Becoming Superman: How To Get A Body Of Steel

From mild-mannered reporter to Man Of Steel...

For new readers - new entries are at the top of the page, and you can catch up from the very beginning underneath the latest installment. Also, hello!

FINAL WEEK

It's been a fairly incredible final few days at Barry's Bootcamp.

I've been in every day (obviously), but last night was definitely the highlight.

Before my final class Sandy challenged me to run at 12.5mph at 60 seconds. Previously, I'd managed 45 seconds by pushing myself to my very limits, and 60 seconds sounded pretty darn daunting.

I accepted - as you may have guessed, I love a challenge - but immediately doubts crept in. Would I collapse on the treadmill on my very last day?

It didn't help that Faisal had decided to organise the class in five minute rounds - five minutes on the treadmill, five minutes working our core on the floor - which, for me, is by far the hardest style of session.

For example, at one point, we'd been off and on the treadmill so much I was pretty sure we were near the end of the hour - only for Faisal to chuckle and say: "Believe it or not Bootcampers, we're at the halfway point."

And, as it turned out, he had another surprise up his sleeve.

Faisal announced that we were about to do a 60-second sprint, pushing ourself to our top speeds. For some, that's 11mph. When I started, for me, it was 6.5mph.

Then, Faisal announced that, for the first time since I've been at Barry's, he'd be running on the treadmill with us - alongside me.

To run alongside a man who's been such a powerful inspiration - and, actually, such a good friend - was an absolute honour. And it made me hit that speed button, taking it up to 12.5mph for the full minute, completing my final challenge from Sandy. Happy is probably not a strong enough word for how I felt.

Speaking of challenges, it's time for the final stats. Firstly, I've managed to hit that ridiculous final target of dipping under 11 stone.

Only just, but it counts.

And, as for my final weigh-in, I was pretty flabbergasted by the results.

Oh, and while Jemma was giving me my last weigh-in, the Bootcamp dog, Crusoe, came over to say hello to me, then started licking my leg.

I'd like to think it was a congratulatory gesture, but to be honest, it was probably something to do with the sweat.


I'm still counting him as Krypto The Superdog.

One of the best things about this whole experience has been the sense of community I've experienced at Barry's, both with the trainers and my fellow Bootcampers, and this week was no exception.

Not only did I get a lovely parting gift from Faisal…

… But one of my fellow Bootcampers, Amy, made me a cake! And it was a bloody amazing cake at that!

Now, I'm basically going to do an Oscar speech for a bit, but get through this and there's a special treat waiting for you at the end of it.

First off, massive thanks to Jane Crowther and Matt Risley for being so supportive of the idea from the moment it was suggested - they were the first to believe in me, and this blog wouldn't exist without them.

Also, thanks to the rest of the Total Film team for their kind words and occasional healthy snacks. The treats are on me this lunchtime.

Thanks to Sandy, James, Ben, Jemma, Taylor, Jay, and all the rest of the Barry's crew - you're never getting rid of me now. Sorry about that.

Thanks to my mum, my step-dad, my sister, my little brother, and my best mate Jen, who have all been overwhelmingly supportive this whole time.

Thanks to Saj for being the best Batman I could hope for. And to Gav, for... Well, you'll find out about that in a minute.

And, of course, my profound thanks to Faisal - the real star of this blog. 

Oh, and thank YOU. Thanks for reading, commenting and Tweeting - you've all genuinely kept me going.

Now, it's time for that treat. When I started, I had the idea of filming my exercise journey - so people could see me work-out at the start, at the mid-point, and at the end.

But, instead, my Cape Expectations buddy Gav Murphy decided he'd much rather get me into a small room and film me with my top off for a time-lapse video, mainly because that's how he rolls.

This is fairly mortifying for me, but here is that video.

It's the end of the challenge, but not the end of the journey. I'm going to carry on going to Barry's - I'll be in class on Monday, in fact.

I'm going to indulge my head-off during the Christmas period, but come January I'll be back at Bootcamp.

So, when you make your New Year's resolution to join a gym, come and join me at Barry's - even if you've never tried any sort of exercise before, even if you're a film geek who watches an average of eight films every weekend.

Because if it worked for me, it can work for anyone.

And, to end this where it began… I started this process trying to emulate Superman, but, as it turned out, Superman already exists, and he trains people at Barry's Bootcamp.

Faisal Abdalla has provided the positive inspiration that got me to this point; he never tires, he's always optimistic, and he believes in you no matter what.

This quote is for him.

"You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders."

----------------------------------------------------

My name is Sam Ashurst and, for some reason, I've agreed to spend the next seven months transforming myself into Superman to celebrate the release of Man Of Steel.

We're one month away from the cinema release, and the plan is to make me look like Superman by the time the Blu-ray's out. Which is obviously insane.

The good people at Barry's Bootcamp will be helping me achieve this impossible goal, and I'll be blogging the whole process right here.

But how impossible is it? Well, currently I bench around 20. Slices. (Hawaiian).

Seriously, I'm not so much Man Of Steel as Sam Of Meal.


This is going to be easy.

I'm a film geek who watches an average of eight films every weekend, with my main exercise regime being 'throwing popcorn at my face.'

But I've always been utterly fascinated with superheroes, and the chance to get as close as I can to the greatest superhero of them all was too good to pass up.

As I'm human and not Kryptonian, I predict I'll have at least three hernias, one twisted ankle and some severely damaged pride by the end of this process.

This is going to be an exercise blog with a difference - I'll be completely and brutally honest about my journey, so expect bafflement and bewilderment and, I imagine, a fair share of embarrassment.

But, if I survive, there might just be a little bit of hope in here as well - because if the world's most unfit man can get in shape, maybe you can too.

Superman has given me an ideal to strive towards. I will race behind him, I will stumble, I will fall. But in time (hopefully) I will join him in the sun.

WEEK ONE 

So, yesterday (23/5) I had my first session at Barry's Bootcamp.

Because I'm a massive neurotic who has seen as many Woody Allen movies as I have superhero movies, I was pretty terrified.

As I made my way to the gym in Euston, negative thoughts swirled around me like Superman's cape.

What if the trainer's meaner than Zod? What if I fall off the treadmill? WHAT IF I DIE?

But, I thought to myself, I'm sure there will be loads of people there like me. Folk who've had one too many Friday night takeaways on a Monday / Tuesday / Wednesday afternoon. We'd all make each other feel better, by our mere presence alone.

Then I got there, looked around me, and realised I'd made a terrible mistake.

One dude was literally 7 foot tall, and he had the body of Brad Pitt in Fight Club… only buffer.

Everyone looked like they'd been raised in a gym by Spartans.

But, weirdly, it wasn't intimidating - everyone was really friendly, and encouraging.

Our trainer, Faisal Abdalla, was the nicest of all. He took me aside before we started, showed me how to work the treadmill, and assured me that, whilst it would be tough, I'd be able to go at my own pace.

But then the class started and I was not allowed to go at my own pace. Not one bit.

To be fair, as I've never exercised, my own pace is sedentary. Seriously, before I'd worked off half the calories of the sandwich I'd had before the class, I wanted to stop. But there's something about the Bootcamp atmosphere that pushed me on.

Perhaps it's the fact that when I started to slow / stop, Faisal called out encouragement ("Get back on it Sammy!") over a microphone that broadcast to the entire room (which contained around 40 Kryptonian-alikes) over loudspeakers.

This obviously sounds humiliating. But, for whatever reason, it actually gave me a boost.

