“Limits exist only in the mind.”
It is the mantra of Michael O’Sullivan, who has been helping change the lives of residents from Cameron Park and its surrounding areas.
The story of his gym is the kind I love to hear about.
So, when I was told about the work the 36-year-old was doing there, I was keen to get along to Body Beyond Limits to see for myself.
What I found, tucked away in an industrial part of Cameron Park, was a warehouse that has been converted into more than a gym, but a place for all members of the community and their families to not only work out but to find social support as well.
Meeting “Mick”, you could sense the passion immediately.
He had started Body Beyond Boot Camp in his backyard three years ago with a set of boxing gloves and two kettle bells.
As word got out, numbers grew and in June this year he opened the fully functional gym Body Beyond Limits.
Mick proudly told me of countless members of the community he has seen turn their lives around.
Their stories and transformations can be seen lining the walls of the gym.
There has been a lot of weight lost collectively but the main emphasis, he told me, was on helping people change lifestyle habits.
That includes establishing good physical habits as well as nutrition ones and the gym runs regular nutrition challenges.
“My goal is I want to change as many lives as I can,” he told me as he shared the numerous success stories.
They were many and varied and included his own.
He grew up playing sport and always had a passion for fitness.
But when injuries struck in his 20s he went through a period of inactivity, “a couple of years without doing anything”.
“I went from 102 to 145 kilograms and I felt miserable, depressed,” he said.
“I didn’t think I was big, I just thought I was solid but then I realised I couldn’t tie my shoes properly because my gut was overhanging.
“I said to one of the guys I worked with, ‘I’m going to go back to the gym’, and he pulled me up and he said, ‘Yeh, sure’.
“I felt embarrassed. I went home that night and said, ‘I’m going back to the gym’.”
He has not looked back and is keen to have many more success stories to share in the future.
“I feel like I’m not doing enough,” he told me.
“I want to see more families getting active because once the parents do it, the kids are going to do it too.
“We’re trying to teach people there is a better way.”
One of those who has seen the benefits is 11-year-old Maddy Coburn, who was going along to Body Beyond Boot Camp sessions with her grandmother then eventually started joining in herself.
She is now a regular attendee and told me she feels much more confident in herself.
Lisa Bryzozowski, 42, has been training with Mick for the two years and rarely misses a day at the gym but admitted she was hesitant to go at first.
“I kept saying, I can’t afford it, I’ve got a little one and I work part-time and I just don’t have the time,” she told me.
“Mick kept saying I should go along and then one day I had no excuses so I finally went and I was totally addicted from the word go.
“I thought, ‘Why haven’t I been doing something for myself before?’ It was at Mick’s house. The kids would sit there on a rug, in the sunshine watching us. Then they’d start to join in, which is another good part of it.”
He said Lisa was an example of many mothers who sacrifice their own nutrition, time for physical activity and time for themselves because of family and work commitments.
Body Beyond Limits has grown to around 250 members in a short period of time and you get a sense with the work being done there it will continue to grow.
SIZZLING SUMMER SESSIONS
I love interval sessions for a variety of reasons. It is a great way to improve speed, fitness and recovery times and, personally, I find it an easier mental battle than going for a longer, slower, sustained run or ride. I am motivated to work harder for a short period knowing a rest/recovery will follow.
Here is a session to try and I will share a few more in coming weeks. You can do these running, walking, cycling or rowing at the gym.
100 metres hard: 300m easy; 200m hard: 200m easy, 300m hard, 100m easy: 400 metres hard: 400m easy. Repeat from the start or in reverse.
UPCOMING FITNESS EVENTS
Lake Mac parkrun fifth birthday, Booragul, February 10: Get in creative mode and start planning your dress-up outfit, themed with the letters ‘L’ and ‘P’, to celebrate a milestone for this free 5km event. There will also be a charity barbecue afterwards.
Free lunchtime yoga class, Civic Park, February 6: Revitalising Newcastle are hosting a range of health and fitness activities and this week it is a yoga session for all abilities. Class starts at 12.30pm.
Sparke Helmore City Triathlon, February 25, Newcastle Foreshore: Various distances from novice to hardcore and individual as well as team entries.
Renee Valentine is a writer, qualified personal trainer and mother of three. firstname.lastname@example.org.