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Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

Interview with Wendy Cole (Function First)

Monday, August 16th, 2010

TG: Hi Wendy, thanks for being interviewed.  Could you start off by telling us a little about your background in the wellbeing industry?

WC: Thanks for inviting me, it is a pleasure to be able to discuss our ever evolving business I am  a late arrival to the actual wellness industry. I have always had an interest in the human body and all of the spectacular things that it can achieve, on many levels. When I was in high school I was very active in sports (1500 m in track and gymnastics) but my first love was  the human mind, and how it communicates with the body. I followed the psychology trail in my advanced education. Although I never completed my formal education, movement and the mind had always facinated me. Perhaps that explains how I wound up at Function First. Realizing the huge impact that motor control has over our every day functions, and how that influences wellness, and of course, pain.

TG: You have worked helping clients overcome injuries, what do you find are the most common problems that people come to you with?

WC: I have in my brief career had the opportunity to work with a variety of challenges. Being that I did study and sit for the ACE Clinical Exercise Test and certification, it opened a whole world of different diseases and dysfunctions within my scope of practice. It has been a real journey of discovery. I have had the ability to help individuals with back pain, knee problems, as well as many shoulder issues. The largest volume of challenged clients seemed to have back issues. As we well know, statistically  a staggering 85% of people will experience low back pain at some point or another.

TG: Low back pain is a commonly occurring problem, what steps to you take to help people overcome back pain?

WC: When it comes to low back pain issues, or ant issues for that matter, I am in full agreement with what we would refer to as Hypothesis Testing. This is where an individual would come in for an appointment and we would discuss various postures that seem to either help, or hinder their situation. We would discuss their activities of daily living, and I would observe the client in a variety of different situations. ( an example would be their seated posture, or maybe even walking.) Am impression is formed form this interview. A health history from is also part of the pool of information that goes toward the consideration of the program to follow. This can also lead to a recommendation to see a more qualified professional. Next, based upon this information. other assessments are used to produce a program specifically for this individual and their very specific needs.

TG: What do you feel are the most common causes of Low Back pain?

WC: The statistics indicate that 85% of back problems are of an “unknown etiology” (McGill) I am of the impression that back pain is more of a “cascade effect”, there is no one thing that  creates tissue breakdown, unless it is a traumatic injury such as in a fall, or something of that nature. Some of the contributing factors that contribute to this “cascade” would be anything ranging from repetitive stresses, to cigarette smoke, to improper diet/hydration, to additional undue stress of any nature, to those extra few pounds around the middle, to overexercising, exercising one side of the body more than the other creating asymmetry, to motor control problem to a completely sedentary lifestyle. These are only a few elements that can contribute to painful conditions of the back. Some of these things are under our conscious control and others are not- none the less the tissue eventually yields and compression is created. I think there is a much bigger picture than a single episode that create pain in the body, it is the result of a much bigger picture.

TG: You have worked with clients with a range of disabilities, how important do you feel it is that we as fitness professionals provide services for special populations?

WC:When I became certified I had sort of an ah-ha moment when I stopped to read the actual certificate. It stated that I was certified to work with “apparently healthy” individuals. Upon completion of the health history form(s) that I have my clients fill out, I promptly discovered I was not really qualified to work with very many people.

We seem to live in a world of relatively unhealthy people. Hypertension, diabetes, back pain, cancers, the list is really endless. Very sad. I felt a huge need   to increase my knowledge, and scope of practice,to serve my clients better. What I don’t know in many aspects could very much hurt someone. My goal is to help people, not hurt them. I don’t think you can know too much when it comes to the human body and function. As a service industry, we need to stay on top of the educational ball, especially with so many challenged clients and potential clients out there.

TG: What would you say are the three most important exercises people should do to improve their ability to live in the modern world?

WC: Everyone is different and has different needs when it comes to programming.  I follow the “for who” and “for what” train of thought when it comes to exercise- inspired by my mentor, Anthony Carey. I rarely ever suggest  an exercise without any form of assessment. However, there are some “basics” that we could improve upon to improve our quality of life. Simple things, like learning proper breathing techniques, that can impact our lives in big ways.

Most of us hyperventilate. One of my clients actually phrased it the best, “we are afraid to breathe.” We are chest breathers, this keeps our sympathetic nervous system engaged. We need to learn to slow our lives down,and our breathing down. Huge benefit can be gained from engaging our parasympathetic nervous system by breathing more slowly and deeply.  This has a global effect on everything from back pain to digestion to sleep disorders, to energy production to an overall feeling of well being. Cortisol, which is related to stress, has been linked to the inability to loose those extra pounds, also.  Proper breathing has more implications than I can even begin to cover here!

Another element of “wellbeing” that I feel is highly overlooked is our ability as humans to get up and move.We do not need permission, or an excuse. Exercise does not only happen in the gym! I like to remind my clients that I am only a small part of their actual world. They need to move more than few hours a week that they see me. If they have a desk job, I like to encourage them to get up and move through out the day. I remind them that I am a small piece of the puzzle. I try to challenge them into other FUN activities that they can do with their family, or dog. ANYTHING! We need to set the bar a little higher for our clients. I like to give “homework, ” depending on the goal/s we are focused upon.

My last suggestion continues with this  more holistic approach. We cannot separate ourselves from our diet. Even though we “workout,” we need to be more aware of the foods we eat, and the quality of the food we use to fuel our bodies, minds and spirits. We need to take the time to pay attention to our needs versus the many “tasty” temptations that are out there. We need to think about the results of the coffee’s , the deserts, the processed foods, the stop for “happy hour” drinks. These ALL impact our quality of being. They too are accumulative. I have worked with diabetics that have lost limbs, and still would not step away from their diet issues. We all have choices,but we have to remember there is always cause, and effect. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts/healthy fats and other whole foods are part of the key to good health, longevity, healing and long life. Genetics also have a huge part of this, of course. But, naturally, it is up to each and every one of us come to a place where we can own our own path to health.

TG: How do you suggest people who are mainly desk based in their working environment train to counter act the impact this has on their overall posture?

WC: I see that a majority of our modern world is desk based. The ideas presented above would be a great base for feeling better. Naturally, a personalized workout/fun program with a qualified personal trainer is the missing key from the above mentioned. I would advise anyone that has isn’t moving and loving it- to find a qualified professional to get them on the road to living a fuller, healthier, more invigorating life. It is important to realize that life is more than just work and home and sitting. We have to get up and participate in our lives,and in our health. We can’t sit on the side lines and wonder why we don’t feel good. We need to seek those who are qualified that want to help bring us to the life we visualize.

TG: What do you feel are the most important traits of a good personal trainer?

