personal-trainer-letchworth
MOVEMENT
Finding Yoda
We define Strength In Motion as your body’s capacity to respond to and withstand the force of movement from an external inertia at any given direction, height and intensity. Or, in non-tech terms, developing the strength to be able to move dynamically and avoid injury.
 
Sometimes we train to stabilize in a static position though as well which is where Yoda levitation comes in!
 
Isometric exercises are static movements performed with active muscle contraction. They play a useful role in rebuilding our sense of how a movement should ‘feel’ and teaching self-awareness about our body positioning. 
 
When performing core isometric exercises Clients often comment that their muscles start to shake as if they are on a washing machine. Using controlled breathing and relaxing rather than resisting the muscle contraction can help overcome the spin cycle feeling!
 
Try this Isometric circuit for yourself  - building up to 2-3 rounds
 
  • 20 seconds hanging knee raise
  • 40 seconds wall squat
  • 40 seconds plank
  • 40 seconds glute bridge hold
  • 20 seconds horizontal wall-press
All Tied Up
When we walk, jog or run we ask our bodies to move in the sagittal plane (forward and backwards).  Consequently, the muscles on the front of our body (anterior) tend to be more dominant. When we move either side to side (frontal plane) or in rotation (transverse plane) we ask our body to recruit muscles that are typically less developed.
 
Mini bands can help develop awareness of our joints and joint positioning and help correct imbalances between which muscles dominate and those which are weaker. We use them as a pre-hab exercise in mobility to wake up glutes, hamstrings and posterior chain muscles. The band function as a stimulus to allow us to better judge how movement should feel.
 
Grab a band and try Monster Walking yourself – a cleared area is all you need
 
  • Place the band above your knees
  • Sink down into a quarter squat position with knees pushed out to the sides
  • Tuck your pelvis/bottom under so that you avoid looking like Daffy Duck!
  • Hinge forward slightly from your hips keeping your chest up
  • Keeping feet forward and weight in your heels
  • Step side ways keeping tension in the band 
You might look like Pingu the Penguin when you are doing them but mini band monster walks are well worth adding into your training!
 
Strength IQ: Core
If you want abs of steel you need to do 100 sit-ups every day right?
 
Wrong! As well as looking at your nutrition, there are 29 different muscles that attach to your core region – sit-ups only work a few of them.  To build a strong core we need to think beyond just your abdominals.
 
Our first human movement originates when we are babies. We start lying on our belly or backs building development of the following:

Stage 1: Strength
  • Ability to hold head up with increased neck strength
  • Increased strength in shoulders and stomach to push up from the ground 
Stage 2: Balance
  • Ability to roll from back to tummy and back again
  • Improved balance to allow independent sitting
  • Building strength for baby crawling 
As babies we learn to move our core in rotation, diagonal, flexion and extension. Our core movement is both dynamic and stabilizing.
 
Our core stabilization muscles include; Transverse abdominis, internal oblique, lumbar multifidus, pelvic floor muscles, diaphragm and transversopinalis.

Our core movement muscles include; Latissimus dorsi, erector spinae, iliopsoas, hamstrings, hip adductors, hip abductors, rectus abdominis, external obliques

As Adults it makes sense that we should choose core exercises that work our muscles with the same degree of variety – sit-ups alone are not enough.

Why not try this Core circuit for yourself  - building up to 2-3 rounds
 
  • Butterfly Crunches x 10 reps
  • Back Extensions x 10 reps
  • Plank with Oblique Knee Drivers to Chest x 10 each side
  • Medicine Ball Russian Twist x 30 seconds
  • Glute Bridge Lift x 10 reps
NUTRITION
Saturday Night Takeaway
Rather than reaching for a take away menu why not try these healthy chicken nuggets? 
 
