Amol Rajan: Bidding adieu to life's flab with the mighty 'Quinn'

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A few years ago I was convinced that only lazy or rich people got a personal trainer. The lazy types got them because they couldn't motivate themselves to do a few sit-ups and burpies and sumo squats, or whatever. The rich got them because they didn't know what to do with their money and paying someone to shout at you was a happy reminder of boarding school, particularly among the male contingent.

To my initial horror and now-constant glee, I have been proved wrong. This summer – is it summer yet? – I got a personal trainer. He has hugely improved my life, re-acquainting me with parts of my body not seen for 20 years, increasing my flexibility and making me intensely aware that I drink too much. I've lost a stone and feel a sudden surge of solidarity with those repulsive goons who are paid by L'Oréal to tell you they're worth it. The main reason for acquiring a personal trainer isn't, disappointingly, that I'm suddenly rich.

In fact, it's the cheapness of the trainer. My girlfriend alerted me to a website,, where young personal trainers who haven't got their full qualifications yet can be hired at a huge discount.

I used to think it would cost £60 an hour to endure this agony. In fact, you can get 10 hour-long sessions for £300 and – crucially – split the cost of a session with however many people are doing it, like sharing a taxi. This means that, if you get two mates along, it's a tenner each for a session. Who of you, given what you spend on booze each night, couldn't afford £10 a week? Some, perhaps – but not all. At first I thought I was party to a giant sectarian joke, when a chap who looked exactly like the former Irish striker Niall Quinn turned up, said he came from Belfast, and then revealed his name to be... Niall. But in fact he wasn't a professional doppelganger; rather, a very likeable guy who also does a bit of DJing. We'd get into a routine of seeing him each week, meeting at a park two minutes from my house, talking about weekend plans and doing more lunges and laps and planks and press-ups than I ever thought myself capable of. It became addictive. I used to think endorphins lived in the sea; now, I discovered they live in your head. It all adds up to an amazing thing. For lifelong fatties like me, an affordable, certain route to better health is a precious thing. If you're in the same boat, give Niall a call.

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