A personal trainer has told how he turned Lancashire X Factor star Paul Akister into a lean, mean singing machine by helping him shed three-and-a-half stone.
Neil Spooner, 37, first saw Paul, from Lancaster, on his TV screen when he was booted out of the 2013 competition over concerns over his image and confidence.
Determined to boost the shy 25-year-old’s confidence, personal trainer Neil decided to call him up and the star agreed to embark on a strict diet and exercise regime to give him a better chance of winning this year.
Neil, who first met Paul at the Pure Leisure Gym near Carnforth, said: “I knew I had the expertise to bring Paul out of his shell.
“He needed a better self image. For me it wasn’t about creating a pop star with a six pack, it was about creating that confidence.
“We sat down and had a chat. He was verv nervous. He’d tried a few weight loss programmes before.
“I devised a 12-week plan and he followed it.
“He’s been very focussed and disciplined and now hes a different character.”
Neil put Paul on his Better Body 12 fitness and nutritional programme.
Paul also attended Neil’s ‘Boot Camp’ session at Lancaster and Morecambe College, and did circuit training to get into shape.
Neil and Paul have become such good mates, that the fitness guru has travelled down to London to watch him perform on the live X Factor shows.
He said: “To see a good friend who has come so far and is living his dreams - it’s a massive achievement for him on a personal level.”