Decades of Fitness
EVERY YEAR, WE learn something new that helps shape us into something more than we were before. My most notable life lesson was that failure is not a defeat if you learn from it, no matter how old you are.
I was an adult without all the real pressures of responsibility. I had money in my pocket, and I was a gym junkie. I also partied hard, but nothing stopped me from going to the gym – I loved to exercise, no matter what state I was in.
My gym was a testosterone-fuelled environment of males – and a handful of women – who all felt invincible—our collective desire to look super-hot.
I had four major knee surgeries from my late teens to my early 20s, two on each knee. Each time the cast came off, my muscle had withered to nothing. It was a demoralising experience, but fortunately, age was on my side, and my body healed quickly. Physiotherapy and a tenacious determination to get back to training epitomised my intrinsic fitness motivation.
It was a dizzy spell of highs and lows. But then real tragedy struck – my elder brother, a mentor and father figure, died in his sleep. My life went into a tailspin; I was a broken man.
What held me together was the commitment my brother and I shared to exercise. After seeing him in the mortuary, I went straight to the gym (our ‘church’) and sat in a haze below the chin-up bar – his favourite exercise. I recalled him saying, “If you look as good as I do when you’re my age [he was 12 years older than me], come to talk to me then.” I now say the same thing to my sons.
Life changed me. In my 20s, I had speed and recovery, psychologically and physically. My mid-30s felt like the age of physiological decline – had I already peaked? I was now in mid-life – a time of high stress for many.
My training was very different to what I had been doing in my 20s – I was now beginning to train intelligently. I knew my body’s boundaries and had nothing to prove by over-extending what I could realistically do. I was still competitive, but my calisthenic training and boxing involved compound body-weight exercises. Out went the heavy weights and specific days to train different muscle groups. In came common sense, discipline and no rigid rules.
I had only dabbled in yoga until then, but following a road accident, I became a regular yoga practitioner. Finding my way to a regular yoga practice was one of the best things that ever happened to me.
I hit a low point when the hip injury I was carrying from the motorcycle accident caught up with me, and I had to have a hip resurface. Post-surgery, I was back at the beginning again, yet this time around, I had a wealth of fitness experience behind me.
After the operation, my yoga, martial arts, strength, and boxing training never felt the same. Physiotherapists did what they could, but they had no real idea what I was going through. I had to do something, and quick. I set myself a six-month challenge to write my first yoga-based book called 20-21 and do all the poses for the illustrations myself. The book received excellent newspaper coverage and sold nearly every copy.
I developed my training into two programs: JUMPGA and KUN-AQUA. I trained world-class athletes and captains of industry and taught fitness retreats at the world’s top spas. I had overcome injuring every major joint in my body to achieve my imperfect perfect body – mobile, flexible and strong.
Since my last book, Lone Wolf – Becoming a Super-A, I have more compassion and empathy for others. I have become more open and better understand the world and people around me. It doesn’t mean that everything is perfect, but I am authentic and living each day as a new opportunity.
As was the case with all my previous decades, there is still drama! Shortly after my 60th birthday, I had bladder and bowel infections that caused me to pee blood, suffer incontinence, diarrhoea, fever and stomach cramps. I underwent investigations, including a prostate biopsy to rule out cancer. I was eventually diagnosed with E. coli and treated with long-term antibiotics. The physical and psychological effects have not gone away, and I still get bouts of the illness today.
My Super-A training continues to be entirely relevant for me and those who use it. It has been lauded at the world’s top spas and featured in countless media articles. I am the living proof of its success, and I’m here to give people the tools to become the best and healthiest version of themselves for the rest of their active life.