Birthday Whitticisms: Tales of The Dave

One score and a dozen years ago there was born to us in the vicinity of Leicester a Daviour. Legend says he emerged with a full beard, pulled out the placenta himself, and turned it into a smoothie. After spending some time chatting up the midwives, he toddled off in search of a decent tattoo artist, flipping a tyre as he went.

Yes, it’s Dave’s birthday. To celebrate, we’ve gone behind his back to collect stories, tributes, and the occasional poem from more than a dozen friends, clients, and colleagues. Enjoy.

Ben Newton – The Archon Project

I hate him. He’s pedantic, petulant, childish, annoying and aggravating. I don’t know why I chose to work with the man.


Yasmin Ansari

Oh God, I have so many. First one that comes to mind was my very first “Dave encounter” some years ago.

I went to the uni gym at work for a body fat analysis (t’was in summer of 2012, long before my proper training days!) and he asked me “do you lift?” And I said no, because I don’t want to get bulky…*cue face palm / loud prolonged rant I can’t remember because my ears switched off after 3 minutes* .


@thegorillapt having a great time while we wait our turn to #lift. #likeachild

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He then suggested I come back the next day and he would (kindly…) do a taster lifting session with me so I could see what it’s like. 

Anyway, I’m pretty sure the session was punishment for my “I don’t want to bulk” comment, because after some squats and push presses he made me lunge, with a sandbag on my back, through the entire gym (yes past all the people on machines and treadmills)…twice.

Eventually I couldn’t tell the difference between sweat and tears any more. He finished by making me hold a plank and then LEFT THE ROOM. I was too scared to put my knees down so I waited, shaking like a leaf, until he came back. I’ll never forget that first session!

Gareth Wayt – Primal Fitness Training

He was when I first started (and continues to be) a massive help for me professionally, helping with everything from expenses to tax returns to how to deal with different situations with clients and promote my business, as well as training me on a 1-2-1 basis to improve my skills. He’s always happy to help when I’m coaching and can’t find the right cue to help the member.

@thegorillapt post #grace #quadburn #crossfit #primalfitnesstraining #sccfstrong

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Flip side is we spend a LOT of time chatting crap between clients, none of which is actually ever anything memorable, it’s that trivial – most recently we discussed at great length what wild animals run the fastest for about three days.

He also likes to hide my boxers.

Sam O’Connor

Can we discuss Dave tearing through 20 reps of Grace (30 C+J @ 60 kg for time) in about 1:12 and then running out of gas and never finishing the workout?

In his recent sessions with me he has counselled me as much as coached, through friendships and relationships as well as offering invaluable* flirting advice.

*totally inappropriate

John Hanna

Couldn’t be arsed to send you a card myself,  so I bullied a smaller weightlifter into sending a message for me…albeit communal.  Was thinking that extra 2.5kg on my squat could be the difference between winning and losing,  perhaps.

Thanks for all the inspiration over the years, the bad jokes have surely been worth it.  Now get your ass to KBT!

Sam Smith – Rigs Fitness

Dave – a big man with a big beard who’s had a BIG impact at Rigs. Thanks for all your hard work, you twat!

Andrea Wesley – Sweet Tooth Sugarcraft

Hmm, he calls me Andre the Giant at the moment. Also told me the other day that it wouldn’t really matter if I hit myself in the face during snatching as “I didn’t have much to work with anyway.”

Siân Peters

He helped me on dress decisions the other day…! He also calls me a hooker. And he compared my lifting skills last night to a bloody peanut butter KitKat Chunky. He said if you’ve eaten all five meals in a day clean, but you’ve also eaten a peanut butter KitKat Chunky, does that make your diet that day shit? I don’t get how it translates to lifting, mind. And I hate KitKats.


I had to do Heavy Grace for a competition. I was feeling poop and needed to have a practice to see what it was like in case I had to do it on the day. (I like to know how a WOD feels before having to do it in a comp.)

But Dave blew my mind trying to explain his “Schrödinger’s Cat” theory that no matter how it felt at SCCF it’d feel 110% different on the comp day… his words were something like “if there’s a dead/alive cat in a box today, then it’ll be a dead/alive cat on another day….!”

I still don’t understand his theory.

Dave “Wilson” Wilson

I don’t have any one particular story – but he does usually wait until I’m at the bottom of a squat before asking one of his “what would you prefer to be…?” questions. I’ve tried bribing him with jerky to stop, but it only seems to encourage him.

Plus I’ve never shaken his hand. Every time I go to say “Hi” there is a different, increasingly erotic, meeting of limbs.

exploitable dave

Neil Dowling

I’ve also had the same experience as Wilson with the going in for a handshake and getting a very thorough hug. I’m not complaining one bit.

He became obsessed with my one ear (she’s called Darlene) that sticks out more than the other. Dave also has ‘a listening ear’ as I’ve come to call it, but mine clicks when you push it.

Dave kept pushing it, he was using his nose to click it at one point. Then at the Christmas party he started to get angry because his doesn’t click, no matter how hard he tries.

Sam Weaver

The first time I met Dave he was actually Big. He was shouting and gurning (some things don’t change) doing heavy deficit deadlifts for 3. He chinned a RedBull, stood onto the block, pulled, projectile vomited onto the platform, then finished the latter two reps.

Since then I’ve had the absolute pleasure, privilege and pain of being trained by the man, it’s never easy, it’s always gruelling and at points brings you pretty close to vomiting, just like he did that first day.


