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Fitness & Health

23rd Apr 2019

Businessman overcomes terrible back injury to become shredded and ready for the boxing ring

Paul Babai struggled to put his socks on and even found it difficult to sit at the dinner table. Now he's 10kg lighter and competed in a recent boxing match

Alex Roberts

After suffering a severe slipped disc, one man was left with nowhere to turn when normal physiotherapy failed

Businessman Paul Babai struggled to put his socks on, and even found it difficult to sit at the dinner table with family.

Everyday tasks such as sitting at the dinner table and picking up his niece became all too tricky for Babai.

However, he then took on a mobile personal trainer and got completely shredded. The 35-year-old also recently put what he learned to the test by taking part in a charity boxing match.

Things could have worked out so differently for Babai, who once feared he would never be active again.

“I had a slipped disc in my lower back and had to go for emergency surgery because of the extent to which the disc was trapping my nerve. Whenever you hear the phrase ‘back surgery’ you panic, thinking that you’ll never do sport again. Mentally that was a huge blow.”

While the surgery was initially successful, he began suffering from chronic back pain, despite weeks of intensive physiotherapy. His injury soon became debilitating, affecting his everyday life in ways he could never have imagined.

Camden-born Babai was almost out of options before turning to mobile personal training service, PGPT. This move has had a life-changing impact, he says.

Babai has now recovered fully from the crippling chronic back pain he was suffering from, and recently fulfilled a lifelong dream of competing in his first ever boxing match.

“When you’re not in pain you take every day things for granted. When you’re in pain, it’s all-consuming. Living with it every day was a trigger for me; walking up the stairs, sitting down, lifting up my niece, putting on my socks and shoes – it was always there.”

He vividly remembers the moment he realised he had to try alternatives to ease his back pain.

“The final straw was at a big family dinner and I just couldn’t sit at the table any longer. I had to go into the living room while everyone was still eating and lie down on a hard floor, thinking, ‘I can’t live like this, there has to be another way.'”

Babai turned to PGPT, a leading mobile personal training service in London. PGPT helped him to devise a comprehensive strength and conditioning programme. They also overhauled his diet to help him build muscle around his lower back.

Working out three or four times a week and building far greater portions of protein into his daily meals, Babai began to make crucial, incremental gains.

Before and after: Paul’s daily diet

Breakfast: WAS – Cereal / NOW – Porridge or eggs

Lunch: WAS – Croque Madame (cheese and ham toastie), pasta, or chips / NOW – Chicken salad

Dinner: WAS – Unhealthy Nando’s option / NOW – Salmon, rice and vegetables

Snacks: WAS – Chocolate or crisps / NOW – Protein shakes, nuts and fruit

He is now living life five kg lighter and at 10 per cent body fat. However, most importantly, Babai is completely pain-free.

The Londoner says the collaborative culture at PGPT helped him lose this weight and overcome injury.

“The team creates a WhatsApp group with each of their clients to ensure you are staying on track and have all the support you need. It makes you feel like you have a team around you, like a professional athlete. I find that very motivating, especially when you have an injury, which has so many ups and downs.”

After many years dreaming of competing in a boxing match, Babai finally fulfilled that dream earlier this month, having made a full recovery from the chronic back problems.

“I was at the lowest of lows, thinking I’d never do sport again or live a normal life, but PGPT have totally turned that around. They’ve made it possible for me to not just get back to where I was, but to feel better than I ever have.”

If you – or someone you know – has made an impressive transformation with a story to tell, you could be featured on JOE’s Transformation Tuesday!

Just send your nominations to [email protected]