WITH the half-way point fast approaching, our Fit Factor Active 8 have upped the intensity of their training, as well as enjoying a group hiking trip in Northumberland.
At the beginning they could hardly run the length of a five-a-side pitch, but after five weeks of intensive training they’re doing 20 sprints. And on Bank Holiday Monday, while others were slurping on ice-creams at the coast or knocking back the pints, the whole group decided to train together at the gym.
Fitness Instructor and Fit Factor mentor David Fairlamb says: “With the weigh-in approaching on Monday they’ve asked for an extra session and they’re all doing their own thing outside the gym too.
“Because they’re fit and strong enough now they can work a lot harder in shorter bursts so we’ve been doing interval training. Their heart rates are up higher and they’re realising how much more they can push their bodies.
“They’ve all been sending me texts to check they’re doing the right thing too, and are already asking about how to continue after the 12 weeks is up.”
On Saturday the group went hiking north of Wooler, and got to know each other even better.
NHS admin co-ordinator Dawnn Roe, 40, from Pelton, County Durham says: “It was really nice. Normally you feel guilty if you talk while you’re working out and Dave will say you’re not working hard enough! But we had a good chat.
“It was quite therapeutic as we talked about things we can all relate too, being bigger, like flying. I would never entertain flying because I would panic about getting in the seat and others felt the same.”
Port of Tyne director Ian Gibson, 45, from Wardley, Gateshead, whose rib injury after the rugby is now healing nicely, says: “The walk was three miles up and three miles down. They said it was a slight incline at the beginning but it was actually quite a steep hill.
“Still, I managed it without being out of breath and found it really enjoyable. I haven’t done anything like that since I was at school, so it was different and a good change.”
Nick Cotterill, who lost the most weight in week one, helped organise the hiking trip and camped overnight too. “I felt so much fitter while walking, climbed some steep hills but felt really good,“ says the 40-year-old project manager from North Shields. “It was hard work but I recovered so much better than I used to. It’s amazing the difference losing a couple of stone can make.”
Support and account manager Jacqui Fahey, 36, from West Denton, Newcastle, was busy at the weekend with a child’s party so only went hiking for a couple of hours.
“I really enjoyed it,” she says. “My calves still felt it the next day. But I have to say that I’ve never felt better. David will correct me if I’m wrong, but I feel like my fitness level has improved massively and as for the food, it just seems like a way of life now. I’ve even found a website full of paleolithic recipes that I’m dying to try.”
Business manager Claire Hancock took her husband Barry and 12-year-old daughter Katy on the hike. The 40-year-old from Billingham, says: “I used to go hiking a lot so it was great and we’d like to go back and finish it. I’m a bit of a fairweather walker though.”
Claire’s also been running on her own and has knocked a minute off her time since she started. “I’ve worked out a mile route where nobody will see me as I’m still a bit self conscious. The next step is increasing the distance.”
She can’t wait for the next weigh-in and has already had a wardrobe clear out. “I was going to meetings and looked ridiculous in clothes that didn’t fit any more,” she says.
“Now I’ve only got three pairs of trousers and six tops that fit me. I can’t wait to have a massive shopping spree.”
Police officer Daniel Henderson, 37, from Windy Nook, Gateshead, has been pushing himself outside the Fit Factor sessions too.
“I was out doing hill reps in the rain at 6.30am the other day,” he says. “The hardest part of running is getting your shoes on and getting out the door. Once you’re out there it makes no odds whether it’s wet, dry, cold, blowy, whatever. I’m loving it.”
As a former harrier, Daniel’s strong point is running so David Fairlamb has been pushing him with weights too. “Weights isn’t my strongest point so it’s more challenging for me than the running,” he says.
“Dave always gives me extra challenges at the end and he’s started giving us time and speed goals on the machines. He’s pushing everyone more than we thought we could.”
Daniel’s new-found energy will prove invaluable as he heads to London this weekend for the police basketball championships at the Olympic arena, and he intends to make use of the hotel gym and pool, as well as keeping on track with healthy options from the breakfast buffet.
“It doesn’t cross my mind now to eat anything than I shouldn’t,” he adds. “I brought fish and chips for the kids the other day and it didn’t bother me. Whatever they didn’t eat went in the bin, whereas before I would’ve finished it off.”
Although Steve Mountain and Emma Roberts couldn’t make the hiking trip due to work, they’ve both been upping their game at the gym and bootcamp sessions.
Steve, 32, a security officer from Redcar, says losing the most weight at the last weigh-in has motivated him to carry on.
“Work has been difficult because they never have skimmed milk in and I’ve had to take my own sweetners but it’s going well,” he says. “For ease I’ve been having turkey with veg and chicken stir-fries but I need to mix it up and add some more variety so I’ll be following Nick’s curry recipe and Ian’s soup recipe next.”
As for the interval training, Steve has progressed well. “I could only do two or three to begin with but I did 18 at the last session so I was quite proud of myself,” he says. “As it starts getting easier we’ve got to push ourselves the extra bit. Now the hard work is harder than it was at the start. I’m taking the dog out for a run now rather than a walk.”
Emma, 22, a care assistant, from South Shields, says: “I’m still sticking to the food David Fairlamb says I can eat, even though I’m so fussy. I don’t think I’ll ever stop being a fussy eater.
“Before Fit Factor I used to drink loads of Southern Comfort when I played darts but now I stick to water. The people from the men and women’s darts teams have all been so supportive. I have noticed my clothes are all starting to get really baggy. I’m looking forward to a shopping spree when I reach my target.”
Although Emma had never trained before Fit Factor, she was paired up with Daniel for some tough treadmill challenges. Says David Fairlamb: “She had to get below a certain time and everyone was shouting to encourage her. It’s the hardest I’ve ever seen her work out so that was brilliant.”
AN EYE ON THE PRIZE
With the half-way point approaching and the next official weigh-in scheduled for Monday, our Fit Factor contestants are almost half way to claiming their prizes. However it would seem that most of our Active 8 have their eyes firmly off the prize.
“Not one person has mentioned the holiday or any of the other prizes,” said fitness instructor David Fairlamb. “All they want to do is train as hard as they can to lose weight ... that’s their motivation.”
Here’s a little reminder of what’s up for grabs.
A two-week holiday to Dubai for two including Emirates Economy Class tickets from Newcastle to Dubai and £300 of spending money. Two adults will stay at the Hilton Jumeirah Residences for two weeks. The prize is valid for travel for one year from the date the prize winner is announced. Flight taxes and surcharge costs will be covered by The Journal. Visa cost will be covered up to the value of £40 per person.
The winner will also receive a six-month free membership at the Livingwell Health and Leisure Club at the Hilton Newcastle Gateshead, plus an hour’s spa treatment courtesy of The Ocean Rooms Spa.
Five runner-ups will receive a month’s membership at the Livingwell Health and Leisure Club at the Hilton Newcastle Gateshead, plus a 30-minute spa treatment courtesy of The Ocean Rooms Spa, and we’re in the process of lining up two more runner-up prizes to cater for the extra contestants we took on. For full terms and conditions, visit www.journallive.co.uk/fitfactor
NEXT WEEK: Don’t miss next Thursday’s Journal to see who’s lost the most weight at the half-way point – and we’ll be photographing the group to see just how far they’ve come in six weeks.