My Return To Personal Training

personal-training-workoutAfter having spent the Summer back in the States, I returned back to London last month and straight back to work. Unfortunately my time away over the Summer has been spent largely socialising and catching up with friends and family. My fitness has frankly gone out the window, except for a few early morning jogs. So to kick start me back into a healthy regime I decided to try a course of personal training sessions once again, as this worked so well for me before. I was looking for intense results and the motivation to get me back on track.

My trainer Daniel turned up at my home and within a few minutes had analysed my lifestyle, eating habits and exercise shortcomings. With a knowing nod of his head, he assured me, “We’ll get you back into top shape, but you’ll have to make some changes”. Okay so I was expecting this but I suppose until someone sits you down and tells you straight you kinda avoid wanting to make any changes. We began with some measurements as Daniel told me this was the best way to see how the body was improving. I have found from the past that this approach really works for me so I was happy to have these taken. Waist and hips were measured, bodyweight and bodyfat percentage (I don’t wish to share these results this time!). I was quite ashamed at how much weight I had put on over the Summer months. These figures really gave me some motivation to really change. We booked in our first session for the next morning and I was ready for it.

The next day I met Daniel from and we arranged a first session in the park – he arrived with a whole manner of tortuous looking contraptions. Some light jogging to start the workout and then we were right into high intensity circuits using boxing, kettlebells, plyometric boxes, agility ladders and battle ropes. This was very intense training some of which I had done in the past, so I hadn’t. Although tough I felt than Daniel pitched the session just right, without making it too tough to put me off! We decided to go with three sessions a week and Daniel also gave me a meal plan that was based upon complex carbohydrates and protein without any refined sugar, and no alcohol (yes you heard me right, he wanted me to stop drinking!). I have to confess that I can give up sweat foods and treats far more easily that the glass of wine I enjoy at meal time. But this was all about making sacrifices so I accepted the challenge and we began a 5 week program of intense personal training and strict eating.

I have now just finished my 5 week plan and I am delighted with my results. I have lost 1 stone and my bodyfat percentage has dropped significantly. My arms don’t wobble half as much as they did before but the biggest difference is in my thighs and hips where I have slimmed down considerably. My plan now is to try to maintain this new me on my own. I will be continuing with one session a week with Daniel and then exercise in between on my own – but not so intensely. My diet was great. I plan to stick with the no sugary foods as I feel so much better on it. I also agreed a compromise with Daniel that I would restrict alcohol to just weekends. With my new improved physique and eating plan I am confident of getting through to Winter without letting it all go again.

Does Personal Training Really Work?

When I first discovered exercise in any meaningful kind of way I was 22 and a good 50 pounds or so overweight. I joined a gym in NY and was given a basic program to follow by my then gym instructor. I visited the gym each day and by following the program I was able to eventually shift the weight. Now much older and having had two children my body has changed again (for the worse!) and this time I find it much harder to burn fat and tone compared to my younger years.

I still keep my fitness regime going by trying new things and different classes at the local gym,  but I have been wondering for the last year whether a personal trainer may be able to help me break the plateau. So in September this year as an Anniversary present from my husband Todd, I was gifted with 20 personal training sessions! I guess some wives  may have taken offense by such a gift! Being a fitness addict, I was delighted as it has been something I have been hinting to Todd for the last 12 months.

My personal trainer was Mark from MotivatePT and he was a lovely guy. Before he turned up, I was excited but also slightly worried in case he thought I was really out of shape! During the consultation he sat down with me and told me what we would be doing and began looking at my goals. I told him about my post-pregnancy bulges that had never really gone away and he informed me that I would need to tighten up my diet and increase my calorie expenditure. “Don’t worry” he told me, “I will provide you with a diet plan that I’d like you to follow for the next 10 weeks as part of the fitness program.”

My first session was booked in the very next day and we met in the park. I was expecting Mark to appear with lots of fitness equipment but instead he turned up with nothing. “Okay”, I thought, “he’s forgotten to bring the exercise equipment – this is going to be an easy workout”. Mark explained that for this first session he would be concentrating on body weight exercises and circuits in order to assess my strength, endurance, posture and imbalances. I had no idea what was in store for me!

We began with a stretching routine and then started with what Mark described as warm-up exercises – jumping jacks, squat thrusts and mountain climbers. My legs felt like they were about to fall off. “Okay” said Mark, “that’s the warm-up over!”

As the session went on my body strangely learned to work through the pain threshold that I was experiencing and the initial agony subsided – to be replaced by a slightly less painful burning sensation in my thighs and arms! We worked on interval drills, callisthenics and timed routines based upon jog/sprints. By the end of the workout I was shattered yet felt strangely alive and alert! Okay, so a few days later I could hardly walk, but I was told that my body would adjust very quickly, and it did! By session two I was really up for whatever Mark would throw at me and so began the 10 week program.

Throughout the 10 weeks each training session was changed so that it was slightly different to the previous one. As soon as I felt I had mastered an exercise, Mark would change it! He told me that this was to ensure that my body was constantly challenged. We worked a lot on jogging, sprints and intervals when in the park, but also did lots of boxing, kickbox, kettlebells and core training. I also did lots of exercises I had never heard of before like resistance work with powerclubs, agility ladder drills, speed cone training and battling ropes which got my heart racing and made my arms feel like they were going to fall off! Each session lasted for 60 minutes and I really could not have done a single minute more! Some days I have to confess I felt like giving up, especially when my brain was telling my legs to keep going but my legs just wouldn’t respond!

The Results
I trained with Mark twice a week for 10 weeks. I was also given a 60 minute program that I had to follow on my own each week, which was basic body weight interval circuits. I was also given a nutritional plan which was limited to just 1400 kcal a day. By the end of my 10 week program I had lost 23 pounds, dropped 7.5% bodyfat and almost 6 inches off my waist (my problem area!). I also gained tone to areas that had been flabby since childbirth. I was really surprised just how much I changed my whole body shape.

The Verdict
Does personal training work? Clearly it does – at least for me. All my colleagues at work were asking me what I was doing and my friends and family were amazed with how much weight I lost. Only my youngest daughter was unhappy telling me “Mummy you’re disappearing!”

All that said, it was probably the most intense training regime I have ever done for that time period and there were some days when I was really tired and just didn’t want to do it! But I could always hear Mark’s voice in my head, telling me “no excuses!”. I followed a 1400 kcal diet whilst on the 10 week program which was tough at first but then became very easy to follow when I got used to it.

For me the personal training was just a program to jump-start my body and for this it has definitely made a huge difference. The program was also the inspiration I needed to start training again with a far greater level of intensity than how I was doing before on my own.  I am definitely a fan of personal training and were it more affordable I would actually love to do it every day! I would certainly want to book some more sessions again. I am hoping that my husband will buy me some more training this Christmas!

My personal trainer was Mark from Motivate Personal Trainers