Monday, 11 December 2017


What’s the biggest stumbling block in training? A poorly designed programme? Injuries? Lack of education and advice? 
No – it is definitely life!
You can buy a glossy magazine with a brand new routine in it. You can watch people training like beasts on social media for motivation. You can order all the latest gym gear.
But what happens when your alarm goes off at 6am and you're due to train? Your new gym leggings aren't going to get you out of bed.
What happens when you follow a new diet plan? The fitness model in the magazine isn't going to cook your meals. They aren't going to pop to the supermarket with you. That's your job.
When you're driving home from work. It's dark. It's wet. You live in England!
Your friends are at the pub or you'd rather watch the game on TV. Those guys in the social media videos have disappeared. They haven't packed your gym bag. They aren't sitting in the back seat of your car motivating you. It's all down to you.
THE WORST THING in training and life in general is motivation. It is WEAK. It is far too easy to be unmotivated. 
I'm like anyone. I love a little motivational video to get pumped up. I just never rely on it.

Some people are always seeking motivation - "I just wish I was motivated to train", as if someday that will just magically change. For some it does, but not many. The only thing that gets you anywhere in training and in life is DISCIPLINE.

Discipline is the difference between what you want now and what you want most. So, when the alarm goes off at 6am, what you want NOW is another hour in bed. However, what you want MOST is to lose body fat. So, get up and train!

Remember, your mind will always try to demotivate you. How many running conversations do you have in your own head about not wanting to go to the gym? 

Those conversations are simply nonsense! 

I'm too tired... Nonsense

I haven't eaten right today… Nonsense

I'm sore from yesterday's session… Nonsense

We all know if we really had to go, we would. Nobody has ever gone to the gym and said they regretted working out.

So, remember, NO MOTIVATION. Just discipline for your path to success.

Also, forget waiting for a perfect situation to start training. Forget waiting to feel great or energetic before going to the gym. Do it regardless. People I know who are in great shape just show up. When I ask them how their workout was, more often than not they answer, "pretty average". Average, completed consistently gets you a long way! 

The fitness industry sells many secrets. The secret to good abs. The secret to bigger arms, or a smaller waist. How to look good, feel great, and in the minimum time.

The fitness industry sells a dream. You'll get the body you've always wanted and they make it sound so easy. 

What they don't tell you is you'll have that nagging voice telling you to take a day off, train lighter, leave early or to stay in bed.

Remember, training should be the fun bit. Work hard, have fun, enjoy movement.


Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Mobility made easy

Let's face it, for many of us mobility and stretching is boring. We don't immediately sweat like we do when lifting weights, playing sport or when generally active. We can't see immediate benefits and our flexibility routine goes out of the window.

However, as you get older, being more mobile is a huge piece to the fitness puzzle. Without it, performing certain exercises in the gym, sport and in life becomes more difficult. This can lead to imbalances in the body, compensation and potential injury. At the same time, recovery is a huge part of progression. The more quickly you can recover, the sooner you can return to your chosen form of exercise to go again. Soreness, tightness and injury can delay this return and progress will stall.

When the Australian Athletes were here at our facility during the build up to the London 2012 Olympics, so much of what they worked on was based around mobility and recovery. They may have trained for 1-2 hours in the morning and afternoon, but following this, they had an ice bath, sports massage, assisted stretching and they did their own foam roller work.

Unfortunately we won't get the same treatment as an Olympic athlete! It would be great, but we probably don't need that much. What we do need is at least some mobility work. The number of people who have been advised by a specialist to stretch certain muscles following an injury, but never do, is very high.

The problem is, when do we fit another 10 - 20 minutes in to our busy schedule to do this? Trying to fit training in to our day can be hard enough.

Something that has worked really well for me, is doing small mobility movements throughout the day at any given opportunity. Here are some of my favourites:

Squat Stretch

This could be done at your desk. Hold on to something in front of you, drop to a deep squat position (comfortable to you). Hold this here for up to 30 seconds. Repeat sporadically throughout the day.


Chest Stretch

Use a doorway. Press in to this with your arm until you feel your chest and shoulders opening up/stretching. Aim for 15-30 seconds per side. This is a really good postural stretch to do throughout the day if you are desk bound.



Hip/Quad Stretch

Place a cushion on the floor. Rest your knee on the cushion with your back leg up against the edge of the sofa. Bring yourself into the upright position. Aim for a minute per side or for as long as you choose whilst watching TV!



