Anyone can do this - lose weight

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Myerscough convinced Darren Clarke's weight loss success can inspire others writes Brendan Coffey

  • 12 March 2015
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They met on the golf course but their relationship blossomed in the gym. They were an unlikely pairing from the start but in the space of a year Jamie Myerscough and Darren Clarke have completed an incredible success story.

Clarke is now nearly five stone lighter than when he first met Myerscough at a charity golf event in October, 2013. The 46-year-old has become an inspiration for middle-aged men everywhere. While the Dungannon heavyweight has kept golf fans enthralled since he first burst onto the professional scene in the early '90s, his radical physical transformation is one of his finest achievements.

"What's more remarkable is the perception among people that this would be the least likely thing he would do so it really goes to show that anyone can do this," says his mentor, Jamie Myerscough, who introduced Clarke to the Educogym system.

Myerscough got involved with Educogym as far back as 2007 but it was not his first foray into business. Originally he harboured dreams of becoming a professional golfer but after completing his business and economics degree at Trinity College in 2002, his time was consumed by work. Having established a company called Phorest - which is now a leading supplier of management software to salons and spas throughout Ireland and the UK - during his final year at college, Myerscough's ambitions had moved beyond golf.

Five years later, Myerscough was keen to embrace a new challenge so he became an instructor with Educogym which at that stage had a number of franchises in Dublin. Initially based in Baggott Street, Myerscough opened his own franchise in Blackrock and he has since risen through to the ranks to become the group's CEO.

"Ever since I was very young, I always had ideas about performance – what could you do to perform better, whether it applied to golf or college or work," says Myerscough explaining his sudden change of career eight years ago although considering his grandfather was the legendary horse-trainer Vincent O'Brien, perhaps it is unsurprising that he so was so interested in the subject.

What Educogym have developed is a highly efficient training system that requires less time and effort than the traditional training approach.

"We can condense our training sessions into 20 minutes. A person can shape up with the least amount of time and effort. There's no aerobic fitness and no low-calorie dieting so you don't have to go hungry and you don't have to overwork yourself. That combination is really appealing to people," says Myerscough and when he explained the concept to Clarke, the 2011 Open Champion couldn't wait to get started.

"He promised he'd get me the latest TaylorMade driver if I gave him a programme," says Myerscough of their first encounter in October of 2013. "We played in the Darren Clarke Golf Classic at Rockmount and Darren asked me going down the first fairway what did I do. And I told him. And he said, I could do with that. And I said, I know! We spent the rest of the round talking about it and what difference it could make."

The short, structured training sessions appealed to Clarke because it could easily fit into his daily schedule, even while he was away at tournaments. He also had Myerscough to guide him every step of the way, even if he wasn't with him all the time.

"I trained him over Facetime – he'd have a laptop and I'd have a laptop and I'd be able to sit and watch him do the exercises. We were able to do that no matter where I was and no matter where he was," says Myerscough, who would log on to Facetime from his home in the K Club while Clarke got to work in the basement gym of his base at Portrush.

Pretty quickly Clarke could see the benefits of his new regime and by the time he returned to action on the European Tour at the Volvo Champions in Durban, South Africa last January, he was three stone lighter.

"The training programme was specific for Darren," Myerscough explains. "We would come up with exercises that would give you general strength to start with so there would be a lot of compound exercises in which you'd be using a lot of the major muscles. We change the programme after four to six weeks and then we would have added more golf-specific exercises, knowing what needs to be strong to have good stability and to hit the ball. He was definitely out of shape and carrying too much weight which would definitely have affected his fitness and concentration. And obviously it would be quite a health concern as well."

Now significantly lighter, Clarke also claims to be stronger than ever. The results on Trackman are telling – his swing speed is now 117 miles-per-hour, an increase of 5mph on his previous best. And with a ball speed of 173pmh, Clarke is hitting his shots further than ever.

"He's in great condition, he's extremely fit and very strong," says Myerscough, who continues to work with Clarke. "He's still doing the programme, he obviously needs less supervision than he did initially."

The thinking behind Educogym is that you can take the programme home with you and over time, you become your own instructor, the same way a good golfer eventually learns to correct himself on the course. Maintaining and building muscle is the secret to the system.

"As you lose muscle as you get older, you burn less calories. We focus on helping a person to regain lost muscle. Short bursts of resistance-based exercise is the quickest way to do it. The aging process really kicks in when you're about 30. That's when you start to notice that the weight can creep on and you're less fit and less healthy because your hormones start to change. You don't hold on to muscle and protein in the same way. The common misconception is that muscle has turned into fat but what actually happens is that you just lose muscle if you don't use it and therefore your metabolism drops. A person then has less energy and they gain weight quickly."

In Clarke's case, he was always a heavyweight so his ability to change at this stage of his life, having achieved so much in his career, is a massive endorsement for Myerscough. The challenge now is to keep Clarke on track but having come this far, it seems the slim-line Clarke is here to stay.

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