We try... Personal training with the Bodydoctor

David Marshall has helped to improve the physique and fitness of professional footballers, models and some of the lead actors in Game of Thrones. News & Stories editor Emily Peters attended a training session to learn more.

For every body

Fortunately, Marshall is a firm believer that his programme works for everyone, whether young or old, male or female, athlete or sedentary. He’s quick to point out that “you don’t have to be wealthy to be healthy”, and promises that if you’ve got weight to lose, by the end of his programme you’ll have dropped up to three dress sizes. And if weight loss is not the aim, the Bodydoctor’s regime will give you definition, improve your fitness levels and generally put your body into balance.

Within minutes of stepping onto the treadmill, my insecurities had vanished. Marshall later told me that his incessant jibes were a deliberate attempt to make the session fun, put me at ease, and release any tension that might prevent me from following his instructions to the letter. This is something he does with all of his clients, whether they’re a mum-of-three with a bit too much tum, or a professional athlete with strict fitness goals.

After 30 minutes, I was lying on a bench lifting dumbbells – I was performing ‘inclined chest files’ to strengthen my upper and inner chest muscles, apparently – and was simply focused on performing each move correctly. Attention to detail is second nature to Marshall, who meticulously watches your every move, carefully advising adjustments until your body is in exactly the right position for each exercise, to ensure maximum results. I’m assured that the other Bodydoctor trainers are equally attentive.

By the end of my hour-long introductory session, Marshall had put every muscle in my body through its paces. “The idea is that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts,” he explains. The Bodydoctor’s programme is sequential, so each exercise counterbalances any adverse effects from the previous exercise. Yoga follows the same principle, so this is something I’m familiar with. “If you look at the exercises in isolation, they might seem similar to standard exercises; but they’re not, because we pay great attention to detail, how they’re performed and how they’re put together,” he explains.

Up-hill struggle

But Marshall wasn’t always an expert on matters of fitness, or the go-to trainer for footballers and catwalk models. In fact, he’s spent the best part of 40 years mastering the series of exercises that I tried. While I’m recovering from the session, he tells me how the Bodydoctor brand came to be.

“I wanted to be a footballer as a kid,” he explains. “But when I was 15 I injured my knee badly, and by the time I was 17 I needed surgery. In those days, what is now a one-day operation was a two-week job, and afterwards any chance of playing football professionally was gone.”

For Marshall, a life without football was not an option, so he decided to build up the muscle around his knee to give himself the best chance of playing again. He needed an exercise regime that would make his body strong but flexible. “I went to a gym and everything was Arnie-time and bodybuilding, so I realised I had to find my own way,” he recalls. After 20 years of trial and error, the Bodydoctor was born.

Today, Marshall runs two fitness centres – one at Eaton Square and the other on South Audley Street. The latter only opened in January 2014, but had to close shortly afterwards due to flooding. Thankfully, today’s shiny, mirror-walled basement studio, complete with beautiful granite-tiled bathrooms, power showers and fluffy towels, is most definitely back in action.

A stone’s throw from Mount Street, it’s perfectly placed for a workout before a relaxing afternoon spent browsing the neighbourhood’s luxury boutiques, or enjoying a protein-based lunch at Scott’s. “I love this part of Mayfair, and I’ve got so many clients who work here or close by,” Marshall says. “Increasingly, we train people who work in the financial sector, because they’ve got very high-pressured jobs and can’t afford to spend 45 minutes travelling to a gym. It needs to be on their doorstep, it needs to be efficient and it needs to be effective. We serve a purpose here.”

Marshall’s keen to ensure that this purpose is also felt beyond the realm of Mayfair and Belgravia. His next goal is to put his programme through clinical trials, because he believes cardiac rehab and prehab is the future of heart disease prevention. Accreditation might seem like an ambitious target, but for the only fitness programme in the world to have been approved by a major health insurance company, it certainly seems achievable. Besides, Marshall’s never been one to fall at the first hurdle.

Further information

Fancy giving the Bodydoctor programme a try?
Click here for a free sample of the Bodydoctor: The Fitness and Nutrition Programme ebook, or call 0207 235 2211 to book an appointment.