WC: To me, one the most important traits of a personal trainer are the ability to focus- really focus. We need to be able to set ourselves aside when we enter into a session. Only the now, and that client exist. We need to focus on that person, and that person alone. We need to use all of our senses to help the person learn things correctly for the right adaptation. We need to focus on hearing what the client has to say and how they “feel” things. To often we walk into a session with a preconceived  notion about we WE expect from the session. We need to hear and see our clients and realize their needs and abilities in order to serve them better, and reach their goals.  We need to turn off our cel phones, cut the chatter and stay in the moment!

TG: Tell us a bit about what the future holds for you?

WC: I feel extremely blessed to be here in San Diego, at Function First with Anthony Carey. I  plan to be here for the next couple of years learning more about human function and corrective exercise. An amazing opportunity. As I mentioned earlier Anthony has been a huge influence in my career to date. I was fortunate enough to have attended his workshops and seminars early in my career.

While I am here, we are hoping to expand the personal training aspect of the facility. We are launching a new program based upon the NEWSTART principals that I focused upon at my facility in Avalon.(More on these principals can be found on my blog This program is going to start on August 2, 2010. it will be an exciting, inovative 6-week program. It will target individuals that are focused on losing 10-15lbs, already existing exercisers who are bored with their “routines,” and individuals who are experiencing challenges in their ‘diet.” Naturally we will be incorporating full body exercises using the TRX and the Core-Tex, as well as  other modalities. We are calling this series the Workoutwithwendy X-treme, X-Factor Six Week X-erFun Camp! Hopefully some you might come out and join us!!

Next summer we are also hoping to add in some summer fun camps for the youth population.

Thank you so much for including me! All the best to you ,Tom!

TG: Thanks for your time Wendy, and we wish you all the best for the future!

Interview with Ben Pratt (Nutritions Playground, Premier Training and Natural Food Finder)

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

TG: Hi Ben, thanks for being interviewed.  Could you start off by telling us a little about your background in the wellbeing industry?

BP: Thanks Tom, I appreciate the opportunity to discuss things over. I have been in the health, fitness and wellbeing industry since 1995. I started out all those years ago working as a leisure attendant in an exclusive private health club near Tower Bridge, London. I have had many roles since then including gym instructor, personal trainer, duty manager, gym manager and fitness and nutrition lecturer. I am currently working as Premier Training International’s Research and Development Manager and as such author leading fitness and nutrition courses that get taught in many venues around the country. I founded my own business as well over a year ago called Natural Food Finder.

TG: How important a role do you think nutrition has to play in overall levels of wellbeing?

BP: I believe that nutrition is one of the greatest providers of optimal health. Out of necessity we eat regularly every day to nourish our bodies and fuel ourselves for the activities of life. Unfortunately in today’s world of fast paced living the food we eat often has little if any thought put into it. The convenience foods and take away meals that are becoming ever more a dominant part of our diet are literally diminishing our health with every bite. Many people struggle with ill health and search endlessly for an answer from doctors, specialists and pharmaceuticals, but continue to eat food that damages them slowly from the inside without considering the impact. Food can truly be medicine for those who need to rebuild their health. It is extremely important.

TG: What are the first 5 steps a person should make to improve their diet?

BP: There are so many things that could be offered as an answer to this question. The most appropriate answer is that the top 5 things will depend very much upon the person whose diet needs to be improved because as Lucretious said ‘One man’s food is another man’s poison.’ There are some general steps that would be important for all people.

  1. First and foremost a clear and solid decision needs to be made that now is the time for change. All too often people’s lives are scattered with occasional efforts to try and eat healthily with little effect because they do not get to the root of the problem. It’s not always so much about how much you need to change, but how much you want to change.
  2. Quality! There is no substitute for quality food. Learn what really good food is and what is not. I will give you a clue it is a great deal more than just eating fruit and vegetables. Investigate, educate yourself, read labels and ensure you buy the best food your circumstances will allow
  3. Avoid foods that contain damaging ingredients such as hydrogenated fats, trans fatty acids, artificial sweeteners, flavour enhancers and are sprayed with agricultural pesticides and herbicides.
  4. Get over your fat phobia. Modern advice and guidelines has created a huge amount of unfounded fear regarding dietary fat and cardiovascular disease. Fat from high quality sources is a vital nutrient for optimal health and should be actively included and used with wisdom in cooking and food preparation.
  5. Take time for your meals and food preparation. Adjust your priorities so that food fills a more significant part of your life. Food preparation is an essential part of life and can become very enjoyable and fulfilling. It also makes you become significantly more aware of what goes into your mouth and how it can affect you.

TG: You have been a member of the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) for a while can you tell us a little bit about this organisation?

BP: Yes I have been a member of the WAPF since 2006. The WAPF is a charity that has been set up to share the unique and valuable work of the great dentist and researcher Dr Weston Price. He is one of the few inspirational people who decided to research the lives and diets of healthy, untouched cultures to see what it was that made them so healthy. This is a fundamentally different view to how we study health today. The medical world predominantly studies illness to learn how to treat it and by so doing makes educated suggestions about how to be healthy. The WAPF seek to teach how natural, traditional foods can return us to optimal health and vitality. They always seek out research and modern science that supports the wisdom known for generations in populations throughout the world. If you wish to learn any more about them go to

TG: I recently came across your site , what an awesome site!  What was the idea behind this site?

BP: Thank you for your complimentary comments about the site. Over the 5 years I worked as a fitness and nutrition lecturer many students would enquire about where to buy the foods that we were teaching them about in their home towns. This led to the idea of creating a website that campaigns for suppliers of the highest quality foods and helps the consumer know what these foods are, why we should be eating them and how to find and purchase the best that nature has to offer. It has been so rewarding to see the response of many of our website users to Natural Food Finder. We know that it is just the beginning and that there are many excellent farmers and food producers who we can still assist in bringing them into contact with consumers who need their high quality food.

TG: What do you find is the biggest barrier people come across when it comes to dietary change, and how do you overcome it?

BP: That is quite a difficult question to answer because, to be honest, it varies considerably from one person to the next. There are many common barriers such as financial restrictions, family likes or dislikes and understanding which foods to buy and which to avoid. But perhaps one of the most difficult barriers to overcome is your own dietary history! It is tough to overcome the habits that people have developed over years – when they eat, how often they eat, quick fix snacks, favourite take away meals and foods they buy when they go shopping. If these habits are less than helpful in the search for health and wellbeing it is essential that some habitual retraining is needed. This goes deeper than just setting a few goals and being accountable, but moves towards needing to influence the dominant regular thoughts and the emotions that they generate. When these fall more in line with the direction of change required then maintaining change will be much easier.