  1. Blitz 40g oats, 20g flaked almonds and 1 tsp paprika in a food processor or NutriBullet
  2. Cut 4 chicken breasts into chunks and coat in the mixture. There is no need for an egg to help coat as it should stick by itself
  3. Heat 1 tbps of coconut oil in a baking dish
  4. Place the coated chicken into the dish and cook at 180 for about 20 minutes
  5. Served with rocket, spinach, avocado, pepper and tomato salad and top with Greek Yoghurt mixed with more paprika
Flipping Good Pancakes
This is one of our favourite weekend breakfast options when there is no 6am start and a bit more preparation time! Easy to make they taste great – give them a go.
 
  1. Combine 1 whisked egg with 1 mashed banana and 30g porridge oats
  2. Heat 1 tsp of coconut oil in a pan then add the combined ingredients to the oil
  3. Using a low heat let the pancake slowly cook – don’t be tempted to increase the heat too high
  4. Using a spatula to turn over and ensure both sides are cooked through
  5. Serve with Greek yoghurt, blueberries and honey or your own choice
Sunday Brunch: Egg Muffins
McDonalds can keep their Egg Mc Muffins here is our alternative version packed full of nutrient dense ingredients and colour! Great to keep in the fridge as a quick snack, lunch with salad or Sunday brunch with a cup of good quality coffee. They are also a favorite for my nephew who loved it when we experimented with different silicone cases and made star shapes
 
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
  2. Whisk together 6 eggs in a bowl until yolk and white are fully combined
  3. If you’re using silicone muffin cases there is no need to line, if not heat 1 tbs of coconut oil and add to the base of the tins to line them
  4. Add your chosen fillings (see below) to the case/tin and pour egg mixture over
  5. Bake for 18-20 minutes / until the egg is cooked all the way through
  6. Once cooked store the muffins in the fridge and enjoy! 

Why not try one of the following filling combinations?
 
  • Grated cheese, broccoli, mushrooms and tomatoes
  • Feta cheese, prosciutto ham and cherry tomatoes
  • Ham, spinach and sweet corn
LIFESTYLE
How To Make Fitness Feel Good
Its been a rubbish day at work…
You’ve argued with your partner…
The kids have been up all night…
 
When we exercise our mind and body has either an associative or dissociative response.
 
When we associate we become fully immersed in the task at hand. Associative exercise forces us to connect with our body – we are aware of muscle contractions, joint movement and breathing. 
 
Boxing and strength training are great forms of associative exercise. Responding to cued boxing drills and moving pads requires focus and awareness of our own body’s positioning.  When engaged in associative exercise negative thoughts and stress can be temporarily pushed aside. Boxing is a perfect antidote for a bad day and a firm favourite with Strength In Motion Fitness clients.  
 
In contrast, when we disassociate we are able to switch off from the task in hand. Dissociative exercises allow our minds to wander and for focus to switch to the environment. Listening to music as a distraction whilst going for a steady state jog, a walk in new natural surroundings that capture your attention are both brilliant methods of disassociation training. 
 
The feel good factor from a training session often comes when we can recognise and identify whether we need to associate or disassociate. There are no hard rules – what works one day might not the next. The ability to adapt a Client’s routine to how they are feeling is a huge benefit of the coaching we provide. Experience is everything. Losing control and allowing yourself to feel vulnerable in new places, interactions and situations can be scary but it's always worth the risk. Whatever the outcome - everything we experience has the potential to strengthen our sense of self and values. We don't develop by staying static. 
 
One of my greatest passions from Strength In Motion Fitness comes from seeing others achieve what they previously thought impossible.  
Experiences help to provide a context for everyone to understand what they are achieveing and how far they have come. 
 
Benchmarking success on a set outcome measure i.e the scales means that there will only ever be one judgement - success or failure. 

Reflecting on experiences instead enables us to see that one thing doesn't determine who we are or what we achieve. We evolve and progress continuously. 
 
On a personal level 3 of my favourite self-enlightenment experiences have been  
 
1) Hiking the Manitou railway line and climbing 14,000ft up Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs. The first time I started to celebrate what my body could do rather than focus on what I wanted to change 
 
2) Reaffirming what my values were during the Training for Warriors Coaching course with Martin Rooney 
 
3) Jumping 15,000ft out of a plane over the Grand Canyon in Las Vegas because happiness is self generated and for me proving that I can be fearless sometimes is a good feeling to have
Are People who walk smarter?
The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche believed “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking..."
 
