I've dedicated this page to telling you a bit more about myself, where my story begins, and of course about my relationship and experience with the health and fitness industries.
The information is provided in a kind of answer-to-question format.
How did I become interested in health and physical fitness?
As a young child
My first recollection of being interested in having ‘muscles’, was at age 4 while living in Italy. Like most young boys, I was fascinated by superheroes and action figures. And the memory I have of my desire to be like those characters, is still vivid in my mind today.
I remember, much to my Mom’s frowning, that I used to check my biceps frequently to see if they were 'growing.' I'd been taking my cues from the images on the boxes containing my favorite breakfast cereal. They regularly showcased the top crime-busting warriors of the time, all with powerful statures thanks to their athleticism and compelling musculature!
Of course I was convinced that eating the cereal would increase the size of my arms :)
Although we’re talking about simple marketing in the portrayal of comic book heroes, it nonetheless had a profound effect on me, and I was sold ever since on the importance of muscular strength and a healthy physical presence.
What nurtured my interest and involvement in fitness?
My interest in physical training continued to grow all through junior and high school, which I attended in South Africa – home to a great sporting nation.
I was exposed to several events during all my schooling. I had opportunities to partake in running, rugby, swimming and Judo. I continued athletics during high school and also excelled at Karate.
At the same time I actively and passionately followed television coverage of cricket, tennis, football and motor racing events.
But what really had an impact on me, was the Mr Olympia contest of 1975, which was held in Pretoria. I saw bodybuilding greats like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco Columbu, Reg Park and Frank Zane competing against one another.
Wow! One could but marvel at these guys, and what they achieved with their bodies.
Shortly after witnessing that competition (as testimony to my connection to strength training exercise), I acquired the isometric device which Franco Columbu was endorsing at the time. Although today I’d consider it a useless 'gadget' (which it was), at the time I'd become a true supporter of the health and fitness game. I began working out and experimenting with several training ideologies.
I should add that, although I follow pro bodybuilding for entertainment and appreciation of the sport, it was never an intention of mine to develop a physique of massive proportions. Getting that big and lean is usually connected with a lot of expensive (and sometimes questionable) drugs and supplements – not to mention the physiological stress these have on the body.
Hence, the topic of professional bodybuilding (whether top class or 'physique' competition) per se, falls outside the scope of my goals, achievements, and my work in the industry.
I do however occasionally refer to some of the pro bodybuilding athletes, sporting greats (and their protocols), whose achievements and work have inspired me, and whose contributions I've followed (and continue to follow) closely over the years.
As a young adult
And so on to early adulthood. My appreciation for the health and fitness game never wavered. What became an even stronger influence on this, was witnessing the almost total disregard of healthy living or physical exercise by many of my friends and most of family.
It seems universally accepted, that after your school years or secondary education, you just kind of 'ease' into life and resign yourself to gradually growing softer and rounder as you become less active and less able to do anything about it.
Witnessing this decline first-hand by immediate family disturbed me a lot. And since I was a late arrival, I had many examples to observe and learn from.
Seeing the ills and neglect take their toll in infirmary, poor health and unsustainable medical costs, I decided that it would never happen to me.
(Huge mental note for later!)
So I actively chose to continue building on the fitness levels I achieved during high school. My condition stood me in good stead for what awaited me during military officer training in the late 80’s.
It was gruelling to say the least, although fortunately I was able to handle the rigorous training thanks to my familiarity over the years with sport, strength training and physical fitness as a whole.
The great thing about my Air force career, was that it also gave me the opportunity as a commissioned officer to work closely with cadet officers under training. This is where I cultivated my interest in Psychology and Communication.
I would later graduate from University in those fields.
So when and how did I begin specializing in the fitness industry?
Fast-forward 15 years and I had gained several years of professional work experience in the military and corporate sector, primarily in Personnel Management and Human Resources (HR).
Aside from my everyday work role, whether recruitment, employment, or other HR-related matter – people seemed to be naturally drawn to me for my help and collaboration. These were staff members at all seniority-levels with various issues – both personal and personnel-related.
It was extremely rewarding and satisfying to have been able to use my professional and learned skills with people who confided in me. I often found that these individuals in the workplace shared very similar wellness-related issues with one another.
Coinciding with my physical transformation in 2002, I also began coaching individuals on physical fitness, coping strategies and lifestyle programming.
This 'off-shoot' from my regular corporate role, kind of evolved spontaneously.
I began to I realize just how much health and wellness has become neglected in the workplace – especially in the corporate environment.
People are literally working themselves into poor mental and physical health.
