Guy Leech's top five fitness lessons

Retired Ironman champion Guy Leech shares his top fitness lessons. 

After winning seven (yes, seven) Ironman competitions in the 1980s, Guy Leech is well-woven into Australian fitness folklore. Now aged 50, he shares his tips for maintaining fitness.

1. Think BIG picture

While it might be nice to shed a few extra kilos or build bulk, Guy says you need a bigger motivation than aesthetics if you want to make lasting changes.

“A lot of people have lost weight then put it all back on,” Guy says. “You need to think about what you can do differently to get a different result.”

Guy’s father had a heart attack in front of him when he was 12, so he knows how important his health is.

“What you do in your day-to-day life often plays a part in how you end up,” he says. “I often tell people to fast forward to the last 10 years of your life. Do you want to be active and doing things you enjoy?”

2. Phone a friend

When Guy hung up his swimmers 11 years ago, he needed a new way to motivate himself.

“I didn’t have the push to be the best in the world at sport, so I needed to find something to get me up in the morning,” Guy says.

For him, it meant starting a group training program so he had a schedule he couldn’t break and he suggests others follow suit.

“Buddying-up with a partner and exercising with them or doing a group or team exercise is a smart strategy to keep motivated,” he says.

3. Ease into exercise

Guy says he’s lost count of the number of over 50s he’s met who have gone too hard and too fast when taking up a new exercise program.

“Warming up the muscles is important,” he says. “Jumping straight into team sport and going flat-out is not smart.”

Instead, he suggests starting slow and working on flexibility.

“Malleability and flexibility decline as you get older so bending the wrong way or lifting something heavy without a warm-up can get you in a lot of trouble,” he says.

"Jumping straight into team sport and going flat-out is not smart."

group runners

4. Start small

It can take some time to form a new habit (one study even suggests up to 254 days). Starting small is likely to prove more motivating. Whether that’s swapping a soft drink for water or adding an extra workout to your week, making gradual changes stops you getting overwhelmed and throwing in the towel. 

“Small changes don’t seem like a lot, but at the end of a year you can have made dramatic changes to your health,” he says.

“Small changes don’t seem like a lot, but at the end of a year you can have made dramatic changes to your health.”

5. Be safe

If you’ve been leading an inactive lifestyle, have heart disease or a family history of heart disease – or any other major health problem – talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise programs. They can help you decide on activities that are best suited to you.

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