But before you start to think this is a Rocky narrative that ends with me running up some stairs and punching the sky, I lasted about half the class before my body almost completely gave up.


Not me, yesterday.

The structure of the hour involved ten minutes on the treadmill, ten minutes on the floor doing crunches (who knew there were so many crunches? I thought there was one, turns out there are around 23).

By the second time I hit the floor, I could barely lower my body to the ground, let alone crunch. I kept going, obviously, but every time I glimpsed myself in the mirror I looked like a crab that had been flipped on its back.

On our way out of the room, we all high-fived Faisal - and as our hands connected, I muttered a 'Sorry.'

I'd felt like I'd failed, because I'd been the only one not to have any kind of flow when it came to the crunches. The class had moved so quickly, and I had no idea how to do any of the moves.

Faisal had demonstrated each exercise to everyone, but my brain was so fizzy, I didn't really take it in, so I had to observe other people. And even then I still wasn't sure I was doing it right.

Still, Faisal caught up with me before I left the building and told me I shouldn't apologise, and that "You did better than I was expecting. But then I did have low expectations [laughs]. I thought you were going to stop, but you kept going. We can't ask more than that."

I've got a feeling that won't carry me through this process for long. Expectations will increase, and my fitness had better keep up. But, for now, it was enough to send me on my way with a smile on my face.

As the blog continues, hopefully I'll improve. I'd better, or this is going to be the most drawn out humiliation of all time.

WEEK TWO

This week is very much a game of pwns.

First, my body pwned me. Two days after last week's session I was transformed into a very old man. I couldn't stand up straight when I walked, and had to rely on an elaborate system of pulleys to get me out of bed in the morning.

I knew there would be some aching after I exercised, but I didn't expect to feel like I'd been beaten up. After the first session I felt like Superman. Two days after, I felt like the dude in hockey pads in The Dark Knight.


Except fatter.

I'd put myself down for a Monday session, but had to cancel when it was clear that I probably wouldn't make it down the stairs, let alone complete a workout.

So, yesterday I went back to Barry's Bootcamp, and actually had a pretty incredible session. Firstly, Faisal sat me down and took me through a realistic nutrition plan.

Then I had my BMI test, which contained better news than I was expecting. I'll post the results when they're sent through to me but, as it turns out, I'm in the green for a couple of things, my body already has a surprising amount of muscle, and my bones are super strong (this is because I drink more milk than Alex in A Clockwork Orange).

I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm still obese and I have the metabolism of a 49 year old man, but let's take the good news where we can find it.

The session itself was fantastic. I was still broken by the halfway point, but I was able to push myself further this week.

The best part came at the end of the session. We were on the last 90 seconds on the treadmill, and I was ready to give up.

I was running a six (which is already pretty low), and was about to reach over and take it down to a four. But then Faisal appeared behind me and, over the speaker system, quoted the Man Of Steel trailer.

"C'mon Sammy, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun."

The quote instantly gave me shivers and I somehow managed to take it up to a 6.5.

90 seconds later, I could barely breathe, but where last week I left the class apologising, this week I bellowed "You legend!' at Faisal.

That said, I'm not especially looking forward to how I'm going to feel tomorrow. Has anyone seen my cane?

WEEK THREE

This week I'd like to talk a little bit about fear.

Through writing this blog, I've discovered that the fear I experienced before my first session at Barry's Bootcamp is actually fairly common amongst people trying out a gym for the first time. 

It makes sense; it's an alien environment full of the sort of folk films have taught us are almost always bullies (seriously, try watching The Toxic Avenger without developing a mortal fear of exercise equipment).


Look at these assholes.

Obviously my fear of my fellow exercisers has almost completely gone - everyone I've met has been so friendly so far. Though I still can't work out why literally everyone in all the classes look like models. 

But still, I've experienced a certain amount of fear during every session - I'll feel a twinge in my knee and worry that my leg is about to go, which would halt my progress. Or, I worry that I'm breathing too slowly (or too quickly), which would lead to me passing out on the treadmill. 

Having said that, I can actually feel my confidence growing as I move through the process. It's incremental, but I can feel myself starting to push through those fear barriers (and subsequently my physical barriers) more and more each time. 

Related to that, I'd like to take a moment to thank everyone, literally everyone, who has commented on this blog so far, or sent me Tweets. 

Your support, advice, and descriptions of your own experiences have been really inspirational - and has helped me push on during those moments where my body has felt like giving up. 

Speaking of which, this week I've stepped up from one session a week to two - I tried out Arms & Abs on Monday (by Wednesday I basically felt like I'd been arm-wrestling Jeff Goldblum in The Fly) and then tonight I'll be doing a full-body session (if I can convince my arms to work by then). Which is probably less saucy than it sounds. 

Apparently, that's the most intense of all the sessions - so, inevitably, fear will creep in again. But when it does, I'll just have to ask myself - what would Superman do? 

Which reminds me, by this time next week I will have seen Man Of Steel. I have no nerves on that front, only excitement. 

WEEK FOUR

As it's Man Of Steel week on Total Film, work has been fairly busy. But, obviously, amazing.

On Wednesday I hit the red carpet at the Man Of Steel European premiere, then yesterday I took part in the UK junket, speaking to Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Antje Traue and the director, Zack Snyder.

I managed to get exercise tips from all of those guys, and they were all incredibly supportive. One of them even gave me a hug. 


Spot the difference.

But most importantly, this week I saw the movie. Twice.

It probably goes without saying that I loved it, unreservedly. I'll be paying to see it a third time this weekend, too.

I'll be writing a piece on it for the site next week, and we'll be putting all of my junket interviews live then too.

But you're not here to hear about all that, this is an exercise blog, so it's probably time I talked about exercise.

Because of this week's schedule, the last time I went to Barry's Bootcamp was last Friday, but it was a fantastic session.

The full-body training is intense, but you can really feel the difference afterwards. Even though I'm about as close to being a beginner as you can get, I probably wouldn't recommend it for a first session - I'm glad I had the chance to work up to it, even a little bit. 

I'll be going again tonight, then next week I'm going to try to really step up the training. Ideally, going three times a week.

That's mainly because now I've seen Man Of Steel, I know exactly what I'm up against. Henry Cavill shirtless, in 3D, basically looks like a truck. A massive truck that someone has covered in muscles and sinew. Seriously, it's insane.

If I'm going to get even close to doing this, I need to put a LOT more work in.

WEEK FIVE

This week I've booked myself in at Barry's Bootcamp for a personal record of 3 sessions - Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

On Monday I was in for Arms & Abs with the co-owner of the Bootcamp, Sandy Macaskill.

As you might expect from the co-owner, he worked everyone incredibly hard. It might be because I'd had some time off, but it really did feel like my first ever session, all over again.

Sandy was also kind enough to spend time talking to me after the session. We discussed my personal limits, and he also gave me some great nutrition advice, I can't recommend his sessions enough.

Then Wednesday - Chest & Back - was ridiculous. I mean, at one point we had to run sideways and then backwards on the treadmill. I can barely run forwards!

Still, Faisal was back from his holiday and it was great to see him. He's the sort of person who lifts your mood by his mere presence alone.

Partly because Faisal's so inspirational, and partly because I was thinking of the workout advice Henry Cavill gave me (which you'll find in the video at the bottom of this piece), I was able to break through my personal barriers and run to an 8.1 mph speed on the treadmill.