TG: What are your top 3 tips to achieve weight loss?

BP: My top three tips…that is valuable information you know!

  1. Weight loss is not all about calories in and calories out. That is one of the longest running myths regarding weight loss. I am not saying that energy intake and output has no part in weight loss, but that there are other factors that have significant effect.
  2. We can’t store body fat without carbohydrates in our diet. This is because carbohydrates stimulate the release of insulin in our blood, which is the most potent fat storing hormone in the body. If insulin levels are elevated we are effectively in a fat storing state. Therefore to lose weight, we must lower blood insulin, which will require and reduction in carbohydrate rich foods.
  3. There is no substitute for good quality food! Eat as natural and nutrient dense as you can and your body will detoxify, feel more satisfied and healthier.

TG: What state do you feel the UK food industry is currently in?

BP: Well that really depends on your perspective. In comparison to some Western countries our food industry is doing fairly well. We have a great history of high quality farming and still produce some of the best food in Europe. As part of the EU we are subject to high organic standards, including the prevention of GM farming. Britain prevents pig farming in prison-like sow stalls, a practise that still happens in Europe. We have more recently pushed for higher chicken welfare and free range chicken is in huge demand. Since the BSE crisis in 2000 more cattle roam free on pasture leading to higher quality beef and dairy. However, we are losing out with fruit and vegetable production as imports are undercutting the demand for UK grown produce. We also spend vast amounts on junk food and take away food, nearly as much as the rest of Europe combined. The supermarkets have huge control over the food chain with over 80% of the consumer market buying their food from these large corporations. If we continue to purchase our food in these large supermarkets it is only a matter of time before they have control of the whole food chain. Then we would be in a terrible position where they can buy and sell to us on any terms they see fit. We must continue to support local, quality farmers and farm shops. Spending money in your local community is rewarding and helps you keep control if where your food comes from and how it is produced.

TG: What key changes do you wish the government would make to improve the food we eat?

BP: I grow tired of the attempts to punish people who eat poor quality food, by focusing on labelling these foods as high in fat, sugar or salt and by so doing branding people who eat these foods as unhealthy and burdensome on society. There has been talk on and off of taxing these foods, which will of course put the price up. Research has shown that the poorest areas of society tend to eat the highest amount of lower quality foods because they tend to be the cheapest. So taxing these foods will create considerable strain on the poorer classes of society and do nothing to make healthy foods more available. I wish the government would offer subsidies to farmers who uphold high standards. Also offer solutions to making high quality, nutrient dense foods more affordable so that a larger proportion of society could benefit their health.

TG: Tell us a bit about what the future holds for you and your business?

BP: Well top of the list at present is the imminent release of my book, Nutrition’s Playground. I recently finished writing it and am in the middle of publishing. This is a unique read that reveals how and why we need to make a shift in our eating habits towards truly nourishing foods, opens up the science of weight loss and empowers the reader into guiding their own efforts to achieve optimal health. Look out for its release towards the early autumn.

On September 24th we are holding a one day nutrition conference with some outstanding presenters. It will be a fantastic event that I am already looking forward to. Full information can be found on my website

It’s been great sharing with you today, Tom. Thanks.

TG: Thanks for your time Ben, and we wish you all the best for the future!

Patrick Dale Interview (Solar Fitness)

Monday, April 19th, 2010


TG: Hi Patrick, thanks for taking the time to talk to us.  Could you briefly tell us a bit about your background in the health and fitness industry?

PD: I’ve been involved in sports, health and fitness since I went for my first training run in preparation for my junior school sports day (circa 1976) and haven’t really stopped since! I studied P.E at Bath and on completion of was soon working as a gym instructor, personal trainer and aerobics teacher. I had a brief break from H & F when I joined the Royal Marines for 5 years but came back to the industry initially in facility management and then lecturing. Sports-wise, I’ve competed at a reasonable level at a wide variety of activities including athletics, triathlon, rugby, fencing, martial arts, trampolining, weight lifting, bodybuilding and indoor rowing.

TG: Tell us a bit about Solar Fitness came about.

PD: My business partner Jim Conaghan and I were working for a large UK fitness qualifications company based in Cyprus who made us redundant. We believed that there was still potential for a sunny location for people to take gain their certification and so Solar Fitness Qualifications was born. We’ve been running courses under our own name for 3 years now and things are looking good. We’re affiliated with Active IQ and REPS and provide UK accredited qualifications in gym instruction, personal training and now sports massage.

TG: What does an average day look like for you?

PD: Up early for breakfast – eggs & fruit normally, before heading into the classroom or gym to deliver the days lessons. The subjects covered differ daily from nutrition to first aid to programme design. Once the day is done it’s time to train – I average 5 workouts a week – and then it’s home to prepare for the next day’s lectures, catch up with any marking that needs doing, answer some emails and work on any articles that I have on the go. In addition to my work for SFQ, I also do freelance writing for Ultra-fit magazine and manage their website I also have PT clients although only a few nowadays as I’m busy with other projects.

TG: What is the most important attribute for a personal trainer to hold?

PD: A constant thirst for knowledge! Gaining a qualification in PT is only a small part of the equation. A fitness qualification is vital but the industry moves so fast and clients are getting more industry-savvy that any PT who sits on his/her laurels and doesn’t keep up to speed with the industry will soon find themselves out of touch and out of a job! I’m not saying that PTs should jump on any trend that comes along but develop the ability to absorb the good stuff and ignore the nonsense and keep adding to their pool of information and skills.

TG: What do you feel has been the most important development in the personal training industry over the past few years?

PD: The internet! Suddenly there is a wealth of fitness related information available instantly. Need a new idea for a programme? Want to check out some information about a medical condition? It’s all on the net. This of course is a double edged sword though because as well as having a wealth of excellent information, the net is also home to a load of rubbish too so it’s vital that any PT has the anatomy and physiology knowledge and experience to weed through the incorrect information and find the good stuff. Just because it’s on the Net doesn’t mean it’s true although that doesn’t hold true for my own work obviously.

TG: What do you feel about the current standard of training given to fitness professionals?

PD: I think there seems to be a lowering of standards compared to 10 years ago. Qualifications are becoming easier to pass as elements are taken out of level 3 courses to make up a level 4. For example, much of the special population info is being taken from level 3 courses and put into the new level 4. Asthma and orthopaedic conditions are no longer in level 3 courses which is a shame as these 2 diseases are more prevalent in the population than ever before. Course durations are being reduced and theory and practical elements are being removed from the common syllabuses. Foundation exercises such as squats, dead lifts and bent over rows are no longer compulsory. The awarding bodies seem to be lowering the bar instead of raising it. In short, many courses no longer prepare potential PTs for the fitness industry as well as they used to. At SFQ, our courses are 2 weeks longer than many other providers because we are adding material rather than taking it away. Obviously the awarding bodies need to make money too but, in my opinion; it’s at the expense of the student. The industry as a whole is in a state of transition from body building training to functional training and back again. The truth is that the middle ground is probably where the industry will end up.

