It is often said that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in anything and in the last month I completed my 11,000th session as a personal trainer! It's been a hell of a journey but one that has taught me far more than I would have imagined when I delivered my first (very average) session straight out of university.
Over the years, I've learnt many lessons so wanted to share 10 important bits of wisdom with you:
1. The only effective diet is the one that you stick to
I've seen/tried every diet that there is. The only ones that work are those that you can stick to whilst maintaining a calorie deficit. For me, this tends to be intermittent fasting, for others it may be a low carb, Paleo-style routine or simple calorie counting. Whatever it may be, try a few out but stick with the one you can maintain.
2. Sleep is even more important than you think
So many people sacrifice sleep to succeed, by thinking that the more they work, the more they will achieve, without realising they are making it far harder for themselves. Forego sleep and you're heading straight for a storm of stress, lethargy and brain fog. To help you sleep better, try:
- Removing all screens from your bedroom. The blue light emitted from your phone, TV and laptop send signals to your brain encouraging it to stay awake. If you must watch screens in bed download Flux onto your phone and laptop to block blue light emissions
- Using your bedroom for sleeping only
- Making it as dark as possible. Consider adding shutters or extra thick curtains
- Getting the temperature right. Aim for a room temp of between 60-67 degrees F
- Avoiding stimulants and alcohol before bed - the booze might knock you out but your sleep is likely to be restless and broken.
3. There is no right (or wrong) way to train
I have worked with and trained over 100 other personal trainers in the last 10 years. Most start off thinking that their way is the best. Whether it's the big lifters, the circuit addicts, or the long distance runners, there's no single best way to train. Just like your diet, the best type of training is the one you will stick to!
4. Everyone should meditate
Trust me, it works. I've tried and failed to get into meditation dozens of times. Only in the past couple of years have I started feeling the benefits and it's made a profound change to my life. It can also help everyone gain control of their busy minds. If you are struggling for where to start try the 'Headspace' app, it's free and easy to use.
5. Supplements are worth taking
Fish oils, vitamin D, a multivitamin, protein varieties, and in some cases creatine, all have a place in your diet. General advice is that you can get enough nutrients from a healthy diet. However, hardly anyone achieves this, so why not cover all bases with some quality supplements?
6. Don't marry the plan
All too often, trainers get caught up in creating the perfect programmes and recording progress. Unfortunately, for the majority of our clients, life has a habit of scuppering even the best-laid plans; sick children, holidays, heavy work loads, all tend to mess about with our schedules. If you focus on making people feel good and inspired, they are far more likely to keep coming back, and, progress more than when following a rigid plan. Inspiring a client to stick to the plan is more important than a creating a perfect programme.
7. It's OK to not know everything
Some trainers will make up the answers to their clients' questions just to save face. There is no harm in asking for help. Surround yourself with knowledgeable peers and ask for their opinion.
Our industry changes at a rapid pace and science is developing so quickly, so a good personal trainer never stops learning and adjusting their opinion according to the latest research.
8. Variety is the key to retention
Deadlift, bench press, back squat....repeat. Although these exercises have tremendous value, they are a sure fire way to bore your client to death over time. Use your imagination to keep people interested and motivated. There are dozens of variations for every movement pattern. Use them.
9. Happiness is far more important than fat loss
It's important to remember that fat loss isn't the be-all and end-all. An overall feeling of happiness is the one goal we all have in common. If you feel like you are constantly starving, missing out on every social event for fear of being tempted, or just hate exercising then something isn't right.
Most people we see are searching for a change in body composition to become happier and more confident, but often their weight isn't the only thing stopping them from feeling happy. Figure out what's really making you feel down and address it holistically.
10. There is nothing more important than looking after yourself
Every aspect of your life gets better when you look after yourself. Invest heavily (with time and money) on yourself in order to make your own life better as well as your family's. You owe it to yourself and those around you to be on top form!
Here's to the next 10 years!
To find out more, please visit www.betterbodygroup.co.uk