Eoin is the only member of the Efit team who isn’t a qualified health professional. With the help of James Cummins and the team at Elite Training & Nutrition he designed the Efit app based on what he needed and couldn’t find in other fitness apps. So the app itself is designed by an end user with the workout programs written by a top fitness professional. Eoin’s story explains how the Efit app came into existence….
At a younger age I was always very fit – from primary all the way through secondary school. I was naturally skinny and found it virtually impossible to put on weight no matter how much I ate. A very high metabolism coupled with my participation in sports ensured the weight stayed off.
Things changed when I went to college, my metabolism slowed and sports soon took a back seat to an unhealthy college lifestyle of too much beer and too much fast food. In my 4 years in college I went from 175 pounds (12 ½ stone) to 230 pounds (16 ½ stone). My unhealthy lifestyle continued through my mid-twenties, where I fell into the life of “living for the weekend” where I would drink way too much and although I occasionally tried to eat healthy I didn’t have a clue about proper nutrition. For example, I was sure that my usual chicken fillet baguette for lunch was a healthy choice…. (it wasn’t).
I decided that joining a gym would solve the problem. Although I had the best of intentions when I joined, I didn’t actually know what to do when I got there. I was the guy who would walk into the weights room and sit down at the first machine or bench that was available and take it from there. I was too macho (embarrassed) to ask an instructor for help or a workout plan. I instead continued with intermittent visits to the gym for 4 years with no plan and literally no results.
In my late 20’s as a new year’s resolution I decided to make a conscious effort to get fit – at this point my “living for the weekend” had begun to affect my work and my relationship with my girlfriend. My life was in a rut to put it mildly. I decided to give up drinking and really make an effort to lead a healthy lifestyle. I went from one extreme to another and began a strict diet of 1800 calories and ran 5km every day. I found a workout on the internet, took it down in the notes section on my phone and followed it exactly. I initially got great results, I lost 35 pounds (2 ½ stone) in 12 weeks but the strict regime was unsustainable. I was tired, irritable and suffered from severe headaches throughout.
For the rest of the year I stayed active and continued to go to the gym at least once per week but gradually put some of the weight back on as beer (albeit much less than before) and bad food choices made its way back into my diet. In January I decided to repeat the same formula as I had used the previous year – the same workout, and the same diet. I was pretty surprised when I didn’t get the same results. This was very frustrating, it turns out the fact that I had been doing the exact same workout with the same weights was inhibiting my progress – my muscles had gotten used to the exercises and the weight that I was using. I was exercising my muscles but I wasn’t training them to become stronger or indeed burning the fat which would fuel this change.
I had never used a personal trainer before as I couldn’t afford one but I decided to call James Cummins, a childhood friend who is a personal trainer and owns the Elite Training & Nutrition Gym. This was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. He was able to answer all of the questions I had and explained to me “why” certain things worked and others did not. He gave me a workout plan to follow and I began training in his gym. I would record my results in a notebook which he would review at the end of each session. If I was able to achieve the target rep range on an exercise he would increase the weight slightly for my next session. These small increases each week enabled me to become much stronger, building muscle while burning body fat.
The three things that I was to focus on were form (maintaining the right form for each movement), the weight on the bar (can neither be too easy nor too challenging) and finally tempo. The introduction of tempo was new to me, each exercise had its own specific tempo to the movement.
For example, the Bench Press at a tempo of 3-0-1-0:
- 3 = Three seconds of the eccentric phase (lowering of the weight). e.g. lowering the bar to your chest.
- 0 = Zero seconds of a pause at the bottom of the movement. e.g. when the bar is at your chest
- 1 = One second of the concentric phase (lifting of the weight). e.g. lifting the bar from your chest and straightening your arms.
- 0 = Zero seconds of a squeeze (squeezing the target muscle) at the top of the movement.
This took a bit of getting used to but ultimately helped me to get much stronger, much quicker than I had in the past – by the end of the first program I was lifting 10kg/22lbs heavier on the bench than I could when I started. As it was explained to me, your body doesn’t magically know what weight you’re putting on the bar – it only understands that certain muscles are under tension and that these muscles need to respond, they need to get stronger in order to handle this tension. By adding this to my workouts I was progressing much faster than simply getting through the reps as quickly as possible. I changed programs every 4 weeks so that my body didn’t get used to the “same old routine” like it had in the past. (I still change programs regularly now, at least once every 6 weeks).
The nutritional plan was also a (pleasant) surprise for me. I had it ingrained in my head that the only way to lose fat was to adopt a low fat and low calorie diet. This wasn’t the case at all – James explained that I needed the calories in order to perform to the best of my ability and the best place to get this energy from was healthy fats. I began following a wholefood diet of fatty cuts of meat (steak, lamb, pork etc.), some nuts (almonds, walnuts & hazelnuts) and as much green vegetables as I wanted. I had 5 evenly sized meals and drank 3 ½ litres of water each day. It was all very simple with no calorie counting required. I reintroduced carbs (rice, sweet potato etc.) after an initial 2 week period without any carbs at all – I would only eat carbs after a workout along with some lean meat (chicken, turkey, lean mince). I didn’t even have to give up alcohol, “life is for enjoying” James said, “as long as it’s in moderation and doesn’t affect your training, a few drinks while relaxing with friends is encouraged”.
I felt amazing. One of the noticeable improvements was my mood, I was now always in good humour with a very positive outlook on life. Things that once stressed me were now easy to deal with. Motivation was another, I found that I was more focused in work, my new healthy lifestyle coincided with a new drive to succeed, I actively went out and got new clients and did a better job for existing ones. Also, my sleep – I was used to waking up a number of times throughout the night but now found I slept soundly every night of the week.
Life was just easier (better) in general. So much so that I called James up one day and said we need everyone to feel like this or at least give them the tools to feel like this. We decided to take the methods that had worked so well on me and apply them to an iPhone app.
I thought back to when I would walk into the gym without a clue. I took all of the things that helped make my life easier in becoming (and remaining) fit and healthy and included them – what I really needed to know back then was what to do and how to do it. So that’s what we’ve aimed to achieve, a blueprint for users to become fit and healthy. They obviously still need to do the work but we’ll give them the perfect plan to follow.
The internet is a great place to find information on all aspects of health, but unfortunately there is also a lot of incorrect information to be found. For this reason we’ve added a blog section with articles on training, nutrition and lifestyle written by professionals so users can be confident that what they’re reading is of genuine benefit to them.
For a version one app I think we’ve done well, there are still some improvements that we’d like to make and features that our initial budget wouldn’t allow, but we’ve come up with something that is very useful. I use it myself in the gym and find that it makes my workouts easier and more effective. Having the workout (with reps and sets of each exercise) to follow is brilliant – it’s like my very own instruction manual for the gym. The video tutorials along with the exercise specific rest times (the rest timer starts automatically once I’ve logged my results) are a huge help as is the ability to see my previous workouts in the results section. The Efit app is more than just a bank of exercises or a calorie counter – it gives you your workout plan to follow (tells you what to do) and actually guides you through it every step of the way (shows you how to do it) which is what we set out to achieve. It won’t replace a personal trainer but it’s the next best thing.
Co-creator of Efit App