TG: What do you think is lacking in terms of qualifications for personal trainers?

PD: I’d like to see far more emphasis on programme design and practical application of exercise as well as minimal levels of physical performance introduced. It’s all well and good being able to talk about exercise but we have to be able to demonstrate it too. What good is a PT who can’t demonstrate 100% perfectly squats, dead lifts, cleans, snatches etc? And as for programme design – I find it very upsetting that a great number of PTs can’t write good, interesting programmes at a moment’s notice. Programme design is a key skill all PTs require but there is relatively little time spent on this key element. A lot of the content of the average PT qualification course has questionable relevance to what a PT does on a daily basis.

TG: What is the biggest mistake you see personal trainers making with their clients?

PD: In my opinion, too many trainers rely on split routines and LSD cardio for weight management. Split routines are great for bodybuilders but the majority of our clients are seeking fat loss or weight management and hypertrophy orientated split routines are not what they need. Full body workouts consisting of compound exercises are the way ahead for most of our clients. PHA, CWT, upper/lower body super sets, complexes and so on are far more energy expensive than tricep kick backs in a chest and triceps split routine!

TG: What would be your top 3 tips for weight loss?

PD: 1) Whole body workouts alternated with high-intensity interval training is the best way to get lean and stay lean. Forget aerobics classes, fad diets, long bouts of cardio and split routines. Anything you can do for hours on end isn’t exercise – get the EPOC going on and remember a workout involves working!

2) Don’t ditch carbs completely but be carb conscious and consume them around periods of activity…pre and post exercise carbs are essential but during periods of low energy expenditure e.g. sitting at your desk or prior to sleep, carbs become less useful and protein/healthy fats are better for keeping blood glucose under control and promoting a fat burning environment. Eliminate high GI carbs/calorie dense foods like white bread, white rice, white pasta, refined cereals etc and replace them with fresh fruit and veg and you’ll feel full up longer and stabilise blood glucose levels.

3) Move more – eat less! Too many people are looking for the miracle weight loss plan or exercise routine and unfortunately there is no easy answer to the question of weight loss. It took many months, even years to accumulate excess body fat so why do people think that a 1 week detox programme or a 4 week diet will be the answer to their problem? Weight management is a lifelong pursuit and no quick fix will give the results our clients seek.

TG: What would be your top 3 tips for overall health and wellbeing?

PD: 1) water – drink at least 2 litres a day…every day. Your body is about 70% water and H20 is the cornerstone that our bodies are built on.

2) Fibre – the average fibre consumption is about 12 grams per person which is around 33% of what is recommended. Processed foods are low in fibre and as a result more people are suffering from digestive health issues than ever before. Get 30 grams+ of fibre a day and your body will thank you!

3) Don’t be fat phobic! Fat IS calorie dense but that’s about the worst thing we can say about most fats. The real bad-boy in the fat world is trans fat. All those vegetable oils we use in cooking turn into trans fats when we heat them. Oddly, people eat more vegetable oil now than ever before but there is an increased incidence of CHD. What gives? Trans fats are far FAR worse than saturated fats.

TG: What does the future hold for you and Solar Fitness?

PD: SFQ is looking forward to another year of busy courses, introducing both distance learning courses and part time courses. We’re also keen to develop CPD courses and also explore the possibility of hosting residential weight loss/fitness/sports training courses. We would also like to develop our own courses instead of delivering them on behalf of an external awarding body but that’s a way off. On a personal note I’m looking forward to continuing working with my main PT client who is a nationally ranked female javelin thrower and continuing my writing work with Ultra-fit. Both Jim and I have talked about book deals so we hope that will come to fruition this year too.

TG: Patrick thanks for taking the time to talk to use, we wish you and Solar all the very best for the future.

PD: My pleasure!

To find out more about Patrick and Solar Fitness have a look at their website, or his blog

Interview with Leigh Brandon (Chek Practitioner – BodyChek)

Monday, April 12th, 2010


This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Leigh Brandon one of the leading Chek practitioners in the UK.  Leigh has been involved in wellbeing for a number of years and has held a wide variety of positions within the industry.  He has a great outlook on how to improve wellbeing and has his own consultancy BodyChek which is well worth a look.


TG: Hi Leigh, thanks for being interviewed.  Could you start off by telling us a little about your background in the wellbeing industry?

LB: Sure! I started back in 1996 having completed a Certification in Health/Fitness Instruction and Personal Training with the ACSM. Soon after qualifying, I helped a friend of mine with her training and she went on to win the Danish Ms Fitness title in 1997. In 1997 I went to off to Australia and worked as a personal trainer in Sydney and then in Perth. In 1998, I returned to England and worked in a leisure centre in Hertfordshire with a team of freelance trainers. After two years I felt I needed to work in an environment that was more conducive to developing my skills and so I joined Holmes Place Health Clubs in 1999. It was there I first worked with a CHEK trained professional which dramatically changed the way I worked. From 1999 to 2004 my position at Holmes Place went from personal trainer to personal training manager to regional personal training manager to fitness manager to academy trainer. The last two years was spent training the personal trainers and managing the personal training business for 18 clubs across the UK. I continued to see a small number of clients during this time. In 2001, I took the CHEK Level I Certification and it turned my view of exercise upside down.  From that point I began working with back pain patients and was very successful straight away helping people to eradicate their pain. In 2004, I started my own company BodyCHEK.  Today, I incorporate a number of different skills into my work. These skills include holistic lifestyle coaching, metabolic typing®, functional diagnostic nutrition™, golf biomechanics, strength and conditioning, BodyTalk™ and sports massage. Most of my current clients come to me to help them with low energy, digestive disorders or chronic injuries.

TG: You are a Chek trained professional, can you tell us a little about this and how you approach things differently to the average personal trainer?

