A little crowd began to gather around Daniel as the clock counted down to the final few seconds of the workout. The air was thick with anticipation; as the crowd clamored and cheered him on, the 34-year old CrossFit beginner remained composed and zoned into his coach John Cheah's cue to stay on pace.
IN THE BEGINNING
"I've always been a very competitive person," the former professional sailor confessed.
In his six years of professional yacht racing, Daniel Thompson crossed the Atlantic from east to west four times, west to east twice, and won numerous races in the Carribean and Mediterranean sea. But at the age of 26, he gave up the dream career after losing his father to a race-related freak accident.
With seconds left on the clock and five burpee box jump overs remaining, Cheah's reassuring confidence contrasted the panic that surrounded the duo. Daniel dropped into a burpee on cue, fighting back the urge to throw in the towel in the face of ever increasing agony. When he took a final step over the box for a triumphant finish, the lovable Irish exclaimed, "I love and hate you guys for making me do this," - to which, the coaches responded in equal measure of affection.
Daniel's journey into fitness did not begin with CrossFit.
After losing his father in a race across the Atlantic, Daniel decided on a career switch into recruitment consultancy. Daniel's desk-bound duties and a lack of focus on fitness meant he lost a majority of his mobility and gained a significant amount of weight.
At 24 stones, or 152kg, Daniel picked up running to shed some weight after being told he wasn't able to undergo a minor wisdom tooth extraction due to his BMI.
"It was the first real wake up call that I had regarding my fitness," he recounts.
Since then, the former competitive sailor made attempts to live a healthy lifestyle through running and other individual fitness activities but was intimidated to step into a gym.
When his girlfriend Lucy experienced a trial class and encouraged him to sign up, it was the final nudge he needed to take the plunge. Daniel walked into his first class at CrossFit Tanjong Pagar for a group fundamentals in October 2016.
TRAINING FOR LIFE
Not long after the fundamentals, Daniel enquired about personal training with our resident Olympic Weightlifting specialist, John Cheah and have been consistently attending both classes and personal training since.
"I wanted to lose body fat, replace it with muscle and improve my general level of fitness so my competitive nature was satisfied that I wouldn’t be miles behind everyone else. I was also nervous about the back issues I had faced for more than half of my life - getting the movements right were critical to my everyday quality of life. Now everything BUT my back hurts, but in a really good way - I’m happy with this!" the cheeky 34-year old recounts.
"My favourite thing about training with John is his reaction to improvements I’ve made! Whether it’s form on a particular movement, or lifting something heavier or simply coping with high intensity better; John’s reaction let’s me know it’s been a good day.
John’s ability to transform words into action and muscle memory is superb, although it's often accompanied by an anecdote or amusing quip, typically when you least expect it."
The bond between the two are apparent, as coach John reciprocates the affection recounting his favourite moments with Daniel.
"I love training Daniel because he came in with a strong mindset," John professes. "I could tell him to do something and despite hating it, he would attack it with every fiber of his being. All of his success is his own, and I'm just happy to be able to have a hand in shaping it,"
After being enveloped by congratulatory fist bumps and high fives, Daniel is helped to his feet by an equally satisfied coach before he calls it a good day and prepares himself for another day at the office.
Standing over 6ft, Daniel has lost over 30kgs since the start of his fitness journey and we are honored to engineer a part of his wellness daily, and the opportunity to share his story here.
We asked Daniel: "If there was a piece of advice you would give to someone about training, what would it be?"
Just do it, but make sure you surround yourself with likeminded people who are all goal orientated and simply want to see each and everyone achieve their goals - I’m yet to experience the same camaraderie from any other organisation geared towards fitness. I would strongly advise PT because that one person shares in your successes, but also your failures - having someone in your corner is monumentally important. John has been my 'go-to' over the last 5 months and, whether he likes it or not, he’ll continue to be even after my PT sessions have drawn to a close.