My Name Is Sam

Updated: Apr 15, 2019

HI, you might have landed here after filling out a form to start a free service at The Raw Gym, or you've just stumbled here... so, if you've a few moment, take a read and see how much of this rings true for you.. Looking forward to meeting you.

This is the story and his pursuit of #fitness nirvana, you might recognise him, you might be him, hopefully this will inspire you to persevere and maybe even visit #TheRawGym in #Ballymena.

Hi, My Name Is Sam and I know what you’re thinking … ‘hot stuff’…

Well, I’ve not always been like this, infact, I only just got started a few months ago, by the way, the guy next to me IS ME from about three months ago… so this is like a before and after.

So, here’s my story, it might sound familiar and might inspire you a bit.

Back when I was at school I was into all manner of sports, well, the sports which required balls… I could put them exactly where they needed to be, over bars, through them, against a wall, over a net , through a net… I was so good that my only problem was where to store all the trophies…


I then went to university where I passed with a 2:1 in Klingon politics, little did I realise at the time that all I’d end up doing is a job selling paper clips, nine to five, day in day out… I’ve been doing this job for …erm… 1….2.. many years.

So.. to get over the pain of not being a CEO of a major company (thanks uni) I kinda fell into the drinks after work, followed by take away meals…

Anyway, as the weight crept on, work colleagues would tease, I became known as the human hoover o Sam the f, I know it was all meant to be a joke, so I laughed it off…

Then one day… it happened…

we got a new member of staff join the team… and when she walked in, all I could notice were her great big beautiful eyes.. While I’d like to talk to her, i’m a bit conscious that I’d be punching well above my (substantial) weight.

Oh yeah, I remember a time where she was eating her lunch and had left a sandwich, one of the guys in the office walked up to her and shouted over to me.. ‘Oi Sam the fat man , you’ll have this spare sandwich won’t you’… I’ve never felt so embarrassed and well… that was the thing which motivated me to make a big change in my life…

Every day is take away day

After several more days of takeaways and beers after work, I finally started to look up gyms…

I didn’t want to spend much money as i’m always skint, so went with the cheapest gym I could find, it was called ‘Fitness Hurts’, I went down to have a walk about.

Be unique like everyone else

This gym was was basically a huge warehouse filled row after row of machines, it kinda looked like a war cemetery in the uniformity, there were people, loads of people, all robotically doing the same things while watching big screens, then on the upper level I saw huge weight lifting guys who just loved checking themselves out in the mirror…

Ahh well I thought, its only 25 quid a month, cheap and cheerful, sounds like a bargain, so I signed up, paid a month in advance plus some other fee, the total came to seventy quid.. so much for cheap!

The next day I put on my trainers, shorts and t-shirt and headed to gym, hung about by the reception to see the trainer who was meant to show me how to use the machines, after waiting for about twenty minutes I was told the trainer was busy, so off I went to figure out how to use the machines by myself It struck me as odd that I drove to the gym to then run on the spot, but hey, others were doing this, so it must be okay…

Drive to then Run on the spot

I started off slow then built up to a fast walk, then a jog and back to walk. This got boring fast so I moved over to the weights section, and core blimey, how do these tiny weights feel so heavy!... I felt a bit silly, didn’t really know what I was doing so stopped and went home.

And that was day one….

Then came day two, same sort of thing, except this time the gym was busier and I felt really self-conscious , while on the running machine I could hear people sniggering behind me, it might not have been directed at me, but then when lifting some weights people kept looking at me and you know… it was really off putting… oh, and that trainer was still too busy to show me around.

Super busy gym, time to wait

Then came day 3, which was Saturday morning and so busy that I had to wait ten minutes just to get on a running machine, then similar waits for everything else, ques for everything, after being in the gym for an hour, id actually exercised for all of 15 minutes… I felt that this wasn’t working out for me at all… didn’t enjoy this, I felt like they just wanted the direct debit and didn’t care whether I was there or not… oh, that trainer was still too busy to see me.

