Vada Magazine reviews the 12 week fitness programme for gay men, Fitter Confident You from London-based personal trainer, Matt Boyles.
Fitter Confident You is a new 12 week, holistic fitness programme aimed at supporting gay men achieve their goals. It is designed by the handsome Matt Boyles, an active member of the community, who we previously wrote about. Our Lifestyle Editor, Tim Firmager, tried out the 12 week programme, Fitter Confident You, keeping to the rigour that it asks of you. This is his honest review of the programme, read to the end to hear how fitter and confident he feels after Fitter Confident You.
My 12 week programme started with a primary goal of adding 1kg of muscle mass in the first 4 weeks, but I’ll come back to that.
My fitness plan was split into three 4-week mini-programmes, each incorporating three gym workouts and an interval training session. The first 4 weeks was about medium weights and a medium number of reps, the second (very) high weights and low reps (so called ‘strength’ training), and the final 4 weeks consisting of lower weights and high reps. In addition to this, I was instructed to do 100 press-ups per day, every day.
Nutritionally, as my goal was to focus on building muscle mass, I was allowed to eat a whopping 2,600 calories per day. Whilst Matt does advise clients they can make this up of whatever food they want (2,600 calories of cake does sound tempting), I had a restraint of also eating 200g protein per day.
All of Matt’s clients are also advised to start drinking 3 litres of water per day – this can include tea etc, but is usually a noticeable increase.
Also included in the Fitter Confident You programme is a meditation guide, suggesting 5-10mins per day, and weekly confidence boosting challenges – more on both of these later.
As a regular gym goer, I opted for gym workouts, although Matt will put together a home-based workout instead if clients prefer. I also usually workout 3 times per week, so the time spent working out was no real change to my routine. Each workout takes approximately 1 hour, and I can choose when to fit these into my schedule each week. I found that I was usually able to add the interval training session onto one of the workouts. In addition, I also did an outdoor 5km run each week, most weeks.
At the end of each week, I used to the Boditrax body composition scanner in my gym to measure my weight, muscle and fat composition. Whilst these machines are not 100% accurate, a general trend is usually indicative of the real result. In the first 4 weeks, I found very little change in any of my stats, which was severely disappointing and did end in a night of tears, feelings of worthlessness and a sob-story email to Matt, followed by some supportive and kind words from him. What we agreed from then onwards was that we removed the numeric goals from my fitness programme, which drastically changed my outlook.
Weeks 5 – 8 were a lot more intense, pushing higher and higher weights each week was not something I thought I would be able to do without the aid of a personal trainer on hand at the gym. Genuine surprise led to motivation, as during these weeks I noticed my muscle mass finally starting to go up, and my body fat consistently decreasing, and of course the outward effects of this becoming noticeable – bigger arms, chest, abs slightly more visible.
Week 9, the first of “torture month” (my terminology, not Matt’s) was a real shock. Using low weights was doubly psychologically challenging as I kept thinking ‘I can lift more than this’, yet struggled to do the high number of reps, as I’d gotten used to only doing 5-6 over the previous month. After another low point and moan to patient Matt, I persevered, and found weeks 10-12 flying by. Each session ended with a 100-rep exercise, and by week 12 I could do all 100 without stopping – no mean feat.
For the press-ups, I chose to do 50 first thing as soon as I woke up everyday, and the remaining 50 as soon as I got in from work. Of course I had some resistance to setting my alarm 10 minutes early (in January, when it’s already dark outside) to do 50 press-ups earlier, but this was completely my own doing. I have to admit though, that although not an exciting exercise, these press-ups have become an integral part of my daily routine, and the immediate chest and arm pump I see is gratifying, adding a little extra confidence before I leave the flat each morning.
Matt recommends using MyFitnessPal to track everything you eat. This has to be done honestly otherwise it defeats the point of your programme – you can’t hide 5 gin and tonics or a take-away pizza from your own metabolism. Having never tracked food properly before I decided during week 1 I would make no adjustments to my diet and just get used to the concept of tracking. I had mini-beef wellingtons planned, after all.
This process was genuinely eye-opening, there are a lot more calories in food than I would have guesstimated previously. The real challenge for me though was to get in 200g of protein daily as part of my food intake – my average was much lower than I had guesstimated being only 80-100g, which I had to double. I tried lots of ways to do this – adding eggs to every breakfast, buying lots of chicken breasts and meal prepping, making sure I had a protein shake every day, and by introducing protein shots and protein water into my lifestyle.
Post-week 1, the idea of hitting nutritional targets and keeping track of food and drinks became less alien and strangely addictive. I was soon drawn into the routine, planning my meals around what I needed to eat to hit my protein and calorie targets, rather than just what I wanted to eat.
Having finished the programme, I won’t continue to monitor my food intake everyday, but I will definitely take away a more accurate understanding about the calorific content of what I eat.
Matt heavily promotes the inclusion of meditation within this programme, to ensure a few moments of stillness in each day. I tried this for the first 10 days, choosing to do this in the evenings just before bed, I personally didn’t derive much benefit from it, as I already have my own process to wind down each day and begin switching off.
The confidence boosting challenges do not, as I initially thought, involve getting naked in public. They range from publicly sharing positive statements about yourself, stopping following thirst trap social media accounts (as we all do), and encouraging interactions with others/strangers. Each may seem quite a small step in itself, but collectively they add up. Undertaking these weekly challenges made me reflect that actually I am now already relatively confident inside. Going through this process did however make me aware that this is perhaps not the norm within the gay community, and therefore the benefit of the confidence challenges was apparent.
There’s no face-to-face contact time as part of this programme, but there is a Facebook group. This is an open, safe and supportive forum where anyone can post about a recently fitness/nutrition related struggle or triumph, with genuine positive reinforcement from other gay guys going through the same process (lots of ‘Yaaasss Queen’ comments). Matt is available for a weekly call or email check-in if you need to change the programme or struggle with certain elements.
So did I end up a ripped Instagram-ready thirst trap after 12 weeks? Well anyone following my instagram feed will notice the number of images of progress pics has increased substantially, so that demonstrates my confidence has definitely increased. I have also noticed my body change shape, building up muscle mass in my arms, chest, legs and bum – I won’t deny I wanted a firmer, perkier booty. I did also manage to reduce my body fat, a trend that continued throughout the programme once started – although I want to continue to lose more around my abs. What is important to note is my fitness journey, not just my goals, the latter will always be changing depending on where I am in my life. This 12 week journey does not mean the end for me in terms of achieving my fitter, confident state; rather a point in time in my own journey.
The key to following Matt’s programme is continuity and rigour. Whether the goal is to lose weight, reduce body fat, bulk up, what I noticed across the Facebook group is that those who posted positive results showed dedication to their programme and resilience when it got tough. Everyone has their ups and downs, and the path to achieving the Fitter Confident You will not happen overnight. And when there are downs (days / weeks off for whatever reason – be it a hangover, break-up or medical injury), Matt and the Facebook group provide a support network. So in this sense, Matt Boyle’s programme’s has worked for me.
Fitter Confident You costs £50 per week (so £600 for the full 12 weeks), and there is an option for upfront purchase of £500 (so a 16% discount).
To sign up, visit fitterconfidentyou.net/onlinetraining to book an initial assessment with Matt, and provide all the necessary details. Once that’s done, Matt gets in touch to discuss your customised 12 week programme.