A personal trainer can really change your life

MOST of us associate personal trainers with celebrities who want to look good for the red carpet, or models who want to slip back into shape four weeks after giving birth.

One West Hampstead artist, however, believes that exercising with a personal trainer provided her with a lifeline.

Annie Sherburne, 53, had been caring for her terminally-ill husband, two teenage boys and running their design business when she decided to de-stress by going to the gym.

She saw advertisements for personal trainer Boris Zbirka and booked a session with him. The encounter led to changes in her life that she never imagined possible.

“When a crisis occurs and someone is diagnosed with a terminal illness, it has the most unbelievable shock effect on the family,” Mrs Sherburne explained.

“I was the primary carer and I was holding everything together but there was one person who wasn’t being looked after in this situation and that was me. My mother had left me some money when she died so I decided to use it for personal training sessions.”

During the first hour-long consultation, Mr Zbirka measured her body fat percentage, weighed her and assessed her flexibility and strength.

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Mrs Sherburne said: “After the consultation he told me, ‘The good news is that you’re incredibly flexible. The bad news is that you’ve got scoliosis of the spine, but I can help you correct it.’”

Impressed by his diagnosis and intrigued to find out how personal training could sculpt her body, Mrs Sherburne signed up to two personal sessions a week.

Mr Zbirka designed a weights programme to release her spine and shape her body. He also instructed her to make alterations to her diet, by eating six small meals a day. For Mrs Sherburne, the results of their two-hourly work-outs were astounding.

“I saw the most incredible results,” she said. “My own son didn’t recognise me as he walked towards me. He was shocked by how my body had changed shape.

“Boris is very specific with his clients and he’s very focused. He’ll say one or two things which are spot on and pertinent. He gave me exercises to do which increased my metabolism so that I’d burn calories for two days after a session.”

As well as losing three stones in weight in six months, there were unexpected benefits to Mrs Sherburne’s new fitness regime. Psychologically she felt much stronger and able to cope with the challenges life had thrown at her.

“One of the reasons why I was able to keep going back was because there was an incredible reward and I’m not talking just about what you look like; I felt so good after working out because of the endorphins’ rush. There is a very important psychological element to training.

“My husband was suffering from a brain tumour, he’d been given a death sentence and his body was swollen up from steroids. The doctor diagnosed anti-depressants and sleeping pills for me, but I was suffering from a deep sense of grief, which is a human condition.

“Until I started training, I didn’t know I had a body. I spent the first 51 years of my life being cerebral and aesthetic but I was in terrible shape. This is how I survived. This is my miracle; I needed to be able to change my psyche.

“As an artist, I’m a very visual person and sometimes when Boris walked off to get a pair of weights I’d draw a pair of angel wings on him.

“I actually decided that my encounter with him was like meeting a guardian angel.”