Whether this is due to unrealistic work pressure, poor management or being under or over-committed, they tend to lose their balance between work and life. This predicament is especially true in the larger corporates and non-governmental agencies, where one can easily lose track of the real world.
Many of these entities constantly push the 'work-life-balance' agenda via their executive and HR mouthpieces. However, in reality, individuals remain under pressure to deliver, and invariably fall far short of the initiative.
The thing that disturbed me the most, is that the senior management in these monolithic entities constantly remind you, and want you to believe things like “the most important resources in our company are our human resources.”
Unfortunately though, reality speaks quite differently.
It steadily became clear to me that I could do more for people outside the conventional work place. By using my psychology skills and the health and fitness expertise I'd gained over the years, I could be more effective. I could assist them in their quests for better all-round health, rather than trying to help with work and personal issues in large organizations where the 'human' resources are still largely neglected or unsupported.
With that, I began to increase my focus on wellness coaching along with my work in HR.
What was the main reason for helping people achieve their fitness goals?
There is something powerful and truly rewarding when you share what you’ve successfully achieved, with others who want it really bad. Especially when you've seen first-hand what happens when you neglect your health.
It's both empowering and satisfying to be able to guide someone so that they too, with dedication, commitment and support, can realize and achieve great things.
It’s among my greatest callings.
How did the term 'Sensible' come to be used in my work?
My first physical transformation (in 2002), got me into exceptionally good physical shape – thanks to a practical and efficient program.
I adapted those protocols somewhat, in order to keep going over the long haul. For anything to be sustainable, you need an approach that is not extreme, but rather: "sensible", or you're bound to ditch the whole thing sooner-or-later.
Only a sensible approach will allow a sustainable lifestyle where fitness can co-exist alongside life's other demands, commitments and challenges.
I've managed to stay in excellent physical condition from that first transformation, right up to the present, thanks to this approach.
More specifically, the nature of the workouts and eating plan allow you to still have a life (especially if you're like 'Al', who's somewhat of an average everyday person).
It would be impossible to expect anyone like this to sustain an extreme workout program, where they’re training hard 6-7 days a week, and eating strictly all (or most of) the time.
You might achieve super-athletic condition and an ultra low body fat percentage, but you’ll not be able to keep that going.
Ask any elite sportsperson and they’ll tell you why there are 'on' and 'off' seasons – and why there's no place for 'normal living' in all of that.
It’s understandable if you’re 'pro', but if you're like Al, you need 'sensible.'
If I always led a 'healthy' lifestyle, why the transformation?
Throughout my adult years up to early 2002, I'd maintained a healthy condition through regular gym training, biking and doing the occasional hike.
Although these physical activities kept me in 'reasonably' good physical shape, I reached a point where I felt I was no longer satisfied with being ‘average’ – even though my health was in check, and I was generally happy with life. I wanted to take on the challenge of improving.
It would have been a missed opportunity if I neglected using the knowledge and experience I'd gained, and didn't become a better version of myself.
So it was time to turn my back on some old friends: the 3 square meals a day, and that gym program everyone else is doing.
This all had to be revolutionized. If I wanted change, I would need to devise my own fresh habits, plans and objectives.
And I'm glad I did.
Does my psychology and communication expertise have a role in Fitness Coaching?
Absolutely yes, without a doubt.
As you'll have gathered from the Home Page and the section on the benefits of exercise, not only do I emphasize the physical aspect of fitness training, and the nutritional requirements for successful transformation. I also consider the health-related and mental aspects of the people I coach. It's always about giving a 'damn', and making the effort to understand their individual situations and training needs as best I can.
In essence, any trainer can prescribe a fitness program, but that's merely a band-aid. A cookie-cutter method.
I don't believe that's the ideal solution.
The largest part of my work is dialoguing with my clients’ like Al, so that I can properly understand them and be effective in assisting with strategies, motivation and preparation.
In my view, these are the real aspects – the cornerstones of good, attentive and successful health and fitness coaching.
What's my main occupation today?
Besides HR Consulting, I run my fitness business primarily out of this website: (MyFitnessRoad.com), as Wellness Coach, Writer and Entrepreneur (as can be seen on my LinkedIn profile).
I work closely with individuals like Al, to guide them towards their lifestyle and fitness objectives (as outlined on the My Mission page), interfacing where required, with other professional associates and clinicians .
I hold a Master Fitness Trainer certification from the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA).
As the fitness industry is constantly evolving and regulating itself, there is a lot to keep current with and to try out. Much of my spare time is spent following industry-wide media on opinions, new trends in training and nutrition – while keeping myself as qualified as I can be.