Nova International boss makes life-changing journey

AS managing director of Nova International – the company behind the Great North Run – Dave Newton was surrounded by fit and healthy colleagues who would often pop out for a run at lunchtime.

Dave Newton, managing director of Nova International
Dave Newton, managing director of Nova International

AS managing director of Nova International – the company behind the Great North Run – Dave Newton was surrounded by fit and healthy colleagues who would often pop out for a run at lunchtime.

Meanwhile, he would be grabbing bacon sandwiches, pasties, pork pies and cakes on the hoof as he rushed between business meetings.

“They were getting fitter and fitter while I was getting fatter and fatter,” says Dave, 52, who lives in central Newcastle with wife Sue, a PR manager for Barbour. “If you’re working for a company that’s all about health and fitness, you should try and reflect those brand values. I couldn’t promote a healthy message if I was overweight.”

Before joining Nova in 2001, Dave had completed the Great North Run five times, achieving a personal best of 2hr 10min. But although his job was to encourage people to take part in the world’s biggest half-marathon, he didn’t feel able to pin a number to his own running vest.

At his heaviest Dave reached somewhere between 17 and 18 stone but was reluctant to get on the scales to find out “the full extent”.

“I didn’t think I was that big until I looked at photos from before,” says Dave, who’s 6ft 1in. “As you see yourself every day, you don’t realise how out of shape you’re getting.”

Although he’d always exercised once a week – mainly cycling, running or aerobics – the real issue for Dave was over-eating.

“I travelled a lot with work so I was eating at strange times and snacking all the time,” he says. “I wasn’t eating massive meals but I was eating a lot of stuff and the wrong stuff.”

In addition to the snacking, a penchant for fish and chips, curries and pizzas plus those glasses of wine at business lunches soon piled on the pounds.

Although it hadn’t adversely affected his health, Dave found exercise was getting harder, he had more aches and pains and often felt lethargic.

Before long he was compensating by “doing the things middle-

aged men do.” He explains: “You get bigger and baggier clothes because they make you look thinner.

“You start wearing your shirt outside your trousers. You put your stomach across your belt so you can be a 32, even though your stomach’s actually a 40.

“On holiday you lie down on the lounger straight away because you don’t look as fat, or you get in the water quickly so no one can see you.”

For Dave, the key turning point was all down to two numbers – 40 and 50. The first because he was rapidly heading towards a 40in waist and the second because he’d recently reached his fifth decade.

“I was getting to the end of the rail in M&S,” he says. “I didn’t want to go above 40 and start having to get those stretchy trousers. And turning 50 I knew I needed to get fit and healthy as things might start to go wrong. I needed to change my lifestyle.”

Having met with trainer David Fairlamb to launch our Great North Fitness Revolution, Dave was inspired to turn things around.

But his first weigh-in came as a shock. He was 17st 10lb, with 30% body fat and a metabolic age of 66. Most worryingly, he had high levels of visceral fat – the dangerous kind that surrounds the organs.

“I left thinking what a mess I’m in,” admits Dave. “But I was even more motivated to do something about it.”

So on August 15, 2011, Dave started his new regime. As a former biology teacher who later worked for Procter & Gamble, he knew it wasn’t rocket science.

“My degree’s in biology so I understand it’s all about energy in and energy out,” he says.

Dave Newton before his weight loss

“I ate lots of protein and veg from above ground with no bread, rice or pasta and I exercised every day – mainly boot camps, running and cycling. The results were very quick and I lost a stone in the first month.”

One year on and Dave is now truly practising what he preaches.

He weighs a healthy 13st 2lb, his body fat has plummeted to 17.5% and his visceral fat is now excellent for his age.

He’s also proud to have a metabolic age of just 37, and is able to run eight-minute miles.

“I want to lose maybe another half a stone but the big thing now is to get my fitness up and get to 15% body fat,” explains Dave, who’s also lost eight inches from his waist and two inches from his collar size.

“I feel much better, much fitter with no aches and pains anymore,” he adds.

“I’ve got a lot more energy. our body gets used to being fat but once you get into that zone you feel completely different.

“It’s amazing – although I do miss fish and chips, bacon sandwiches and curry!”

His job has also taught him the importance of setting goals as a Nova survey once revealed that 54% do the Great North Run to give themselves a challenge to train and prepare for.

With that in mind, Dave has set himself two challenges – a Lands End to John O’Groats walk next May and the Great North Run in 2013.

“I would love to do it in 1hr 30min,” he says. “You never know, it could be Mo Farah, Haile Gebrselassie and Dave Newton coming up on the right-hand side!”

He’s also got a couple of charities in mind for fundraising too. “I’d like to support Leukemia Research because they’ve been massive supporters of the Great North Run over the years or the Stroke Society as my mum died of a stroke,” he says.

“When people around you start dying it makes you want to get fit and healthy too.”


IF you missed out on a place for the Great North Run, there are still other events with places:

Bupa Great North 5k, Saturday, September 15, NewcastleGateshead Quayside

A brand new addition to the Bupa Great North Run weekend, the Bupa Great North 5k sets off at 9am with a scenic route along the Quayside. Open to runners of all abilities.

Bupa Junior Great North Run, Saturday, September 15, NewcastleGateshead Quayside

The mini event has already sold out, and entries are filling fast for the Bupa Junior Great North Run. The 2.5km route is open to runners of all abilities aged nine-16.

For more information visit


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