When Faisal noticed the level I was on, he stood behind me and pumped his fists - a look of sheer joy on his face. It gave me the lift I needed to finish the class on that high standard.

It won't win me any medals at the Olympics, but for me, 8.1 was a real achievement.

I was already aching before I'd left the building, so I grabbed a protein shake on the way out, and got talking to a girl at the fuel bar, Hannah.

Man Of Steel came up (as it usually does when I'm around) and we started talking about my job. Hannah asked me if I'd seen Star Trek Into Darkness, and that her cousin was a baddie in it.

I assumed she meant he was a Klingon second left from the back, and asked what his name was. She replied: "Benedict Cumberbatch."

Then Hannah told me that she's an actress herself. I asked her if she'd been in anything I know, and she told me: "I've just finished shooting on Jack Ryan, with Kevin Costner and Chris Pine. But what I'm proudest of is probably Jakob The Liar, as I was the main lead alongside Robin Williams. Oh, and I was Anne Frank in Anne Frank."

As it turned out, I was talking to Hannah Taylor Gordon who, if you check out her IMDB page, is kind of a big deal.


Shown here with Liev Schreiber.

I can't believe that I thought that people in the gym would be intimidating when I first started - from Hannah's love of Batman (did I mention that she loves Batman? Because she totally does), to Faisal's Chris Nolan obsession, to Sandy's kind advice, these are definitely my people.

Anyway, speaking of cool people, I spoke to Zack Snyder and his Man Of Steel cast last week, and got a whole bunch of workout tips. You can see those below.

 

WEEK SIX

Believe it or not, I've actually been to Barry's Bootcampfive times since my last update. Once on Friday, and then every day this week so far.

Because there's so much to discuss, I'm going to do some mini-updates.

Friday: During each session, the Bootcamp trainers play music at a nightclub level volume. Mostly, it's pop music - Rihanna / a song that I assume is called Bass Down Low / other stuff that will probably produce a Pavlovian response to run if I ever hear it out of class.

But on Friday, Faisal started the class with the Man Of Steel main theme - which obviously inspired me to push myself further than before - I hit 8.4 mph on the treadmill.

Faisal's also started a new exercise - a seven minute run in which you cover as much distance as possible. The main challenge is to run a mile in seven minutes, and I managed just over half a mile (.66). So, uh, room for improvement? 

Monday: Arms & Abs with Sandy - which included one of the toughest exercises I've ever done. Basically, we had to hold a resistance band at a 90 degree angle with one hand, then rep curls with the other hand. Sandy said we'd be doing it for 30 seconds (only when exercising do you realise how long 30 seconds can be). But when that finished we had to carry on for another 20 seconds. Then 15. Then 5. Then 3.

Still, we ended the session with songs from the Drive soundtrack, so it wasn't all bad.

Tuesday: Butt & Legs with Faisal, which I thought would be easy, but - as it turns out - the legs contain the biggest muscle in your body. Despite hitting 8.8 mph on the treadmill, by the end of it I could barely walk.

But, you know, in a good way.

Wednesday: Chest, Back & Abs with Faisal. Because I could barely walk from Tuesday's session, I did double-floor - which meant I did the insane floor exercise for an hour.

One of the exercises involved staying in a high plank, doing a push up, then when you came back up, lifting a hand weight behind your back. Writing all of this down, it does sounds like I'm basically willingly allowing myself to be tortured.

But, you know, in a good way.

Thursday: Core & Abs with Faisal. This is probably the point where I realised I'm becoming addicted to the gym. Despite feeling tired, weak and hungry - I still found myself walking down the steps into Barry's, with the usual smile on my face I get when the smell of the place hits me.

And - in-between doing 23 different types of crunches with a medicine ball - I managed to end the session by running to a 9.1 mph on the treadmill. Only for 30 seconds, mind you. But considering my absolute top speed when I started was 6.1 mph, that's actually pretty cool.

Faisal even said as I was leaving '9.1 Sam, Jesus.'

That's something else I want to highlight about Faisal, and Sandy - no matter how full the class is, they always take note of how fast people are running, picking people out and calling out praise to the rest of the group.

There's a misconception about Bootcamp exercise that it's all drill sergeants shouting 'C'mon you dirty maggots!' but it's actually one of the most encouraging environments I've ever been in.

Which probably explains why I'll be going down those steps again tonight - let's see how long I can keep this up.

WEEK SEVEN

As I've got my first full month of stats, I thought I'd discuss some results this week.

Firstly, my BMI stats, which measures what I've achieved between the 30 May and 1 July.

As I actually started at Barry's Bootcamp on the 23 May, it doesn't measure my full journey, but it's a great marker.


Not pictured, my baffled face.

As you can see, I've managed to lose body weight and body fat, but I've also lost muscle mass. As I have to eventually look like this:


Oh for god's sake.

That's a bit of a problem. But the trainers at Barry's assure me that I have to lose the weight before I build the muscle, and I trust them implicitly. They haven't failed me yet!

And as people have asked me for before and after pictures, I've put together a quick comparison image. This is basically me this week looking at myself two months ago.

I probably wear this shirt too often.

Next week I'll be back to the usual descriptions of my red-faced flailing around the gym desperately trying not to swing a medicine ball into people's faces, but I thought it would be interesting to pause and reflect on what I've achieved so far.

WEEK EIGHT

Because of The World's End excitement (stay tuned for lots of cool videos on the site next week) I've only been able to get to the gym twice this week.

But as I seem to have become genuinely addicted to Barry's Bootcamp, I'll be making up for lost time by going to my first ever weekend session tomorrow.

So, on Saturday night, I'll be working out. Which is something I wouldn't have guessed I'd ever say a couple of months ago.

Also this week, the kind people at Maximuscle sent me a selection of protein shakes, pills and bars to help me with my challenge.


I drink your protein shake. I drink it up.

I've only just started the programme, but I can already feel a difference. For example, after taking the Thermobol tablets I definitely felt an increase in my energy levels - and was able to push myself to 10.3mph on the treadmill on Tuesday night (and you should've seen Faisal's reaction when he noticed - he practically exploded with joy, then shouted "Are you kidding me?" I seriously couldn't have picked a better mentor / trainer).

However, the tablets given me so much energy I'm not sure if I'll ever sleep again.

I've also started taking the Promax Lean shakes (strawberry). It's a taste I've yet to become accustomed to, but I can't argue with the results. Despite the fact I haven't been able to go to the gym as frequently as usual this week, I'm actually at my lowest weight for about 10 years.

Whether that's down to the shakes, or the fact that my metabolism age is finally starting to get close to my actual age, something's definitely working.

Having said that, I'm not sure if I'm completely compatible with the supplements.

Time (and my flabby tummy) will tell.

WEEK NINE

This week Barry's Bootcamp had a party. But, because it's a Bootcamp, it wasn't just any party - we had to exercise through it.

On Saturday night a live DJ set up some decks and played the latest club hits (I know all the terminology), while a sold-out class hit the treadmills and the floor. Meanwhile, all around us, Barry's employees covered in neon frolicked and danced.

Faisal somehow managed to maintain his composure throughout - in fact the energy levels seemed to bring out the best in him.

If you can't imagine what that might look like, Barry's put together a video which you can see below. It was exactly as fun as it looks.

The video wasn't ready by the time this blog went to press. So have this instead. 

As well as Saturday, I've managed to make it into the gym a further four times this week - Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Yesterday I had my first injury - I pulled a calf-muscle. Nothing serious, I imagine I'll walk it off this weekend. 