LB: The main difference in how I work compared to a personal trainer would be the assessment and programme design procedure. Before I see a client they are required to complete a whole series of questionnaires which take 10 days to complete. When I receive the questionnaires, I analyse their answers, beginning to build a picture of what might be the cause of their health challenge. I then print a graph showing me which systems are our of balance and require attention. I then prepare potential strategies that the client will need to follow to be successful. During the initial consultation, I spend 90 minutes goal setting, understanding the clients’ core values, understanding what has caused their problems and agreeing a plan to help them be successful. A two to four hour physical assessment is carried out, which includes postural assessment, length-tension relationships, movement assessment, and assessment of breathing, vision, vestibular function, upper cervical spine, viscera and mental/emotional issues. The length and complexity of the assessment process is vital as the body is a system of inter-related systems which can all affect each other. This is followed by the programme design which takes me about 2 hours. My clients are then coached to follow an exercise, nutrition and lifestyle plan and given any specific referrals that I feel are necessary to achieve success. I refer about 90% of my clients to allied health professionals. My clients are given a 15 page manual and a DVD with all their stretches and exercises on so they do not need to have weekly exercise sessions as most clients tend to with a personal trainer. My clients are re-assessed every 4-8 weeks and I tend to see them every two weeks for a 30 minute coaching session (in person or via the internet) to ensure they are able to incorporate all the necessary lifestyle changes into their busy lifestyle and to help them overcome any challenges.

TG: You are also a Function Diagnostic Nutritionist; can you tell us a little about how you use this to help your clients?

LB: Yes, sure. Many people have ongoing problems for many years and often times their Doctor is unable to find out what is wrong with them. Using Functional Diagnostic Nutrition™ (FDN) I become a detective for the body. My job is to find out the ‘cause’ of their health challenge. I use saliva, urine and stool tests to establish my clients’ hormonal levels, oxidative stress levels (free radical damage), liver stress, and whether they have ‘leaky gut’ or any fungal or bacteria overgrowths or parasite infections. I then help my clients normalise their hormones, support the cells and liver, repair any leaky gut and eradicate any infections using a combination of specific nutritional, lifestyle, supplemental and detox protocols.  It’s all about addressing the cause of the problem and not treating the symptoms.

TG: How do Metabolic Typing® and FDN™ help clients who are looking for weight loss?

LB: That would be a good title for a book, but I’ll try to keep it brief! Weight loss is such a complex subject. It’s not just a matter of consuming fewer calories than you expend. The body is controlled by a number of fundamental homeostatic control  systems (FHCs). When these control systems are working effectively or are ‘in balance’, you have health. When any of these systems are out of balance, then compensations occur and the body is pushed out of balance. One of the symptoms that can occur is excess body fat. Metabolic Typing® recognises 10 FHCs. Two of the three primary control systems are the oxidative system and the autonomic nervous system. In each of us the oxidative system or the autonomic nervous system is dominant. In a minority their ‘dominance factor’ switches between the two systems. What this basically means is that based on your metabolic type®, you can eat a specific diet that will help to balance your FHCs by supporting the weaker side of either your oxidative system or the autonomic nervous system. Balance your FHCs and your body weight normalises. However, there are other FHCs. Another is Steroid Hormone Balancing (SHB). Of particular importance is the balance between Cortisol (stress hormones) and Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), the precursor to your sex hormones. It is well established that there is a link between a person’s Cortisol/DHEA ratio and the function of a number of crucial systems in the body. If the Cortisol/DHEA ratio is out of its optimal range it will affect fat and protein metabolism, endocrine function, detoxification, immune regulation and carbohydrate metabolism which all effect body fat levels. The Cortisol/DHEA ratio is affected when there is excessive long term stress on the body. FDN allows me to establish where the stress is coming from. It could be hidden internal stress like parasites or external stress like the chemicals in someone’s cosmetic products or a combination of many internal and external stressors. So I follow a process to help people reduce body fat. I get them to eat the right foods and eliminate the wrong foods for their metabolic type. Get them eating organic food. Fine tune their ratios of fat, protein and carbohydrates at each meal, introduce high quality appropriate supplementation, identify blocking factors (stressors) and optimise enhancing factors like getting to bed on time, meditating and getting time in the sun. I teach my clients that you get healthy to lose weight, not lose weight to get healthy.

TG: What are the first three things you tell an individual to do who is looking for weight loss and why?

LB: What I don’t do is tell the same thing to every body. We are all different and the reason one person is overweight will be different from the next. It really depends on the wrong choices that people are making. Someone might be exercising well, but consistently putting on weight. It wouldn’t make sense to tell them to do more exercise. You have to find the ‘blocking factors’ and help the client to overcome the ‘blocking factors’. I’ll tell you what I believe is the most important factor, ‘the mind’. Thoughts become things and if you are always thinking about being fat or losing fat, you are giving energy to being ‘fat’. I could get quite deep here, but suffice to say, it is our unconscious minds that run our behaviours 95-99% of the day. These behaviours are set up in the first seven years of life and remain in place for life. Unfortunately today, many people have an unconscious behaviour pattern that leads to ill health of some sort. There are a number of ways in which someone can re-write these behaviour patterns. I use a number of techniques including BodyTalk™, art therapy, poetry and meditation. Clinical hypnosis is very effective too.

TG: What are the common issues you find with overweight clients?

LB: There are few. These are generalisations, but my observations have shown most of the factors below to be true in most overweight people I have worked with. I find overweight clients don’t know what makes them truly happy. They do not know what their purpose in life is and they often times do not have big goals to achieve in life. As Paul Chek says, “If your dream is big enough, you don’t need a crisis”. I also often find that they were either abused as a child or found they got more attention as a child if they were sick, so they have what’s called ‘an illness currency’. They also tend to go to bed too late and are always stressed and take little time out for themselves. Many are workaholics and dislike being on their own in a quiet environment. They also have a strong dislike for themselves. They often are dehydrated, eat too many carbohydrates, have a number of food sensitivities, have Adrenal fatigue, often have leaky gut and a fungal or bacterial overgrowth and/or a parasite infection

TG: What kind of strategies can you put in place to overcome these?

LB: Most of the answers to the previous questions give you your answer. To put it in another way, I help my clients to put the ‘Foundational Factors of Health’ in place. The six factors are: Positive Thoughts, Breathing, Hydration, Nutrition, Movement and Sleep. These are controllable lifestyle factors that each of us needs to put in place on a daily basis as a foundation. I tell my clients that building a strong, healthy, energetic body is like building a skyscraper. The stronger the foundations the taller and more resistant the skyscraper will be. A skyscraper without strong foundations in doomed to failure.

TG: What do you feel that the NHS should be doing to combat the obesity problem in the UK?

