Paul Greenman was a self-confessed slob – until he discovered a passion for cycling and went on to shed more than a quarter of his body weight.
The 47-year-old joiner, from Freshbrook, used to spend his evenings sat in front of the TV drinking beer and scoffing crisps but now he trains at the gym five times a week to prepare for triathlons and 100-mile cycle races.
Paul said: “I had been thinking for a while I was getting fat and old, but didn’t actually do anything about it. I always put it off until tomorrow and carried on watching rubbish on the box and eating bad stuff.”
The turning point came in November, 2010 when Paul’s nephew Jon started doing triathlons and persuaded him to sign up for one too.
He said: “That gave me something to aim for and I realised how far my fitness levels had to go after my first run when I nearly collapsed at the nearest lamppost,” he said.
Looking for more structure and support with his exercise, Paul started going to the Link Centre gym. It wasn’t long before he found a new passion – cycling.
“I turned up for a spinning class one night and loved it straight away. It was very fast and really hard work, but boy did you feel good at the end of it. That basically kick started my drive to get really fit and I’ve never looked back. I do spinning three times a week and swim at the Health Hydro, which is such a great pool,” he said.
Since embarking on his hectic fitness schedule, Paul has completed three triathlons and two half marathons including the Swindon half marathon. He has also lost more than three stone in the process.
“I aim to do the Swindon half again this year, hopefully beating my last time. I feel so much better now and don’t get stressed with work,” he said.
“Exercise makes such a big difference – I should have done this years ago. I even do some of the classes with my wife Caroline including step and Zumba, which is great fun. I’ve also had to get a completely new wardrobe because you can get two of me in my old clothes.”
Paul has also changed his diet and cut back on alcohol.
He said: “I still like the occasional beer but it’s only in moderation now. I’ve cut out crisps, chocolate and biscuits without even realising it because I now prefer things like salads, lean meat and pasta.”
The health benefits of his new habits are already reaping rewards, as testified by a recent trip to the doctors.
He said: “I had a few health checks and apparently my heart age is 10 years younger. I was over the moon because there’s a long history of heart disease in my family – both my parents died of heart attacks.”
As for future goals, Paul has some big cycle races coming up and will be honing his technique by watching London 2012 Olympic athletes in the velopark.
He said: “We’ve got such amazing cyclists – Bradley Wiggins, Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton to name just a few. I’m getting into the Olympic build-up and took the day off to watch the Torch Relay when it came to Swindon on May 23. It’s exciting times and I find it all really inspiring. If you haven’t got the cycle bug, you don’t know what you’re missing.”
The Swindon Leisure Passport costs £35 a month for unlimited use of five gyms, six swimming pools, more than 100 fitness classes, an ice rink, athletics track and much more. Join now and get your first month free – offer runs until May 27, 2012. Find out more at www.swindon.gov.uk/leisurepassports or call: (01793) 445566.
You can keep up-to-date on Olympic related activities in Swindon by following the Facebook page www.facebook.com/swindon2012
Cycling will be the theme at Wharf Green on Saturday, August 11. A cross-country mountain bike race will be shown on the Big Screen and there will be a host of cycle activities on offer.
Information on cycle routes in Swindon and The Active Swindon Cycle Challenge, a free competition which runs throughout June, is available at www.challengeswindon.org.uk