Calf Stretch

When going upstairs, drop one heel to the floor and hold for 30 seconds. Do this on both legs.


The key with anything in training is adaption. If you can't commit to a stretch class, yoga or a dedicated stretch session at home, then start by adding in these moves. Do them regularly and whenever you have the opportunity or when you remember! You'll feel the benefits overlap into life and training.


Saturday, 17 June 2017

Ask the Trainer

We interviewed our Personal Trainers to see how they responded to some quick-fire fitness and nutrition questions. Let's see how they answered when we put them on the spot:

Current training Regime

Monday - Weight training, upper body push/pull movements.
Tuesday - Weight training, leg workout.
Wednesday - Rest.
Thursday - Weight training, upper body push/pull movements.
Friday - Some form of conditioning, e.g. teaching spin/sprints.
Saturday - Weight training, lower body with additional strongman training exercises (atlas stone lifting, farmers walks). Sprints at the end.
Sunday - Rest.
Daily mobility work of 5-10 minutes.
Monday -  Weight-training in the morning (upper body pressing movements) / Stretch in the evening.
Tuesday - Weight-training in the morning (upper body pulling movements) / Climbing in the evening at a local club.
Wednesday - Weight training in the morning (leg workout) / stretch in the evening.
Thursday - Climbing in the morning at a local club / Climbing with the school boys during PE in the afternoon / Weight-training in the evening (upper body pressing movements).
Friday - Plyometrics in the morning (power training) / Stretch in the evening.
Saturday - Climbing at a local club.
Sunday - Rest.
Four weight training sessions a week (push/pull/push/pull), two interval training sessions a week on the treadmill (30 second sprint with 60-90 second recovery x 5-7 sets), 3 mobility sessions a week consisting of 20 minutes.
Golf 1-2 times a week. Several core workouts based around bodyweight training. Regular daily mobility work.
3-4 runs a week of 6-8 miles. One day a week dedicated to mobility with the use of a foam roller and resistance band. One weight training workout a week for lower body, including squats and lunges to support running. One core workout a week.

Best Fat-Loss training technique

Oli: Sprints, or simply increase your walking.
Dan: Weight Training.
Sam: HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) sessions on the treadmill.
Paddy: Circuit training and HIIT Sessions.
Emma: HIIT training or Tabata training (20 seconds hard/10 seconds rest x 8 rounds), using exercises like burpees, squat jumps, jump lunges, etc.

Best Nutritional advice for Fat-loss

Oli: Track your calories on the MyFitness App.
Dan: Consume the majority of your food from unprocessed options.
Sam: Consistently count calories.
Paddy: Learn to cook, so foods can be enjoyed.
Emma: Don't let yourself get hungry.

Favourite form of exercise

Oli: Strongman/odd object training.
Dan: Climbing.
Sam: Weight training.
Paddy: Martial Arts.
Emma: Running.

Best core exercise

Oli: Weighted carries e.g. farmers walks.
Dan: Climbing.
Sam: Plank.
Paddy: Mountain climbers on a fitball.
Emma: Hanging knee raises.

Favourite food

Oli: Anything on the Barby!
Dan: Porridge with sultanas and nuts.
Sam: Pizza.
Paddy:  Italian beef casserole.
Emma: Curry.

Rest and Relaxation techniques

Oli: Walking / Stretching.
Dan: Reading / Music / Walking / Holidays
Sam: Retail therapy and coffee breaks.
Paddy: Long walks / Meditation App called 'Headspace'.
Emma: Reading

Best Gym Quote

Oli: Discipline over motivation.
Dan: There are 168 hours in a week. If you spend 5 hours in the gym, ask yourself "what am I doing with the rest"?
Sam: Exercise is a celebration of what you can do, not a punishment for what you ate.
Paddy: Whether you think you can or you can't, you are usually right.
Emma: In life we are not simply given strength, just opportunities to become strong.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Five ways to improve your running

Many people think that in order to improve your running you just need to put in the miles. To a certain extent this is true and practice can make perfect. There are, however, many other things you can do to help improve your running, whilst reducing the likelihood of injury, without pounding the pavement every day.

1. Strength

By putting together a programme that focuses on the lower body and core, you can strengthen all the muscles that you use whilst running to improve your speed and stamina.

2. Mobility and Stretching

By making sure your joints and muscles are as supple and mobile as possible, your movement will become much easier. This will not only improve your stride but also help you to avoid injury.

