How Our 2006 Cover Star Is Building Lifelong Muscle

David Morton

From Men's Health

What were you up to in 2006? Probably watching Sven-Göran Eriksson’s England crash out of the World Cup on penalties, with “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley on the pub stereo. Oh, and there will have been people smoking in that pub. All of which means: it was absolutely ages ago.

Jamie France was a picture of health – our picture of health, in fact. Aged 28, his monochrome six-pack adorned the cover of Men’s Health in July 2006, the zenith of his gym activity. “I would train twice a day with a bunch of mates, and we’d absolutely kill it,” he says. “We’d lift heavy and max out every session. And I’d honestly eat whatever. Chocolate, burgers, crisps. I could get away with it!”

Only that wasn’t the peak of his fitness. Now 42, he’s still on the up and up. Over the course of the 14 years that separate that cover and his appearance in this Fit at Any Age special, he has constructed a successful career in the luxury furniture business and learned how to be a good dad to his four children, all the while managing to get into the best shape of his life: stronger, leaner and infinitely more mobile than he was in his twenties.

“I remember my dad saying, ‘Listen, son, when you hit 30, you’re going to struggle to carry on eating and doing whatever you want!’” Jamie says.

As fathers tend to be, he was right. The predicted slowing of a man’s metabolism is inevitable, but simply ramping up your workouts is not the answer.

“First things first, I aim to stay in a calorie deficit,” says Jamie. “As our metabolisms slow down, a lot of guys try to train harder. They think they can train their way out of it, but you can’t. If you sit in a slight calorie deficit, you still feel great, you can train hard and you don’t feel like you’re ‘on a diet’.”

His workout regime had to change with the times, too. Where once he would “kill it” with his mates twice a day, converting his garage into a home gym means he can now fit in sessions around his job and kids.

Instead of spending ages in the gym, having a chat and not really getting much done, today I can do 40 minutes in the garage and I’m done,” he says. “If I have a busy day, I just get up half an hour earlier.”

Rather than sticking to a programme, Jamie goes on how his body feels, mixing up rapid bodyweight circuits and his new-found love of interval sessions.

“I hated aerobic fitness. I never did running or rowing in my twenties. Then I started following @redzonerunning on Instagram and got into interval training. Before you know it, you’ve done 35 minutes and burned 700kcal.”

For all the benefits of his shorter, sharper workout regimen, Jamie says the most important tweaks came outside the garage. He credits non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) as the key to maintaining his fitness in his fifth decade without disrupting his routine or family.

“I try to find ways to add extra exercise into my day. Don’t park right by the shops. Let the kids scoot to school and then carry the scooters home. Go for a 45-minute walk while they’re in their ballet or swimming lessons. Being a dad is basically CrossFit if you do a bit extra.”

While Jamie’s body shape may be slightly beyond most of us, his approach to his age and fitness is as realistic as it gets. You will not meet a more genuine bloke.

“As you get older, the key is: don’t panic. Don’t try to get in shape as quickly as possible before it’s ‘too late’,” he says. “You need to see the long game. You’re getting fit for the rest of your life. You’ve got all the time you need.”

Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.


You Might Also Like