The Trouble with Phones in the Gym

As a personal trainer I see all sorts in the gym. 

What I saw the other day (and I've seen before) is someone stepping on a phone that had been left on the floor of an exercise studio. What ensued, was nothing short of a cat-fight. 

Woman 1 - who trod on the phone - let out a small squeal, alerting woman 2 - whose phone it was - to rush over (she was busy putting a mat away at the time). Woman 1 apologises, adding she didn't see it because it was on the floor. Woman 2 picks up the phone to find that the screen has shattered and launches into a tirade of abuse. Woman 2 stands her ground and protests that it's not her fault because the phone shouldn't have been left vulnerable on the floor and it was an accident waiting to happen. Woman 1 suggests she must be blind not to see it, and starts name calling and using foul language.

This exchange  goes on for a couple of minutes by which time the studio has emptied of other people and a member of the gym staff rushes in, advising them to carry on their argument outside.

It was an unedifying sight which could have been avoided with a bit of common sense:

I am totally with Woman 1 on this:

If you bring your phone into a gym, do NOT leave it on the floor. It's plain STUPID and if someone does tread on it, you've only got yourself to blame.

I understand why people bring phones into gyms - there's a number of valid reasons. But, they can be a menace. 

What I DON'T understand, in addition to abandoning  them on the floor, is people who spend more time talking on them than working-out.But that's a whole different subject which needs a blog of its own - watch this space!


As a personal trainer, I'm in and out of gyms all day. Something I've noticed lately is the emergence of an 'athleisure trainer'  being used instead of a bona fide sports one.

Be aware: fashion trainers might look cool and stylish, they might come in more colours and styles, they might even cost less, but - in the main - they are not suitable for working out in. 

That's because they're not made for athletic functionality or to help prevent injury. 

The grip on the bottom is likely to be inferior to fashion ones and the cushioning and support at the rear of the shoe is unlikely to be suitable for supporting the ankle and instep - particularly if you're running or jumping. Also, the impact on joints will be greater, which is a classic pathway to knee and hip problems.

Also, the materials and fabric used in fashion trainers are often 'hard', inflexible, heavy and without wicking to help release heat and moisture.

If you're an athleisure-trainer-wearer in the gym, it might not be your fault. When you walk into the trainer section of a sports store, the two varieties are often not de-lineated and if you ask a member of staff, they don't always know the difference.

So, do your research before you part with your money. Once you've worn your trainers (whatever type they are) you won't be ale to return them.

D‚Äčon't Run Out of Steam

So much has been written about coronavirus and how to keep fit while we're locked down. So much information, so many You Tube videos, so many Instagram posts and so many people to like, follow and watch. It's overwhelming and exhausting - and that's before you've even done any exercise.

 My advice is this: find a type/s of exercise that works for you and keep doing it. Change it when you feel your body's got used to it or when it gets boring, The most important thing to do is keep going during this period. Those people who maintain an exercise regime throughout lockdown are the very people who are likely to remain committed when this is all over. They are the people who will stand out and flourish back in the gym/exercise classes and they are the people who will be able to feel proud of themselves from a fitness perspective for a very long time.


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Motivate for Exercise Success

Posted on November 11, 2019 at 9:45 AM Comments comments (2452)

Exercise is tiring - for both the body and the mind. The key to keeping going is motivation. Find what works for you, but here are some tried, tested and proven ways:

1) Hire a personal trainer. Well I would say that wouldn't I?! But research shows when you have a professional pushing and supporting you (and giving you workouts that are bespoke to your needs) then going to the gym - and coming back time and time again - is a lot easier.

2) Set goals for yourself - be they daily, weekly, monthly or forever'ones. And write them down - maybe in a specific workout diary.

3) Visualise success. Imagine how you will feel and look if you get where you're aiming for.

3) Take progress shots. Seeing positive changes is motivational.

4) Variety is essential. Do different workouts, exercises and different reps and sets. This will relieve boredom and keep your body 'shocked' into progress.

