John Barber: Training For A Healthy Retirement

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This is a story about my dear client and friend, John Barber, and his training for a healthy retirement. I wanted to share this with you because I think we can all learn some important lessons about what's possible when we keep an open heart and mind, and stay aligned with what really matters to us.

But First, A Brain-Teaser

Before I start bragging about how cool my clients are, consider this:

An overweight lady, let’s call her Susan, enters a gym, walks up to a personal trainer and says “hey, I need to lose 8kg, can you help me?

The personal trainer replies, “sure, no problem.” They work together for a few weeks and Susan loses 8kg.

But Susan didn't get what she wanted… How could that be?


It turns out that Susan had wanted to lose 8kg in order to be taken more seriously in her new job, where she was constantly being overlooked and interrupted. The real issue wasn’t that she was overweight, but that she had low self esteem.

Susan had assumed that her problems at work were due to her weight, and our trainer (who we shall not judge) had simply taken her requests at face value.

What Do You Think?

  • Whose fault is it that Susan didn’t get the results she really needed? Her own for not outlining exactly what she wanted and why, or the trainer’s fault for not asking?
  • Did the trainer fulfil their obligations?
  • Should Susan have gone to the trainer in the first place?
  • Should the trainer have sent Susan to a different type of professional?
  • Was what Susan needed outside of the trainer’s scope of practise?
  • Is the sole purpose of a trainer simply to help people achieve specific, measurable goals with no regard for the wellbeing or satisfaction of the client?

The Importance Of An Holistic Approach

In my opinion, health and fitness has to be FOR something, even if you don’t necessarily know what that is straight away. That’s why I have 3 golden rules for my clients that help avoid a range of issues like the one above (blog post on that coming soon), but also why I take great care in conducting in-depth consultations with every person I coach to help us discover their underlying motivations.

I like to use coaching as a platform to enhance people's lives. As an example, instead of just tweaking Susan’s diet and getting her to exercise more so she could lose weight, my approach would have been to additionally work on her mindset, attitude, posture, and gait to help her feel and behave more confidently at work.

Discover the 10 lifestyle foundations you need in place to optimise your health, fitness and wellbeing...

(Hint... they may not be what you expect!)

Click here to learn more about Online Coaching

How To Enjoy A Healthy Retirement

My lovely client John took the time to get aligned with his goal of enjoying a healthy retirement, which helped him feel motivated and put in the work. He saw some really exciting results… that he felt good about!

In John’s own words:

“Mel explained that my goals did not need to be in purely fitness terms. After a lengthy and in depth discussion we established my goals and attitude to exercise. Essentially my aim, after more than 40 years (I am 62) in sedentary and stressful jobs, is to enjoy a healthy retirement when the time comes. To me that means being able to enjoy the things I do now for as long as possible. To achieve this I need to have flexibility, basic strength and endurance (I don’t need to powerlift a huge weight or run a marathon). I also had to take into account the onset of arthritis in both knees.

"After nine months of weekly sessions I am measurably stronger and I am getting increased mobility in my joints. For example I have gone from doing a few squats, then reps with a bar across my shoulders starting with 20kg, increasing progressively to my current level of 3 reps with a weight of 85kg and a 1 rep max of 90kg.

"My balance is improving in line with my core strength (which was virtually non-existent at the start). For cardio, although I now avoid running due to my arthritis, I can row continuously for an hour, which for me equates to nearly 11 km.

"I am no fitness bunny, historically I’ve disliked going to the gym, but working with Mel has been a very positive experience. Her focus is on technique and steady progression. Her attitude is to get the technique right to gain the maximum benefit from the activity. Breathing, posture, and movement are all equally important. If this all sounds too serious it’s fair to say that Mel also injects a sense of fun into the sessions.

If you want to improve your health and fitness but the thought of having a trainer fills you with horror give Mel a try.”

So, so proud of you John!

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