LB: That’s a big question! I’ll try to keep it short. The first thing is that people need to take responsibility for themselves. Before people can do this, they need correct information. The public need to be educated on the truth around subjects such as nutrition, not the ridiculous food guide pyramid which we know makes people fat and unhealthy. Organisations such as the Price Pottinger Nutrition Foundation and the Soil Association should be used to educate people. I believe that ALL chronic degenerative diseases (obesity is one of them) should not be treated by tax payers’ money. I believe the NHS should be called ‘The National Medical Service’ (NMS) and provide emergency, paediatric, obstetric, congenital, accident and emergency and geriatric care paid for by the tax payer. All chronic degenerative diseases should be the responsibility of the individual. If someone chooses to live an unhealthy lifestyle, then they need to take responsibility for that. If they are overweight, they can either hire a health coach or pay for medical care. It may sound harsh, but you can only heal yourself and before you can heal yourself, you need to take responsibility for yourself. I also believe that Doctors should be paid on the improvement of health of their patients. A suggestion might be a basic salary of £30,000 per year with a bonus of £100,000 per year. The bonus would be performance-related based on the level of health improvement of their patients. This would shift the current focus from ‘waiting times’ to ‘actual health’.

TG: What can the individual do to ensure that they are eating good quality foods?

LB: Buy organic! If they live in the UK, buy Soil Association approved organic. The one exception would be fish. I suggest buying ‘wild’ fish, not organic because organic fish are farmed and fed unnatural feed, even though it is organic feed. Also, when buying meats, ensure it is free-range and when buying beef ensure it is grass fed only.

TG: Tell us a bit about what the future holds for you Leigh?

LB: Well, I’m certainly going to continue to live my dream by helping people to achieve healthier, happier and more productive lives. I have a few ideas about writing some more books and I will continue to teach for the CHEK Institute. Playing tennis is my passion outside of work and I’m happy with my game right now. I am currently working with a few young tennis players and I hope to do more of that in the future. I also have a dream to open a natural, holistic health centre to help people to take control of their health following cancer surgery.

TG: Thanks for your time Leigh, and we wish you all the best for the future!

My pleasure!

Dax Moy Interview

Monday, April 5th, 2010



TG: Hi Dax, thanks for being interviewed. Could you start off by telling us a little about your background in the wellbeing industry?

DM: I’ve been a fitness professional now for just over 10 years. Before that my main career was in the military.

When I left the forces I did a few different jobs from bodyguarding to firefighting, to sales to building work and more but didn’t really enjoy any of them.

I’d always enjoyed fitness as I started training as an amateur boxer and then my military fitness kept me focused on this as a part of my life so I took a basic certification course at the YMCA which got me a part time job in a gym at a mere £5 an hour.

I pretty soon became bored with fitness instruction as the company I worked for really used the FI’s as glorified cleaners and salespeople with little focus on helping the members get results so I took it on myself to offer personal training style sessions to the public for free.

It kept me busy, kept the clients happy and made me feel like I was contributing in some way. Unfortunately, the personal trainers at the facility didn’t like what I was doing. I was not only giving away a great service for free but I was getting better results than their paid clients and, I guess this upset them a fair bit.

I was told to cease and desist all of my ‘non role’ work at the gym and, at this time I considered leaving fitness altogether as many of the gyms I’d looked at were running similar policies.

Around that time I heard about a brand new idea of GP referrals where local doctors would send their patients to our gym for training and dietary advice.

It sounded interesting and I really wanted in so I went to an interview with the panel responsible for setting it up and was told in no uncertain terms that I wasn’t qualified (even though at the time there was no certification in this role as it was new) or experienced enough to fulfil the post.

I went away determined that I’d be on the advisory panel so I took out a membership with the British Library, the biggest and most equipped research library in the UK and began to study medical conditions and medications.

Six weeks later I went back and was again refused entry. They told me that I’d improved a lot but that as I had no degree to back me up that I couldn’t work in this role.

Undeterred, I went away and spent another six weeks studying and asked for another interview.

They reluctantly agreed.

During that interview I turned the tables on the panel by asking THEM questions that they couldn’t answer as well as I could and so, by force of will and pig-headed stubbornness I got the job.

This involved me working with people with all manner of diseases, disabilities and disorders and applying health and fitness protocols to them to, ostensibly, manage their conditions.

Personally, I felt that too little of what we did worked and so I started to investigate holistic health concepts and started (without the permission of my bosses) applying them to the patients… with stunning affect!

People who had decades-long arthritis were using their hands pain free again, people with high blood pressure were coming off of statin medications, people with drug controlled diabetes were able to come off their meds too and people who had been struggling with obesity, injuries, high cholesterol etc were all reporting amazing changes.

Within 6 weeks I became the senior consultant of my own centre and with 6 months the senior consultant of the scheme.

I loving called my work ‘fixing broken people’ and absolutely loved every minute of it… and still do.

Around 6 months into my role as GP consultant I revisited the idea of being a 1:1 personal trainer but was told (yet again!) that my certifications were not good enough, despite the highly skilled role I was now performing.

So I went back to school and studied exercise science at the university of Luton which I found boring, stilted and overly academic. I was concerned that my lecturers were more concerned with the facts and figures of ‘science’ than the people we were supposed to be helping.

Still, I passed my course and was awarded Master Personal Trainer status from the Association Of Personal Trainers here in the UK.

From that point I was free to work as a trainer and, after a few hiccups, I became a busy and popular trainer, building up to an entire year of 60 appointments a week.

My client attraction and retention techniques worked so well that the gym chain asked me to present to them on how I had become so effective (most of their trainers had a high turnover and only performed around 15 appts a week).

I put together a great presentation, explaining all of the details of my systems for marketing, training, retention and more and they loved it.

In fact, they loved it so much that they stole it and decided to implement my strategies without any form of promotion, compensation or even recognition. I was told that I simply had to accept it or leave.

So I left!

I opened a small personal training studio in a spare room at a church hall using all the savings my family had acquired to buy the equipment.

I was terrified.

I needn’t have been. Within 6 months I’d made back my entire investment, been featured in practically every UK magazine and newspaper and within a year was voted one of the UK’s top personal trainers.

Within 18 months I’d outgrown my little centre and moved to my current home where I have a team of 10 coaches providing holistic coaching to our clients. In addition, I have a training academy that teaches trainers, coaches, physiotherapists and other health professionals from all around the world how to get the kind of results we get.

Not bad : )

TG: You operate a number of facilities around the London area, what do you think are the advantages for a client of using a Personal Training facility over a Chain Gym?

DM: There are numerous, but the main one being that we are able to provide an environment of genuine care and consideration for the person we’re working with rather than packing out a gym with hundreds of exercisers just to make it profitable.

Gyms can offer a lot of equipment to be sure, but people don’t want equipment. They want to be heard and they want the experience of getting results with someone who they know cares about the outcome as much as they do.

Gyms can’t, don’t and won’t offer this.

TG: What do you feel are the most important traits of a good quality Personal Trainer?