5) Give yourself structured rewards - i.e  if you achieve 'x' you can have 'y'. A 'cheat' meal on a Saturday night IS something to look forward to, as is a new pair of Nike leggings (see no.7)

6) Take a break occasionally and don't exercise 7 days a week. You must have other things you need to do and the body needs time to recover.

7) Buy new workout gear. You'll be amazed how it can help get you to the gym and perform better once you're in there.

8. Workout before your day starts.You'll be energised, you'll feel good about yourself and you'll have got it out of the way - one less thing to worry about.

9) Find music that helps you through - for e.g download a new playlist that 'drops a beat 'and pumps you up.

10) Change your exercise environment. If you usually workout in a gym, take it outside. If you don't do group exercises classes, try one.



HIIT the ground running

Posted on July 8, 2019 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (1561)

If you want to get the most amount of exercise done in the least amount of time - and get results quicker too - then look no further then high intensity interval training (HIIT)

It's not new but that doesn't mean it's not worthy of repeated promotion. And, while you might have heard of it, do you really understand what it means and do you know what the precise benefits are? If not, here's the lowdown:

HIIT is a type of workout that pairs intervals of high intensity exercise with different periods of active recovery. The intervals can vary from a few seconds to a few minutes and the intensity and type of exercise can vary depending on your ability and preference. Many people think HIIT has to be cardio exercise but that's not true. HIIT is about the format and can be used for any exercise type that lends itself to an 'up-down' intensity rhythmn.

The benefits of HIIT are:

1) Improved fitness levels in terms of how your heart utilises oxygen. Over time this enables you to carry on doing something at high intensity for longer - for e.g running. With cardiovascular gains comes many other health benefits - for e.g a reduced chance of conditions such as heart disease and heart failure.

2) It burns calories and fat at a quicker rate than steady state exercise which means weight and fat loss is quicker.

3) You can spend less time exercising.

4) HIIT helps preserve muscle mass during weight loss - often the two are in conflict for other forms of exercise.

5) You don't necessarily need any equipment and you can perform HIIT anywhere at any time.

6) Anyone can do it because you can customise the type of exercise and the time intervals to suits you needs and abilities. So, for example, a beginner could interval 20 seconds of fast walking with 40 seconds of slow walking. For an advanced exerciser you could interval 45 second sprints with 20 second jogs. 

7) HIIT keeps your metabolism elevated after you have finished exercising which means the benefits -  such as calorie burning - continue, even while you're sleeping.

So why not 'hit' the ground running and get yourself some HIIT today!

It Just Takes Two

Posted on April 4, 2019 at 12:50 AM Comments comments (14176)

NEW research shows that working-out with a partner helps you stick to an exercise regime.

But, a couple of gym trips a year with your nearest and dearest won't work, you have to do it regularly to reap results.

A study published in Health Education Research that looked into the management of diabetes through diet and exercise found that those people who worked-out with a partner fared better in controlling their symptoms than those who didn't.

It also found those people who exercised in pairs at least once a week for more than six months stuck to their workout regime around 25 per cent longer than those who went solo.

So the message to anyone with the option of exercising a deux is: GO FOR IT!

The benefits of pairing-up include:

* Getting to the place of exercise - if one person's going, the other's more likely to want to go 

* The thought of hard work is more palatable if two of you are sharing the pain

* Motivating and supporting each other - before, during and after exercise

* Competition - a partner is a ready made opponent

* Doing an activity with someone you're close to is likely to be more rewarding and fun

* Sharing a common interest promotes a sense of social well being

* You've always got someone to share a glass of red with afterwards!


Step It Up

Posted on October 6, 2018 at 3:15 PM Comments comments (23655)

There's a new piece of kit in  gyms right now - only it's an old piece of kit. Yes, we're talking about the Stairmaster/stepper (see pic). Once the machine oif choice for gym bunnies intent on burning calories it was mainly retired off around ten years ago in favour of its trendier sister the Crosstrainer in which the arms and legs move simultaneously. But thanks to an Instagram generation which is more concerned with a shapely butt than a skinny body, it's made a comeback and gyms are now installing the latest models.

And that's good news because not only does it work the glutes, it works the quadriceps, the hamstrings and also gives a good cardio workout, used properly.