Research from the American Psychological Association supports Nietzsche’s theory stating
 
“The effect is not simply due to the increased perceptual stimulation of moving through an environment, but rather it is due to walking. Whether you are outdoors or on a treadmill, walking improves the generation of novel yet appropriate ideas, and the effect even extends to when people sit down to do their creative work shortly after”
 
All too often we become consumed with the thought that exercise has to be high impact, create a sweat and cause major disruption to our bodies. However, the components of Total Fitness extend beyond just the physical to our mental heath and wellbeing too. Taking a walk has fantastic benefits for stress relief. 
 
​Rocky's Runners have participated the Walk the Walk nighttime marathon twice so far, along with the SHINE half marathon. During training sessions everyone developed a greater appreciation of the local surroundings and came together in engaged conversations free from the distractions of everyday life. 
 
Next time you are sat in front of your lap-top and experiencing a mental block – get outside and give yourself a break.  You’ll come back stronger for it.
Think Like A Child Again
When we are children we enjoy exploring movement with no preconceptions of how/what we should feel or concerns for what we look like. We happily test our balance, tray new environments and face fears head on because we have no prior experience to tell us otherwise.
 
As adults committing to make positive lifestyle changes can feel daunting, scary and sometimes trigger negative thoughts.  There is a risk that your mind ruminates on what went wrong before rather than focus on what you are doing right now. “I know I’m going to fail again” almost becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
 
When Clients embark on a new fitness journey our coaching process starts by breaking down their self-criticisms and building their self-confidence.
 
“I can only manage one 30 minute session a week”
“I should give up alcohol but I enjoy socializing with friends at the weekend” 

 
As humans we tend to be happiest when we approach change with no expectations to benchmark against. ‘Should’ and ‘only manage’ are implicit self-judgments we hear frequently.
 
As a Beginner happiness comes from being kind to your self and celebrating small successes as building blocks along the way to a larger lifestyle change
 
  • Avoid trying to project an idealistic future
  • Focus on what you can do, in the here and now
  • Avoid benchmarking your success by the scales
  • Focus instead on how you are feeling (increased energy / strength / less stressed etc.)
  • Build up to where you want to be
  • The time you take to build solid foundations will bring consistency and prevent all or nothing approaches
PUBLISHED
Group Exercise: Daring to be Different
As Vogue Editor in Chief Anna Wintour famously once said “Create your own style… let it be unique for yourself and yet identifiable for others”. From the fashion world to group fitness, during the design process creativity can encourage a broader range of ideas and promote greater diversity. In order to meet multiple wants and needs, those who dare to be different need to be able to successfully manage the interplay between creativity and familiarity.

Today’s Gym Owners have access to a huge range of off-the-shelf group fitness programs, from Les Mills to Zumba, Boxercise to Bokwa. Advantages of standardised package include; prior Member knowledge of class concepts, consistent exercise content and proven marketing support. However, for Gym Owners looking to differentiate their offering from their competitors and provide Fitness Instructor’s with greater creative freedom, off-the-shelf packages can have limitations. 

The alternative to purchasing an off-the shelf programs is for Gym Owners to utilise their own fitness teams experience and skills to create unique class concepts. When pursuing in-house creation brand values need to be clearly communicated to the fitness team and a defined method for quality assurance established. 

Keeping It Safe 

When pursuing in-house creation it’s important that a fitness team develop confidence and competency in safe and effective exercise selection. Before providing creative freedom Gym Owners need to be confident that their fitness team can recognise the distinction between innovation and novelty in group fitness design. If random and potentially unsafe exercise content choices start to appear in a group exercise experience, Members risk feeling alienated rather than engaged. Having a defined system in place for exercise selection can improve the efficiency of risk assessment and provide a framework for consistency.

