Hello & welcome to a brief overview of what proved to be the most testing but valuble year for me... where everything changed and forced some form of awakening mindset to rise. I hope people who currently are going through a difficult time can take value out of this read.
Being involved in health & fitness from an early age, I often reflect on how my body has been exposed to a variety of training methods and states through the years, as if being placed in some sort of science lab!
Football was my life from the ages of eleven to seventeen years old, playing at high level clubs such as Coventry City, Manchester United & Walsall F.C. I look back at these times with great fondness and am grateful for all the life and character building skills football gave me. Aerobic, anaerobic & functional fitness was key and I learned how to achieve all of these attributes through a number of extremely experienced coaches at the time. But there was always a pressure to do well and succeed, this had caused a great deal of anxiety for me back then and it destroyed me when I finally got released.
My goals then changed as I was released from Walsall F.C and I decided to veer away from football. I became an apprentice at eighteen at Holmer Park Health Spa and spent two years exploring the goal of putting on as much muscle mass as my frame would let me, I got to quite a hefty size! Typical young bloke I suppose eh! During my time there I officially got the gym bug and couldn’t stop experimenting with exercises and cycles of different training regimes, pushing my body to its limits. Through great mentoring of Neale Willets, I discovered great enjoyment in teaching classes such as circuits, barbell, core, LBT and of course spin bike classes which Is where I especially found my groove!
At Twenty one years of age I decided I needed to further my education, I enrolled in Cardiff Metropolitan University. Here I studied Sport & physical education, whilst also obtaining my master diploma in personal training and nutrition along the way. I met some amazing people in these three years and made some lifelong friends. My goals changed again and found myself wanting to play football again in the University 1st team. However, as the first year flew by, I found that my love for the game was diminishing and I was forcing myself to play more than anything. So I decided to leave the football behind and the void was filled by music. I fell in love with electronic music in Cardiff and the various sub genres of disco/ house & techno. Bought a pair of decks and began to explore how to mix and DJ with friends, having a lot of fun doing it, which later evolved into the building of the music brand, Discotek (another story!).
So, fitness goals changed in the last two years of university and I continued to explore the gym lab with the aim of shredding as much fat as possible, keeping lean. This involved teaching a bunch of spin classes a week at Lifestyle Fitness Cardiff, alongside an intense regime of resistance training involving super sets and circuits. My dissertation focussed on how to rehabilitate from a sports hernia and the dietary/ training needs to do so. This aided my ability to personal train on the side and help those who suffered with similar injuries.
Throughout my three years at university I was lucky enough to travel a great deal. This was through a company called Challenger Sports, where I coached football bootcamps to kids all over central Western America in states such as California, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Utah and Oregon. This was an experience for me I will never forget for as long as I live, having seen some extraordinary places and stayed with some heart warming and loving families who some I still stay in touch with today.
Post university I returned home to Hereford with lot more experience, not only in health and fitness, but in life. I landed a good job as Duty Manager at Holmer Park and I was able to continue to teach a variety of classes, issue nutrition plans and personal train clients. Initially it was a big struggle and found it difficult to adjust to the more tranquil life of the countryside. For the first 6 months or so of being back I sunk into a deep depression and I couldn’t not put my finger on what was wrong with me. Everything on paper seemed as though it was perfect, a good job, a girlfriend, a car, a home to live in, great people around me….I was stunned. I was no longer enjoying things I loved to do such as watch movies, play football, Dj, go out with friends, the only time I felt sane was when I was training or at work.
After much frustration and time wrestling with myself, those close to me urged me to go the doctors, (after me being a typical male in refusing the number of chances to go). The doctor confirmed the inevitable and I was (in clinical terms) "depressed". I tried a course of antidepressants but found they did not work and if anything amplified my anxiety, it was destroying me and I wanted to come off them. They persuaded me to try a different type called Fluoxetine which were a little better but still didn’t feel myself after some weeks. During this time I flew through a number of books on mindfulness and how to look at everything through a different light. Sitting with thoughts and not reacting, seeing a new perspective on things, these books were really helping. I first began reading these inspiring books in the first month of me being home and always saw that yoga was often mentioned in all of them.
This wonderful method came from studying those books based on mindfulness and how to perceive things In a more positive way dealing with the struggles the western world finds itself in. I began to self practice in meditation to start with and use all the apps and tools I could find to help me do so, to help quieten the mind and focus. After a month or so of doing this I began practicing asanas (yoga postures). I began to explore this new and exciting training method, not only on the body but the mind too. Yoga helps unify that mind, body & soul connection and I noticed the difference it was making to my mood, my outlook, not to mention my flexibility, (I was stiff as a board from all the football and heavy weight lifting!). The most important result of all the reading and self practice was that I was able over time to come off the antidepressants and beat depression’s butt. All I knew is that I did not want to go down that road again, so I became fascinated with enhancing both body and mind. Aiming not only to maintain my own physical and mental health, but to be able share my experiences with others who have gone down or going down a similar path.
I ended up taking a risk and left Holmer Park for a last minute opportunity that arose to become a certified yoga teacher in Goa, India. What better place to learn than the place it all began thousands of years ago I thought! What an incredibly authentic experience it was too, having being taught by some inspirational teachers out there who had practiced yoga through the generations. I made some lifelong friends there too who were also fellow students, all having many years of experience in the art of yoga. After a month of soaking in as much nutritional, practical and philosophical knowledge as possible, I was successful in my mission in becoming a certified teacher.
My goal is now to maintain this balance of body and mind, whilst still ever increasing flexibility, maintaining lean muscle and a good aerobic function. Presently, I find myself at the best shape of my life physically and mentally. And through high quality nutrition, resistance, aerobic and yoga training I have been able to achieve that balance and now aim to keep improving in each of those aspects. This would be possible through a healthy balance of all the training I had done over the years, alongside yoga. I have returned from India and started up my own yoga business (yogiPfitness) and also fortunate to join a team of superbly experienced, charismatic personal trainers at the PT1 facility in Hereford.
After several years of experimenting in a range of training methods in the “body AND mind laboratory”, I am excited to invite you all on to my next chapter. Which is to share all that I have learned over the years and hope to help you achieve whatever your goals may be and make a positive difference. Most importantly on how to lead a healthy balanced and happy life. I love my job as a lifestyle professional because my job is my life. I also want to thank the people I have met along the way who have taught me lessons and helped me grow whether they know it or not. And especially thankful for all the amazing support from my family and close friends.
Lastly, I urge anyone who has suffered or suffering from the grips of anxiety or depression to get in touch with those around you or myself and open out, you are not alone. Although it seems that way a lot of the time. Transfer that dark energy into light, bring positivity back into your life and use that power as a human being to create a better world for yourself and change your perspective. And remember, some things you cannot change, so don’t go wasting energy trying to change them. Be kind to yourself. Keep moving forward. LEARN from the past, BE in the present and PREPARE for the future.
“I am thankful for it all, the highs, the lows, the blessings, the lessons, the setbacks, the comebacks, the love, the hate, everything”.
All blog posts are written by Ross Powell