3. Hills

If you have less time to train and can’t get in the long run you wanted, find yourself a hill and run up and down it. It sounds simple but hill training is extremely effective as it trains the forward running motion to the next level. When you are back on the flat you will feel like you are flying along and when it comes to hills you will hardly notice the climb as you will be so used to it.

4. Intervals

Short intense bursts followed by a resting jog/walk which can be done in time or distance. By using intervals and training over and above the speed you are used to, your heart and lungs will become more efficient and your stamina will improve over time.

5. Multidirectional Drills

Training in all directions gives you more well-rounded strength. Improving your strength all-round will not only improve your stride but also help you to avoid injury.


For any further help or guidance please come and speak to a member of the gym team who will be happy to help.



Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Gaining weight without the use of supplements

Weight-loss or Fat-loss is probably one of the biggest reasons people venture into a new gym regime. But on the flip side, gaining weight, hopefully through increased muscle mass, is almost an industry in itself!

I know many young men, myself included, that have worked hard to build muscle and gain size. However, it is very easy to fall victim to the clever marketing that the industry throws at us!

Last year I visited FIBO, Europe's biggest fitness exhibition in Germany. There was a whole array of new exercise classes, fitness equipment and clothing on offer. But the most visited section, by far, was the supplement area. The crowds were so big that you could barely move. All the famous fitness models were there, promoting their latest supplements, and people were queuing out of the door to meet them and buy the products they endorsed.

Unfortunately, the fitness industry is filled with 'quick fixes' and 'magic pills'. Vibrating abdominal pads to give you a six pack, weight loss pills, muscle building shakes.... What the fitness models don't tell you is the fact that they probably train hard 6 times a week. They'll often diet year round. They will have complete control of their calorie intake and the foods from which these calories come from. All this, normally combined with great genetics, gives them the physique they have on show. Drinking some form of powder does not.

The industry sells us a dream. Many of us are easily influenced by this; it is human nature. Hard-work and consistency with training and nutrition is a lot harder to 'sell' than simply buying a product that will hopefully answer your prayers.

You do not need supplements to gain weight. What you do need to focus on is consistently being in a calories surplus. Below is a formula to work out your calorie goals:

Bodyweight in pounds x 15. From there your need to add 500 calories a day to this, every day. If that doesn't work, add 1000. As you start to gain weight you will need to recalculate your requirements, as these will increase the more you grow. Again add 500-1000 calories to this.

Gaining weight doesn't need to be complicated. You can use the 'My Fitness Pal' App to track your progress. But forget the fancy protein shakes. Instead up your food intake. It sounds simple but if you have two slices of toast and two eggs for breakfast, have 4 slices of toast and four eggs! If you have one large jacket potato for lunch, see if you can squeeze two in! Doubling up at every meal is simple and effective.

                                                         Image result for pictures of a big glass of milk

Other great weight gaining foods are lots of carbohydrates (bread, pasta, rice). They are also cheap and are great for gaining weight when eaten in large amounts and combined with weight training. Also whole milk is a fantastic form of calories. If you have a son looking to gain weight, a pint of whole milk with a peanut butter and jam sandwich between each meal and before bed is a great technique and it won't break the bank! Other high calorie foods include eggs, red meat and nut butters. All include great sources of protein and fats, with high calories to match.

So the next time your son, your friend, or even you are looking to gain weight, forget the fancy tub of supplements. Instead, calculate your needs, eat for that goal and train hard!

