Rugby league commentator Dave Woods' new venture - as a personal trainer

Commentator Dave Woods has soundtracked many of rugby league’s greatest moments over the years.

Thursday, 10th June 2021, 6:32 am
Dave Woods on duty with the BBC. Picture: SWPix

Now, the 54-year-old is balancing his BBC commitments with a new venture – as a personal trainer.

Woods is running five group classes a week as well as training individuals at a gym he co-owns called FitBox, in Westhoughton – just a Pat Richards-dropout over the Wigan border.

“I get a real kick out of watching people getting healthier and happier and improving their fitness,” said Woods.

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Dave Woods at the gym he co-owns, FitBox

“It’s even better when people are about my age and in a similar position that I was, helping them get back into exercising, and loving doing it, and loving the result from it.”

He qualified during lockdown last year but the idea to become a personal trainer came much earlier, during a holiday with his wife, Julie.

“We were on an all-inclusive cruise, and the first day, I remember I had a bar of chocolate and a lager,” he recalls.

“We went back to the cabin and I thought, ‘Two weeks of non stop eating and drinking, this is going to be amazing’.

Woods leading a class

“And Jules said to me – she’s denied it, but she did – ‘You are putting a bit of weight on, I’m a bit concerned’.

“I’ve been in and out with my fitness for most of my life and I looked at myself and she was right, I had.

“So I made a decision there and then to eat healthily for the rest of the holiday.

“I went to the gym on board and spoke to the instructor in there, and it wasn’t just about wanting to lose a few pounds, I wanted to learn about what the exercises were doing, nutrition.

“From then I decided I wanted to be a personal trainer.

“I wanted to prove to myself I could do it.

“I thought If I can do do that and say to other people, ‘I’m just an ordinary bloke, I was out of shape, this is what I did’ – then they can, too.” Woods studied his level two gym instruction qualification and then completed his level three PT course, all the while stripping three stone from his frame with an improved diet and an exercise programme.

“I’m the lightest I’ve ever been in my adult life, I’m rowing 10k in 38 mins, which isn’t bad for someone my age,” he said.

“Generally I eat a clean diet without obsessing over it, I’ve cut down my boozing but I’m not being a monk, I still have two or three drinks a couple of times a week.”

During lockdown he ran training sessions over Zoom for his family, and is now enjoying helping his clients achieve their goals and encouraging others to live a healthier lifestyle.

“I’ve done so much research and reading on it and nearly all the science says as you get older, you don’t need to do less exercise - you need to do more,” he said.

“If there was a product in the supermarket which improved health, reduced body fat, lowered stress levels, lowered heart disease, lowered Type 2 diabetes... it would fly off the shelves. But there is and it’s called ‘exercise’.

“Many of the illnesses which people describe as age-related are down to a lack of activity.

“If you’ve never done any exercise before, now is the time to start. It’s amazing what you can achieve once you get into it and start eating better.

“One tip I have, in my phone diary, each day it says, ‘no sugar’. So I wake up every day, I see the reminder and I think, ‘I can do today without any sugar, it’s just a day’. I’ve got a client right now who is dreadful with crisps and it’s the same thing. Before you know it, you’ve gone a month without sugar or crisps, or whatever it is, and not only will you feel the benefits but it motivates you to carry on.”

Fitbox Westhoughton offers a £35-a-month ‘community’ pass to access all of their classes a week.

They also have personal training available, as well as a full-time physio and a lifestyle counsellor at their base on the Dodd Lane Business Park, just off Chorley Road.

Woods speaks with passion about exercise and training but it has not dimmed his enthusiasm for rugby league.

His media career is landmarked by events in the sports.

He began his journalism career at Wigan news agency Barnes in 1985 - “just after the Wigan-Hull Final” - and started at the BBC “the day after Wigan-Warrington at Wembley in 1990.”

He worked as No.2 to Ray French on Challenge Cup duties for a while before taking over and calling his first final in 2009.

He has commentated at two World Cups since, as well as many other international matches, Challenge Cup games as well as on BBC5Live and for the Super League Show.

“I remember doing an early game at the DW – or the JJB as it was then – and thinking, ‘If a young me knew I’d get to do this, he wouldn’t believe it’,” said Woods.

“Rugby league has been a major part of my life for so long, I’m not going to give that up any time soon.”

Fitbox Westhoughton is on Facebook, has a website at or to get in touch email: [email protected]