young foolish kid I was I believed natural ability alone would get me where I wanted to be, as if the game owed me something. Only when it was practically too late did I begin to understand that you don't get anything for nothing in this world. So I quizzed Mel, Adam's coach and Adam himself and badgered them until they started to invite me to train with Adam when I could and so for the next 6 months to a year or so I cannot quite remember exactly how long. When I could around my other commitments I would go from football training straight to the pool for a session with Adam and finish with a poolside ab circuit for example. Or back into the gym for a second session, again an ab session with Adam after our morning weight lifting sessions. Looking back this also fuelled my passion for training and health which was in its infancy at the time and I was very lucky and didn't realise it at the time to get the opportunity to train with a world champion in the making. Adam made me begin to realise what it took to succeed, the length he went to and funnily enough it didn't scare me, it motivated me!

Brock inspired me to, so much so that following the training programme completion within the school setting Brock invited me down to St. George’s park where MJP’s English office was based to partake in a week’s intense pre-season training along with other young aspiring footballers some signed to professional clubs and some not and playing non-league football.

The experience I received during that week seeing the facilities and trying to absorb as much knowledge as possible while I was there, I truly believe subconsciously is what sparked my passion for and pursuit of a career in health and fitness.

This spark was continually fuelled during the following 4 years or so while I undertook an undergraduate degree in Exercise, Nutrition and Health at Nottingham Trent University, during which I obtained REPs levels 2 fitness instructor and 3 Personal Training and GP exercise referral qualifications. As well as the knowledge into exercise, nutrition and health that stood me in good stead moving forward. During my first year at Uni I was also lucky enough to be part of the men’s football strength and conditioning first team squad. We trained usually on a Monday and Friday night in the University Sport Centre's High Performance Facility, a strength and conditioning sport specific gym separate to the main university gym where the first team squads of each of the major university sport men’s and women teams were delivered sport specific sessions to aid there performance. Ben who I later shared my MRes course with programmed the sessions and training blocks which again I didn't realise at the time but I soaked up information from and saved still to this day and learnt a lot about sport specific and the challenge of team sport strength and conditioning. The day to day sessions were delivered in the gym by GB 400m hurdler Laura, again someone I didn't realise at the time how lucky I was to having coaching me and I learnt how to communicate with people from her. As you can imagine getting 20 or so university footballers to comply and complete sessions at the end of their day was a struggle but Laura managed to motivate us to progress. Again, as the programme gained my trust, I began to ask for extra training and got in the HPC on my own performing extra sessions and keeping up my training during the Uni holidays. The snowball effect was really in motion and building momentum by this stage.

The extra REPs qualifications I managed to gain whilst at Uni allowed me after graduating to fortunately gain employment immediately that summer at Hilton St George’s Park as a fitness instructor in the summer of 2017, where I was lucky enough to work in a great team of likeminded people whose conversations over my time there further inspired me to have enough confidence in myself to start up on my own and chase my dreams.

After having the urge to return to the FA centre at St. George’s Park I found out I had to return to study, achieve a masters in strength and conditioning related research in order to one day gain employment within a professional sporting setup. I knew this would also give me the knowledge to train aspiring amateur/semi-professional sports players that are looking to improve their sporting level. As I feel this is an area lacking in the industry. I took the standpoint and mindset to achieve as many qualifications and go as high as possible within education to add as many strings to my bow as possible and gain as much knowledge, while youth was still on my side, before going it alone.

Now what once was just a spark is now fully fuelled with knowledge/passion and ready to explode!

Getting in shape shouldn’t feel like a punishment. It’s an amazing opportunity, an empowering lifestyle change that anyone can choose to make and then achieve. I believe in finding a pleasurable form of working out, healthy nutritional choices and training that fits your lifestyle!

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