I have been wanting to start this little series for a while now, too many times have I heard silly excuses about why people can’t be healthy and get fit so I wanted to share with you a few people, friends actually, who have overcome things to be stronger, healthier and fitter than ever. People who are doing things that they were told they could never do or even just doing things that no one expected them to do! These people definitely inspire me and I hope they will inspire you too!
I have had this post, that Jon wrote for me, for absolutely aaaages!! (Sorry, love!) I have known Jon for years now, when I come to think of it! (Oh my god why are the years going so fast?!) He used to train me on a regular basis and was pretty much my first introduction to kickboxing which then fuelled my love for Muay Thai! Thanks, mate!! 🙂 Absolutely lovely bloke and I have loved watching his life unfold over the past few years, especially with regards to his personal and professional growth within the field of fitness. He’s not afraid to try new things and push boundaries and I recognise that as one of the best qualities a person can have!
Anyhoo, I’ll stop waffling! Over to you, Jon!
I’ve been wracking my brains trying to work out how to write this because I don’t know about you guys, but most fitness journeys aren’t always that interesting! I can’t watch all those fitness and fat loss programmes, all telling you the same old story! As for all the facebook posts written by many of my fitness colleagues… well, its probably best I don’t even go there! However, Hayley asked me to share and so, here I am. My journey into fitness and sport has pretty much been my entire life, I guess! It all started growing up in the 80’s, that era more than any other I think is responsible for the big business health industry we work in today, my TV and film hero’s were Arnie, Stallone… I even loved the Hulk! In fact I think at one point I would have preferred to be green and massive than small and normal! Growing up I did karate & boxing although the karate didn’t last long! I loved the freedom of movement and self expression boxing gave me whereas I hated all the rituals of martial arts, I always was a bit of a rebel!
Sadly my Dad died of cancer when I was 12 so I no longer had his early influence to guide me, my Mum did her absolute best but had more than enough on her plate bringing me and my brother up so, without my Dad there, pushing and guiding me with regards to sport, just wasn’t really an option.
My first introduction to a good old, spit and sawdust weights gym was aged 14 with my next door neighbour. He was a black belt in karate and after watching me constantly running around the neighborhood and boxing in the back garden, he offered to take me to his gym and show me the ropes. I loved it! The clanging of the weights, the banter of the guys who just all seemed absolutely huge to me, exactly like my childhood idols! All the posters strewn about of the famous body builders of the past… brilliant! For the next few years I continued to box but spent much more time in the weights section! I was a bit of a loner so it was perfect for me, I could go when I wanted and do what I wanted! As I moved into my late teens I was still hitting the gym but also started partying quite a lot with friends so the boxing took a back seat. By the time I left school the boxing had pretty much stopped all together.
Post school I decided to become a mechanic, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do but my dad had built Coaches for a living so I was brought up virtually living in the garage, covered in oil, whilst my dad messed around with the car or his motorbike. It seemed like an ok career, in that it gave me enough money to go out and to go to the gym, despite dropping off the boxing circuit, weights still featured heavily in my life. As most young lads, on their first full time wage, I thought life was pretty good! I never had overly high expectations and barely looked beyond the next payday, much like any other 20 year old. Then came the day I’ll never forget, during work one day I noticed an ache in one of my testicles. It got progressively worse during the day and slowly stared to swell to the size of a tennis ball. I went home and got into bed hoping I would wake up and it would be back to normal, only it didn’t. In fact it was more painful than ever. I had to go to the doctors who sent me straight to the hospital for tests, I already knew what was wrong but you’re never really prepared to hear those dreaded words ‘You have cancer’. Fortunately, thanks to the pain and swelling acting as a red flag, it had been caught early so the survival rate was high. The operation was a bit of a blur and I walked around like John Wayne for the next couple of weeks! I also needed 6 weeks of Chemo but then after that had been completed, I was told that it had pretty much gone and I could go back to life as normal, which for me meant ignoring it, acting like it had ever happened and for about 6 months or so, hitting the self destruct button like crazy. I turned into a different person and was drinking a lot and taking drugs, I didn’t really recognise myself anymore. I just wanted to forget it ever happened, self pity I suppose, something I’m not very proud of. Anyway, during all of this I was still going to the gym and still working full time as a mechanic but, I hated my job. Surprisingly it was a conversation with my mum about my future which triggered the idea of being a gym instructor, she said fairly casually one day, ‘you’ve always gone to the gym, could you not get a job doing that?’ Genius! I’d never even considered that I could turn my passion into a job! I booked on the next YMCA gym instructor course and by some stroke of luck (Editors note – I would call that fate! ;)) the gym where it was held, offered me a job whilst I completed the training. I spent the next 10 years or so studying everything I could get my hands on to do with physical fitness and nutrition. I went from gym instructor, to fitness manager, to operations manager, to club manager… you name it, in a health club, I’ve done it! I taught body pump, spin even aqua aerobics (although I don’t like to talk about that! Dark times… Haha!)! When I was 29 after realising that there was nowhere else to go career wise and that there was nothing really for me in Blackpool anymore, I decided to get out. I ended up getting a much coveted job as a personal trainer at LA Fitness, which at that time was a privilege (honest!)! It was here that I met my girlfriend Andrea Everimgham, an amazing personal trainer, class instructor and yoga teacher, to this day she is probably one of the most influential people in my life and career. I also started to get that urge to fight again – new start new city! I was actually looking for a boxing gym when I came across Straight Blast Gym owner Karl Tamswell, he pretty much changed my life, particularly my attitude towards training and the more mental side of it all. My first session there he tied my arms behind my back and told me to grapple with out the use of my attributes, I thought he was mad! I also thought I must be a bit mad, allowing myself to be tied up in a gym with people didn’t know and asked to fight. However, there is always a method to Karl’s madness and he is one of the best all round coaches in the mixed martial arts business. From that day on I was hooked on MMA! At first I just trained to learn the sport but Karl knew I was a strength & conditioning coach, so as I gained his trust he started to let me train the fighters. I’ve been working with Karl for nearly 8 years now and I am now one of the MMA coaches and also the strength and conditioning coach to the professional fighters at the gym.
I still get beat up on a daily basis but I’m learning all the time, wouldn’t have it any other way!
This is where my fitness journey branches off, yet again… My girlfriend and I, opened up a Yoga studio. Wanting to be the absolute best at everything I do, I went on the 300 hr Jivamukti Yoga teacher training in New York, which was full on to say the least!
I had the distinct feeling that the majority of people on this peaceful yoga course didn’t know what to make of me, this muscly, stiff, tattooed MMA fighter. However, never judge a book by its cover!
The guys on that course probably showed me more unconditional love than I’ve ever had in my whole life.
They supported me every day and in return I gave them lots of laughs! It was an amazing experience, one that even helped me turn Vegan! If you’ve ever considered trying a plant based diet, go for it! I can honestly say that its the best I’ve ever felt! I’ve been vegan for the last 9 months and feel fitter and stronger than ever! I have travelled the world learning and training from Muay Thai in Thailand to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in… wait for it… Brazil! 😉 I have trained in the world famous wildcard boxing gym with Freddie Roach to the world famous Gold’s gym on Venice Beach.
The last 20 years have been nothing if not eventful, the crazy thing is, I still feel I have so much to learn and now as I move into my 40’s and into 2014, my main focuses, professionally, are coaching (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Yoga) and personally, bringing balance to all aspects of my life. I would definitely like to complete an Ironman… I may in fact currently be working towards Ironman Lanzarote but, that’s another story for another day!
If I can offer one piece of advice to people new to the fitness game, it would be to never lose your passion for what you do and never, ever stop learning! If you can master these two things then you will be successful.
Right, I hope I haven’t bored you to much with my story! Here’s to the next 10 years!
Jon Bond (Just a normal guy, doing his thing)