Fitness drive is tough but worthwhile for sports editor

SPORTS editor Graham Smyth continues his fitness drive, with another varied week at Apple Fitness, including kettlebells, spinning, walking and sports massage.

Follow his progress on twitter @GrahamSmyth or @Applegymworksop or use the hashtag #getgrahamfit

I COULD sum up the past two months in two words – difficult and worthwhile.

For all the pain in the gym, there has been huge improvement in my fitness.

For all the times when I’ve left like there’s nothing left in the tank, there’s the increase in confidence and euphoric feeling of achievement after tough sessions.

And this week has been a prime example.

On Monday Katie Solomons answered the question ‘What is worse, spinning or kettlebells?’ with the response ‘spinning AND kettlebells’ – giving me a session that included five minute bursts on the bike, climbing uphill against resistance, and various kettlebell exercises that made me ache and sweat buckets.

Perhaps unintentionally, Katie challenges me by allowing me to choose which weight of kettlebell I want to use for some of the exercises, and as tempting as it is, I try to ignore the easiest option.

I literally walked through Wednesday’s session with Tom Wilde. But that walk was brisk, uphill and I was carrying increasingly heavy dumbells for each walk (harder than it looks, much harder than it sounds).

The slow burn is deceiving in some sessions, as I feel fine for the first few minutes and then realise my body is shaking with the strain.

Person trainer Tom also, helpfully, threw in squats, press ups and lateral pull downs, and then I had to hold the positions at their most stressful point while grunting in agony and shaking like a leaf.

I did some balance ball crunches and chest press with dumbells, before a good stretch to finish.

Thursday brought a sports massage with Steve Chambers, who managed to put my shoulder back where it belongs.

For whatever reason my left shoulder looked higher than it should as Steve surveyed my back before going to work.

Intense pressure, manipulation, muscle stretching and lengthening followed, eliciting gasps of pain from me.

After working on my back, specifically my shoulders, he mused that the shoulder problem was more than likely linked to my pectoral muscles and that meant more pain and gasping, and an almost satisfying moment as a muscle popped, or flipped or moved somehow under pressure and a load of tension was released.

It wasn’t pleasant, it was difficult, but by the end of the session it had all paid off as my shoulders were back to a symmetrical position and in Steve’s expert opinion, my back looked ‘superb’.

As with all the gym sessions on my lunchbreaks, I return to the office feeling good. Really good. Perhaps not physically, but there’s definitely a boost to the old self esteem that comes from achievement and the knowledge that the hard work is making obvious improvements to my body.

I don’t tend to allow my confidence to be dictated by how I look, but there’s an undoubted lift when you change for the better.

While the exercise is going well, my diet could still do with some tweaks – and so the next task is to complete a food diary and get the nutrition experts at Apple to advise me on what I should and shouldn’t be putting into my body.

Tomorrow brings my fourth trip to the gym this week for the Friday spinning class. Difficult but worthwhile.