Among a whole bunch of stuff, some of which stuck and most of which I’ve forgotten, I learnt the persistence and determination required to keep training, to get over injury and to bring myself to the brink of regurgitating the last 5 hours of food for the love of training.

Even if I have moved to the dark side and embraced cardio as something more than “walking from the car to the gym”. Besides that, he’s a decent source of horrific anecdotes, grandad jokes and makes me look like slightly less of a massive cunt.

Matt Thompson

Dave is a big strong man with a poorly shoulder. He reminds me of this once a month. I was impressed with his ability to gauge my level of humour immediately, and we engaged in a conversation surrounding which animal would be most trusted to deliver an important document the length of the country. An issue I still ponder to this day. (Flamingo, if you were wondering.)

My favourite memory of Dave is climbing on him like a ’90s child on Smarties would climb on disused scaffolding. Most notably standing aloft his shoulders like a fleshy reject from the Transformers. He also pushed me to smash a couple of PB’s and his way of teaching is simple and effective, but it’s more the climbing frame thing I appreciate.

He also reminds me of haikus, so I have written this especially:

He used to be fat.
Cheesecake was breakfast, daily.
Now he’s just a boss.

“Gorgeous” George Spentzouris

Last year many things for which I am grateful happened in my life. One of them was to meet Dave. First time we met was at the barbell club session at SCCF and from that moment I knew there was something special about him. Having not been able to train properly for a long time due to a knee injury, Dave has always been there for me, supporting, coaching me and sharing his endless knowledge and passion for weightlifting.

Although I am no expert, Dave’s coaching skills are on another level, with spot-on advice and a unique straightforward way that can force an overhead squat out of anyone! But being a great coach is not what makes Dave special. It is his gifted personality!

No matter how tough the day may be or how wrong things have turned out, this man has always been able to put a smile on my face and make the barbell club the best time of the day! Everyone needs a friend who can make you roll on the floor laughing (literally!) and help you see the bright side of life especially when you are on your back ready to give up. Dave is not just a weightlifting coach, he is a life coach and an amazing friend to have.

Happy birthday, you big Gorilla!

Fat Boy


‘La sincérité fait le lien des vraies amitié, et défait les autres.’

Happy birthday Grand-Big

Don’t worry, Dave speaks EXCELLENT French.

Lauren Evans

Before I met Dave:

Frustrated with my physical process.
Anxious about performance.
All styles of clothing fitted perfectly (including tailored suit jackets).
Uncomfortable with being naked.
Reserved my opinion.
My body was crying from the misuse of carbohydrates.
Boys ditched me.
Addicted to yoga because I mainly missed lifts.

After I met Dave:

I am happy with my physical progress as I’m now a jacked lady and I never come out of the gym doubting it.
I don’t get anxious about physical performance because Dave is there to help guide me through whatever I am facing.
Nothing bloody fits me! No high street designer ever takes into consideration a product of Dave Whittington.
I’m not comfortable and feeling a complete state of euphoria unless I’m naked.
I have found a voice through my weightlifting development.
I have energy.
You don’t want to know what the boys do to me now.
I go to yoga with compassion for my whole body when I feel like it.


Rose Judson

Dave introduced me to Karl Pilkington who, in his estimation, is the most insightful man in modern media.

I say “Dave introduced me,” but I really mean “Dave set me homework.” He commanded me to watch all of The Ricky Gervais Show and report back to him regularly. I was also subjected to pop quizzes at Barbell Club sessions.


It was tough– more than once I failed to pick up on a reference or invent a Rockbusters clue to his satisfaction– but my life has been enriched. Now I am aware of the Problem Hole Theory of psychology and I will always have this amazing observation to ponder:

He’s still not read the book I loaned him back in August, though. And he stopped following me on QuizUp once I established an unassailable lead over him:

So on balance, he is kind of a dick. Happy birthday anyway.


Sarah Jane Glanvill (MiniBig(Dave))

I have two separate, equally entertaining first-time meetings of Big Dave. The first of which was ‘work’ Dave from the old days of him working in the Munrow Sports Centre. I got the odd glance for a few weeks while I plodded away on the cross trainer. Then one day I ventured out of my safe space and decided to go on the assisted pull-up machine. The first communication was made in the form of some snide remarks about how I didn’t need to do them assisted and I was being a twat.

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 19.25.49.png

He promptly told me my exact weight off the top of his head (this irritatingly starts the long-standing trend of Dave never being wrong). The next meeting was of ‘training’ BIG DAVE (roars) when I finally ventured off the cardio machines and went to the back of the gym.

There was Dave, screaming as he did deadlifts. I watched him do up his lifting belt as tight as physically possible, down a RedBull, and then lift said weight only for the RedBull to appear at the speed it went down, slowly dribbling down his chest and onto the platform.


Going back to Dave never being wrong, when he finally started to coach me he said from the start that I would qualify for the British Championships, which I did in my first ever competition. After that he said I would medal in the next year– which I did, with a bronze medal. At which point he said I would win the English Championships, which I have just done.

Remembered to record it this week! #snatch #weightlifting #Olympicweightlifting #olylifting

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So at this rate, Dave has never been wrong. He has also said that we are going to the Commonwealth together, so sadly he has to put up with me for a few years longer. Or I have to put up with him. I’m not sure what’s worse.  Sorry, Dave. And happy birthday.






  1. I am nearing fifty, overweight and not a natural athlete. Dave introduced me to burpees to get me into my wedding dress… I’ve never looked back! Happy birthday!


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