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#CoupleGoals

We all know the story, you meet your partner, fall in love and get so comfortable you forget you once used to watch what you ate and exercised quite often.

It becomes so normal for couples to get wrapped up in their new world together – experiencing new things, going out quite often, or even enjoying a few movie nights when you move in together – that you soon realise you’re perhaps not as fit as you used to be and your jeans are a little tighter.

But, you’re happy. That’s the main thing.

This has been the same story for Gemma and Ben - members at Places Gym Preston – until they became engaged and decided they wanted to get back to being healthier versions of themselves, and of course feel good on their special day.

Here, Gemma sits down to share their fitness journey and why they wanted to workout together.

Q. So Gemma, why did you and Ben choose to join in at Places Gym Preston?
To be honest, the main reason is down to our wedding later this year. At the beginning of last year, we realised we had both put on a considerable amount of weight – as you do in a long-term relationship. 5 years on, and being newly engaged, we wanting to start eating a healthier diet so started at the local Slimming World group. We lost a huge chunk of weight together, but then came to realise we now needed to start exercising and tone up.

Between us, we’ve now lost 9 stone!

Places Gym is only 5 minutes away from our home, and most of my family are members, so we only had positive things to hear about it. The staff are so nice, and they feel like our family too – we were even there this morning, then popped into the office for a chat with Liam and Sarah.

We’ve been members of other gyms before and only lasted a couple of months – we’ve been at Places almost a year now and can’t see us ever leaving.

Q. Wow, you do sound really happy there – and you’ve been on quite the weight-loss journey. Do you often workout together?
It depends. When we first started, I was quite nervous, so I used to make Ben do all the classes with me. He used to be a real gym-goer, so he had more knowledge than me which made him feel more comfortable. Now we’re both pretty set in our routines, we go to the gym together 4 to 5 times a week, but we don’t always workout together. I’m now having PT sessions with Sarah, so Ben will often do his own thing.

Q. That’s great. You mentioned you used to do classes together, are you still carrying on with those?
I’m now way more confident in the classes, but they aren’t really Ben’s thing. I still go to a circuit or HIIT class, but Ben doesn’t always.

I like having the option to have the classes – especially the harder ones where you push yourself more. They’re very sociable and now I know what I’m doing and feeling more confident, it’s as if there is less pressure.

Q. Okay great – so you go 4 to 5 times a week. It sounds like the plays a big part in your day to day life – does it help provide a more positive mental attitude?
We feel – and look – like a whole new couple to be honest. It’s so entwined with us, it’s just part of a normal routine now.

We both feel so much happier within ourselves and feel so great after a workout. It’s an all-round feel – you get this kind of buzz about you, especially over the little things like buying new clothes; clothes that are a smaller size or maybe something we wouldn’t have looked at wearing before.

Another reason we chose to join the gym was because we couldn’t lose much more weight through dieting, so wanted to start toning up. Ben used to be very muscly years ago, then obviously it disappeared when he gained weight. I can’t believe the difference in him now – his upper body is massively different, and he is so much happier.

I started to get a bit hung up on not seeing the scales drop as much, until Sarah explained to me, I’m now in the stage of maintaining my weight but dropping body fat and gaining muscle mass. So, although the scales aren’t moving, my body is still changing. That’s one of the reasons we’ve started taking more pictures – so we can continue to see the difference in ourselves.

Q. Would you say you’ve reached your goals yet – and if you have, are you going to continue with the same workout routine, or ease off a little? Most people often ease off a little without realising once they’ve achieved their ideal weight or have reached their personal goal.
Hmm, I wouldn’t say I’ve quite reached my goal yet. I still want to tone up a lot more and hopefully lose a bit more weight in the typical ‘problem areas’ women have. But Ben, he’s reached his goal – although he hasn’t started easing off. L

This is why it’s good to have pictures – we can see where we are now and see where we don’t want to get back too. We don’t need to go backwards; we need to maintain our weight now and continue to look forwards.

Q. What is your favourite thing to do in the gym?
Oh, I don’t know. I do genuinely enjoy all of it. I’d say the Cardio Blast class is something – it’s the worst thing in the world while you’re doing it, but after you’ve sweated that much and worked so hard, you feel such a rush!

Q. Okay, so we know you’re very fit and in great shape – are you also strict with your food like you are with exercise?
The majority of the time, yes. Food plays a big part of our new and improved lifestyle. In the week we’re as good as can be – still sometimes guided by Slimming World recipes, but because it’s now more of a habit and we know what’s good for us and what works, it’s easier to be healthy.

On the weekends, we do have a treat. There are some takeaways in Preston which are really healthy! We know it’s important to treat yourself from time to time and enjoy things – otherwise, you’re just being too controlling. But, after the treat we’re straight back on the healthy foods the day after. Christmas was difficult as we had 2-weeks off work, so it was a little difficult to get back into routine but we’re there now. The wedding is only in September and it’ll come around fast.

Q. Do you have any advice for other couples who might be looking to start the gym together?
Just do it. Go and try it. We’ve had so much fun. You must be open minded, but it’s something to enjoy together – you’re working out together and it’s another kind of bond. You can make fun of one another and encourage one another to keep pushing. Honestly, just get up and go.

Go and try it – we had so much fun. Open minded. Its something to enjoy together, youre working together and its another kind of bond. Can make fun of each other in classes etc – just get up and go.

Q. You’ve been members for a while now and seem to be quite popular at Preston. Do you get any members coming to you for advice?
I did a programme with Sarah and did really well with it – she posted something on social media about it, and then I had a few people approach me in the gym with questions before they signed up themselves. We’ve had people come up to us and say things like ‘I’ve seen you online’, then have asked a few questions about how we got from there to here. I can get a bit shy, but it’s nice to have the positive comments from others.

Q. Final question, do you think there is anything we could improve on as a brand to make the gym experience better for all members – new and old?
We love that gym. It might seem basic compared to all these huge gyms around our area, but it has what we want, and we have no complaints.

The only thing I don’t like is the pods – they can go – but other than that, I can’t fault it. In other gyms the staff can be cold and intimidating – but not at Places. It’s comforting and you don’t feel embarrassed to be there.


Well, Places Gym Preston is the last in the brand to receive its refurb – so Gemma’s wish of removing the pods will soon come true. But, what a story.

Thank you, Gemma and Ben, – keep pushing on with your journey and have a fantastic wedding. We all want to see photos of your special day!

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