And there will be a lot of walking - in about half an hour I head off to Latitude with the rest of the Total Film team.

This means I'll miss out on Friday's regular Full Body session - which is actually my favourite of the week. But, you know, Latitude.

In terms of my energy and nutrition - I fell off the wagon in a big way last weekend (I blame Patty & Bun burgers, sausages sandwiches and whoever invented the Fajita) but i've been back on the diet this week, and seem to be continuing to lose weight.

It seems that once you are getting regular exercise you can afford to slip up a tiny bit. That's something to bear in mind for those, like me, who have only just joined the gym - if you do slip up, keep going, you can pull it back.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to bust out some of the above dance moves at a music festival. If you're there, come over and say hello. 

WEEK TEN

It's been a while since I last updated my Boditrax stats, so this week I tentatively stepped onto the scales at Barry's Bootcamp.

I was a little bit nervous about the results, as last weekend I was at Latitude, and you know what music festivals are like. Messy. That's what they're like.

As it turns out, I wasted the worry I should've been using on stuff like nuclear war and who they're going to cast as Batman.

Because, actually, the results were impressive (for me).

I've started to put on muscle for the first time since the process started, and that 6.7kg of weight I've lost is the equivalent to a newsworthy baby. And here's what that looks like.

I've made it into Bootcamp three times this week - which doesn't sound all that much, but as my calf muscle still hasn't repaired itself, that's a lot for me.

And it meant I had to do an hour on the floor each time, which is a killer.

Faisal carefully plans each session so that during the ten minutes on the floor you're pushed to your limit, ready for ten minutes on the treadmill, where you're pushed to your limit in a different way.

So, to be pushed to my limit for ten minutes of resistance bands and hand weights and crunches and bicycle kicks and all the rest of it, and then to have to do it all over again… Let's just say it's been a tough week.

Not that I'm complaining, mind you. But I do miss the treadmills. Good Zod, I never thought I'd say that sentence.

Still, with all this upper body work, maybe I won't be so nervous the next time I have to update my stats. Actually, no, I will. I definitely will.

WEEK ELEVEN

 

It's been a tough week at Barry's Bootcamp, and not just because it's been Hell Week (basically, where clients are encouraged to do a full Monday - Sunday programme, at a discount price).

I haven't been participating in Hell Week (just while my calf heals - I'm doing 4 sessions this week), but that doesn't mean I haven't had a tough time.

For a start, on Wednesday, Faisal decided to hit us with the most insane push-up challenge ever invented.

Designed to train marines, the Bring Sally Up challenge basically involves following exercise instructions according to the lyrics of the song 'Flower' by Moby (which features in Gone In 60 Seconds).

You can see what that looks like, here:


At around the halfway point I was lying prone on the ground, face down in my own sweat. And, because I was doing an hour on the floor, I then had to do it again ten minutes later.

Still, I got through it, and made it to Thursday.

Last night was one of my favorite ever sessions on Barry's. I was back on the treadmill for the first time in two weeks, and it felt incredible.

I'm not sure if it was because my muscles have had time to heal, or because I was so relieved to be back on there, but I ran the furthest (if not the fastest - I'm back down to 9.5mph from 10.3mph) I've ever gone at Barry's.

Oh, and on a slightly different note - there was so much sweat in Barry's last night Faisal was able to powerslide on it. Twice. Which was fun. 

I'm now on holiday for two weeks, so the blog's going on holiday too. The next installment will be on Friday 23 August.

But don't worry, just because I'm going on holiday doesn't mean I'm not going to be exercising - if anything, I'll be doing more.

I'm going to try to add a daily swim into my Barry's schedule, and, on Sunday, I'm starting martial arts training with Sifu Marc Davis. Because if Superman's going to have to fight Batman, I'd better be ready.


And guns are still frowned upon in this country. 

So come back on 23 August for a mega-blog, detailing how I've got on. That is, if I survive...

WEEK TWELVE - FOURTEEN

Because of a bit of the old annual leave, it's been three weeks since my last blog entry. Unsurprisingly, there's plenty to talk about.

Since we last spoke, I've started to learn martial arts, I've gained a new trainer at Barry's Bootcamp, and I've started swimming regularly to support my work at Barry's.

But before I get to that, let's get this week out of the way.

By far the most significant thing to happen in the past seven days is I hit a new personal best, I ran to 11mph.

This was such massive progress for me, Barry's co-owner Sandy came running across the floor to give me a high-five when Faisal announced it.

When I came out of the changing room Faisal shouted 'Sam Of Steel, I love this man!' and told me how proud he felt of me. Sandy told me that when he heard I was on 11mph, it gave him a surge of adrenaline.

It feels so amazing to hear this from people I genuinely look up to, and am amazed by. I can't believe that I was so scared of that first session - so many people at Barry's feel like old friends now.

Anyway, now, to my holiday exercise.

Firstly, the martial arts. I've only had two sessions with Sifu Marc Davis, but already his kwoon feels like home. Partly because Marc himself is so calm, down to earth, and welcoming.


Look at how happy I am.

Much like the first time I went to Bootcamp, I had false preconceptions going in - I worried that there could be an element of ego involved, but almost immediately it became clear that Marc is a Sifu straight out of a Shaw brothers movie - patient, quietly wise, and almost impossibly fast.


And cool. Did I mention cool?

As I say, I've only had two sessions, but I'm already starting to see the individual moves I've learned coming together. Marc's teachings have been defense-led, but those defense moves so easily turn into attack.

It makes sense to learn so many defense moves - as Marc says, "kung fu is not aggressive, it's a way of life."

And it's fascinating to learn about the pressure points in the body, and the pinches you can use to disable an attacker.

One of my favourite elements so far has been to learn how to relax and let my body flow, to use my opponent's energy against them. Well, that and whenever I'm allowed to hit the wooden dummy - it makes me feel like I'm training in Ip Man.

In the last session, I started to learn snake and tiger methods. I'll update on my progress as it continues. Let's hope that by December I'll be ready to defend myself against Ben Affleck.

The highlight of my Bootcamp holiday probably came on Tuesday 6 August, when I ran to a new personal best of 10.5mph on the treadmill (which was obviously impressive until I hit 11mph), which caused Faisal to bellow at the top of his voice, "I love you Sam!"

To celebrate, we went to a local cordon bleu restaurant (Nando's) afterwards, where I was permitted a chicken salad for dinner. It was ace.

The lowpoint was probably Wednesday 7 August, when my BMI result showed that my festival food / time off the treadmills / drinking with librarians had finally caught up with me - I'd put on body fat and lost muscle mass.

It was a blow, especially as, at that point, I'd been getting up at 5am every morning to go lane swimming, and I felt like I'd been pushing myself harder than even at Bootcamp. But it gave me new focus.

On the Monday, I not only did Faisal's class, I signed up for Taylor James' class straight afterwards. Taylor has a different style to Faisal; he does more reps in shorter periods, for example, but they compliment each other well.

Taylor plays movie soundtracks as part of his sessions, and when he ended on music from The Place Beyond The Pines I genuinely nearly wept. Partly because the film is amazing, partly through relief that my two-hour double-floor period was finally over.

Anyway, the end result of all of the above was that, by Friday 16 August, I was able to hit my own initial target of losing two stone - way ahead of my final deadline.

To mark the occasion, Barry's took a picture of me holding the equivalent weight of how much I've lost so far.


