Skip to main content


That one exercise you just hate? Training for diverse bodies.

I was fairly new to  personal training , when a client spoke to me about mountain climbers. Trainers love a good mountain climber, it's a great, whole body, high intensity cardio exercise and at the time I was using them a lot in my own training, putting sets of mountain climbers in between my strength sets. She explained to me that she just couldn't do them. It wasn't a fitness thing, they didn't work for her body, as she put it "my belly gets in the way". We adapted. I discovered that if we did a TRX mountain climber, with her feet raised, she had the space under her body to bring her knees forward. It's a more challenging exercise in terms of core stability, but like I said, it wasn't her fitness that caused the issue, the exercise was just a poor fit for her. That was probably the catalyst that made me think a lot harder about exercises and their suitability for the diverse body shapes of our human population. Who invents exercises anyway? Well...
Recent posts

The little details are costing your big goals - but not how you might expect.

 I was recently asked a really interesting nutrition question, which  is great, because I love big chewy questions, and it brought up a discussion of a common issue I encounter with my personal training clients.  It goes like this. Most of the questions people ask me about health and fitness, are not simple questions. The simple questions are the sort of thing you pick up at school, or can quickly google for a solid consensus, so it makes sense that those aren't brought to me. The questions people ask are always the tricky ones, the contested issues, the ones where my short answer is "well... yes, and... no". Sometimes it's because the answer is disputed, or there's not enough empirical evidence to support a definitive answer. Sometimes it's because the answer is population dependent; what's good for a pro athlete isn't necessarily right for an office worker who exercises for fun and to ward off heart attacks. And sometimes the topic is derived from a

What does a good trainer have in common with a good teacher?

 If you've been around here a bit, you'll probably know that I started out as a science teacher (and if you are new around here, welcome!), and I often get bemused reactions when I explain that I have been both a school teacher and a personal trainer (sometimes in the same day...). Once in an interview for a part time teaching post, I was asked how I conflated the two sides of my working life. I told them that I help people bring the best out of themselves.  On reflection, I've realised that the best qualities of a teacher, and also a trainer , are the qualities of a good coach.  The same head teacher who asked me that question, assured me that he was confident I could teach Maths instead of Science for a year, because I am a good teacher, and I have good maths skills, and the hardest part of teaching, is not the subject, but engaging the students for learning. The core skillset is universal, let me show you. Old school schooling Let's have a look at what we might see

More pain than gain - when you aren't getting the endorphin rush.

I'm always banging on about the benefits of exercise. It's what I do. One of the best ones is how it makes you feel good when you've done it. That post exercise endorphin rush where you feel like you're the boss of everything and your body feels like a good place to be. I've written before about how I use cardio as a way of moderating my fibromyalgia pain. Exercise and pain relief There's a proper word for this, it's called post exercise hypoalgesia - which literally means you get a decreased response to pain after exercising. Magic! We know a bit about how this works. We don't know exactly what the mechanism is, but it's understood that the endocannabinoid system is involved - which is nice. We also know that cardio exercise is great if you want a whole body pain relief situation, while resistance exercise tends to produce a localised result. This is super useful information for me as a Personal Trainer, because it helps me write

What did you expect? The stumbling block that could be holding back your fitness.

Getting your mindset right to optimise your workout Mindset is absolutely key in sport and fitness. We know that races are won and workouts are completed based on the mental engagement of the individual. We talk about positivity, visualising success, motivation, accountability - all of those things are important. Today I'm going to talk about expectations. As a coach, I know that managing the expectations of my clients is absolutely key to them getting the most out of their training in the moment, and also their long term resilience. It's really easy to get thrown off your game when you experience something you weren't expecting, and it's good to know what's normal, and what's not. When I introduce an exercise I tell people how it should feel in their body. If I tell you that your glutes are going to be working, your mind goes there, and we build the mind-muscle connection that is an absolute game changer in terms of progress. More broadly, when I int

Confused about your online fitness options? I'm here to help!

Isolation fitness is the new gym (for now) With Covid-19 measures limiting our movement at access to fitness, the internet has become a chaotic explosion of workout options. All the online retailers are sold out of home fitness equipment (ask me about my quest to find a pair of 20kg olympic plates...) and there is a definite shift in consciousness - I have never seen so many people talking about their exercise - and I surround myself with fitness people! In a way it is heartening to see a universal shift where people are becoming very aware of their health. It's necessary when, in all likelihood, many of us will have to fight a respiratory virus - the healthier you are to start with, the better your chance of a full recovery. Doctors have suggested we should prepare ourselves as we would for surgery. As a fitness professional it is always in my mind that I am "the front line of preventative medicine". Fitness, nutrition , recovery and a balanced mindset make measu

How staring at your phone could be causing your weak ankles.

Our bodies are incredible. They are mad feats of improbable engineering with bone, muscle and connective tissue working in balance to move smoothly and with accuracy. We have pretty much the same bones as a llama, a bat or a seal. Variations the lengths, tension and kinematics mean that we move and function completely differently. That's awesome. I've been fascinated by movement since I was a teenager. I remember being a precocious 17 year old at my university interview. I had taken a trip out to the Equine Sports Medicine Centre to look at the high speed treadmill. It's an amazing (and very expensive) bit of tech that allows a horse to gallop while being relatively stationary, so accessible for all kinds of diagnostics. My interviewer asked what I thought of it. I said it was pretty impressive but I wasn't sold on how the horse moved on it. They still offered me a place. I still don't like to assess movement on a treadmill, you don't see natural locomoti