Blyth man makes dramatic changes in body and mind

STARTING a new venture in the middle of a recession takes some guts.

Fitness instructor Dean Coulson (red top) with client Darren Young

STARTING a new venture in the middle of a recession takes some guts. But since starting regular 6am bootcamps, heating engineer Darren Young has gained such a positive new frame of mind that he says it’s helped him launch his own heating and plumbing business.

“I feel more positive, more sure about myself and more confident,” says Darren, 46, from Blyth, who’s lost three stone and feels on top of the world since starting beach bootcamp last August with Dean Coulson of Assert Fitness.

There are many benefits to exercising outdoors comparedwith a boring gym treadmill. A systematic review last year in scientific Journal Environmental Science & Technology found that outdoor exercisers felt greater feelings of revitalisation and wellbeing, increased energy and positive engagement, improved enjoyment and satisfaction as well as decreased tension, confusion, anger and depression.

Being in a group, they were also more likely to stick at it. And as Dean says “there’s no such things as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing.”

Darren describes his previous attempt at getting fit – an annual gym membership he only used for two months – as “a total false economy”. By contrast he’s never missed a bootcamp session, which he attends every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning along with a group of six to 10 people on Blyth beach.

“I’m not disciplined enough to do it by myself,” he says. “With my jobs I’m sometimes wrecked when I come in from work and don’t fancy going to the gym so it fits in ideally. I’m just up an hour earlier.”

Darren’s weight had gradually crept up over the last 15 years, but when he gained half a stone following each of his two holidays in 2010 it was crunch time. He’d reached 16 stone 10 lbs, and at 5ft 10ins was classed as obese.

Although he “never used to pig out on sweets and cake”, Darren admits he ate too much bread and the wrong sort of curries, as well as snacking on sandwiches and pasties when he was travelling between jobs.

“I would have cereal for breakfast then a pastie and a sandwich or two sandwiches for lunch followed by a meal my wife cooked for tea,” he explains. Although he tried the Atkins diet once, it made him feel ill and he didn’t lose much weight. He also did very little exercise ... just the occasional game of squash that made him turn puce!

“In the end I thought I’m really sick of the aches and pains,” says Darren, who married Gena 18 months ago in Ibiza and has three daughters from a previous relationship, Amanda, 26, Victoria, 24, and Katie, 15.

Darren says: “I was struggling to get up off the settee. I would walk up the stairs and break into a sweat. All my T-shirts and pants weren’t fitting me. So when I saw an advert in paper for boot camps, which guaranteed I’d drop a jeans size in four weeks, I decided to take the bull by the horns.”

With a balanced nutritional plan to follow and three 45- minute metabolism-elevating workouts a week, Darren lost a stone in the first six weeks.

However, the first session was tough. “I found myself struggling and panting for breath in the warm-up,” says Darren. “After the third session I was aching from head to toe. I felt horrendous because I was de-toxing.”

But inspired by another bootcamp member who’d lost two stone, Darren ploughed on. “Now I thoroughly enjoy it,” he says. “Dean’s certainly not like a sergeant major. It’s a laugh and it sets me up for the day.”

He was even persuaded by other bootcamp members to do the Newcastle Stampede, a 10k assault course, in October. “I certainly didn’t break any records but I thoroughly enjoyed it even though I was up to my neck in mud,” he laughs.

Sticking to a healthy diet of meat, fish, vegetables and salad, which minimises processed food and cuts out alcohol and caffeine, has also been easier than he thought.

“I haven’t had a cup of tea or coffee since I started – I just drink water or herbal tea now,” says Darren. “I don’t miss coffee at all. And apart from my sister-in-law’s 40th I’ve cut out the alcohol too.”

Now Darren is delighted he’s “knocked the socks off” his initial goal weight of 15 stone to reach 13 stone 10lbs, which is just a couple of points from a healthy BMI.

He’s also lost seven inches from his stomach and six inches from his chest. “Now everybody I see comments on how different I look,” says Darren, who’s signed up with Assert Fitness for a year at £67 per month.

“It’s good to hear. I’m quite happy with my weight now. I just want to get fitter and more toned.”

Darren’s trainer Dean Coulson of West Sleekburn, Northumberland, has read countless books and Journals on fitness as well as meeting gurus from around the world to formulate his programme. A self-employed IT contractor for many years, he set up Assert Fitness a year ago.

“I was fanatical about training,” says Dean, who’s married to Joy and has a seven-year-old son Sam. “But I didn’t just throw weights about like everyone else. I thought why aren’t I doing this as a job?” Already a black belt in martial arts, Dean started training with Geoff Thompson, a former bouncer turned self-help writer based in Coventry.

He’d written an autobiography, Watch my Back, which was turned into a BAFTA-winning film called Clubbed.

Dean learned a lot from Geoff and was inspired to start blogging about fitness and nutrition. Courses in personal training, boot camp instruction, nutrition and physical therapy followed and before long Dean met business coach Alan Cosgrove and Dax Moy, one of the UK’s leading personal trainers.

“Instead of just getting bits of paper I’ve been seeking out some of the world’s best mentors,” he says.

Now Dean offers outdoor boot camps in Ashington and Blyth with another planned soon for Cramlington. He also runs conditioning classes and circuit training at Emulous Martial Arts & Fitness Centre in West Sleekburn, as well as free fat-loss seminars.

Having contributed to a book called The Fit Formula, which reached number 1 on in the exercise and fitness category on its opening day, he’s also been spurred on to start writing another book called The Black Belt Diet.

Dean says Darren’s 42lbs weight loss in just four months is a fantastic achievement. “To say he was transformed was an understatement,” says Dean.

“His attitude and work ethic to the training and nutrition are excellent. He has literally changed his life around and I am extremely proud of him.”


Weight Loss Myths:

:: Crunches make you slim: You can't reduce fat in specific areas with exercise. 70% of success in fat loss is down to what you eat.

:: Don’t lose more than 2lb per week: This advice is based on results gained from ineffective methods.

:: Your BMI accurately represents your ideal size: Muscle weighs more than fat. Body composition is a more accurate measure. Lean bodies can weigh the same as overweight ones, but are vastly different.

:: You have to count calories: It’s not how many calories you eat but what kind of food you eat that matters.

:: Calories are created equal: 100 calories of Coca-Cola are not the same as 100 calories of almonds. Which do you think is better for you?

Fat Loss Tips:

:: Drink around 1 litre of filtered water per 50lb of bodyweight.

:: Remove wheat from your diet.

:: Remove dairy from your diet.

:: Limit alcohol in your diet or give it up.

:: Give up caffeine.

:: Get to bed by 10.30pm and get eight hours’ sleep

:: Reduce your stress.

:: Increase your intake of green vegetables.

:: You cannot out-train a bad diet.

New to Exercise?:

:: Have a positive attitude.

:: Set a big goal and then small goals to get you there.

:: Make it fun.

:: Don’t compare yourself to others.

:: Find like-minded people to train with.

:: Find a reputable trainer to help you.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer