Beating the Bulge

Articles, Qatar Happening magazine, Qatar-based magazines


This article appeared in the February 2013 issue of Qatar Happening magazine. Download the PDF.

By Christina Maria Paschyn

Two years ago, Jordan Coles was overweight, underemployed and depressed. Then 22, he was still living with his folks and working a dead-end job at a government employment and benefits center. To top it off, the 5’10 Welshman tipped the scales at 210 pounds.

Coles thought his life really couldn’t get much worse.

But then he got sacked.

“I was told [I was fired] in the morning, and I literally went straight home. I was a bit upset and I thought, ‘alright, what am I going to do now?’” Coles recounted. 

That’s when he got serious about pulling himself out of his rut.

“So that day I remember moaning. But then I got home, I went out on my bike, and I thought, ‘I’m going to change my physique and I’m going to see what comes of it.’”

Over the next two months, Coles lost 35 pounds; today he weighs 175 pounds and sports a ripped body many would envy. But Coles’ personal transformation goes beyond the superficial. Six months ago he finally moved out of his parents’ home in Aberdare, Wales, to start a new life and career in Doha as a personal trainer for Absolute Fitness. His past experience, Coles says, gives him a professional edge.

“A lot of personal trainers have been healthy all their lives and they haven’t had to battle a weight issue, whereas I feel passionate about personal training because I can relate to my clients and what they are going through,” he said. “I’ve been there myself.”

If clients are willing to put in the effort, they will see benefits that extend beyond the physical, Coles says. The results may even prove inspirational.

“Exercise lifts you – it makes you a lot more alert and gives you energy. Obviously, then you feel better and you get more out of life,” he explained. “As soon as he saw my transformation, my brother started training himself. My mother and father have lost over 2-3 stones [about 28-42 pounds] each as well, so it’s been a family transformation.”

But you don’t have to slave away at the gym to get in shape. In fact, Coles insists less is more.

“In the beginning, I had a lot of free time on my hands, so I was exercising about 2-3 hours a day. Unfortunately, I really didn’t have the knowledge of the good ways of training until I took a course and qualified as a personal trainer,” he said. “At the time I seemed to be doing a lot of long-duration [cardio] activity. If I had incorporated high-intensity interval training instead, I would have gotten to my goal weight a lot faster.”

But don’t expect a quick fix, Coles warns.

“Don’t just have a personal trainer for a month and stop coming all of a sudden. Don’t go on a diet just for a month and lose a lot of weight, because you’re more likely to just pile it all back on. Unfortunately, this is what happens for a lot of people,” he advised. “You really have to make a lifestyle change.”

Nutrition is paramount. “Eighty percent importance comes down to nutrition. I can say that as an absolute fact because I was training 2-3 hours a day and then I got to a certain point where I wasn’t seeing changes in my body until I really started portion control and measuring my fats, protein and carb intake,” he explained.

Coles recommends eating five small meals a day; these should consist of as much “super foods,” like vegetables, as possible. He also suggests giving yourself one cheat day per week so you don’t experience too much of a junk food withdrawal.

Don’t know where to begin? Follow Coles’ lead. He exercises 5-6 times a week for about an hour at a time, incorporating a combination of strength training and high-intensity interval cardio.

“My sessions are very similar to what I give my clients. But obviously, it’s all about progression,” Coles said. “What really drove me on is that month by month I could see changes in my strength. I became a lot stronger, and in my fitness I was able to run a lot faster or for a longer distance. That alone is great for clients; as we go on, we do a lot of tests and measurements.”

It’s an approach that seems to work well for Martha Darby, 40, originally from Ireland. She has been training with Coles since October.

Jordan is really good to work with. He brings his own experience and personal fitness journey to the training which instantly made me feel “human” and made my goals achievable,” Darby said. “He is realistic and doesn’t expect you to train everyday or to stop eating the nice things in life! He provides lots of variety in the sessions so you never know what to expect and there is no fear of getting bored!”

But beyond the food, sweat and fitness routines, Coles says the number one thing a person needs to succeed, in weight loss and in life, is a positive attitude.

“There are going to be times when you’re aching and you don’t feel like coming to a [personal training] session. But what I try to get across to my clients is that it’s not just about losing weight. It’s about adopting a positive outlook to life in general,” Coles explained.

“You start living better, start taking care of yourself better and then everything seems to fall into place. I believe I would never have been offered this opportunity [in Qatar], doing a job that I love, if I hadn’t adopted that positive attitude. I probably would still be unemployed, overweight and unhappy.”

Jordan Coles is a personal trainer at Absolute Fitness, which offers personal training, group training, bootcamps, nutrition guidance and corporate/wellness solutions. The hourly rate for 1-1 Personal Training is 300 QAR. Or book 10 sessions for 2,500 QAR. Visit for more information and to hire a trainer.

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