Look at me struggling to hold it. Just like Superman would!

Let's hope that by December I've put on enough muscle to be able to hold that weight without my whole body shaking.

To see how far I've come, here's a picture of me in April, just before I started this whole process. Also pictured: Harvey Dent.

Oh, and this week it was officially announced that Man Of Steel will hit UK stores on 2 December (pre-order it here) - which means I have 14 weeks of my challenge left. Time to step it up even more.

WEEK FIFTEEN

It's been a tough week at Barry's Bootcamp, mainly because I've been pushing myself further.

Because Monday was a sunny Bank holiday, Faisal's 7.50pm class was fairly quiet. Which meant that, as I was doing double-floor, I essentially had a personal trainer for half the time.

Faisal took advantage of the situation, and tailored those sections to me, giving me extra help. Which was obviously really beneficial - I could feel myself pushing through the pain barriers more than I have before.

That's definitely one of the hardest things about Bootcamp - convincing yourself to carry on when it starts to really hurt. Everyone has their own techniques, and mine is slightly weird.

Though not as weird as this. 

When it starts to get really difficult, I repeat what Henry Cavill told me about his fitness regime when I interviewed him for the Man Of Steel release - "Your barriers aren't your barriers." - over and over in my head.

Occasionally, when it really hurts, I even mutter that phrase under my breath. Which I'm sure really helps to convince whoever's working out next to me that I'm totally sane.

On Wednesday Faisal was off, and Taylor covered his class. By the end of it I was a wreck. It was Chest, Back & Abs, and Taylor really worked us hard. I was hampered slightly by a sprained wrist, which meant the planking sections were really tough. And there was a lot of planking.

Then, yesterday, it was Core & Abs, which is by far my most difficult day. Despite the fact I've lost so much weight, I've still got weaker (flabby) areas, and my lower stomach is definitely one of those.

Tonight we'll be trying something different - I'll be hitting the bench for some focused lifting. It's going to be an intense end to a hard week. So, I imagine tonight's class is going to involve a fair bit of muttering.

But it hasn't all been difficult. One of the things that gets me through weeks like this are the friendly people at Barry's.

I've talked in the past about the trainers, but the people behind reception, the people who work at the fuel bar, and certain other clients are just as warm and welcoming, and have kept me going on this insane journey.

This week I'd like to highlight Ben Starr.

It's always a pleasure to see Ben, and whether we're talking movies, or geeking out over video games, our chats at the fuel bar post-workout always give me an extra boost. Oh, and anyone who marks my protein shake like this - as Ben did this week - is all right by me.


Thinking of making this legal by deed poll. 

Oh, and last night I was press-ganged into signing up for the latest Dance Party. I loved the last one, but as I have martial arts on Sunday, I was planning on having Saturday as a rest day.

But thanks to Phoebe on reception and my fellow client Amy, I've signed up for tomorrow's party. It would be great to see you there. If only so you can laugh at me.

WEEK SIXTEEN

I'm way past the halfway point of my ridiculous challenge now, and I can see the finish line hazily approaching the horizon.

With  Man Of Steel out on Blu-ray on 2 December, I have less than three months to go to become Superman.

Sadly, this week I was reminded of how human I actually am. My body of flesh has started to complain a bit - I've had a sore calf, my left wrist has felt sprained whenever I've put pressure on it, and my lower back has also been rebelling. Oh, and this week I left blood on the punchbag during my martial arts training. But more of that later.

Bizarrely, I've also fallen off the wagon when it comes to my eating habits. Instead of a cheat day I had a cheat weekend, which basically meant KFC on the Saturday and a Chinese takeaway on the Sunday.

Which is ridiculous. I haven't come this far to lose focus now, and have been dutifully attempting up for it this week by basically eating nothing but salad and boiled eggs.

But despite my various human failings, I'm still hugely enjoying the challenge.

Since we last spoke, I've been to Barry's Bootcamp five times and I've had another session with Sifu Marc Davis.

Despite my aches and pains, it's been a good week at Bootcamp. The main highlight came on Friday. Fridays are generally quite quiet during the 7.50pm session (because people apparently have social lives at that time - imagine that!) so Faisal has taken advantage and has worked out a lifting plan for me, in an attempt to help me put some actual muscle on.

It was tough, but I could feel the benefit the next day. At least, I hope that's what that pain was.

As for martial arts, it was my third session with Marc on Sunday, and I found the whole experience intensely satisfying. And that's despite the fact I got a bit over-enthusiastic on the punchbag.


This never happened to Superman.

I'm really starting to see the individual moves Marc teaches come together now. It's still early days, but my confidence is growing.

When I first decided to incorporate martial arts into the challenge, my casual comic-reading friends mocked me, because apparently Superman doesn't do martial arts.


Suck it Dave. 

I mean, obviously he totally does - but that's not the most significant contribution it's making to the challenge.

This will probably sound utterly preposterous, but there's something about knowing that if someone was to attack me I could defend myself that gives me a minuscule glimpse at the serenity and confidence Superman has. I used to get a bit scared walking through crowds of hooded drunks at night, but that's gone now.

Cut to me getting actually stabbed and mugged in real life by hooded drunks next week because I think I'm a comic-book character.

Oh, and the other big thing this week - Ben Starr has majorly stepping up his game when it comes to his Fuel Bar protein shake art. I was blown away when I found this one waiting for me last night.

I may not end up being Superman by the end of this, but I'm going to have a lot of cool memories. This is one of them.

WEEK SEVENTEEN

It's been a bit of a weird week where the Body Of Steel challenge is concerned.

For a start, I got some advice from the one and only Stan Lee last night on how to be a real-life superhero, during an interview that'll be on the site next week.

"You've got to get a good costume, so when the artist draws you, you look very dramatic," Stan said. "But the biggest challenge is not getting yourself killed, because in the real world the bad guys use real bullets."


I love this man

Which, obviously, is fairly amazing advice. But what I probably should have asked was how to stop myself from eating.

Now, I'm going to talk about weight for the next few paragraphs, so feel free to skim-read the next bit.

As we get towards the finish line, I'm focusing more and more on my weight. As I've already hit my own personal target to lose two stone, I really want to try to lose three stone by the end - but this last bit is proving to be the most difficult of all.

When I started, I was 14.6 stone. At the weekend, I dipped below 12 for the first time ever - hitting 11.13 1/4 (okay, so it's only just below, but still).

I got so giddy I took a ridiculous selfie of me flexing my (not particularly impressive) muscles. It went round the office the next day, which was fairly mortifying. And now I'm putting it here.


Will I never learn?

Unfortunately, my weight has fluctuated loads, veering between 12.4 back down to 12.0 1/2 as of this morning. That elusive 11.6 seems a long way away.

But that's where Barry's Bootcamp comes in. I've been in every day this week, and I plan on going again tonight.

I've managed to push myself a bit further on the floor, and it feels like I'm lasting longer on the treadmill before giving myself a little break for water (whilst breathing like I'm Sandra Bullock in a Gravity trailer).

It's all gone by in a bit of a blur, and at one point on Wednesday I found myself carrying on with one floor exercise a few moments after Faisal had told us to stop. Hopefully it was entertaining to the people standing around me.

Bootcamp isn't just about exercise though. Last night I spoke to Taylor James about my weight dilemma, and he gave me some nutrition advice that's stuck with me.

After I told him about a mid-week trip to Subway that I was feeling guilty about, I tried to justify it by saying "But it's low in calories!" He replied "Don't focus on calories, focus on the quality of the meat - is it a good cut, or has it been stored and processed?"