The Simply Gym Difference

Bay Leisure Ltd have worked in consultation with the Life Fitness Academy (LFA) since 2016 to support their fitness teams with in-house creation of their Synrgy 360 group fitness classes. The not for profit company owns and operates Simply Gyms in Llansamlet, Gorseinon and Cwmbran and manages the LC in Swansea. Chief Executive Richard Proctor believes that investment in ongoing education is a key ingredient to their continued success.

“We have identified that we want to run world class small group training – which we base around Life Fitness Synrgy360 rigs and we want to have a world class team delivering to our customers. To make a difference to our customers, we have to be constantly developing both our team and our small group training offering. We also have to ensure we have consistent standards across all sites and with all instructors including PTs. The ongoing education is therefore vital to help achieve this. It is a big investment, which we feel is vital if we really want Simply Gym to be different from the competition” 

Life Fitness Academy’s successful partnership with Bay Leisure derives from the LFA’s comprehensive understanding of ‘The Simply Gym Difference’ values and target membership. Each educational workshop is written to progressively add value and develop skills. Measurable outcomes for success to check both the fitness teams knowledge and their capability to apply new skills have been built into delivery. The type of Synrgy group fitness experiences the Simply Gym team learn how to design, and the coaching skills they develop all allow for what Proctor terms creative “freedom within a framework”.

“Members know what Synrgy class they are attending even though the content will vary. It is not formulaic and can adapt to small or large numbers of participants. From a facility point of view it uses space efficiently but also creates a bit of theatre within the gym environment. An additional benefit is that there is no “front of the class” or back of the class and no bank of mirrors which is also a benefit. The Synrgy workshops allows the team to develop their knowledge and ability whilst ensuring we offer consistency for our members”

The Why Behind the How 

The Simply Gym fitness team now recognise that the exercises they build into their classes should have a why, linked to specific Members wants and needs. Lee Johnson, General Manager at Simply Gym Gorseinon sees clear benefits to the continued investment in education. 

“The Life Fitness Academy training brings about a thorough and dynamic insight to how much you really can get out of Life Fitness equipment. The delivery of the training is motivating and inspiring. As a result, I now coach classes more thoroughly, with more direction and understanding and in turn our members are certainly benefiting” 

Making it Social 

Increased knowledge of specific exercises helps to add variety but the context in which content is delivered impacts more on how Members feel. In a 2011 Athletic Business article US Club owner Sandy Coffman stated “People join a club to be with others like themselves, with similar interests, skill levels, schedules, personalities, ages and genders. No one joins a club to be alone. It doesn't make sense”

Coffman’s assertion that we are drawn towards fitness experiences which reflect our passions and towards those where we perceive other to be taking part who are like ourselves remains true today. Group fitness programs which leverage our human tribe mentality have the power to build a Member community both within and outside the club. 

By focusing on the softer skills of coaching (trust, engagement and empathy) the team at Simply Gym have increased awareness of their responsibility to create a group fitness environment that fosters socialisation. The fitness team understand that whilst content matters, it is vital that they keep developing their delivery skills too. Adaptable and empathetic coaching can have a greater impact on Member engagement than an Instructor’s personal ability to showcase ten new Synrgy exercises in a class.

Systemised Fun 

Bay Leisure Ltd use education as a platform to unite the fitness teams from their 4 sites together under a shared goal of developing a ‘world-class’ group fitness program. Albert Einstein stated that “creativity is intelligence having fun”. By ensuring that the design of group fitness experiences adhere to “freedom within a framework” Simply Gym now have an intelligent system for class creation which guarantees fun for Members and Instructors alike. 
Social Proof: Are you ready to get real?
Context Is Everything 

According to the renowned Neruo Scientist Beau Lotto “all information is meaningless”. Humans do not create meaning through the passive receivership of information. Instead, we take data and create context for it based on our past experiences, perceptions and self-beliefs. Our relationships with businesses, brands and each other start with how they make us feel. Our emotional response to information is what matters.

