Bodyguards - Intensive Training Programme ... hear how one new member got on

Exercise makes you feel better - fact. Yet that is still not enough motivation to spur many into action. I know exercise makes me feel better, I've tried it, but finding the time to fit an effective exercise programme into a hectic working schedule I find near impossible, or is that just a matter of lack of motivation ?

Offered the opportunity to trial Bodyguards new Intensive Programme, a two week, personalised, train every day and watch what you eat type programme, I thought long and hard. Not that unfit (or so I thought), I wondered whether it could possibly be worth the time and dedication needed to get the most out of such training. Did I really need it? Fitter than I have been for a long time surely it wouldn't make that much of a difference. Who was I kidding - only me!

As it happened, I had to postpone the programme due to work and after three weeks of working flat out, missing gym sessions and drinking too much I hobbled into Bodyguards with a bad back feeling worse than horrible.

Tony who was to be my trainer for the programme co-owns Bodyguards. Based in Jesmond the gym has a number of personal trainers (eight) and is used by a huge cross section of clients; some join purposefully to lose weight (and lots of it), others simply to keep on top of their fitness or those recovering from injury. Bodyguards also train youngsters with sporting talent to achieve greater potential. As a gym it is unpretentious and, as I was soon to find out, has a great atmosphere; friendly and fun - no-one takes anything too seriously here except achieving results - but there is no sense of intimidation from either the instructors or fellow members.

The Intensive Programme I was embarking on is a new one at Bodyguards. It combines all of their exercise, nutritional and health expertise to create an individual programme for each client to gain maximum results in a limited time. Perfect for someone who needs a motivational kick start to find a better regime. The programme begins with an in-depth analysis of your present state of health including your lifestyle and circumstances from which a personalised, eating plan is created. Luckily mine wasn't too onerous although Chardonnay, whilst not banned, was on the 'very limited' and never on school nights list! Simply keeping food diary, even for a short period of time is a good idea for anyone who is serious about making changes to their health and fitness as it does make you focus far more and it is surprising how many extras can slip by unnoticed. For those who want it, your Bodyguards trainer will even take you shopping to give you greater guidance in your diet. The first few days of your diet plan is very much aimed at detoxifying and the remainder based around building a long lasting, sensible eating regime.

Never one to take lifestyle planning seriously, Tony also tried to put together a short list of suggestions to help me with day to day stress management. Being of the school 'that's just the way life is' I am probably not best candidate for it but I did listen to his advice and have tried to implement some changes.

Last but of course not least comes the exercise. After taking a series of measurements (none of whim shall be revealed here) Tony had his job cut out to make me look like Eva Longoria in just two weeks - especially as I could hardly move so the exercise bit was going to be a little tricky.

I couldn't bend but sadly I could run and could use the cross trainer, both of which I hate. Because of my back my training programme was more ad hoc than it would usually be and for the first few days Tony worked hard to find the right exercises for me which I could do effectively.

He also spent a large proportion of the training hour stretching and manipulating me which by the end of day three had made a huge difference - I swear I was at least an inch taller! The Intensive Programme involves training 12 times over two weeks for an hour each time. I had opted for an early training slot and it was great to feel like I had done some proper, strenuous exercise and still be at my desk for 9.00am. Every day was different but at no time did I ever feel I didn't want to do it, or even be there, which I thought I might. The exercise programme consists of a mixture of cardio and strength training using basic full body movements often a medicine ball, a gym ball or using cables, barbells or dumbbell for added interest! Boxing turned out to be a favourite – possibly tempted by to the idea of hitting Tony 'by mistake' as pay-back! A one-to-one trainer might not be everyone's cup of tea but Tony was fantastic. Quietly spoken, he remained reassuring but never bullying – but there was never a question of 'giving up' despite my early morning protests.

I didn't enter the programme with a particular goal, although I know for many who have done it setting the goal was a great motivator in itself. I did want to feel better in myself and regain some sense of control, plus lose a little (or a lot) of the Chardonnay waist all of which probably amounts to some sort of goal but I couldn't say I had really thought about it too much. The funny thing is that the further I got into the two weeks, the more I really wanted to carry on.

At the end of the programme comes the all important reassessment. I wasn't expecting miracles because my back had hampered proceeding but was more than pleasantly surprised. I had lost serious centimetres, especially on my arms and from around my waist! I can't say I looked like Eva Longoria but boy did I feel much better. My overall fitness had improved a lot and thanks to Tony's toutuous stretching I could bend again.

As with so many things, when you see positive results you are motivated by them and are often moved to rethink your goals. Despite all the serious time/work/children juggling I loved the two weeks. So much so, that despite having a good gym virtually at the bottom of my garden I have signed up to Bodyguards for two training sessions every week. Over the holiday period I made time to exercise properly and am trying to overcome an irrational fear and hatred of the treadmill by using it more often. Tony has also given me the confidence to vary my training and my weights so each session is more effective.

My goal now – To be the fittest I have ever been!

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