So, that was week one of the gym and I kinda hated it, I felt less confident every time I went in that place, so it’s time to try something else… for a while…

Having a laugh at my expense

The teasing about my weight continued at work, as did the teasing about the gym and my ‘dropping out’, even though I explained the huge waits and poor service.

Google is my friend and I soon found a weight loss group, how tough can this be? It’s called ‘Loser United’… to be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of the name…

Free often mean something else

Anyway, the website said it was free, but when I went to sign up, it turned out to quite costly, it cost thirty quid a month plus the second month paid at the same time plus an admin fee (surely I just did the admin myself by signing online) , the total came to seventy quid again So far I’ve paid £140.. Hopefully I’ll start losing more pounds of weight and less pounds of money.

The day arrived where the first meeting took place, in a community centre… we sat in a big crescent and the instructor was stood out front, who then basically did a 15 minute sales pitch for ‘Loser Bread’, apparently it has fewer calories than regular bread, slice for slice… I believe this to be true as the slices were tiny !

Then came the next bit, we all took turns to stand on some scales, the ladies and a bloke in the front row all started tearing up, others outright sobbing and the person next to me who I was sure was here by accident, as she was stick thin, was punching the air celebrating another 2 grams of weight loss.

The instructor then went to berate the gainers for not sticking rigidly to the diet, only Losers are winners, or so she claimed…

Eat dust and lose wight diet

Session over I was given a copy of the ‘Losers Diet’ which had been predetermined to be good for me somehow, even though I never spoke to anyone about my diet or what I even like… anyway, this diet info was full of food I don’t even like plus ‘loser shakes’, so many shakes… twice a day, every day.

I meant to go to the gym, but the thought of it sent a cold shudder up my spine, so I thought I’d best at least start on the Loser shakes..

Unfortunately I had to take the shakes into work, I say unfortunately as the Loser branding was all over the shaker… this led to the obvious teasing… At the end of work I was starving, so popped into the take away for some proper food… ahh.. that’s better…..

Then came the next meeting of Losers which was missing a few people from last week… and another lecture began. This time it was on healthy snack bars , which were tiny, followed by the dreaded weigh-in, more tears and again that skinny lass who somehow lost another 3 grams. Someone really ought to tell her she doesn’t need to be here… Again, the group was berated for not sticking to the diet, and when I ‘confessed’ to my ‘sins’ I was then singled out as an example of someone who simply doesn’t care and that if I’m unwilling to stick rigidly to the diet then I should think about if this is what I really want to do…

Flip… I nearly wept a bit myself at this, it seemed that my choices were not going well, and I vowed that I won’t be back.

So, feeling demoralised , I cancelled the gym membership, which then required I pay a cancellation fee of £30 , the same story for Loser United, so the first month has cost £200 with the net result of me feeling slightly lost and depressed.

Work continued , my old habits became less restrained and the weight continued to pile on, all while the teasing continued…

So… with fingers crossed I searched google for another gym in Ballymena and they all looked the same, you know, massive spaces, mirrors everywhere, plus huge lines of machines etc. Been there done that, wasn’t for me.

I fired up Facebook and oddly enough I had a gym advert front and centre on the screen…. ‘The Raw Gym’… er, okay… ‘Exclusive’… erm.. sounds pricey (I’ve just lost £200 this month).. ‘Personal’, hmmm… okay, like that ‘personal’ trainer at Fitness Hurts who never showed up once I’d paid?

I read on, still feeling a bit cynical… it mentioned that it’s a private gym where it’s just me, nobody else… no waiting for kit and so on…. So I went onto the website and well, it looked pretty interesting then I saw the month fee… it’s £40 a month which was a bit more than the other gym.

I filled out an enquiry form for a free consultation, just to see if there was a difference. The same day a trainer phoned me up and we spoke for about half an hour, talking about the Fitness Hurts and Losers situation, that I wanted to lose weight and I didn’t want to be single… not sure why I mentioned that bit, other than I felt listened to…

The next day I visited The Raw Gym for a free consultation, this place is in a wonderfully tranquil location., impressed so far. As I parked, the trainer came out to meet me , then we went into a space called the Hub (New Leaf Hub) and this looked really cool, an art studio with astro turf flooring and colourful paintings and things everywhere. What kinda gym is this?