Social media is one of the most effective and powerful mediums Personal Trainers and gyms have to instantaneously project information to a diverse range and large number of prospective Clients and Members. However, the possibility for effective connection is often lost by posts which attempt to manipulate behaviour change through peer pressure and fear. “Sore today, sorry tomorrow” and “Are You beach body ready?” might appeal to those already comfortable with being uncomfortable, but for Clients starting out on their fitness journey the risk is an ever widening ‘them and us’ gap. 

It’s All About Me?

To build authenticity and trust Personal Trainers and Clubs need to break any assumptions that prospective Clients and Members interrupt their social media messages the same way as they do. 

When social media is used as a broadcasting tool for competency and self-promotion the giving relationship between Personal Trainer and Client is not conveyed at all. Posts dominated by images of ripped abs, #FlexFriday selfies and self-training videos might inspire likes and followers but they project an overriding “It’s all about me” message to new Clients. Inspiration is powerless unless it also drives Client action towards change.

Start With Why? 

Renowned TED speaker Simon Sinek asserts it is our intrinsic values that we project onto the world around us that develop our relationships. “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”.

When a Personal Trainer or Club posts on social media the information functions as a decision making filter for a Client or Member to assess whether their own values and beliefs will 'fit' the experience being offered.

Those who can clearly communicate their values and ‘Why’ are better placed to leverage an emotional connection with Clients and Members. Authenticity is created when we believe what someone is saying. Everything they say and do on social media should prove what they believe.  

Consistency is key.  Branding the scales ‘the sad step’ but then publishing before and after images of Clients in their underwear with weight loss results to prove the competency of a training system is contradictory!  As a Client I am confused. The scales don’t matter but they are the benchmark being used for success? With confusion comes uncertainty and lack of trust.  

What’s Your Why? 

Knowledge of your own values starts with an understanding of the type of emotional connection you want to have before, during and after the fitness experience. Who better to ask what message you are projecting than those who are already part of your fitness community? 

Before developing a new website and social media strategy for my own personal training business, I asked my Clients to answer three questions:
 
  1. Why did you to choose to train with Strength In Motion Fitness? 
  2. What did you hope to gain from your training?
  3. What do you feel you have actually gained? 
The questions were designed to help understand 
 
  1. Which of the current messages that I was projecting were most effective in reaching the type of Clients I wanted to work with, and why? 
  2. What motivated my target Clients to embark on behaviour change?
  3. Did their ‘Why’ and values change as their self-belief and experience developed? 
The exercise revealed my qualifications and competencies were only of perceived value because I promoted them with an explicit benefit attached. Clients wanted assurance that I had the skills to adapt their training to specific needs, that they would not get injured and there would be no risk to them not being able to meet the other external pressures they faced. My typical Client is a mid-40’s City-working Commuter, Type A personality, with 1-2 children, facing a constant struggle to prioritise their own fitness but excellent at doing so if they are accountable to someone else. Th empathy and realism I express towards what changes they can make are key reasons they choose Strength In Motion Fitness.

The difference between what Clients hoped to gain and their perception of reality were largely consistent. The ability to train injury-free, gain strength, self-confidence and develop new techniques and self-knowledge were all reported takeaways. Positive social interactions, friendship and an awareness that fitness could make them feel good were reported gains but weren’t initial wants. It was only through the experience of training itself that these had developed as identifiable benefits. 

The Power is In the Proof 

Social proof has the power to switch a social media message from data broadcast to an emotional response instantaneously. To successfully make a lifestyle change we need not only a motivation trigger but also confidence and courage. Uncertainty is often alleviated when we are shown positive feedback from others who have already taken the risk we are contemplating.

The Be Real Campaign was set up to encourage those in the diet, health and fitness industries to promote long-term healthy living and wellbeing ahead of short-term quick fixes. The campaign ask businesses to act responsibly by positively promoting different body shapes and sizes, people with and without disabilities, and all ages, genders and ethnicities.

