World-class trainer and author Bevan James Eyles thought he was at the top of his game in 2009. He was an award-winning trainer, a triathlete and had worked in fitness “forever”.
But when a friend confronted him about the fact they were “failing at fitness” (people were moving less and gaining more weight), he was hit with a realization about himself.
“My thing was if you’re fit, I’m awesome. If not, I don’t know how to help you.”
Once he realized he did not understand people who did not incorporate movement into their lives, or how to help them, he set up a running group in Christchurch in 2012, designed to get people from inactivity to running 5km.
Initially, though, “everyone failed”.
“I was a bit heartbroken and the thing I learned in that moment was I didn’t understand non-exercisers.”
“I had to learn a whole new set of rules.”
That is exactly what he did, His running group now has an almost 90% success rate, and he has partnered with Stuff to launch a dedicated program designed to get New Zealand off the couch and match fit for Round the Bays in March, 2022.
And it is all for a simple reason, says Eyles. Incorporating running or walking into your life has a plethora of life-changing benefits. In fact, he insists, “you’ll function better as a person”.
“And not just for yourself, actually for your world.”
While we live in a world where not moving is far too easy, Eyles says on top of obvious benefits – being healthier, having energy, better heart health – there are plenty of life-changing benefits that “don’t get sold so much” .
Self-esteem increases, it can be a healthy and fun way to socialise, and your ability to overcome adversity (especially if you are starting as someone who does little to no movement) can carry on across other aspects of day-to-day life .
“[People tell me] Bevan I’m a better mother, I’m better at work, or I’m a better person.”
A self-confessed “former dropkick” who told stuff in 2014: “I was always the drunkest one, I was a real embarrassment. I was a sleaze and untrustworthy,” Eyles says exercising now comes naturally. But many people start out the wrong way.
But while it is easy to have fleeting moments of motivation, it is also just as easy to fail.
“What we often find when people want to start exercising is they think of the result they desire, and it’s often overly ambitious. They’re doing nothing, and they go, ‘I want to run a half-marathon’.”
“People have moments of motivation,… but they create an experience where they’re pretty much guaranteed to fail. You don’t suck at exercise, you suck at setting up exercise in your life.”
Instead, he says, the trick is to focus on habit-building, and tick off the behaviors involved in that, whether it is packing gear the night before or letting your partner or workmates know you’re heading out early to exercise.
“If you’re someone who is doing nothing right now, the most important thing is how to get movement into your life. A walking habit’s a really important habit to have around cardiovascular fitness,” he says.
And it is vital to not go too hard, too fast.
Instead, the first step should feel easy and enjoyable. That, says Eyles, is what makes people come back for more. When people go too hard they don’t enjoy the experience, open themselves up for injury and are far less likely to come back a couple of days later.
“If we can create an experience …. at a level that feels really easy … there’s a higher chance you’ll turn up next time.”
Eyles’ Round the Bays program is designed to motivate, and guide, people across a variety of fitness levels, whether you hope to walk the event, run and walk or ultimately run the entire course.
And after eight weeks of coaching, motivation techniques and expert programming, Eyles says an event like Round the Bays, which can be run virtually from anywhere in New Zealand, is a perfect way to celebrate habits formed in the weeks prior.
“That’s what so great about an event like this, it’s so accessible to so many people … A lot of people who think they can’t, if they put in the work will be able to walk it.”
5 tips to get your body moving
1. Keep it easy in the first part – both physically and mentally.
2. Focus on wisely building the clothes that allow you to realistically fit exercise in your life.
3. Get guidance beside you, don’t try to do it by yourself!
4. Do movements that you know you enjoy.
5. Reward yourself for the habit building work you are doing.
What is RTB Fitness Club?
Stuff is launching the RTB Fitness Club with coach Bevan James Eyles to help Kiwis get excited about fitness, building long-term habits to stay motivated and connect with a like-minded community. Whether you’re joining the Round The Bays fun run in Auckland or taking part virtually, you can join the club and eight week training program which promises to be lots of fun!
For $25 you will get:
An 8-week walk, walk-to-run or run-only training program
Weekly mentoring videos with Bevan
Weekly live Q&A with Bevan
A strength and stretch component to help prevent you from injuries
Access to the exclusive RTB Fitness Club Facebook group
The first 250 people to join the club will get a FREE Under Armor T-shirt. Register your interest now here and be the first to know when the club opens in December.