THIS week Stephen decided it was time to work on my core strength and stability. He soon discovered I don’t really have a lot of either.

Our first session of the week started with step ups – standing with my heel on the slight step on the edge of a box on one foot, bringing the other foot down and forwards with my toe raised until my heel almost touched the floor.

This needs major powers of concentration to keep steady and not topple off the box sideways – but I suppose that’s the point.

Once I was warmed up, I was doing 20-25 of these on each leg with 7.5kg dumbbells in each hand.

We alternated this with glute-ham raises, but slightly different to usual – this time with my hands behind my ears, and bringing my elbows as far back as I could on the way up to work my back muscles as well.

After four sets of these, it was onto split squats with 10kg dumbbells (very heavy by my standards). Again Stephen put a slight twist on the usual split squats – instead of coming straight back up each time, I dipped back down slightly. This was tough, especially with the heavier weights, but I gritted my teeth and got on with it – no other option as I’d foolishly said I’d be fine with the 10kgs.

The split squats were alternated with single-leg bridging, all three times through. By the time I’d finished these I could really feel that my glutes and hamstrings had had a proper work-out, but we weren’t finished yet.

For some reason planking always makes me giggle, and it was no different on this occasion. I had to call in my major concentration powers once more as I tried not to collapse into laughter while I did seven rotating planks on each side.

After this Stephen tried to get me to do a hollow hold – laid on my back with my legs straight and feet slightly raised, before lifting my shoulders off the floor. I found this nigh-on impossible, and managed to hold it for a whole eight seconds before my tummy muscles gave up. Conclusion: more core strength work needed.

Our second session of the week was focused on upper body strength and we started with barbell presses from behind the head. After moving up in weights, I finished with a grand total of 16kg – not much by normal standards, but from where I started, this feels like almost a proper weight to me.

Stephen keeps correcting my stance – after all, he tells me, you can’t fire a cannon ball from a canoe. I have to get him to explain this particular piece of wisdom, but basically, it means keep your feet nice and wide to give you a much stronger base for when you push the weight up. 

Then it was on to chin ups. Hilarious, I thought, never been able to do a chin up in my life. With this in mind, I was doing them with one foot in a stretchy band to give me that bit of extra propulsion I needed. But lo, and behold, there I was, doing chin-ups of a sort. Who knew that was possible?!

We alternated these with single arm presses of 8kg dumbbells, before finishing the session with face pulls and another new exercise, a side-ways arm pull which looked straightforward on first examination, but was actually quite hard as it seemed to be working a new muscle in the back of my arms that wasn’t too happy about it.

Between the two sessions I'd played a game of seven-a-side hockey, the first match I've played since the 11-a-side season finished at the end of March.

It certainly seems like the work I've been doing with Stephen is paying off - I felt fit, powerful and like I could have played another game afterwards.