Darren joined British Military Fitness (BMF) in Southampton a year ago, weighing 15 and a half stone. He’s undergone a complete transformation in that time, and has taken part in nine races in 2016, including obstacle courses. He opted for BMF as a good way to get fit, after being persuaded by a persistent friend.
“Before BMF, I didn’t really do any exercise at all. I knew I needed to, as I had put on weight and wasn’t fit at all. I tried the gym, but found it so boring and didn’t have any motivation to go. I was going on my days off, while all my friends were at work, so it wasn’t fun at all. I had several friends who did BMF; one in particular kept pestering me to give it a try. Eventually, I gave in – at least I knew I would know someone there. And I haven’t looked back since!”
Starting off in the Blues, Darren has increased his attendance and discovered a love for running – something he used to hate.
“I drive for a living, with awkward start and finish times. When I started BMF I did 2 sessions a week but now I make sure I go to every session… usually five a week. I go straight from work, and once had to get changed in the car before class!”
Darren is now completing OCR challenges and distance runs. He has two Major Series under his belt, as well as a few 10k races and an Active Warrior OCR. He has also joined a running club to take him to the next stage: completing a half marathon. Darren has already signed up for more than 12 races this year.
“BMF is hard work, but fun at the same time. I never really had any hobbies before. I couldn’t even run for a bus; the furthest I could get was about 3k. Now I find myself running a lot and am running for 10 miles – and actually enjoying it.”
He has also praised the social aspect of BMF, and the “friendly competition” that can be a powerful motivating factor.
“When I first went there were two or three people I knew, but then you do get to know everyone and build friendships… and now it’s like a little family! It was someone at BMF who got me into running and into the run club – he’s really supportive of that, teaching me about running, and that encourages me to keep it up. There are also excellent social events: the nights out, Major Series, paintball, Christmas party… it’s all really good fun.”
He’s also got “nothing but praise” for the instructors who run the sessions.
“The BMF instructors are all really good and encouraging, and all different. I thought it might all be ex-military people, shouting at us all the time, but it’s not like that at all. They can see when you’re approaching something wrongly and help you correct your form or running technique, for example. They are also great banter!”
The impact for Darren has been substantial. He’s lost over three and a half stone, after starting to take it more seriously and doing more sessions from February 2016. From March, he really got into running, joining the BMF running club on Mondays.
He says the weight loss has largely happened over the last six or seven months. Darren also says he enjoys shopping again, after dropping several sizes in clothes – and being able to wear things he’d never have considered before.
“I got fitter and enjoyed it even more, because I was getting more out of it. I always thought I’d never catch up the people who were better… but with BMF you can definitely see your progress and improvement in yourself. Those people I envied? Now I am amongst them or nearly there!”
“For those considering signing up: Just do it. I never thought I’d ever do it. It took a few attempts at persuading me! But once you do it, you feel so good in yourself. I wondered if I would be able to do it and fit it into my life… and of course I did. Everyone’s so friendly and welcoming, it’s for people at every level, and you are being helped to achieve your goals without even realising it.”
Darren was delighted to receive a couple of prizes at the Christmas BMF Awards Ceremony in December, taking home the Highest Attendance prize and a prize for Outstanding Achievement in the Reds. “I never thought I’d ever get that far,” he comments.
“I don’t think of BMF as a workout. It is, but you don’t think of it like that. I go because I want to, not because I have to. At the end, you know you’ve had a hard session because you can feel it… but you’ve enjoyed it. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done!!”