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Personal Trainer; Paul Bishop

Just thinking about Paul Bishop’s routine leaves me exhausted – he exercises on average around 25 hours per week which includes his coaching sessions, as well as his own training programme. This year, the personal trainer is also competing in the Half Iron Man in Mallorca and cycling 1,200 miles to Madrid, and that’s just for starters.

His qualifications and training read like something out of a course directory; he’s a swimming teacher, British triathlon coach, British cycling coach, UK athletics coach, and also a qualified sports masseuse. Not bad for the ex-banker who fell into personal training by accident some 20 years ago.

“I’ve never been an indoors person and have always done competitive sport myself,” Paul explains. “I just love personal training, love seeing people smile and enjoy sport. Two years ago, through the spin studio I have in Walton- on-the-Hill, I press ganged about 15 people into joining me to do a triathlon. And then last year, there was 32 of us doing it!” Paul’s enthused when he tells me that some of the people he has trained had never even been for a run; one woman couldn’t even swim. “I said to her ‘so what? I can teach you to swim’. She’s since completed two triathlons,” he adds.

I’m impressed by the efforts of his clients, but admit that I probably couldn’t do one myself. Paul looks at me and shakes his head.

“No one is never not good enough. The only reason people aren’t is because someone has told them they’re not. But you should never accept someone else’s word on what you can and can’t do. And if you don’t try, you’ll never know,” he tells me earnestly.
I’m instantly taken by Paul’s passion, and I ask him if he has any advice for people who find their resolve to get fit in 2018 steadily dwindling. “Give yourself an hour or so once a week. Go back to the gym and speak to an instructor. Ask them to devise a plan for you, as most will,” he explains. “It’s all about confidence. Don’t be nervous and don’t give up just because you’re scared.”

It’s this steely determination that saw Paul, his wife Dana and their two sons, Morgan and Jensen have a life-changing move last year. Seven-year-old Morgan suffers from eczema, red skin syndrome, asthma, a number of severe food allergies and Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) Nephrotic Syndrome – a life-threatening kidney condition. While the itching and constant discomfort means Morgan can only sleep a few hours at a time, his three-year-old brother, Jensen, had to sleep on a mattress in his parent’s bedroom in their tiny flat in Tadworth. After appealing for help from the local community as well as fundraising events, they raised £40,000 so they could finally move into a house with a garden. And they continue to campaign for donations to help with Morgan’s therapies and treatment.

“We still can’t believe it now,” Paul smiles. “It feels like we haven’t lived anywhere else and everyone settled into the house really quickly, especially the boys. The garden made a huge difference last summer.”

Paul then goes on to tell me how courageous Morgan was last August after he took part in a superheroes triathlon where he was pulled on a kayak for 400m, sat on the back of a bike for 10km and pushed in a buggy on a 2.5km run – all in hot weather, which agitates his already delicate skin.

After hearing all these heartwarming tales from Paul, it’s plain to see that his grit and resolve rubs off on all those he meets, while brave Morgan clearly has the same traits. “We have such huge support locally and we are so thankful for that. Plus my job is all about bringing people together, people who don’t exercise but then change. That’s why I love it.”

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