We had a cup of tea, spoke again about some stuff and Mark (the trainer) took some measurements, blood pressure, lungs and so on… So this was all new.

Then we took a look at the gym facilities , and well.. this was different, much smaller than a regular gym, well, in my mind it was two indoor studios (three if you count the hub), plus an outdoor bit with ropes and tyres and so on… I noticed that all the kit was terrific, all professional top end stuff. I was then reminded that all the facilities are just for me, nobody else during my workouts (unless I bring a friend).

In my head this meant no more funny looks, people sniggering and I wouldn’t feel self-conscious while starting on tiny weights… then when the trainer told me I’d always be the fittest person in the gym, well, that made me feel kinda awesome ..

I pointed out the lack of a running machine , the trainer told me to look around us… fields, a running trail, countryside, great views and so on, and it clicked… run outside.. it seems really obvious now…

I signed up to a £40 per month plan with trepidation, and refreshingly I was only charged £40, no other made fees. Pleasantly surprised.

Then came day one and the Starter Pack. The trainer was actually waiting for me, a bunch of kit laid out and then what started was about 45 minutes of what felt like a personal training session (for free),

This was refreshing and while It was exhausting I really enjoyed it. This actually turned out to be fitness testing and my favourite part was the rope pulling.

I was now really looking forward to my first session on my own..

The next day I booked in for a gym session after work, to which I was notified immediately that my booking was set

I turned up for my training time, and there it was, ALL the kit, just for me… I did a row, a cycle, lifted weights, tried new things that I read in a magazine and felt wonderful… After my workout (I was indeed the only person in the gym) Mark came over and told me to check my email inbox as he had sent me a fitness report…

I was wondering what that was while I drove home, I got in , fired up the laptop and read the email which was written specifically for me and opened the PDF document, core blimey! 57 pages of total breakdown of my current fitness plus a massive section on nutrition.

All the values are based on my consultation and that fitness test… not only did I have quantities of food to eat, but an explanation of why, and a whole list of foods to eat, each item of food told me why this was important… my word this is impressive.. and I didn’t even have to pay for this!

Eat normal eat healthy

I emailed back and asked about doing a diet plan, and Mark told me that’s fine, it would only cost £30 and you never have to repeat that… I said yeah, let’s do it…. After a couple of weeks of completing a food journal Mark set out what works for me and what works against me… turned out I was mostly doing well, and after some minor adjustments all was set and I could still eat my fave foods… just slightly less of the ‘sub optimal’ stuff (I still think that means bad stuff)

And now, after three months of motivated training with support as I need it, I’ve lost 15 kg of fat, put on 4 kg of muscle, totally changed shape and feel incredible. The support at The Raw Gym has been unwavering, I basically just get on with it, but should I need any help, Mark is there.

So I guess you want to know if I plucked up the courage to talk to the lady with the great big eyes… and well.. yes I did… and she leaned toward me and whispered softly in my ear… ‘get lost!’.

About a week later, I was approached by Lynda from finance, she told me that she had been watching me, not in a creepy way I must add.

Anyway, she said she’d always liked me but was really impressed in my determination and asked if I wanted a drink… I said sure, I’ll have some water… and she repeated, ‘no, I meant ‘a drink, as in a date numb nuts’… ahh.,,, yeah sure…. Anyway, we’ve been seeing each other since and we’re having a great time…

As if that wasn’t good enough, the guys in the office stopped teasing me and now admire my determination and progress, they even ask me for advice on losing a bit of weight, I just tell them….

The Raw Gym !

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The Raw Gym in Ballymena operates 3 main services, Air Fitness private gym hire - workout on your own or with your family. Personal Training in complete privacy our private studios and Bootcamping group fitness classes.

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201 Carniny Road, Ballymena, BT43 5NJ
Mark McIntyre

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