DM: The ability to listen.

As the old saying goes ‘we have two ears and only one mouth. This is to remind us that we should listen twice as much as we talk’ I believe this.

Good coaches are more interested in their clients than hearing their own voices.

The ability to be non-judgmental.

You can’t help a person if you’re judging them. People are where they are because of choices they’ve made or not made. If you judge them you make them and their choices wrong meaning that you’re already creating a disconnect.

Don’t judge. Instead ask them “and how has this served you?”

Things aren’t good or bad. Thinking alone makes them so.

The ability to reflect.

If you can reflect back to a client what they’ve said to you, what you think it meant to you, to them and to the goal then you’re most of the way to helping them succeed. If you can’t then you’re simply not on the same wavelength and your ability to help is greatly diminished.

The ability to respond so that they are involved in the formulation of the answer rather than forcing your own agenda.

People are far more connected to their own ideas than they are to someone else’s. A big mistake of trainers is to try and force or bully the client into their way of thinking rather than helping them to uncover the truth for themselves.

Ultimately, when combined, these traits are about communication. It’s the master skill.

Great communication built on a mediocre technical ability will always win out over great technical ability built on mediocre communication.

TG: How important is it that a client sets effective goals?

DM: Massively!

Without goals there is no direction, without direction no focus, without focus no purpose and without purpose, no reason to even begin taking action.

Goals are the progressive realization of worthy ideals.

Most people don’t have ideals that they feel are truly worth achieving so… they achieve little!

TG: How can a Personal Trainer help with this process?

DM: Comes back to listening at first and then learning to inspire rather than motivate. In truth, motivation is an extrinsic thing that one person does for another. Trouble is, it goes away when the stimulus of person goes away.

Inspiration is intrinsic. It’s in the person themselves. It needs to external stimuli to make it effective. Good coaches help a person to build their own inspiration bank account rather than relying on them as a crutch to help them through their challenges.

Goal setting is great but it’s only one part of the hierarchy of self-actualisation.

Goals are at the bottom, then comes vision, then comes purpose. A person with true purpose needs no motivation.

TG: What are your top 3 tips to achieve weight loss?

1. Eat only clean, wholesome foods in their natural state.
2. Consume 1 litre of clean, fresh water for every 50lbs of body weight
3. Get to sleep between 10-10.30pm at least 5 nights a week.
4. NEVER count calories – slaves are made this way

TG: For all the Personal Trainers out there you also offer a business coaching service, can you tell us a bit more about this and how you have helped hundreds of trainers improve their quality of life?

DM: I help coaches find their own truths about who they are and who they want to be as health professionals. I help them set higher standards for themselves, for the kind of clients they work with, for the things that are and aren’t acceptable to them and their businesses, for the standards of service and care they give to their clients and for the financial reimbursement they receive.

Only once they are clear on these truths do I help them to market and attract clients by building unique market identities, unique signature products and services and unique delivery methods for each.

The coach comes first, the business comes next then the client attraction happens last.

This is in direct opposition to the way that most of the fitness marketing guru’s work but, o me at least, it doesn’t make sense to attract clients to a coach who’s not clear on who they are, what they do or why they do or, a business that does not have systems and strategies in place to optimally care for the clients it attracts or products and services that are poorly thought out and incomplete.

The trainers who I’ve taught these methods to have gone on to quadruple (or more) their incomes, have more time off work, travel more, have more adventures and, best of all, fall back in love with their work.

Many have opened studios, appeared on TV, written books, launched amazing bootcamps and gone on to earn passive incomes too, of course : )

TG: How important is it that Personal Trainers have a mentor? And why?

DM: I’m clearly biased in this : )

I do think it imperative, though. Mentors and coaches are outside of the game you’re playng. They’re your guide on the side and aren’t emotionally caught up in the results as you are.

Sure, they want you to win but they can see the whole game while you can only see your small part of it.

A good coach/mentor has been where you’ve been, done what you’ve done and have experiences that are comparable to yours. In addition, they’ve achieved more, strategised and studied how that achievement came about and can share those strategies in simple, action-oriented terms.
Of course, a good mentor can’t make you do the things you need to do (I’ve had several people join my program and leave disappointed because they thought I’d be writing their books and sales copy for them) but they can push, pull, nudge and cajole you into keeping on keeping on so that, eventually, your goals are achieved.

I’ve had both Joe Vitale and Bob Proctor from ‘The Secret’ as my mentors and both of their programs pushed me higher than I’d ever have accomplished myself.

Get a mentor!

TG: Tell us a bit about what the future holds for Dax Moy?


Well, I’m taking a six month mini retirement with my family to Thailand this year where I’ll be living a beach bum lifestyle, reading, writing, playing and making love : )

But I’m still in full-ahead work mode with products galore coming out for both fitness professionals and the public from list building to product building to program design to goal achievement and fat loss.

Lots of stuff!

TG: Thanks for your time Dax, and we wish you all the best for the future!

My pleasure!

Alan Holl Interview (Fitness First)

Monday, March 29th, 2010

This week I had the great pleasure of interviewing Alan Holl.  Alan has an wealth of knowledge within the wellbeing industry and is currently in charge of the personal training product for Fitness First.  We talked to him about the industry and how he feels that  people can make a change in their own lives.


TG: Hi Alan, thanks for being interviewed.  Could you start off by telling us a little about your background in the wellbeing industry?

AH:  I was originally a Physical Training Instructor in the Royal Navy until leaving and joining Fitness First.  I have been part of the National Fitness Team for 5 years now holding various roles including National Group Fitness.  I now head up Personal Training in the UK for Fitness First and I truly believe we are at a stage where we are leading the UK in our innovation and career opportunities with our Personal Training brand.

TG: What are the top 3 traits of a great personal trainer?

AH:  Personality, Be approachable and Dedication.

TG: What would you look for in a personal trainer?

AH:  That they are a people person…  They need to be able to inspire the clients that they are working with to go on and do things that they could not do alone.  A Personal Trainer needs to be dedicated to their clients and not to their own training and education, the training and education comes because they want to improve their clients chances of reaching their goals…. This sometimes gets overlooked.  There are some great training providers in the UK industry, notably Faster Global and we are starting to rival the US in some of our education, something I love about the UK industry.

TG: What is it that a personal trainer can give a client as opposed to the client working alone?

AH:  Motivation, empathy and that little extra push when times are hard.  When working out alone we all have off days, even I do.  With a trainer you almost become responsible to one another.

TG: In your experience what would you say are the 3 most important ground rules that should be set between clients and trainers?

AH:  Honesty, Integrity and most of all be able to laugh, even in the hard times.

