Fitness Formation with Ryan Donohue: Make 2013 your year to get fit

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There are three main factors to take into consideration when discussing anything you set out to achieve in life.

These factors – knowing why you want to get fit, setting goals and having a positive mindset – will determine your outcome.

Whether the outcome is success or failure, it will be as a direct result of how have you applied these factors. They are simple, yet powerful, when constant action is taken.

So, you say you want to get into shape this year.

Firstly, always start with your reason why. Why do you want to get in shape? What would it mean to you?

As individuals we all have goals that are unique to ourselves and we all have our reasons why.

Take plenty of time when defining yours. Each goal has to be solid, thought-provoking, something really deep and emotional. It also has to be strong enough to drive you towards taking relentless and unwavering action every single day.

After you have identified your reason why, you need to set specific goals.

The key here is to go narrow and deep, not wide and shallow.

In layman’s terms, do not be vague. For example, “I want to lose weight and get in shape” is not very specific, is it. Narrow this down and think about what time frame you want to lose said pounds or dress sizes.

Be bold and ambitious when setting goals. After all, if it were easy then everyone would do it.

Having the right mind-set is the most important factor in your journey to success.

You absolutely must have a positive mind-set to achieve success. You need to believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, how can you expect others to.

Your thoughts must be positive, not filled with doubt or negativity.

Surround yourself with positive people and limit any negative thoughts.

So dig really deep, identify your reason why, set specific yet ambitious goals and most of all, believe in yourself.


WORKING out in a gym was not something I’d done much of until I met Ryan Donohue of Fitness Formation.

The equipment, machines, etiquette and exercises were all Greek to me.

However, I was in bad shape and luckily I met Ryan at a recent Morecambe FC game. After that there was no looking back.

On our first meeting at the wonderful VVV gym at Hest Bank Ryan used a special machine to take my measurements and see how much body fat I needed to lose.

Ryan worked out that I would benefit from losing up to four stones in weight – quite a task.

I knew I was overweight but not by that much. It made me realise that I had to do something – and fast.

Ryan was very reassuring and told me about several of the women he’d been training.

Cathy Fullerton, one of his ‘ladies’ as he calls us, has lost more than five stones and is now running half-marathons. Others have lost similarly impressive amounts through training and watching what they eat. They have worked hard and have achieved amazing results (take a look at Ryan’s website – – and read a few of their stories).

Our first session was a one-to-one. I was particularly anxious because I’d never felt confident in gyms. I’d joined gyms in the past but never quite got to grips with the equipment or how to operate machines such as treadmills and cross-trainers. At work I’ve always been known as a bit of a Luddite when it comes to technology and it is just the same with gyms.

Ryan showed me how to do a variety of exercises and demystified the equipment. Squats made me laugh so much that I nearly fell over. Don’t ask me why, I just felt rather silly doing them.

Perhaps it was because Ryan kept shouting, “Stick your bum out!” and I could see in the mirror that I looked ungainly to say the least.

I have had to get used to squats as they make up a sizeable part of training sessions with Ryan but they still make me giggle. Although we are starting this column now, I have been training with Ryan since the start of December. We thought we might as well get on with it instead of waiting until 2013.

It hasn’t been the easiest time of year to start training, what with the dark mornings, the temptations of Christmas food and the lure of New Year drinks, but we’ve worked through it.

Ryan advised me that there are three main factors to losing weight and getting fit: knowing why you want to get fit, setting goals and having a positive mindset.

My first goal is to lose at least a stone by the end of January as I am to have a routine operation on my stomach. A

fter a month of training I am well on my way to achieving this. However, my main goal is to get fit enough to do the coast to coast walk (from Robin Hood’s Bay on the east coast to St Bees in Cumbria).

I never dreamed this would be possible as for several years I’d felt unfit and on the slippery slope to middle age spread.

I thought that was it and had resigned myself to being overweight and somewhat unhealthy.

Luckily meeting Ryan and the women from Fitness Formation has inspired me to get out of my rut.

As well as one-to-one sessions Ryan also holds group sessions so I started attending them.

The first group session I went to was at 6am at VVV and to my surprise I loved it. I thought I’d struggle to get out of bed, but once I was up I enjoyed the drive on the empty roads and was pleased to the see the gym bustling with life.

The other women were so nice and friendly that I instantly felt at ease.

Ryan had warned me that it would be a tough session and he wasn’t kidding.

We did 10 minutes on the cardio machines, various exercises on mats in a studio, some boxing (which I loved), more cardio, some exercises such as squats with kettlebells (large, round weights with handles), a bit of work on the resistance machines and ended up with 10 minutes of stretching.

The session was so varied that the time went extremely quickly (an hour) and the excellent shower facilities at VVV were a pleasure to use.

That morning everything changed. I felt energised for the first time in ages and drove to work singing loudly to tunes on the radio.

So far the hardest bit has been getting out of bed on dark mornings but I was already used to that.

The first week I walked around bow-legged, looking as if I’d been riding a Shire horse for a month.

My muscles ached but I felt full of life.

The highs have been learning all sorts of new fitness techniques from Ryan, realising that I can get fit again, meeting and having a laugh with the women in the training sessions, seeing the weight start to shift and generally having bags of energy.

Long may it continue.

nKeep reading your Guardian for the next instalment of Ingrid and Ryan’s Fitness Formation feature.

You can follow Ryan at or contact him on 07596227854