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Sir Rod Stewart, 78, has been dazzling fans on global stages for over 60 years and for the last 23, it has been Gary O’Connor keeping him fit and agile. The personal trainer spoke exclusively with Express.co.uk, explaining the secret to staying with the star for so long all the while avoiding the public eye.
It is one of the first time’s the trainer has been outspoken about his incredible career and his close relationship with the music icon.
But Gary revealed that this is the “secret to my success”.
Gary describes himself as “the original gray man” and is normally in the background silently supporting his boss.
He told Express.co.uk: “If you want to survive in a celebrity capacity you need to be a background kind of person really.
“Staying low is key because I’m not and don’t desire to be a public persona.”
Gary, who also stayed in Los Angeles for 10 years to be closer to his client, explained that he approaches his work not so much as training an international icon but more like any other job.
He shared: “When I first did it my main thing was doing my job good enough to stay employed.”
The former gym manager had been casually enjoying his day job when a series of fortunate events led him to Sir Rod, and having left his “comfort” job, Gary’s entire lifestyle was on the line.
To make himself even more indispensable to Sir Rod, Gary began picking up “on the job training” while on tour.
Over time, the trainer also became Sir Rod’s personal trainer and an assistant tour manager.
Gary explained: “A trainer’s like one hour a day, it’s not enough to sustain a career so I needed to expand my remit to enable me to stay employed.”
While many would say Gary was incredibly lucky to have been plucked from obscurity by Sir Rod, the trainer himself says it’s not luck but fortune that’s on his side.
He said: “This opportunity didn’t come along until I was 40 so I did 20 years in the fitness industry. It’s more a case of I was in the right place at the right time.”
Gary also explained that personal training is much like being “a counsellor” and for long-term training it heavily relies on the trainer and client getting along.
He continued: “The dynamic of personal training is quite unique, especially long term, you build a relationship with the person you work with, bit like a hairdresser, the client comes to you with all their problems because it’s a golden period of time.
“Finding a client and holding them long-term is a question of whether you fit with that person’s personality.”
While Gary is usually a “gray man”, the trainer spoke out to “raise the profile” of myeloma and the charity Myeloma UK.
Myeloma is an incurable blood cancer that his sister, Jan Jenner, was originally diagnosed with in 2012.
On Saturday, January 21, the trainer at the age of 63 completed the SAS selection route on Pennyfan mountain in South Wales, finishing with a time of six hours and 27 minutes and raising £3,370 in the process.
Gary’s JustGiving page for the charity will remain open for a few more days and can be found here.
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