• Ben Banbury

How I Got Into Fitness

Updated: Jul 28, 2020

Looking back I'm so proud of my fitness journey. In this post I share how I got into fitness, the barriers I encountered and how I'm still motivated to train after 10 years

It's 2008, I'm 15 and in my second year of Grammar school. This is the age myself and my friends started getting into drinking and partying. Nothing crazy, maybe 4 Fosters If we were lucky

We used to go to my friends Gran and Granddad's house in Fittleworth as they were super chilled about letting 8+ spotty teens in their house to drink beer, most likely vomit and play in their pool room

I was a shy fifteen-year-old. Older teens and adults were hard to talk to, but nothing compared to girls in my year.. especially the pretty ones

At this particular party, there were maybe 3 girls there, drinking WKD and chatting among themselves. I, of course, was keeping my distance as they had opposite reproductive organs which made them scarier than my mum confiscating Call of Duty

In 2008, Twilight was all the rage. Robert Pattison was the most desired man alive and his posters probably occupied more than 50% of all teen girls bedroom walls. Twilight was about a love triangle between 3 teens. Edward, a vampire. Bella, a human and Jacob, a werewolf..

Now apparently, I looked just like Jacob. For 2 solid years, girls, twilight fans and COMPLETE strangers used to call me Jacob

So, there I was at this party, sipping my tinny, making statements like "I've had 2 beers and I don't even feel a bit tipsy" and trying to play pool pissed as a fart, when one of the girls called me over

I remember being dead scared walking over. They had obviously been talking about me as they were clearly midway through a conversation

One of the girls looked at me and said "You should go to the gym. You look like a skinny version of Jacob"

As a 15 year old I was VERY skinny and pretty insecure about my physique. A pretty girl saying that in front of all my mates tore through me like a warm knife through low-calorie-spreadable-marg

I didn't say a lot in return to the girl, but I knew I had to start bulking up to improve my confidence, get the girls to notice me and finally get this puny frame a bit juicier

The first thing I did was to buy a Men's Health magazine. At 15 I had a paper round, I used to work every day for a measly £20 a week (I was on a pretty impressive hourly rate of £1.43 an hour)

So a Men's Health mag was a big investment for me. I remember reading that mag at least 4 times over, front to back, absorbing everything I physically could

As I couldn't afford equipment, pressups and crunches were my staple, but it wasn't long before I needed more. So I put money aside every week until one day I could afford a barbell set from Argos

Now, cheap weights are filled with sand, not iron like you get in gyms. Which therefore means the weights were f*cking enormous. My room turned into an assortment of crappy exercise equipment and cutout workouts from magazines

Every night I'd change my MSN status to "busy" and workout for 20 or so minutes in my bedroom, making sure to be super quiet if my parents were asleep below me

After every workout I'd rush to the bathroom to see if my body was changing.. it was a little bit, but I still looked nothing like the men on the front cover of the magazines, so I decided I needed to join the gym with my friends

Still earning little money I was anxious about joining a gym and paying a staggering £20 a month for a membership, but I rocked up none the less. The receptionist explained that I could pay monthly in cash to use the gym (possibly the worst business model imaginable) so as a cheeky teen, I came up with a plan

I paid for the first month and set myself the challenge of talking to EVERY member of staff whenever I was there. My plan was to get to know everyone and get everyone to like me

My month soon expired, and I couldn't afford another month so phase two of my plan was to be as confident as f*cking possible and just walk past all the staff

I used to walk in and call the receptionists name, shake the caretakers hand then go talk to the gym instructor for a few minutes before starting my session

I got a lot of: "Hey Ben" "Nice to see you Ben" "Have a good workout Ben"

But never any: "Can I see your membership card please?"

8 months. 8 months I got away with not paying a penny.

Dedication. Confidence and by being a bit of a d*ck I got away with it for 3/4 of a year. Of course I had to pay after that but the money I'd saved went towards more Men's Health mags and plenty more bodybuilding books

The books taught me that my diet had to change for me to start really developing the way I looked. I needed more protein and more calories.

At this stage in my life I'd just got a job as a Saturday boy in a butchers. I used to clean out the meat fridge, bleach the blood trays and wash up all the knives

So I was making a bit more dough. Me working in the butchers allowed me to do 2 things. 1. Get slightly cheaper meat (and stuff going out of date) and 2. Allow me to be able to afford to cook myself dinner

Very proudly at the age of 17 I told my mum that I would cook my own dinners of an evening. This way I could be in control of what I was eating and ensuring I was getting enough protein