My personal ‘Why’ for supporting the Be Real campaign stems from spending my 20s living in a miserable state of disordered eating and obsessive self-restraint under the pretext of living a ‘healthy’ lifestyle.

Across my website and in all of my social media posts I have made a commitment that the realness and authenticity of my Clients is something I celebrate. Photoshop, filters and stock photos of ripped fitness models have all been rejected in favour of real images of my Clients.

Start With Be Real 

The fitness industry relies heavily on using manipulations to drive behaviour change. The fear then becomes that if we show ‘real’ people rather than filtered and aspirational images our own competency will be cast into doubt. However, social proof works on trust not manipulation. To gain long-term trust social media posts must show relatable real people.

How to Leverage Social Proof 
 
  • Ask Clients and Members to comment objectively on what message your existing social media posts project. Remember your assumptions and their perceptions may differ.
  • Define 5 key values that you want to project across your social media messages.  Understand why they matter to you and think about how best you can communicate the benefits for your Clients/Members. Ask for their feedback. 
  • Ask your Clients/Members if they will support you in promoting your message to others. Be mindful that their comfort if using images/videos is essential and that these should be obtained outside of their paid sessions. 
Youth Fitness Ideas
New Kids on the Block 

UK Active may have dubbed them ‘Generation Inactive’ but youth members at David Lloyd Clubs are anything but sedentary. This month sees the launch of the new Family Fitness Synrgy class, which allows David Lloyd Kids aged 8+ to join their parents or older siblings for the first time, in a fun group exercise class.   

Family Fitness Synrgy has been developed in partnership with the Life Fitness Academy, which specialises in helping gyms and clubs wrap unique experiences around the Life Fitness product portfolio. Life Fitness Academy have worked on a consultative basis with David Lloyd for the past 3 years delivering onsite education to their Personal Trainers and creating an extensive range of bespoke Synrgy classes. 

Parental Role Models 

David Lloyd member insight directly led to the decision to expand the existing 11-15 year old youth class offering. The family class developed after, DL Kids aged 8+ revealed that they wanted to be able to workout in a group class or the gym like mum and dad. Michelle Dand, Group Health and Fitness Manager for David Lloyd, said “We asked if there was an appetite for families to work out together. To our delight our members wanted to do this”

Mums, and Dads, often fear that other parents will judge them for ‘me-time’ at the gym over ‘family-time’. Sport England’s This Girl Can research revealed that 81% of mothers with children under 15 prioritise spending time with their families over getting fit. By combining family and fitness together, David Lloyd’s Family Fitness Synrgy class cleverly breaks down this and other parental barriers to participation. 

We Play Out

Life Fitness Academy was challenged to design a class structure and content for the Family Fitness Synrgy class that would ensure Parents still felt as if they were getting a workout whilst their kids were having fun.

The American Council on Exercise believes “What adults call “workouts,” kids call play”. Kids enjoy fitness experiences that are spontaneous and allow freedom of communication and expression. Creating a family-friendly class around the Synrgy frame raised several unique issues that had to be carefully addressed to still allow the class roots to be entrenched in feel-good play. 

When selecting appropriate exercise content the physical development differences between 8+ year olds and adults had to be taken into account alongside a potentially reduced ability for younger children to take instruction and stay focused in a group setting. Exercises that partnered Parents and Children together also had to take note of safeguarding ratios.

Youth Culture 

Campaigns such as This Girl Can have played a pivotal role in engaging female teenagers but to truly develop a national culture of fitness we need to inspire children to move throughout their whole day from a much younger age. 

The Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation ‘Changing the Game’ shares this belief revealing that there is “A drop in participation levels between Years 4 and 6 at primary school, with this decline becoming more pronounced in Years 8 and 9”

For Gym Owners who want to engage with youth members focus on selling the experience of fitness over the benefits. Children aged 8+ aren’t inspired to participate by the features of an active lifestyle. It’s the experience of play and its promise of fun, social interaction and freedom to be that has the power to inspire and appeal to the youth market, not obesity statistics.