Jacques can’t go out locally without being recognised from his Instagram.
Jacques says old friends don’t recognise him since his transformation.
People have been reaching out to Jacques online for help with their own fitness journeys.
Warkworth’s Jacques Robinson realised he needed to make a change when he had a seizure while walking home and collapsed on the pavement.
The next thing he remembers is waking up in ambulance.
“From then on, I had thunderclap headaches and could go for a week at a time without sleeping,” Jacques says.
Doctors were stumped as to what was causing Jacques’ illness, but he puts it down to an unhealthy lifestyle with a poor diet and little exercise.
Jacques says he was stressed out working two jobs – one as a baker at a supermarket and the other as caterer.
“Doctors put me on 25 medications and told me if I carried on, I would have diabetes.”
“I freaked out and thought I would die by age 30, and I was only 23.”
Jacques decided to turn his life around and started off slowly by going on walks in the morning.
Last year he joined the Fit Factory gym in Warkworth and started working with personal trainer Addy Garland.
In the first five months he lost 30kg, and in the nine months since he began his programme he has lost 85kg.
He lost two metres around his waist and has come down from a 7XL shirt to a large.
“I can sit down next to someone I know and they won’t recognise me. The other day a guy I have known for two years introduced himself to me,” Jacques says.
Jacques started with hypertrophy training. This meant doing lots of exercises with weights with a high number of repetitions. As he tired, he would slowly decrease the weight and continue until he became totally fatigued.
After he reached a plateau with his progress, Jacques then switched to high-weight strength training.
“Addy also helped me think more about what I was fuelling my body with, and I switched to whole foods and a plant-based diet.”
Jacques’ new diet meant cutting out processed fast foods, refined sugars, meat and dairy.
“It was a huge change, but I did it cold turkey.”
Since making the switch, Jacques’ seizures have stopped, and he hasn’t needed to take his medication.
Jacques decided to make a career change as his job as a baker led him too close to temptation.
He is nearing completion of study with Fit Futures Academy to become a personal trainer and has started helping out at the Fit Factory gym.
Jacques has 1400 followers on Facebook and 1000 on Instagram, but all of his growth has been organic, and he never set out to become famous on social media.
“I started doing posts to keep myself accountable to the programme. It just grew from there. The other day, someone got out the car and stopped me on the side of McKinney Road to say that my journey had inspired them,” he says.
“The same thing happened at a market in Orewa, and it got me thinking that more people might also be inspired.”
Jacques is writing a book with the story of his journey as well as tips and recipes for a plant-based diet, including sweet and savoury foods.
“I just want to help other people. Thinking about what a turnaround it has been, I just wish I had started sooner.”
Jacques’ advice to those who want to get started on their own journey is to take things one small step at a time.
“Don’t focus on how far you have to go, just set small achievable goals. Believe in yourself, and know that you will make it,” he says.
“There will be days when you want to give up, and it’s at those points that you have to look where you came from and push through.”