It All Starts With a Single Step - George McArdle Interview pt 1

Updated: Sep 15, 2019

My girlfriend, Sarah, is an active girl. She has a couple gym memberships, a PT, the lot.

Her personal trainer is a guy called George McArdle, I knew very little about him other than that he makes me girlfriend cry on a regular basis, in a good way.

He is a guy who struggled with his mental health, unhealthy habits and from what I can glean from our conversation, a lack of motivation. But one day he turned it around, I could tell you what it was he did and why but he says it best. So here is my conversation with George McArdle of First Step Fitness.

Rory – Hey George. So, first of all, are you watching Bakeoff?

George – I am not (laugh)

Rory – I had to ask (laugh)

George – Not a fan since it left the BBC

Rory – I love it

OK so. Let’s get the first one under way. Sarah said that you are quite open about your mental health. Do you remember the first time you recognised that there was something not right? And how did it manifest itself.

George – Deep. There’s been lots of instances. I'd felt down for prolonged periods many times, dealt with the symptoms of OCD as a child before I ever knew that was a thing but what really stands out is the first time that I went to my Dr. and finally accepted anti-depressants, I'd spoke to my Dr. a few times about not feeling great but always knocked back the notion of taking medication until one day I woke up and I was supposed to go to work and it was like I was literally paralysed. I just could not face going there so I knew I had to do something, I called in sick, drove to my doctors instead and begrudgingly took a prescription from him, willing to try anything at that point to feel better.

Rory – Do you remember at what age that was? And was the "rock bottom" moment where you became what you are now?

George – That would have been around 2006, rock bottom was much later and the final straw that got me to where I am now was later than that too.

Rory – Are you able to tell me what that is?

George – Things just got a lot worse before they got better.

Rory – Can you tell me a bit about what rock bottom was for you?

George – I think rock bottom for me was a period where I was just existing, I massively wanted out of this world. I spent my entire day intoxicated, and shut myself off from everyone and just lived off junk food.

Rory – And do you remember what sent you in the direction you took? Did you see something or someone that made you want to bridge the gap between where you were and what you are now?

George – Yes, I saw a TV program on MTV. It was one of those "year to change your life" deals, the difference for this though was that the guy on the show only had 2 months, I think he was leaving or something and couldn't commit to the whole time they were wanting to film his transformation. The production team agreed to help him anyway with an intense 60 day slog. At the start of each day there was a scene where the number would count down, I remember it was animated like paper being peeled off of a flip chart. I thought to myself "I could do 60 days..." I called Stace (my girlfriend) up who was in town and asked her to pick me up a flip chart and decided that for the next 60 days I would do everything I could to benefit myself.

The start of every day I wrote the number on it and documented it all on Instagram.

Day one being at least 23 stone I think I went and ran up these fucking horrible steps that used to absolutely kill me (still do 😂) these steps would later be the reason behind me naming my business First Step Fitness.

Rory – That’s awesome, dude. So cool.

And last one, do you still struggle with your mental health now and if so, how do you battle this?

George – I definitely still struggle, it can be a lot of pressure in my position feeling like you have to live up to society’s perception of what a PT "should" look like. I navigate my lows by using techniques that I've learned/developed over years of dealing with this stuff. It's hard to explain in a way but I believe everything is a choice, I imagine to someone in the depths of depression that could sound a bit harsh, and to clarify I don't believe anyone knowingly chooses to feel that way but we do have a choice of where to go once we feel these things. You can lay down and let it engulf you, or you can get the fuck up and go do something else. I find that if you fill your time you have no choice but to forget about it, I focus my attention on what I can control, the other shit I've already identified as out of my control so no amount of stressing or rumination can assist me with it.

Another thing that might not be so popular that was absolutely crucial in my recovery was getting sober, I am currently over 5 and a half years sober, I started for those 60 days we talked about and I never drank a drop again. My head is jumbled enough without adding fuel to the fire.

Rory – That’s great George, thank you so much.

George – You're welcome, mate.

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