David Heard, chief executive of health and fitness group The Fitness Consultancy, which includes professional sportsmen and woman under the Team Fitness banner and exercise for the ‘grey’ generation under Agex, has a rare combination of skills.
A long involvement with sport, which started with selection as a schoolboy international cross-country runner and continues to this day through extreme skiing, mountain hiking and testing gym work, has kept him aware of the needs and drives of elite athletes.
His almost obsessive interest in all aspects of fitness training, physical and mental development embraces qualifications in coaching (skiing and weight-training), specialist soft tissue work – Bowen Therapy (Australia and Europe) – sport and remedial massage, exercise therapy and sports rehabilitation, psychometrics and nutritional consultancy.
Add an experience of the ancient disciplines of yoga and ayurvedic medicine with an easy familiarity with the modern technology of high performance training and the result is a very experienced and innovative exercise physiologist.
An in-depth association with the renowned training organisation, the Leadership Trust, where David went from being one of the original clients to tutor and trustee, lead him into a greater understanding of human motivation, drive and ambition. Skills that he uses in all aspects of his work today.As the innovative creator of the unique holiday company, Club 18-30, he experienced first-hand the effects that sport could play in enjoyment and growth. In those early days, before the club scene even existed, the company featured an incredible sports programme – water skiing, sailing, scuba diving, wind-surfing, canoeing, para-gliding, horse riding, tennis, snow boarding and skiing among others. Plus adventure trips like jeep safaris, treks and white-water rafting. Again he has put this unique experience to good use in subsequent ventures and projects.
He is also one of only a handful of British people to work in the world-famous rehabilitation clinic, the Dikoul Institute in Moscow. This pioneering work lead David to open the National Rehabilitation Centre for the Paralysed in Gloucestershire. There he was chief executive for nine years working with a team of ten specialist therapists (mostly from a sports science background) and using sports training in the rehabilitation of people with chronic paralysis. It was this innovative work that provided the research material that earned David his Masters’ degree (with distinction) in Exercise Therapy, closely related to mental well-being. From all this he has evolved a unique approach to performance enhancement, and through his company – the Fitness Consultancy – bringing this whole range of skills to sports specific applications.
This has enabled him to work successfully with athletes across a range of sports from extreme endurance events (the Sahara Marathon and the Ironman triathlon) through athletics (track and field), golf, tennis, cricket, competitive rock-climbing, martial arts, football, rugby, skiing, American football, and motor racing.
And through the charity Sportability, David exercises this understanding in the development of sports programmes and events for people with paralysis. It is his phrase “taking the ‘dis’ out of disability” with the corollary “focusing on ability” that has been the guiding principle of the organisation.
Now he brings all this experience to bear in his Life Coaching programmes. After two long periods of virtually full-time study with Newcastle College refining and honing his skills, and post-grad studies in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Neuro-Linguistic Programming, David turned to assisting individuals with his 1-on-1 Life Coaching sessions. It is he says, “The culmination of a life well lived.”