That kind of blew my mind a little - and from next week onwards, I'm going to be preparing my own lunches, cooking extra chicken before bed so I can prepare chicken salad for the next day. And with the money I save on M&S salads, I'm going to buy Star Wars action figures. Win win.

Oh, and one last thing from this week. Ben's Fuel Bar art just keeps getting better and better.


Look at those colours! 

WEEKS EIGHTEEN & NINETEEN

It's been a frustrating couple of weeks as far as the challenge is concerned.

Last week, I had to take some last minute time away from the office, which meant taking time away from Barry's Bootcamp.

It was a weird experience - my body had time to heal, but my brain really missed the endorphin rush I get from working out there.

Then, this week, I've had a bloody cold. It's almost as if the virus was waiting for me to take a break before striking. Superman never had to worry about this stuff.

Probably because he keeps himself so hydrated.

On Monday my editor Matt Risley told me not to go to the gym, to give myself a chance to get better, but because I'd missed so much last week, I went to the gym. On Tuesday, my editor Matt Risley told me not to go to the gym. I went to the gym. On Wednesday Faisal told me to stop going to the gym. And I… stopped going to the gym.

Now, both of these people care about my wellbeing, but when the man who spends the majority of his time shouting at you things like "Remember why you came here tonight! If you drop out, get straight back in! Ignore the pain! Feel the burn!" is telling you that you need a break, you probably need a break.

So, I didn't go to Bootcamp last night. And I probably won't go tonight. And then next week I'm on holiday. See what I mean when I say it's been frustrating?

Still, maybe it's a good thing. I've been non-stop since I started, and I do need to pace myself as I approach the finish line. The temptation now is to go two, three times a day - to pack in as much as I can before the final 2 December deadline - but that's probably the path to injury.

And, thanks to Taylor's dietary advice, despite the fact I've missed so much Barry's over the past fortnight, I'm down to 11.12 3/4 stone, which is the lowest I've been yet.

This final push is going to be completely different to the rest of the challenge, as this really is it.

For the past five months I've always had at the back of my head 'Ah, we've got ages yet' Now, we don't have ages - we've got eight weeks.

And I've got a feeling these last eight weeks are going to be the most challenging of them all.

WEEKS TWENTY & TWENTY-ONE

Since my last update, I've had a birthday. Which means I've eaten about 23 tons of drool-inducing food, including a special Game Of Thrones birthday cake, which my brother's amazing girlfriend made for me.


A heart attack is coming.

Unfortunately, the Gods Of Krypton decided to make delicious food almost exactly as bad for you in relation to how good it tastes.

It's simple maths.

But my birthday wasn't all bad news for the challenge. I attended VivaVHS' VHS all-nighter at the PCC as a birthday treat to myself, and Dale (VivaVHS himself) gave me a Body Of Steel themed present.



Look at it, just look at it.

Here's a close up of one of those tapes, mainly because it copyrights the phrase Men Of Steel which is a) ridiculous and b) makes me glad I didn't do this challenge with a friend.


Also explains why this isn't the title of the next movie.

But forget all of these birthday shenanigans, I've already banged on about the fact I was born on a day in the past way too much on my Twitter account, you don't need to hear it here as well. You're here for exercise, and it's exercise you shall get.

I'm not sure what's happened to Faisal recently, but he's turned MEAN. In the nicest possible way, obviously - he does it all with a smile on his face, but Bootcamp has been even tougher than usual for the past couple of weeks. And not just because I've been eating my body weight in cake.

We were also sent a huge Sharknado cake this week. Send. Help.

I made it into Barry's Bootcamp four days last week, and tonight will make it four days this week, and every single session has left me feeling as broken as I did when I first started.

Because I was on holiday last week, in order to keep up with the program I did a couple of daytime sessions, both of which involved five minute rounds. That means we did five minutes of sprinting on the treadmill, before going straight onto the floor for five minutes of intense weights / planks / push-ups / crazy thrusts before swapping over again, and again, and again. It really did feel never-ending.

Normally we do 10 minute rounds, or occasionally 15 minutes (which we did this week and, again, felt like the hardest thing I've ever done).

The fact that any deviation from the 10 minute sets made me feel like I'd never exercised before really backs-up Barry's theory that the body needs to be tricked occasionally, because habit is actually detrimental to pushing yourself.

And one of the motivational techniques Faisal used during those morning sessions really had an impact. While we were in Dynamic Mode (basically powering the treadmill with your own legs, rather than trying to keep up with its automatic movement), he told us to imagine we were running to rescue a baby in trouble. Before that, my highest on dynamic mode was around a 7.7mph. After he said that, I hit a 9.6mph. Because what would Superman do?


To be fair, he'd probably fly.

All of this means that, weight-wise, I'm almost exactly where I was when I started Eat-Fest 2013. I'm still a long way away from that 11.6 goal, though.

Still, there's six weeks left and if there's one thing this challenge has taught me, is that there's power in positive thinking.

I've had a lot of lovely feedback along the way, with lots of strangers telling me they've found this blog inspirational. I don't plan on letting them down as I get closer to the finish line.

WEEK TWENTY-TWO

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you'll know that I've definitely been eating like Superman for the past couple of weeks.


He has a high metabolism.

Luckily, Faisal read my last blog as essentially a Bat-signal, and swooped down to dispense justice. Or, to put it another way, give me a balanced nutrition plan.

Now, I can't really go into detail on the plan, because that's one of the ways Faisal makes his living, but I can reveal I've discovered a passionate love for prawns.

Not this kind, sorry dude. 

It's been kind of amazing, I've dropped 2 pounds and am now (finally) getting closer to that target weight.

I've also got closer to another goal this week.

When we run on the treadmills, trainers give us target speeds - for beginners, intermediates and experts.

So, for example, if they're being tough, they'll call out 8.5mph beginner, 10.5 intermediate, and 12.5 for seasoned Barry's Bootcampers. To put that into context, when I first started, I struggled to hit 6mph.

But as I was struggling back in May, I resolved that, before the end of my time at Bootcamp, I'd hit 12.5mph - the top speed we're given.

On Wednesday night, I managed to reach 12mph for the first time. I'm sure I looked like a cartoon character, but I felt like The Flash.

Specifically in issue #115.

I'm so close to both of my main targets, all I need to do is stay injury-free and they're achievable.

The only area I'm really behind on is muscle mass. I think I'm resigned to the fact I'm not going to look like human-truck Henry Cavill by the end of this process, but I would like to bulk up a bit more.

I've definitely put muscle on (before I started this process I thought biceps and triceps were creatures from the Jurassic era) but I'm not sure how noticeable they are to anyone who isn't me.

Still, this week I managed my first 15kg one-handed close-grip chest-press - so all I need to do is keep pushing past my boundaries and I'll get there in the end. Hopefully.

Before I go, I figured you guys would be interested in seeing this video my martial arts Sifu put together, in which he breaks down film fights and shows you how to recreate them (in the presence of a qualified martials arts instructor - don't try this at home, folks). 

WEEK TWENTY-THREE

It's been a bit of a rollercoaster 23rd week at Barry's Bootcamp.

On Friday, I updated my BMI stats for the first time in a couple of weeks, and was presented by some fairly astonishing facts.

Not pictured: my jaw dropping

The most surprising element for me was the metabolic age section.

