I had seen the advert for the A12 programme a few times on Facebook, it was effective in grabbing my attention. The cynic in me was sceptical but the photographs showed great results and I was curious to see if it could transform how I viewed exercise.
I was looking for a challenge that could drive and motivate me out of the funk I was in at that point in my life. Exercising felt like an obligation, something that had to be done rather than enjoyed. During the A12 programme, I began to understand that I could make exercise part of a lifestyle, though it would require a sustained effort and commitment on my part.
In the past, I thought I could find a programme online and teach myself, but I was deluding myself. I ended up injuring my lower back. I had no set goals, no proper instruction on how to use weights safely and avoid injury, and my workouts were missing that all important word that took on new meaning with the A12, “accountability”.
During the first few weeks, I thought what the f*ck have I signed up to, however over time I realised that f*ck me, I could actually do this!
It was a gradual awakening, working out in the gym was the easiest part of the equation, the changes in diet, mental commitment and change in attitude took more effort than any workout the coaches challenged me with, but I immersed myself fully in the programme and the results speak for themselves.
Marks & Spencer used to be a second home for me, our divorce was hard, no matter how delicious their food was, I learned new ways of eating, the diet was clean and simple and made me look at food in a new light.
The A12 programme also taught me a lot about mental fitness. I learned to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. There were days when I didn’t want to come in but I pushed myself and that made me realise that I was becoming stronger mentally and physically. At times I was often sweating like a pig that hears the word bacon but somehow I managed to keep going.
The best piece of advice that I got when doing the A12 was to just keep coming back every day. There is no bollocks or pseudo-science throw at you with this programme, it ultimately comes down to hard work.
Every day was unique, everyone at the gym made me feel welcome; banter and diet tips were shared and there was a sense of community in the gym which I hadn’t come across in other gyms. Everyone was catered for, it didn’t matter how experienced or sculpted you were, Conor tailored the program to each individuals’ needs.
The A12 is as much a journey as an experience. I’m very happy with the end result but the real results can’t be seen or quantified. I feel stronger both mentally and physically, for me the A12 was about investing in myself.
This isn’t a programme for everyone as it will challenge and push you to your limits and then make you go beyond them for good measure. I pushed myself to the max and I enjoyed it, yes that surprised me, somehow I learned to invite and relish (most) of whatever was thrown at me and enjoy the burn.
Each of us comes to a programme like the A12 with a goal which can take you in surprising directions.