Since 2005 I’ve been on a mission to find the best way to help everyday people stay in shape. You know; people who work, have families and a social life, but still want to look and feel their best.
So, designing exercise programmes that work with only a few hours per week can be pretty demanding. But every week I get a little closer to finding a better way. I get paid based on my ability to help people just like you get results. If clients aren’t happy, I don’t get paid! So I’ve had to come up with a faster way to lose weight and tone up with the limited time that ‘real’ people have to spend exercising.
But if you want to find out a little more about me, you’ve come to the right place.
It all began on the 19th October 1982. In Aldershot in the UK Rowena Igwe gave birth to me, Kieran Ngozi Igwe (My Dad, Angus, is Nigerian by the way).
I think I’m lucky in that I must have been the last generation where we got up off our butts and played. Before facebook, before computer games and the internet really evolved to be all consuming.
So I guess you could say I had an active start to life. I remember regular trips to the local sport centre to go swimming (which I still suck at to this day) along with racket sports and other games. I had an older brother, Leon and two younger brothers at the time, Alex and Max, so we were always playing around outside whenever we could.
Initially I got exposed to structured fitness training through the world of martial arts. From what I remember I was always encouraged to go. I don’t think it was something I actively asked to do. My Parents must have thought it was important for us to do, so like the good little boy I was at the time ;-), I did it. Although thinking about it, maybe my parents just wanted to get us out of their hair for an hour or two!
That initial interest evolved into Kickboxing classes in the late nineties along with the occasional boxing class my little brother Alex ran. For me it was all about discipline. If you didn’t go you’d know about it next time. And sparring with someone whose interests lie in taking your head off is sure to keep you on your toes! This is probably the first place I learned about real discipline and consistency. If you missed training, you paid the price the next week.
In 2003 I moved to Leeds in West York’s with some friends I’d met at College. I had studied P.E., psychology and sociology A levels, but never really got into studying. I drifted up north with no big intentions but just decided it was a good idea to tag along. At the time I joined a couple of Muay Thai gyms to keep up my training.
At this stage in my life I felt something was missing, life just seemed to be passing me by. Playing the occasional DJ gig and toying around at making music got me through the next few years, working bar jobs to pay the bills with no clear direction before I decided it was time to pull my finger out.
2004 I decided to get into personal fitness training. So, naive to the way a person should get into the fitness industry, with no qualifications what-so-ever I applied to every gym in the area. I hoped blindly that someone could use my new found enthusiasm and give me a job. I got the same answers over and over; ‘you need to be qualified to be a trainer, you need experience!’ I had none, and never really understood what I needed to do to get qualified.
A week later I got a phone call. Success! I got hired at a JJB gym in Birstal, where as far as I knew I’d get straight into shadowing the fitness trainers and learn the trade. After four hours of my first shift, feeling faint from standing on the hot poolside and still a little queasy from cleaning all the sock fluff from the men’s changing room floor I realised I needed to get qualified. I soon realised that working my way up from cleaner/pool attendant to a personal trainer just wasn’t realistic.
I’m embarrassed to say that after the first four hours of my first job in the ‘fitness’ (cleaning) industry I quit. I’ve never quit a job on my first day. I felt like I’d let myself down, my family down. I’d never considered myself as a quitter until that day. But I knew Bigger things were in store.
Within a few weeks I’d enrolled on the Premier diploma in personal training to get officially qualified. This was different from school, where I had always felt like learning was a chore. You had to go to school whether you liked it or not right? Or you’d never make it in the real world, they’d say.
Studying fitness was voluntary, and I fell in love with it. Having never set foot in a gym before I had no preconceptions about what people should be doing to lose weight and keep in shape. I lapped up all the new information. Too long had my brain been closed to new ideas, new thoughts, and new information.
Getting certified in 2005 I got a Job at Esporta though a friend of a friend. I started working the gym floor, cleaning treadmills and doing inductions for new members which gave me a base to test out my newly acquired knowledge. I realised the things I’d been taught about fitness (that you didn’t get fit from sitting on a machine) didn’t seem to be common knowledge. So I’d spend my time showing people alternatives to using machines; the free weights, cable machines, Swiss balls and more. People seemed to enjoy this style of exercise, and it was different than the usual mindless circuit of machines that they’d come to know so well.
While it was my job to show people the ropes I felt I could give so much more than just the basic induction the members expected, which usually consisted of old bodybuilding routines from the eighties. Most of the people I came into contact with had no idea why what they were doing wasn’t working for them.
With my enthusiasm to help people I started building up a few regular clients, slowly at first, until I realised that the more I helped and the better results my existing clients got the busier I got. I worked hard on the few clients I had and any problem they had was my problem. If they were overweight I found the fastest and most effective way to lose weight. If they had knee pain I’d go and research until I could help them solve it. If they had back pain I’d find out how to ‘fix’ it. If they’d just had a baby I’d research the best way for them to exercise safely. If they had a problem that was outside my area of expertise I’d find someone who knew what to do and refer the client on.
I was lucky enough that my clients wanted to share their results with their friends and family. They would talk about their training and encouraged their nearest and dearest to come see me. I’ll always be grateful to all those clients, staff members and friends who hooked me up with connections and new clients in the first place. Without them the journey would have taken a lot longer and been a heck of a lot harder. The great thing is most of those clients I still train to this day!
In 2006 I was ready to go it alone without the security of working as an employee. I founded Diligent Health, which was just me working for myself, as I’d dreamed. I now had more time to research, read, grow and practice what I’d learned, discovering what worked, what didn’t. Testing different approaches, continually refining my way of doing things, paying to learn from the best people I could find, to make sure I could get results for the clients I’d come to love working with.
In 2008 I started at another gym, Trinity Fitness, a smaller operation with a third of the foot-fall of the Esporta I’d worked at before. The personal training business had grown to a point where I had to take on two trainers, Tom Waite and Ivana Dodokova to help me service the clients we had.
Based on ideas from the industry’s best we started to rewrite the way we did personal training. We shifted to a semi-private model of training, where clients would book in groups of two to three rather than working with people on a one to one basis. Everyone could get the time slot they wanted and at the same time I noticed people stuck to their program and enjoyed the sessions more. There was a bigger support network, clients got to know each other, worked harder, and enjoy training more. Everyone still had their individualised programme, but two to three clients work out together with one trainer to supervise. It also meant training sessions were more cost effective for clients as they could share the cost of working with one of our trainers.
I realise now that I’ve been limiting the number of people I can help. Until now you could only access my support and ideas by coming and training with me or one of my team.
So this is what the blog’s all about. It’s for everyone who wants to get results from their time spent exercising, but doesn’t have direct access to me. Maybe you live far away, maybe you’d rather not spend a load of money on a trainer or just straight up don’t have the time and flexibility to book regular appointments.
So, if you’ll have me I’d like to act as your virtual trainer. To teach you how to do it yourself, give the tools to do it, and the inspiration to stick with it.
So, I ask you to read, enjoy and most importantly use the ideas I want to share with you here to help you build your confidence and get you to just feel good!