As I've previously mentioned, I had the metabolic age of a 49 year old man when I first joined Barry's (that wasn't a joke, sadly) - since then, I've lost 20 years. 

Basically, I've done the exercise equivalent of Superman spinning the earth backwards.

Except, in my case, it was more difficult.

Then, on Monday, I weighed myself and found I was the closest I've ever been to that final losing-three-stone target. This was ridiculously exciting.

So much so that, for some reason, I took a picture of the scales.

With only 1/2 stone left to go, and with the metabolism of a 29 year-old man fueling my progress, I decided that the only thing to do was eat.

So, when my boss Matt Risley offered me a burrito for dinner (twice) this week, and when a massive promotional chocolate cake came into the office - I, like an idiot - decided I could indulge.

Then, yesterday, we went for a PR dinner with the lovely David Cummins and Becky Brynolf. We went to Dip & Flip.

Which, luckily, sells health food.

I mean, I could always lie and say I've lived off salad all week, but I don't think that would help anyone. Since I started this blog I've been as honest as possible, because I genuinely want to help people like me get healthier. And part of that involves admitting my - occasional - mistakes.

But I'll be back on Faisal's amazing diet next week, and we'll see how far I can get.  

Still, there have been high points this week. Thanks to Faisal's motivational skills I managed to hit 10.3mph on the treadmill… In dynamic mode.

Dynamic mode basically means that, rather than the treadmill controlling how fast I run, I make the treadmill move with my own speed. Which means that 10.3mph is actually almost as impressive as when I hit 12mph on normal mode.

Oh, and on Monday night a stranger approached me, asking "Are you the film guy?"

It turned out to be celebrity blogger Zoe Griffin, and she immediately complimented me: "You look amazing. Because you used to be a FAT MAN."

I tried to mishear this as 'Batman', but the description was accompanied by a mime of what appeared to be a heavily pregnant woman, which made it difficult.

I bumped into Zoe on the way out as well, and she told me that her 65-year old mum signed up for Barry's after being inspired by my blog, which was really lovely to hear.

Since the early days of blog, I've wanted it to be inspirational. After all, the ability to inspire is one of Superman's greatest powers.


That and flight. 

Speaking of inspirational, Ben Starr encouraged me to lift myself on the pull-up bar for the first time ever this week (previously I couldn't get halfway), which was amazing - even if he did have to help me get down at the end.

My reward? The best fuel bar art yet - a mash-up between Man Of Steel and Game Of Thrones. Brilliant.

Krypton is coming.

Oh, and weirdly, despite the fact I've eaten for two this week, I weighed myself this morning expecting the worst.

Only I found that I've lost more weight, and have actually dipped below my target.

That says 5 1/4. It's blurry because I was crying. 

I literally have no idea how that's happened. Perhaps I've slipped into Bizarro world and eating burgers actually makes you lose weight. I imagine it'll catch up to me when I return to the real world next week.

Also, I'm trying not to think about how much I could've lost if I had actually stuck to Faisal's incredible nutrition plan. Still, from next week until the end, I'm on it. You'll see!

Before I go, I got some workout tips from the cast of Thor: The Dark World at the weekend. You can see those below.

WEEK TWENTY-FOUR

I'm into the final month of the Body Of Steel challenge, and I've started to really reflect on my journey over the last five and a bit months.

So it's probably appropriate that, on Tuesday, I was approached by a fairly lovely young man (Olly) in the changing room, who - after asking "Are you Sam?" said: "You're the reason I'm here, I read your blog - so it's your fault I just went through that hell (laughing). I've seen how much you've changed, so I thought I'd give it a go."

Forget my speed / weight-loss targets (actually, don't forget about them, because I'll bang on about them again in a minute) - this was always, always my main target (you can see it in the opening statement of my very first blog entry); to lead a more healthy life, and, in the process, try to inspire people like me to do the same.

I mentioned it last week, but to me, that's the very essence of Superman - he brings out the best in humanity, by being the best example he's capable of.


Oh, All-Star Superman, I cannot count the ways I love you. 

And, contrary to the cliche - that's not easy for him.

People have the misconception that Superman is his real face, and that Clark Kent is the disguise - but it's not true. Superman is a symbol - and it's a symbol that the real Clark Kent (who can be found on the Kent's farm, not at the Daily Planet) struggles with.

Anyway, whilst Olly definitely isn't anywhere near in as bad a shape as I was when I started, talking with him really took me back to my early days of Barry's Bootcamp.

He even said that "Because I've watched so many films, I assumed everyone was going to be a bully - but they were so friendly." Which was so exactly my experience I felt like I was time traveling.

But I'm not at the start of my journey, I'm at the end.

I only have a couple more of these Friday blogs to write (My last blog is on on Friday 29 November, but I have a couple of long weekends away before then).

So I'm happy to report that I've managed to eat approximately no burgers this week, which means I'm still losing weight.

Which is a shame. 

But the most significant event of the week is I managed to hit that 12.5mph treadmill target.

It happened on Tuesday night. It was the final round of a series of one-minute sprints. Faisal had told us to run at 6mph for 30 seconds, then to go as fast as we could for the final 30 seconds.

As I was running the 6 fairly easily, I remembered how difficult I found that speed when I started - so when Faisal called out to start pushing the button up, I was suddenly compelled to at least try 12.5mph. And, somehow, I managed it.

Unfortunately, Faisal didn't witness it, so I then had to do it again on Wednesday. And straight after - somehow - I managed to beat my dynamic mode high-score of 10.3mph - hitting 10.4mph.

Man, I'm really going to miss this when it's all over. Never going to Barry's again is going to feel a little bit like I've been covered in Kryptonite.

Still, there's plenty to do before then - I need to set new targets, so I can end this process on a real high.

If you had told me that dipping under 11 stone, and running 45 seconds at 12.5mph would be within my reach when I started this process, I would probably still be laughing now.

But if I really push myself for these final few weeks, there's a possibility I could achieve them.

And speaking of smashing challenges, I thought Ben had done his best Protein Shake art last week, but this week involved a stencil. Look at it, just look at it.

WEEK TWENTY-FIVE

Now, this week I'm going to open with a story that's fairly embarrassing for me but, as it will hopefully be quite revealing for people who are struggling to achieve their goals exercise-wise, I pretty much have to tell it.

As I've mentioned before, Barry's Bootcamp is essentially full of perfect people who appear to have been going there since they were first created in a lab.

I'm constantly sneaking glimpses of these Euston-based Adonises, then looking at myself in the mirror and - obviously - falling short.

On Friday, it was the usual routine. I took a glance to my right, saw the arms of the dude lifting weights a couple of benches over from me, and absentmindedly thought: "He's got nice arms, I'll never look like that."

Then I looked up a bit, and saw my own disappointed face gawping back at me.

Because it was a relatively quiet class, I'd been looking at myself in a mirror I hadn't noticed before. I'd been jealous of my own arms.

Now, this story makes me look a) stupid and b) vain, but I'm telling it for a very simple reason; it's pretty psychologically revealing.

It's really easy to compare yourself negatively to the best people in the gym, and to allow your brain to view your own body as a glass half full (of burgers) - but once I removed the 'self' from self-examination, I was able to see myself as I actually am, which isn't as bad as I thought.

Obviously, when I told Faisal this story, he gave me a quick high-five before bursting into a fit of giggles - but there's a lesson there that's pretty valuable to anyone just starting out: Don't be too hard on yourself.

