‘It’s changed my life absolutely...’

Mike Jackson working out with coach Ray Pharoah at Southern Legion, Hilsea
Mike Jackson working out with coach Ray Pharoah at Southern Legion, Hilsea

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He is known to clubbers as the cool, fun-loving DJ, always ready with a great tune to rock the dance floor and some witty banter

But despite having a music career that has seen him play to thousands of ravers at events such as Mutiny and Isle of Wight Festival, a loving wife and two beautiful boys, just six months ago Mike Jackson could not see a future for himself. He was plagued with anxiety and depression and had been suffering from serious long-term health problems which ultimately led to a breakdown in November.

The 39-year-old from Eastney admits that it was his lowest point after a lifetime plagued with low self-esteem over his weight.

He says: ‘At that point I didn’t think I’d live to see 50.

‘I was carrying a lot of weight and it was literally squeezing my internal organs, causing me so much pain I’d been on medication for acid reflux for 15 years.

‘Sometimes it was so bad I thought I was having a heart attack.

‘I was feeling very low, to the point I was signed off work.’

But fast forward almost six months and Mike is a changed man – and it’s all because he answered an online call from Southern Legion strength and conditioning gym.

The offer was for a free six-week transformation course for a person who really deserved it.

He took a risk, signed up, and has dropped more than 20lbs and can easily do 90 push ups in one session. He couldn’t even do one when he started.

But, even more importantly, he is off the medication and his self-esteem has soared.

And now he is sharing his experiences in deeply personal, and often very moving, Facebook videos.

Mike says: ‘I have always been big and my weight has yo-yo’d over the years.

‘If you’d told me 12 weeks ago I’d be at a point where I could do a 1,200m run, 90 pushups and 90 kettle bell swings using 24kg weights, I would never have believed you.

‘I was never massive on the outside, it was all internal.

‘Before I started this course I was taking a strong drug called Ranitidine.

‘I had excruciating heartburn and at points event Ranitidine didn’t work.

‘And in the past I’ve thought I was having a heart attack.

‘It’s one of the reasons I’ve been so terrified of dying young. Of not seeing my kids grow up. ‘

Mike, who is an IT expert by day, and his wife Emma, waited until they were in their 30s to have children. Mike says they wanted to make sure there were mature enough to give them a solid grounding.

He added: ‘But recently I realised my sedentary lifestyle could cut short my life anyway, and that terrified me.

‘It’s one of the reasons why I had to do the transformation course.

‘It’s why I had to be honest with my coach, Ray, and do these Facebook videos. I had to motivate myself so that I couldn’t go back.

‘I was unhappy, I was miserable and that kind of thinking led to my depression spiralling completely out of control.

‘And now, just less than three months later, I feel like a new man.’

As well as the weight loss and the enormous improvement in his mental and physical wellbeing, there have been some other personal changes he decided to share with viewers of his online video diaries.

‘People joke and say, “Oh wow, I bet you can finally see your penis”,’ says Mike.

‘But, actually, for the first time in a long time, I can.

‘And it’s a big achievement.’

The improvement in Mike’s health has had an impact on family life too.

He has even taken his sons to watch him training at the gym – a moment which filled him with pride.

Mike says: ‘They are really impressed with how well I’ve done.

‘They even help me out with the home work Ray sets me for the days I’m not at the gym.

He adds: ‘I’ve never really been the sort of person who could approach and talk to people who were mega fit because I felt so out of the world they were in.

‘Those sort of people were in a different galaxy to me.

‘But now I’ve made so many new friends through the gym who are humble, friendly and inspire me.

‘It has absolutely changed my life and I will hop on that soap box and say, “If you’re serious about changing your life, do the transformation course”.’

Mike’s aim now is to lose 4st by his 40th birthday.

His coach Ray has committed to being by his side every single step of the way.