The Right Balance


If you have the fitness capacity of a slug and the nutritional content of a McDonald’s dustbin – then we know just the place to get you motivated.
It’s official. I hate going to the gym. I hate running on the treadmill like a gerbil on its wheel. I would rather gnaw at my own foot than follow the programme laid out by a pubescent instructor who’s far more interested in the pert butt on the girl next to me than concentrating on firming up mine.For many, the answer is to throw in the towel, buy some weights, pump iron at home, while making running use of the canal routes, parks and footpaths etc.But that still leaves the issue of motivation and professional advice. Ordinarily this would be a bit of a hurdle, but not since Andy Jeffries had the ingenuity to create Pro Balance, a personal training fitness studio, aimed at re-focussing and motivating anti-gym campaigners like myself.Andy is a bit like having a training buddy and although this is essentially a gym space, I’m not sharing it with anybody else.

Before being re-familiarised with the gym equipment, Andy formulates my own health and fitness report, which involves entering data based on my age, height, weight, heart rate and lung capacity and waist/hip ratio.  In terms of body fat percentage, I’m as lean as a free range organic chicken, but as for lung capacity – if I get trapped under water, I’m buggered. Andy has just the sort of exercises to get my heart rate racing and lungs working.

A low boredom threshold and tendency to daydream (I have flashbacks to my end of year school report) are my biggest issue, so Andy has me flipping from one exercise to another before my brain and body has time to settle into a routine. And that’s the key with this sort of personal training, it’s so prescriptive. If it’s training for the Great North Run, preparing for the ski slopes, or practising for a golf comp, Andy will devise programmes accordingly. And if you simply just want to go for a run, he’ll crack the whip at the side of you.  

There’s also a few new additions to Pro Balance – the long shiny pole is a bit of a giveaway as to private pole dancing lessons for the girls (held by Faye Warne) and the WellWorks clinic provides nutritional advice to adopt a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Barbara Louvrou who runs WellWorks is your regular guardian angel. She mixes life coaching skills with nutritional advice and sprinkles a spoonful of support on top. But where many nutritionists bully and shame you into adopting a healthier lifestyle (take note Gillian McKeith) Barbara places power in the minds of the individual as opposed to their stomachs.  She explains “My approach is very much based on a life coaching model. I pose questions, making suggestions and lead them to things, but I don’t give them the answers. They begin to understand their own habits and think for themselves.”

When clients come to Barbara for a direct route to healthy living, she greets them with an evaluation form. As well as asking them to keep a food diary of what they have consumed over a couple of weeks, Barbara encourages them to record their feelings towards the food – Were they hungry when they ate? Were they feeling depressed at all? Did they feel dizzy or have cravings? By monitoring thoughts, feelings and actions, it helps the client identify what triggers them to eat unhealthily so they can pick up on the warning signs in the future.

And as much as Barbara is all for encouraging the client to take control, she’s also there to hold your hand. This can be in the form of looking at a varied diet, providing recipes, going personal food shopping to slap your wrists when you clear the shelf of Doritos. She’ll even come to your kitchen to show you how to cook – just don’t expect her to do the dishes afterwards!

After an hour’s workout and long hard look at your eating plan, you may be feeling the burn, but you’re one step closer to being perfectly well balanced.

Pro Balance Fitness Studio, Lloyds House, Jacksons Row, Manchester M2 5WD. For more information including prices go to, 0161 833 4777.


Vanessa Lees

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