It's a pretty good realisation to come to - especially as, after this, I only have one more blog to write. That's because I'm away on a work thing next weekend, then the following week I'm taking some annual leave (I'm going home to watch Doctor Who with my family - I may be slightly less large size-wise, but I'm still a massive geek).

But before that, there's some other stuff to discuss from the past seven days.

On Monday I achieved one of the targets I set for myself last week - running for 45 seconds at 12.5mph.

Which was great, until the next day, when my legs rebelled and decided they didn't want to carry me anywhere, ever again. I was, for all intents and purposes, a Romero zombie.

Consequently, I've had to take two rest days this week, instead of the usual one. Which feels like a waste, especially as my Barry's time is so limited now. My schedule means I've got nine classes left, which feels insane.

In the next, last, edition of Body Of Steel, I'll be revealing my final stats, and a very special surprise (hopefully). So come back on November 29, for all that - and to find out if I've achieved my goal of being a man who can fly into the sun.


 

Comments

    • DrSax

      May 24th 2013, 13:18

      Good on ya Sam of Meal. In seven month's time you'll be able to spin a bully on his diner stool and push the Leaning Tower of Pisa straight. That, or your heart will explode. Either way, it'll make a great blog story.

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    • ssjtom

      May 24th 2013, 14:32

      Fun read, and a great idea. Look forward to reading the rest of the articles.

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    • bamaefule

      May 24th 2013, 14:38

      Good stuff man. Pointer from me would be to slowly change your diet! Nothing too drastic, but the grease shouldn't factor into the diet anymore haha. Weights and cardio are your best friend as well. Can't wait until Man of Steel! June 14th

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    • Thomgp

      May 24th 2013, 16:40

      Good luck sam! I send you good energy from méxico, and i hope you achieve to become the Man Of Steel that you have inside you, good luck sam, I´ll read the rest of the articles.

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    • sashurst

      May 28th 2013, 15:40

      Thanks for the kind words gang, I really appreciate the support and advice.

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    • Benmorse

      May 31st 2013, 16:28

      Well done Sam! ten years ago, I dropped 6 1/2 stone, and was larger than you. I've kept it off, but reading this takes me back to when it started. It gets easier, you will feel incredible... after you've felt like dogs**t for a bit. Eat right, follow the trainer, you'll be absolutely transformed. Keep going! YOU CAN DOO EEEET!

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    • kunibarleta

      May 31st 2013, 17:43

      A superhero is someone who's willing to throw in one more punch after the last one has been thrown. You can do it man! ps. It might help to wear a Superman shirt while working out.

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    • matthewbishop

      Jun 3rd 2013, 9:47

      Absolutely brilliant, Sam. We've all been there, wondering what to do; are we doing it wrong, is everyone looking at us? But in a few month's time, when you're the one that knows what they're doing and you look over at a noob who's struggling, you realise that you don't think "foolish man", you think "go on my son!". Great article and I'll be following with great interest.

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    • Ryma2014

      Jun 7th 2013, 15:15

      Reminds me to start gym.... Good luck Sammy by week four it'll be second nature..

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    • Akthebigman

      Jun 10th 2013, 4:58

      Your story is inspirational man, I'm a big guy too, 300 but husky. I saw the Trailers to Man Of Steel and am amazed. But one also must recognize and remember Kevin Costner, "Your not just anyone, one day your going to have to make a choice, your going to have to decide the man you want to grow up to be, whoever that man is, it's going to change the world." And Ben Parker those is in a different story but good moral lesson, "With great power, comes great responsibility."

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    • Andy85

      Jun 22nd 2013, 7:55

      Best of luck Mr Ashurst. I hope you have an official 'before' photo so that you can compare it to an 'after' photo. I am looking forward to seeing the final result ;p

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    • Hadouken76

      Jul 12th 2013, 16:28

      Is there any reason why this hasn't left the homepage?

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    • sashurst

      Jul 19th 2013, 9:46

      @Hadouken76 It gets updated every Friday, which is why it moves to the homepage.Thanks for reading! @Benmorse @kunibarleta @matthewbishop @Ryma2014 @Akthebigman @Andy85 Thank you all for the truly lovely comments - I've been moved and inspired by all of them. You guys keep me going, thank you.

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    • Hadouken76

      Jul 19th 2013, 17:10

      @sashurst Oh sorry, I thought it was just a one-off. Wow, I admire your commitment, wish I had the money for a full gym membership. My brothers do weight-training and swear by Pro Mass and Creatine. Keep up the good work!

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    • thedude2

      Jul 30th 2013, 18:38

      Well done and keep it up. Isnt it great to have so much more energy and strength. You can achieve your goals!! :) But as a Personal Trainer I am curious to know why you are doing abs three times a week?? Plus, please have some integrity and dont promote Thermabol tablets from Maximuscle (or any company). They do not give you energy, and they do not burn fat either, they are just clever marketing preying on peoples emotions (as it all is). But dont let people think these things work. They dont, and there is no scientific evidence to prove they do. Plus, Maximuscle sell some bars, one for fat loss, one for mass gain. Guess which one has the highest sugar content!! But because its low fat its for fat loss, apparently. Show some integrity please. Maximuscle do not make good supplements, whether they are free or otherwise.

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    • joshchang

      Aug 23rd 2013, 23:53

      Awesome job losing so much weight! You look amazing bro! Now you just gotta hit those weights to pack on the muscle! Have fun with all that time on the bench!

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    • stefanvh

      Sep 30th 2013, 8:33

      Just created an account to compliment you on your journey! I've been reading all your updates, and I admire your commitment to this! I'm excited to see the result, and I'll hope yo u'll stick to some sort of training regime :) Keep up the good work, it takes the mentality of a hero to change your life for the better.

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    • totallymovies

      Nov 8th 2013, 20:46

      Can't wait to see Batman vs. Superman movienewzdotcom/man-of-steel-2/

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    • polydroogie

      Nov 19th 2013, 18:27

      Hey Sam! I've been reading this blog almost since its inception and let me tell you that YOU ARE THE BEST! I comeback on a weekly basis to see if you have achieved your goal. It's very inspiring and I really enjoy the way you write. Hope you achieve your goal!

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    • evelyn70

      Dec 1st 2013, 15:33

      until I looked at the draft four $5591, I be certain that...my... best friend was like actualey erning money part-time from their laptop.. there moms best frend has been doing this 4 only about twelve months and just now cleared the dept on their appartment and got a new Lotus Elan. look at this website,...WWW.JUMP85.COM

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    • Gorty

      Dec 3rd 2013, 12:58

      Sam, you should of better watched documentary "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead" because it would of helped you more.

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    • CaptainCrazy

      Dec 4th 2013, 13:56

      I never commented here, but followed your activity closely and all I can say is, "Well done, Sam" followed by a dramatic, slow handclap while nodding in approvement. I am on a diet this year and you've been an inspiration. See you next week.

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    • Hadouken76

      Dec 5th 2013, 11:48

      Briiliant work! Keep it up. I have been following Jason Ferrugia's Muscle gaining secret 2.0. Its good stuff, he teaches you that you don't need to waste money on expensive powders and gym time, you can do most of the exercises at home for an hour with just dumb-bells. Every chapter has been written with a newcomer in mind, so it doesn't throw you in at the deep end. Its well thought out and peppered with a little science (but not too much) to keep you on the right path. Like you have to be a certain BMI before you can even begin. I tried it for a month and people were commenting on how big my arms were! I wasn't even showing them..sorry if this sound like spam..

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