In 1986 Brett Gartner was one of the top swimmers in the nation. When you consider the depth of talent in swimming here that says a lot about his athleticism and physical abilities. At one time he was ranked top 20 in breaststroke, free style and butterfly. However, in 1996 when he ceased swimming things started to change.
With only sporadic bursts of effort put into maintaining his once championship fitness and physique it wasn't long before the tell tale signs of being an ex-athlete started to catch up. In 2006 his eating and lack of training saw his weight balloon up to 136kg - almost 50kg heavier than when he was swimming only a decade earlier. Relying on his genetics and some well timed bursts of work he managed to get his weight down to 98kg via some intense bike trainer workouts and cycling. But without the discipline and support to maintain this he saw the exact same problems arise as originally - his weight would yo yo up and down and without some sensible diet guidelines it was easy for him to put on weight quickly. Swimmers consume enormous amounts of food to fuel their massive workouts and often find difficulty reigning their appetite back in after they have retired. Brett's quick successes with weight loss were stymied by poor eating choices and a penchant for beer! Over the next few years his weight would continue to yo yo until he finally decided to make a a positive change once and for all.
Now at 122kg he realised that if he was to be a good father and partner he needed to make sure he was going to be healthy enough to be around. He says, "I'd finally decided that I was a fat fuck and wasn't going to have much future without action". While having explored many avenues of fitness - his background is a BSc in Sports Coaching and he is also a certified strength and conditioning and swimming coach - the simplicity of kettlebell training drew him in. "The simplicity of kettlebells attracted me, as I had outlined a go to gym strength plan to help cycling and it would have involved almost one and a half hours in the gym and fifteen to twenty exercises. As a father juggling work and home commitments time was something I had to work hard with my family to claim back." He bought a 16kg and 24kg bell along with Pavel's Enter the Kettlebell and "fiddled around at home" but realized he needed more structure and some guidance on how to put it all together - diet, training and lifestyle.
"I still remember my first session - Andrew made me do 122 push ups and for the rest of the week putting hand to mouth was excruciating but I was determined to attend three group sessions a week for as long as it took. I had read everything Dragon Door Australia put on the web and watched all of your videos and realized you were someone I could trust to get me where I wanted to go because of the depth of your knowledge and past client results achieved".
One of the most over looked parts of Brett's success, and one that we are always impressing on people is having the full support of your partner and family. And Brett's case was no different, "My wonderful girlfriend Linda and I had negotiated time so we could both become healthier, without this step and her support in following the diet together it would have been challenging because family obligations may have got in the way.
Also I loved it. Picking up the 16 made me realize I was no longer the fit athlete I was during my teens and early twenties. I love the minimalism of the Dragon Door Australia gym, metal and rubber and no music, no distraction. With a kettlebell in hand you can't think of anything except the now and the execution of the next rep, to do otherwise could be harmful. This element was kind of meditative as the rest of the worries of the week, work and future are pushed aside to focus on the essential...namely survival!
Since I started kettlebell training the results have been amazing, and not the obvious weight loss things, but smaller details - Linda can wrap her arms around me completely and I says I don't dent the bed anymore when I get in. I can chase my three year old Samara around without getting tired and know that if I feel like cycling, swimming or surfing again - or anything for that matter - that my body will be able to cope with it."
With Brett's plans now including the first Australian RKC
in November if 2012 as well as a crack at the Beast Tamer (and why not, given he now warms up by doing Get Ups with a 36kg bell) the sky is back to being the limit having reclaimed his health and well being. With further plans to drop the last few kilos required to get him back to his goal weight of 85kgs (his race weight from almost twenty years ago) there's no doubt that Brett belongs on our Wall of Strength at Dragon Door Australia, as well as to be featured as our first "Stronger Than You" recipient.