It's critics argue it can be a little boring due to the fact that you step forever, but never reach the top - not to mention the fact that walking up and down steps is a tedious part of everyday life so why also do it in the gym? But, you can make it more interesting. For example:

* walk up two steps at a time   *turn to the left/right, hold onto the handrails and step one foot over the other laterally     *do it while holding dumbbells  *you can practice interval training. For e.g step as fast as you can for 20 secs every minute.

Having a strong, toned behind has benefits other than looking good in denim. It helps with everyday functional tasks particularly as we age - for e.g getting out of a chair. It also helps prevent injury as strong glute muscles means less shock will be absorbed in the lower back and knees during weight bearing exercise. Strong glutes, also helps improve your posture.

So, what are you waiting for? Step it up and go for the glute force! 


Posted on February 3, 2018 at 1:55 PM Comments comments (16019)

YES, fruit is good for us and we should be eating it as part of a healthy diet. Fruit contains nutrients, minerals, fibre, water, anti-oxidants and many are low calorie.

But beware, some fruits are better than others in terms of their sugar content and if you're looking to reduce your sugar intake and/or lose weight, then be careful which ones you choose.

Fruit sugar (also known as fructose) is better for you than refined sugar found in processed products such as biscuits and cakes, but it's sugar all the same and the body doesn't differentiate in terms of how it's used or stored.

And, if there's one thing that nutritionists, doctors and scientists agree on, it's that we should limit out sugar intake as it can contribute to many serious health conditions such as obesity and diabetes.

Here are the top ten fruits with the highest sugar content:

grapes, figs,  lychess,   bananas,   mangoes,   cherries,  raisins,  persimmons,  plantains,  pomegranates.

Here are the top ten fruits with the lowest sugar content:

raspberrires,  blackberries,  grapefuit,  watermelon,  strawberries,  currants,  cranberries,  papaya,  rhubarb,  loganberries.

Food for thought eh?

Strength, Conditioning, Core and Cardio = PiYo

Posted on November 30, 2016 at 8:55 AM Comments comments (3360)

There's a new kid on the exercise block and its name is PiYo.

As it's name suggests, it's pilates/yoga combo class which brings togther the mind/body practices of yoga with the conditioning, stretching and dynamic movement principles of pilates.

The added benefit is that it's very athletic and will bump-up your heart rate, ensuring you also get a cardio workout.

What's not to like!?

So, with that thought in mind I went along to my first class this week and did an hour of it - which I have to tell you was enough - not because I didn't like it, but because it's pretty tough, Far tougher than Pilates or yoga individually.

For the record, although I understand - and often promote - the benefits of Pilates and yoga, I am not massively into them myself. Where fitness is concerned I'm big on HIIT, lifting weights, strength work, jumping up and down, and moving around as fast as possible. If I'm not sweating and my heart rate isn't pushing 180 bpm I don't feel as if I'm in the zone.

So, I'm not going to lie, I was a little sceptical before I began my PiYo workout.

I needn't have been. Within 10 minutes it was pretty full-on. The reason for this is that the entire hour is spent in continuous movement. One exercise flows into the other. And while you're told that you should stop and take a rest if you need to, the idea is to refrain from doing so if you can help it.

The class is choreographed and accompanied by music, which helps with motivation, focus and enjoyment and the instructor demonstates exercises as you try them with her/him. The reason for this is that many of the moves are new - even to a seasoned exerciser like me. Yes, there are aspects of well known exercises in most of them, but they come with a special PiYo adaptation. An example of this is burpees. Instead of doing them hard, fast and with an explosive jump or a press up as an add on, you do them slowly, hold a high plank position in the middle and on coming up to standing, you do a slow squat with a hold at the bottom. After five of them, your quads, hamstrings and glutes are burning and you're out of breath.

If you've done either Pilates or yoga before, you should be able to do the actual exercises. Your strength and stamina will determine whether you can continue them for the required amount of time.

If you've never done Pilates or yoga before, I think the exercises will take a bit of getting used to, some of them are quite complex.

One of the things that appealed to me (apart from getting a cardio workout while doing pilates and yoga) was the amount of core work that came into it. I would say the majority of exercises engaged the core in one way or another.