If you need any tips or meal plans please email Oli Martin on

Friday, 10 March 2017

Back on form

Around a year and a half ago I got some bad news.
I had recently injured my back and I couldn’t walk for nearly three weeks. It took me a long time to recover and eventually return to work but by this time I had been off for the best part of two months and questions as to whether I was up to the job anymore were quite rightly being asked - not least by myself.
I had to know what I was up against so I had an MRI scan that sadly revealed a congenital degeneration of the vertebral discs throughout my spine. To all intents and purposes they were slowly dying.
A rather damning letter told me that I couldn’t play any of the sports I loved anymore and due to the apparent severity of the condition I didn’t even know if I’d be able to continue working here Tonbridge after it was diagnosed. 
Upon arriving for my appointment with the consultant following on from the scan I was even presented with a wheelchair - which I politely declined.
That was when I started to ask questions. They were seemingly dumbfounded that I had arrived under my own steam, from work no less and having taught a spin class that morning. If I was able to do all these things the MRI said I shouldn’t be able to then how could it possibly be as bad as they thought it was?
Long story short I educated myself. I went from seeking the best way to increase my strength in the gym or trim my body fat down to learning about the spine and how it worked.
Not only did I read everything I could find (and Google everything I couldn’t) but I practiced training my spine, experimented with how it moved and (more painfully) how it didn’t!
Now a year and some odd months later I have had the first major setback with my back.
That happened on a Friday and put everyone in a panic thinking it was all going off again. Everyone but me I think. I was quite calm this time around.
I knew what to do this time and it took till Sunday afternoon to convince my spine to move correctly again. The following Monday I took all my classes with full participation.
What I have come to realise is that I learnt more than just how the spine works during that time. I learned the art of deliberate practice.
Deliberate practice is when you don’t just show up. It’s when you absorb yourself in something, become aware of every variable and the adjustments you must make in order to improve yourself. It’s what separates the great sportsmen, musicians, artists and scientists from the almost made it’s. The Chelsea’s from the Arsenal’s if you like.  
Sometimes it’s called natural talent – but I’m sorry it’s not. Whether that gifted 9 year old knows it or not they will have gained an understanding through the process of conscious trial and error – deliberate practice. They might not fully understand why they are getting it right but they’ve found countless ways to get it wrong.
There is a vast difference between knowing that you’re good at something and knowing why you’re good at it! It’s like turning up to class knowing you’re good at maths but repeatedly getting one question wrong and then trying to solve it the same way again and again. You wouldn’t do that but for some reason we don’t always take the same approach to other subjects.
Interestingly, I find this flaw most apparent in the practice of skills involving movement of the human body.
This I believe is because it can be at one time by far the most complex and difficult piece of equipment to control and yet the most simple, almost thoughtlessly easy at another. If you’re moving correctly it is seamless and effortless and if you’re not performing even the most basic skill can feel nigh on impossible.
There is a theory called the 10,000 hours that some of you may have heard of already.  This simply puts a figure on the number of hours required to master a particular skill...apparently.
But I can believe it based on the time it has taken me to get just a fraction of the way to where I’d like to get to with regards to my understanding of the body as a whole.
Now unless you can dedicate 5.5 hours a day to something over the next five years you won’t master anything entirely any time soon – but you can certainly start or maybe even finish mastering something.
Maybe you’ve been playing a sport or an instrument since you were young, maybe you’ll learn to master the language you’ve spoken since the very start and go on to write an incredible book, become a world-renowned speaker.    
You can achieve anything you want to achieve.
But you have to apply yourself. You have to practice deliberately.
You have to want to know something down to its very essence.
Now for me it took for it to become a matter of necessity before I learnt this invaluable approach to learning (and as it turns out life as a whole). Don’t wait for it to get to that stage for you. Don’t wait until exam time – don’t wait until you HAVE to know it. Enjoy the process and the rewards will be that much more fulfilling.
Do not practice until you get something right – practice until you can’t get it wrong.
Patrick Latter.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

A Different Take On New Year Resolutions

So during the festive period we spend two weeks expanding our stomach; from selection boxes to stinky cheese, anything goes. I know this all too well as I fancied some Yule log the day after Boxing Day... for Breakfast!

After the fortnight of expansion, we don't just return to normal eating, we have the tendency to go completely the other way and deprive ourselves. No more 'Junk food', far fewer calories and restriction at every turn.

Then comes the new training routine; something copied from a C-list celebrity, a six-day-a-week plan, when you normally train on two or three days (on a good week). Then include the cold mornings and the darkness at 4pm, and we wonder why the system doesn't last.

What could we actually achieve if we switched our mentality, started more slowly and continued to eat to satisfy our needs? What if we did a little less exercise than we needed to, so we actually wanted to return again for the next workout?

Going full throttle for two weeks only to return to our normal ways or even less than before doesn't work; slow and steady with consistent application always wins. Be the tortoise not the hare!

I've stripped back my intensity in the New Year. I've taken weight off the bar to improve my form. I've added in less sets but more mobility work to address the niggles. I'm eating to support my training rather than going without.

If you're unsure, seek advice from a trainer who can tailor a programme for you - don't 'go in blind'!

Remember to commit; make the commitment small to start with and increase your goals as your confidence grows.

Happy New Year,