I found Real World Fitness after googling back pain recovery training and saw some of the recommendations from their clients on the website so thought I would give it a go.

This was October 2015. After stopping playing rugby in 2013 due to niggling injuries I had flared up a back injury caused by a mixture of driving 2,000 miles a month with work, sitting in an office all day and not doing enough core strength or flexibility work.

I had a prolapsed disc, causing sciatica and due to the pain I had stopped any training for about a year and a love of beer and food had helped me pile on some weight. I also had reached a point where I couldn’t put my socks on in a morning without pain and a struggle, which for anyone who has had a similar issue is a really morale sapping way to start the day.

Derran and Tim worked with me to understand what I could & couldn’t do (at this point I couldn’t squat or deadlift an empty barbell without pain) and talked through where I wanted to get to in the future. They then built an initial 3 month plan based on building my core strength, weak hamstrings and glutes and working me back up toward some of the main lifts. Previously during my rugby days I had squatted 100kg+ comfortably and neared 200kg for my deadlift so I also didn’t want to start from literally the bar in a public gym, so the private 121 PT was perfect for me as I rebuilt my confidence.

By December 2015 I had got a good level of strength and confidence back at the end of the three months, but I hadn’t really looked at my diet or nutrition. I had done a triathlon through work for fun and enjoyed it, so decided to sign up for a ‘Half Iron’ distance event in August 2016 to train toward.

Derran helped me build a new strength programme to supplement my triathlon training and also some nutrition parameters and targets for my body weight.

So, at the 1st January 2016 I was 112kg (17st 6lbs) and 31% body fat. The long road ahead had a number of milestones built in to it, which always meant I had short terms goals to achieve and every time I strayed or missed them a raised eyebrow from Derran was usually enough to quieten my excuses and regain some focus for the week/month ahead.

I need to be held accountable and the RWF team found just the right balance in holding me to my own personal commitments but with focus 90% of the time I could plan the odd boozy weekend with friends and family and not feel guilty as I knew it was part of the plan. These planned ‘cheat’ days or weekends actually helped me stay on the wagon.

And so on 21st August 2016 I completed my ‘Half Iron’ triathlon, a total distance of 70.3 miles in a time of 5 hours and 52 minutes. (Swim 1.2mile: 35m 25s / Bike 56mile: 3hr 5m / Run 13mile: 2hr 4m).


My target had been under 7 hours, near 6 if possible, but that meant I had to set PBs in every individual event. I weighed in before the event at 100kgs, so in the previous 8 months I had lost 12kgs, almost 2 stone. But in the final two months I had actually stopped worrying about the scales as my training had got harder and I had increased my calories to support the training. Plus I felt much more confident with how I looked so the number on the scales became secondary.


I will now be signing up for a full Iron Man triathlon in 2017 and will be working with the team on my programming for the next 12 months!

I cannot speak highly enough of what the team at RWF have done for me to support all aspects of my life and training over the past 10 months. Thank you!!!

Follow Mike’s continuing progress over on Instagram

“I couldn’t put my socks on in a morning without pain and a struggle… now I am doing a full IRONMAN” – Mike Grogan

January 19, 2019


of Derran Langston and Tim Wheatcroft


Derran Langston, Personal Trainer, Tim Wheatcroft