Fit Factor Active 8 shed over eight stones in two weeks

WHEN fitness instructor David Fairlamb started training our Fit Factor contestants, he never imagined they would lose almost 120lbs of fat between them in the first two weeks alone

WHEN fitness instructor David Fairlamb started training our Fit Factor contestants, he never imagined they would lose almost 120lbs of fat between them in the first two weeks alone ... the equivalent in weight of actress Jessica Alba!

Unsurprisingly, all are buzzing after their first weigh-in on Monday after being told they’d lost between half a stone and one stone 10lbs each.

“I’m over the moon,” says David. “I was hoping they would lose about half a stone each but in fact the average weight loss was just over a stone.

“Their effort has been 100% and they were in tears when I told them how proud I was.” Although David took each member aside and told them their results in private, our Fit Factor team are happy for their results to be published in the hope of inspiring others.

“They can all fit into clothes they haven’t worn for years and they’re all feeling much better,” says David. “It just goes to show that you can turn your life around in two weeks and no one is a lost cause.”

But after the high of the first weigh-in, David’s hoping there will be no slacking off – especially when their weight loss starts to tail off and isn’t quite so dramatic.

“It’s all down to self-discipline,” he says. “I’ve been sitting them down before and after every session drumming it into them so they’re all really motivated at the moment.

“I don’t want them to get complacent and think, ‘Oh, this is easy, I can have the odd treat’.” Project manager Nick Cotterill from North Shields lost the most weight with an amazing 24.2lbs. “I knew I’d lost weight as my clothes felt a little looser but I can’t believe how much I lost in two weeks,” says the dad of two.

“It’s way more than I ever expected at this point. I’ve been following the diet plan rigidly and really working hard at all the exercise sessions so it’s obviously paid off. The hard bit now is to keep it going. This result has really made me realise what I can achieve if I keep focused and working hard.”

The 40-year-old, who gained weight over the years after a rugby injury, says: “It has been a good second week. I’m getting more organised with the food. Making extra to cover more than one mealtime is working well and I’m making soup at the weekend to last a few days.”

Port of Tyne director Ian Gibson was just pipped to the post by Nick but says he’s chuffed at losing an impressive 23.3lbs ... just shy of his 24lb target.

“I’ve lost more on this than I did on a very low-calorie liquid diet,” he explains. “With that diet I simply survived but with this one I’m actually living. It’s real food and I’m enjoying it. I don’t see it as a diet anymore. It’s just healthy eating.”

It’s been a particularly tough week for Steve Mountain from Redcar, who was profiled in last Thursday’s Journal, as his granddad died and his wife underwent a major operation on Tuesday for a rare form of cancer.

The 32-year-old security officer at Teesport almost threw in the towel because he was worried he might skip too many sessions. However, with the support of the group and David Fairlamb, he’s decided to carry on.

“It’s been difficult as normally I would be raiding the fridge and turning to takeaways but I’ve stuck to the diet,” he says. “The group are so supportive so actually it’s been really nice because it keeps my mind off things.”

Despite the emotional trauma of the last week, Steve says he’s “chuffed to bits” to have lost almost a stone.

“Normally I’m terrified to step on the scales so it was a brilliant boost and has spurred me on,” he says. “It was all fat as well – not muscle or water. Normally when I put my work jacket on I need to breathe in and hold my belly in to do the zip up, but I didn’t need to breathe in and there was still some room in there!”

Of the four women, Claire Hancock from Billingham was the first to break the stone barrier. The 40-year-old business manager at A4e has shed an amazing 15.4lbs. She says: “I wanted to lose a stone so I’m absolutely chuffed to bits.

“The only tough part was when I was working at a school and they had my favourite school dinner – cheese and onion quiche – but I resisted and just had salad. Seeing the results has made it worthwhile.”

Stamina-wise, Claire says the exercise is becoming easier. “If you’d told me two weeks ago that we would be outside doing exercise non-stop for an hour it wouldn’t have believed it,” she says. “It just comes naturally now. We’re through the initial pain barrier where you can’t walk for days.”

Claire aims to be a size 12 for her cousin’s wedding in September and would be happy losing half a stone every fortnight from now on.

