Archive for April, 2010

The Newbies Guide to Choosing a Personal Trainer

April 22, 2010 1 comment

So you’ve decided to join a gym and get yourself in shape. Great decision – in my view its one of the best changes you can make to enhance your quality of life.

To achieve your goals (be it fat loss, gain muscle, run further, whatever) you’ve decided to hire a personal trainer. But here’s the problem: if you’re not an expert in what you want to do how do you identify someone who genuinely is?

Its not as simple as walking up to the gym desk and asking for a trainer, it would be great if it was but sadly there are an awful lot of bad trainers out there. I don’t class myself as an expert but after a year of training hard, reading, and learning from my trainer even I can spot some appalling things going on between trainers and clients.

You might be wandering how I got my trainer. I lucked out. I had no strategy for picking a trainer but by sheer luck ended up with a great one.

Looking back I do think there are a couple of simple things you can look for even if you know nothing about how to train. So here’s what I think you should do based on my own experiences and reading round the web.

1) Watch the trainers at work with their clients – are they focussed on the client? Are both client and trainer really involved in the session? Is the trainer watching the client constantly as they exercise and making corrections to posture and giving advice and encouragement. Yes? Thats step 1 passed! If the trainer’s attention is wandering round the gym or, worse, the trainer is playing with their mobile phone then run for the hills.

2) Does the trainer have a stop watch and are rest periods being timed? Yes? Thats step 2 passed!

3) Does the trainer have a clipboard? The trainer should be tracking progress and referring to the programme they are working on.

4) Once you think you’ve spotted a decent trainer then talk to them. Its important to remember that this person is going to regularly take you out of your comfort zone and get in your personal space (correcting posture, stretching you, helping with weights etc.).

5) If you can have a chat with the client – ask them if they are meeting their goals and if not what the trainer is doing about it.

6) Ask for a complimentary session. Any decent trainer should be more than happy to give you this, in fact I think a good trainer will offer this before you get a chance to ask. Its one of their main marketing tools.

These are all things I could have done even with zero knowledge of fitness so if you are looking for a trainer hopefully this will help you avoid a bad trainer.

If anyone has other ideas then please post them in the comments.

Categories: fitness

Recipe: Oatmeal Pancakes

These are quick to make and quite healthy and have a decent amount of protein in them. Its a modification of a recipe I found with Google – less egg, added blueberry.

40g oatmeal
30g cottage cheese
3 egg whites
1 tbsp vanilla
25 (or so) blueberries
Cinnamon and nutmeg to taste

Put all the ingredients in a blender and, errr, blend to a batter. I like to blend half the blueberries and add the other half whole after I’ve got the batter.

Heat a non-stick omelette pan with a medium heat and pour the batter in. If your pan isn’t that great you might need to grease the pan with a bit of olive oil or oil spray to stop it sticking. Cook each side until golden brown. You want to make sure it heats through properly so it doesn’t have a mushy centre.

Job done.

It stores nicely in the fridge and tastes good after a brief reheat in a microwave.

Categories: food


I’ve been incredibly motivated about my training during 2010 – I think mainly because I’m really feeling the effects of increased fitness in my everyday life and, frankly, cough, because I think I’m starting to look quite good and thats feeding my vanity!

The sun coming out has really highlighted the difference from a year ago for me – as I said yesterday I was able to extend and actually take pleasure from a run in order to enjoy the sun and, having no wobbly belly to cover up and some actual muscles to show, I was more than happy to run in my gym vest and shorts.

I’m also, as you may have gathered by now, something of a geek. I love reading about science and like to know how and why things work (or not as the case may be).

That being the case I’ve decided to learn a bit more about whats going on when I exercise and have ordered a couple of books from Amazon:

The Concise Book of Muscles

The Anatomy of Stretching

I’ve picked these up largely based on the product descriptions and Internet reviews but hopefully they will make for a good start. I should probably have asked my trainer for some recommendations but that only just dawned on my while writing this blog post. Whoops.

Expect a couple of reviews once I’ve had the opportunity to digest them.

Categories: fitness

An Insight

It was a gorgeous day here in Bedford (UK) so I decided to run to the gym for my back session and then run home. Felt tired but great on the way home so extended my run and kept going at a steady pace – running by the river and enjoying the sun, scenery and people milling round.

It was a blissfully pleasant experience and as my mind wondered and I reflected back on my fitness journey over the last year or so I was struck by an insight:

Getting fit is the most transformational and worthwhile change you can make in your life.

It might not be a new and novel insight but its one I genuinely believe.

So much flows from being fit and able to use your body as it was designed. For the changes I have made I feel happier, more confident, have more energy, and (strange though it might sound) smarter. And these qualities effect everything key things in your life such as your job and social interactions.

Reading other fitness bloggers on the web its clear I’m not alone in this feeling so if you’re thinking of making a change in your life stop thinking and do it! Right now!

Categories: fitness