James Pook, a.k.a. Coach Pooky, broke the chain attached to his 9-5 desk job and pursued his passions, becoming head coach at CrossFit Putney.
I used to use Fitness as a way to deal with stress (I used to be a director for a media agency), but the more I got into it I found that the more right I was with myself. Then I had time for others and in the process could help them get right with themselves. A quote I live by is “You are the most important person in your life.” My interpretation is that I need to be 100% with myself so that I can help others; if I'm not 100% how can I be 100% with someone else. The focus of health and fitness shouldn’t be on aesthetics. If we focus on nutrition, training and having our heads in the right place then those pieces of the puzzle will all come together with the best result for you.
Hey Pooky! Could you tell our readers a little more about yourself?
Hey all! So my name is James Pook aka CoachPooky. I'm 31 and currently the Head Coach at Crossfit Putney, and I compete around the world in different functional fitness competitions. Originally from South Africa, I have been in the UK for 14 years but am still very much a beach baby at heart.
What does #liveinnermost mean to you?
It means expressing myself through staying active with a positive attitude everyday and being the best person I can be.
Your two favourite Innermost products, and why?
The Strong Protein (OMG that taste!!) and The Detox Booster. As my focus is to keep my strength at a level I can compete on any given day, the Strong one gives me everything I need to maintain and gain when needed. The Detox Booster is the first thing I drink every morning to revitalise my body after a night's sleep.
What do you do to maintain a healthy lifestyle?
I train twice a day. My morning session is more cardio focused, then the PM is weightlifting, gymnastics and a few workouts. I eat around 4000cals a day and make sure I get 7 1/2 to 8hrs of sleep.
How did you get into CrossFit? How did you find the change in career from your 9-5 desk job?
So until I got into coaching, I was a director in a media agency and used to train at Gymbox. I was always a sporty kid but only found myself in an actual gym for the first time at the age of 22. During my time at Gymbox. I used to train with one of the PT's who started doing Crossfit while I was doing olympic weightlifting. He put me through a few WODs, and I was hooked (it reminded me of the feeling after a tough rugby match). After doing my Crossfit Level 1, the PT I used to train with moved to a Crossfit box, and after a visit they offered me a job! So I shadowed the head coach there while I worked through my notice period, and then I was in and never looked back. It has honestly been the best decision of my life.
How has being a Head Coach at Crossfit Putney changed since the pandemic and how have you adjusted?
It hasn’t been easy especially with the constant changes. It has felt like I’ve been riding a yoyo, but one amazing thing has come out of this is our community. The support we have gotten from them has been truly amazing, and my coaching team has been amazing! So we have managed to keep our heads above water and are constantly looking at ways to improve our offering.
In your opinion, how has the fitness industry in general adapted to the various lockdowns? Do you think any practices have changed forever?
I think some handled it very well and some very badly. We needed to understand that at a time where people’s money was more important than ever to them, we couldn’t take anything for granted and that a gym membership is a huge luxury. That being said it is also a lifeline to so many, so if gyms and PT’s were open-minded, then there could have been some amazing stories to come out of this lockdown. Another big plus has been to see the advancements in technology within this sector. Apps specifically were super expensive to build, but now PT’s and gyms can get them for a far more competitive price. I think one thing that will change forever is that even after gyms reopen, they will still offer some form of online membership or offering.
Why do you think that the ability to adapt is important?
It's hugely important, and I have seen it first hand. We need to realise that everyone is replaceable, so how do you make that thing that needs replacing not you? Think outside the box and be willing to take a risk.
What are your top tips for adapting to a new situation or environment quickly?
Communication and research. Talk to your team and community, and get them involved in your thought process. Do polls on social channels, and get real time feedback from the people who are clients or potential clients.
Have you upheld your new year’s resolutions?
Yes, myself and Becs (another Innermost ambassador) have gone refined sugar free, and while it can get pretty interesting while shopping, we also find it a fun challenge.
Has there been another time in your life where you felt you had to adapt to a situation? How did you handle this?
5 years ago, I decided to quit drinking. At the time I was still working in media and had a regular Thursday night out with the lads, so this wasn't an easy one for me, but I stuck to my guns. Also if the people around you are truly your friends. they will accept you for who you are. So pints became orange juice, but I still got my rounds in so no one was short changed.
Do you think the events of 2020/21 have made you more resilient? Are you proud of how you’ve managed to adapt?
I have certainly learnt not to sweat the small stuff, to focus on the bigger picture and to really appreciate what I have around me. I can honestly say that I wake up every day with a smile on my face.