So, if you want a stronger, more sculpted body (not to mention the possibility of a little fat/weight loss) and you fancy a class with a difference, why not give PiYo a go? I did and I will do it again.

If you live in the Blackheath/Greenwich/Lee area, there's a class near you at Colfe's School Leisure Centre in Horn Park Lane, Lee SE12 8AW on a Wednesday night at 8pm. Best to book in advance on 020 82979110. For non-members it costs £6.00

Fitness Trackers are Good for...Jumping On

Posted on October 11, 2016 at 6:30 AM Comments comments (770)

'Fitness Tracking Devices Don't Improve Health'

This was the headline in a national newspaper recently. The story was borne out of the results of a scientific study which monitored 800 people using a Fitbit device over a year. The research found that while users exercised more at first, there was 'no evidence' the gadget promoted weight loss, improved cardiovascular fitness or blood pressure.' The study also found that 90 per cent of participants had stopped using the device before the end of the year. They said the novelty wore off.

My Response? No surprise there then!

Since such gadgets became popular I have been sceptical of their real use in long term improved health and fitness, so I feel a little smug about this research.

I am of the opinion Fitbit, and the like, are little more than a distraction from the task in hand - exercise itself. I believe they appeal to a certain sort of person (and that person is often not a dedicated exerciser) - geeks, people with more money than sense, and members of a younger generation which is concerned with style over substance. Yes, they might look cool on your wrist or attached to your belt, but if you want to know how hard you're working, all you've got to do is take your pulse or ask yourself this simple question: am I working hard or not? Your body will soon give you the answer.

And yes, I know they can do a zillion things like count your steps, moniter your calories, sleep etc but, ironically, the one thing they can't do for you is the exercise.

In addition, information overload is the bane of most people's existence nowadays without even more of it to analyse about your activity levels. I think life's a little short for obsessing about such things - and this comes from me, a pesonal trainer, who is commited to health, fitness and good old fashioned exercise for both my clients and myself. 

My advice? Jump up and down on your fitness tracker 100 times - you'll be killing two birds with one stone - destroying the gadget AND getting an aerobic workout into the bargain!

Get SMART to be Smart

Posted on September 22, 2016 at 5:15 AM Comments comments (16326)

Aside from compiling bespoke workouts for clients, I believe a personal trainer's most important role is that of motivator.

Let's face it, getting yourself to the gym (or your chosen place of exercise) on any sort of regular basis can be a challenge and, once you're there, working as hard as you can is tough. It makes sense, therefore to have someone or something that ensures you a) turn up and b) work to the best of your ability.

It stands to reason that if you've pre-paid for PT sessions (as most people do to get a discount) the chances are you WILL turn up; and  then, when you've got a professional watching you, correcting you, encourgaing you, pushing you and maybe even shouting at you, then you're more likely to fuflfill your workout potential than if you were doing it alone. 

Unfortunately, motivation doesn't just miracuoulsy happen. Motivation is borne out of desire - if you want something in life, you generally have to do certain things to obtain it. Most people need a reason to exercise; they need a goal or an aim or at least an idea of a place they want to be in time.

So, when I first sit down with a new client, one of the first things I establish is why they want a personal trainer. What I find though is that most people have a vague notion of what they're trying to achieve but they haven't thought it through in detail.

So, my advice for anyone about to embark on an exercise plan is to set SMART goals. The acronym stands for: specific, measureable, achieveable, relevant and time-bound. If you actually write down how each of these factors relates to your particular goal, you will almost certainly have a clearer view of what you're trying to do and what you need to do in order to achieve it.

For example, with regards the goal of weight loss:

SPECIFIC. How much weight do you want to lose/what dress size do you want to get down to etc?

MRASUREABLE: Plan to weigh yourself on a regular basis (say once a week)  and log down the results.

ACHIEVABLE: Be sensible. If you're 30 stone, don't set a 10 stone goal. Set one that's more likely in the first instance - say 20 stone. Then, when you achieve that, set another one and another one until you're there.

RELEVANT: Good goals are meaningful and significant. They can be life-changeing. So, for example, an overweight dad might want to lose weight so that he can play football with his children.

