I've been a baker since 1985, following in the family tradition and working at different bakers across South London. I guess that going from being a baker to a personal trainer probably seems like quite a leap. It was the right thing for me to do though and the right moment so I wasn't going to let anything stand in my way. The trick with staying in shape when you work in a bakery is simply not to eat everything that you bake!
I've been involved in martial arts for about 23 years and this has allowed me to gain and maintain a high level of fitness, something which I'm very proud of. People often guess that I'm in my late 20s but I'm actually 47 and my physique is definitely down to my commitment to training and martial arts. I've competed in the UK National Championships, British National Team and am also a qualified instructor.
I've recently stopped competing in martial arts as I feel that it's a young man's game and that I have done my time. That said, I continue to be really passionate about martial arts and still instruct. When I stopped competing I started going to a gym as I realised that I would need to do extra work to keep up my fitness levels. Lots of people would approach me in the gym and ask me if I was a Personal Trainer. It was really flattering because everyone wanted to work out with me. So I knew then that becoming a Personal Trainer was the next logical step for me but I didn't think it was something that I could afford to do.
I initially did a college course in order to gain the qualifications I needed, thinking that it would be the most cost effective way to get where I wanted to be. I spent a year studying at college and gained my level 2 qualification. I then tried to get work in a local gym but was turned away as they only employed people who also had their level 3 qualification. I then realised that I needed to get my level 3 but didn't know how to go about it because I couldn't afford to spend another few years at college or pay the course fees up front.
I was over the moon when I saw the Training Room advert explaining the option to pay for the course by monthly instalments. Finally I saw there was a way in to the industry and I couldn't have been happier. I got in touch with The Training Room straight away and shortly afterwards made the decision to sign up for the course.
In spite of the payment plan I still decided to carry on working during the course so that I could keep my head above water. I travelled from Reading to North West London every day after the course to work in the bakery. I knew it would be hard work but I told myself "it's only 6 weeks; I have to get through this".
The course itself was brilliant. I learnt more in the first 2 days on the course than I did in a whole year at college. The tutors were second to none and were a real inspiration whilst I was on the course. I seemed to find level 3 easier than level 2 but maybe that was because I was completely immersed by then, living and breathing personal training every day for 6 weeks.
Once I finished the course I applied back to the same gym that had turned me away previously and got the job. I initially worked 15 hours for free each week and on top of that did my Personal Trainer sessions and tried to build up my client base. Within 2 weeks I had 21 clients. I then also started doing paid work at the weekend as a fitness instructor. After that I set up an abs class, it involves no sit ups or crunches so really intrigues people, it's become so popular that it's always fully booked.
I was made duty manager of the gym I work for after being there for only 4 months and hope to become general manager in the near future. Eventually I plan to move to Malta and start up my own business over there. They have the second highest obesity in Europe after the UK so I plan to do my bit to change that, I think they are in need of my abs classes!
Winston Errol Levene