After joining Fit Factor to try to avoid gastric bypass surgery, Dawn Roe is delighted to have lost 9.5lbs so far. “I wore a dress that I’d tried on at Christmas but couldn’t get the zip up before,” says the 40-year-old NHS admin co-ordinator from Pelton, County Durham. “I was at my friend’s horse box at the weekend. I normally can’t even get through the partitions at the back but I got straight through. There’s loads of little things, little milestones.”

The new healthy eating regime is also paying dividends. “I feel so much better in myself, not as tired,” says Dawn.

“I just came in from work and everyone was standing there chomping away on cake, but I wasn’t bothered.”

Having lost 11lbs, Emma Roberts is well on the way to emulating the incredible weight loss of her dad, Newcastle United superfan Keith “Beefy” Roberts who was the first to sign up to the Great North Fitness Revolution.

“I feel a lot healthier,” says the 22-year-old care assistant from South Shields whose goal is to be a dress size 12-14. “My skin and my asthma are a lot better too.”

After struggling in the first week, the former chip butty addict says the diet is getting easier. “I’m trying to eat different things now,” she adds. “I normally have either a steak or chicken with lots of veg and I’ve picked at more fruit. I feel as if I eat more on this than I did before and I’m never hungry because it fills me up.”

With a goal of being slim for her best friend’s wedding in November where she’s maid of honour, Jacqui Fahey from West Denton is well on the way with a 7.1lbs weight loss.

“As I’m the lightest I didn’t expect to lose too much but I’m delighted with just over half a stone in two weeks,” says the 37-year-old support and account manager. “I would love to try and keep to the same target and lose another half a stone in the next two weeks too. I know I’ll have to work harder but I’m willing to give it a go.”

LAST week the Fit Factor Active 8 tried Pilates as one of their three weekly activities. Pilates instructor Hazel Hodgkiss, 53, of Pilates at the Coast, said: “It was good fun and they all tried really hard. There was a lot of banter but they also took it seriously and seemed really interested in what Pilates was all about.”

Hazel, a former NHS technician and secondary school teacher, has a background in teaching food and nutrition and health and social care and has been teaching Pilates for 15 years. Along with another instructor, Hazel takes 15 classes a week at the two studios in Monkseaton, and at Stobhill Gate First School in Morpeth. She uses the Body Control Pilates Method with can be done on mats as well as apparatus called a Reformer.

She says Pilates is ideal for all ages and abilities as you can start gently and gradually add to the level of complexity. “Sometimes the blokes think it’s going to a bit namby-pamby, but they were all feeling it afterwards,” she says.

“It should really help them get more out of their gym sessions and engage their core muscles more effectively.”

Jacqui Fahey, who put on weight after having her two children, really enjoyed the class. She said: “The Pilates was really good and quite an eye-opener. It’s all about posture and how it affects the body, which was really interesting.

“It’s all very relaxing and about breathing but afterwards there were parts of my body aching I didn’t even know had muscles. I’d like to keep Pilates up in future. I really liked it.

“After the boot camp, which is getting harder all the time, it seemed relaxing but I know it worked because I could feel it the next day.”

Nick Cotterill, who has lost the most weight so far, said: “Pilates was interesting although not aerobically challenging. It really made you think about posture and holding your body correctly. Some of the stretches were quite hard. You could particularly feeling it in your core muscles.”

Port of Tyne director Ian Gibson added: “I wasn’t sure what to expect but it was a lot tougher than I thought it would be and better than I anticipated. I can see it getting results.”

Despite falling down the stairs before the class, business manager Claire Hancock managed to battle on and is a big convert to Pilates too. “I absolutely loved it,” she says

“It was very different to what we’ve been doing. It was very relaxing and it’s something I’d like to do regularly once we’ve finished the challenge.”

PILATES is a system of exercises developed by Joseph Pilates, which allows you to exercise the whole body in a confined environment.

It consists of eight key principles: relaxation, concentration, co-ordination, centreing, alignment, breathing, stamina and flowing movements.

By working on the deep architectural structure of the body, core stability is achieved, and then maintained, through increasingly complex movement sequences. Specific problem areas can be targeted by an exercise, but always in relation to the rest of your body.

Pilates strengthens core muscles and can improve posture, strength and flexibility as well as reducing stress.

It’s a safe way to exercise with little risk of injury and ideal for those with back problems.

For details of classes contact Hazel Hodgkiss on 0191 297 1397 or visit

A six-week course of six one-hour lessons is £39. One-to-one and one-to-two private sessions are also available.


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