TIME BOUND: Set a number of different dates by which you want to achieve different things - for example, getting into that little black dress you used to wear before giving birth on your next birthday.

NOW, stick these goals up on your fridge, look at them every day and if you're in need of further motivation, you might wish to hire yourself a personal trainer. 

The Honest PT

Posted on May 19, 2016 at 6:40 AM Comments comments (10028)

REBOUNDING is the new kid on the exercise block and gyms all over the country are laying on classes quicker than managers can say 'jump to it.'

It's incredibly popular - and now I know why, having done a couple of sessions myself.

Firstly for anyone that doesn't know what rebounding is, I'll describe it in basic terms - it's a form of exercise that involves bouncing up and down - while doing different movements - on your own mini trampoline. Anyone with children will be familar with the concept because the equipment is almost exactly the same as the mini-tramps that most kids seem to have nowadays.

And therein lies the appeal - rebounding is fun. It makes you feel like a child again. It's sort of liberating in the sense that you can lose yourself for 30 minutes-or-so and still feel proud that you've done a workout.

Rebounding experts say it provides fast cardio benefits, helps strengthen muscles and is good for anyone with joint problems as it is low impact. Other plus points are said to include the fact that it can help reduce stress and that it gets the lymphatic system moving, which helps flush out toxins.

These are lofty claims which I'm not saying I doubt, but for me the truth about rebounding is somewhat simpler. Rebounding is an excellent form of exercise if you are unfit, overweight, have joint problems, have an injury or you're very old or very young. It's also a good way to ease yourself into a new exercise regime.

But, if you're already fit, then there's far more efficient ways to workout if you want to progress.

I'm a personal trainer, therefore I'm fit (it would be weird if I wasn't right!?). I hardly broke a sweat after the rebounding classes I did. They were 30 minutes long. Maybe if they'd been an hour long I would be telling a different story...who knows.

But maybe that's not the real point of rebounding and maybe I'm missing the point. As I said, rebounding IS fun and IT IS different. If you're like me and you've been going to the same exercise classes for years, it's a breath of fresh air. 

As we all know, if exercise is enjoyable, then you're more likely to keep it up. If you keep it up, you're more likely to be fit and healthy.

So with that in mind, I've invested in a rebounding trampoline for my personal training business and I've been trying it out on clients recently. The verdict? They love it and look forward to its inclusion in sessions. That's proof enough for me that it's fir for purpose.


The Honest PT

Posted on April 13, 2016 at 12:50 AM Comments comments (6933)


THIS WEEK'S SUBJECT: THE BLIGHT OF BLISTERS (AND HOW TO BEAT THEM)  As you get older it's fairly certain that aches, pains, injuries and illness are going to dog you more as a result of regular exercise. It doesn't matter how fit you are, it doesn't matter how careful you, it's just a fact. Sad but true.

But there's an ailment that can reduce you to a sedentary wreck whatever your age. I am, of course, talking about blisters.

Those pesky pockets of fluid that form on your feet  (and then burst) due to the rubbing and/or friction of footwear can bring your exercise regime to an abrupt halt that plasters, creams, speciality socks etc can neither prevent or cure. You basically just have to wait until they've healed.

As someone who has suffered from them for as long as i can remember (and who has had to get rid of several pairs of costly trainers as a result) I cannot tell you how happy I was this week to discover that scientists in the US have found a simple but 'revolutionary' way to prevent them - surgical tape.

Yes, I'm talking about the sticky tape that's used in first aid to secure bandages over wounds, you can get it from any high street chemist  for less than a couple of pounds and all you have to do is wrap it round blister-prone skin before you exercise.

And you know what? it works. I've tried it. I mummified my feet in the stuff, put on my most uncomfortable shoes (without socks) and walked/jogged around for a couple of hours. I couldn't beleive it - no pain, no rubbing, no friction - NO BLISTERS.

As a personal trainer I'm constantly looking for little pearls of wisdom to pass onto my clients. This is the best one I've come across for a while. I also know people who are running in the London Marathon on April 24th and I'm going to be sharing it with them too.