TG: What would you say are your top 3 tips for weight loss?

AH:  Eat sensibly, Focus on your training sessions and rest.  Too many times people cut out all the things they are not supposed to eat and then fail, moderate things.  When you are training, give it your all just for that hour or so in the gym, it will soon be over.  Get to bed at a reasonable time and cut down the stress levels, this will help control your cortisol levels which is a huge reason why people don’t achieve.

TG: If you were the Prime Minister what would you do to get the nation back on the road to health?

AH:  Educate the nation properly.  Don’t just tell them to eat 5 a day, tell them why!!  The whole 5 a day thing is ok but when you are eating 3-5 pieces of fruit high in natural sugar you are sending your insulin levels into freefall so proper education into the reason why you should eat healthier would be better.

TG: How important is it that an individual sets themselves realistic weight loss goals?

AH:  Very.  The big mistake people make is measuring their achievements by weight.  Muscle is almost twice as heavy as fat so when you use weight as a gauge you can get disheartened when you don’t achieve and quit.  It is all about what you look like and how happy you are with yourself.  Pick a jean size and buy yourself some, there is your motivation!!

TG: Tell us a bit about what the future holds for you Alan?

AH:  To continue to support and inspire Personal Trainers to being the best they can be.  To grow the Fitness First Personal Training brand to be the obvious choice for every trainer in the UK.

TG: Thanks for your time Alan, and we wish you all the best for the future!

Have a look at!

Interview with Malcolm Armstrong (Virgin Active)

Monday, March 22nd, 2010


TG: Hi Malcolm, thanks for being interviewed. Could you start off by telling us a little about your background in the wellbeing industry?

MA: I started at a Fitness instructor in September 2000 at Holmes place, Nottingham. I held the positions of Personal Trainer, Gym Supervisor and then Fitness Manager at the club.

In January 2006 I was promoted to Regional Fitness Manager covering 14 clubs from North London, Essex, West London and the North.

In November 2006 I then took on the role of Regional Fitness Manager for Virgin active when they acquired the Holmes Place business, I covered all of the Northern and Essex clubs (16 in total)

In January 2008, I was then promoted to National Personal Training Manager for Virgin active, the position I currently hold, managing the strategy for PT across 72 UK clubs.

TG: What would you look for in a personal trainer?

MA: I look for personality first and foremost, technical skill and knowledge can be taught…a desire to help and a commitment to get a client the result they crave is most important to me

TG: What are the top 3 traits of a great personal trainer?

MA: 1) Confidence & tenacity (without arrogance)
2) Passion & energy for people & life
3) Disciplined and organised.

TG: What differences can a good Personal Trainer make in a clients life?

MA: Everything….a client wants or needs to change, the client puts their trust in a better future with the help of a PT. When a client hands over money, they receive absolutely nothing, how many times do we pay £300-£500 and only receive a plan, a dream? Very rarely,…there is a lot of trust put in a Personal Trainer, trust that we will help change and improve/lengthen their life…..a good PT takes that responsibility seriously…..that level of accountability makes a real difference.

TG: What is it that a personal trainer can give a client as opposed to the client working alone?

MA: Regular Motivation, un-parrelled support and clever coping strategies. These 3 factors help maintain focus, belief and confidence of success.

TG: What are your top 3 tips for weight loss?

AH: 1) Healthy balanced diet is the most important factor
2) Regular cardiovascular and resistant training
3) Variety – most wt loss clients get bored and de-motivated quickly…..if the sessions and weeks are varied, clients stay committed for longer and longevity is critical

TG: How important is it that an individual sets themselves realistic weight loss goals?

MA: Crucial, weight loss isn’t about quick fixes, it’s about building an exercise and lifestyle habit with understanding good, regular nutrition.

Long term goals are critical in understanding why the client wants what they want, realistic short term goals keep them on track and help understand what works and doesn’t work

TG: What would you do to get the nation back on the road to health if you were the Prime Minister?

MA: I would focus my attention on our children first and foremost…prevention is much better than cure and if we are to make a long term impact we must promote regular activity along with a healthy diet from an early age.

VA offers family memberships and there are lots of things for our Junior members to get involved in….If we can get families active, then we would kill 2 birds with one stone.

TG: What role do you think that the chain gyms have to play in helping communities get fitter?

MA: I think they have their place in providing a rounded offering to all, however I don’t think they are critical in getting communities fitter as they may not be ‘local’ enough for the majority… clubs are inclusive and have everything under 1 roof, however if a community needs to improve then simple non gym activities like walking, team sports or day to day activities like walking the dog or gardening are sound ways to make a real difference.

TG: Tell us a bit about what the future holds for you Malcolm?

MA: I plan to continue to grow the Virgin Active Personal Training product and program to be the best in the World, we have over 650 Personal Trainers and the best employee model in the business….I want to recruit and train the best in the industry, who subsequently help more and more VA members in achieving their lifelong goals.

TG: Thanks for your time Malcolm, and we wish you all the best for the future

Interview with Lee McGarrigal of Fitness Venues

Monday, March 1st, 2010


Lee is the creator of an awesome site called this site covers all aspects of health, fitness, nutrition and wellbeing.  The site is packed full of reviews, articles, a forum, and listings of health professionals and gyms.  It is a great resources for anyone into health and fitness.

We talked to Lee about how the site came about and what the future holds for

TG: Hi Lee, for those of you who don’t know you, you are the man behind  Can you tell us a little about your background in the wellbeing and personal training industry?

LM: I have been interested in health and fitness since my teens. Because of this I enrolled onto a health and fitness degree and then a post graduate course in Exercise Physiology. It was during this course in 2000 that I came up with the idea of setting up a health and fitness web site with the primary idea that the site could point people to local health clubs and personal trainers. I understood though that to get people to the site I’d need to pad out the idea with fitness, exercise and weight loss content.

TG: So what got you started on the idea behind

LM: Well, I create then sold a very popular health and fitness web site in 2005. To be honest that site wasn’t everything it could have been … I had to manage the web site in an archaic way, including having trainers and gyms email me with their details, which I’d then cut and paste into a very basic directory. Also,  if I ever added a new page or change the site in any way I had manually change ALL pages of the site to show new pages and then upload the WHOLE site again onto our server!

So, I spent some of the money made selling my first site to develop a health and fitness site which could be run in a more automated way. So now people can add and manage their own listings AND view stats on their listings and I can add new content that automatically appear on the site. Not only that but also includes online quizzes, interactive tools as well as up-to-date news and much more.

TG: How long was the site in development and what kind of hurdles did you have to overcome?

LM: I started in August 2006. Up until July 2007 the site simply listed health clubs and personal trainers. Enrolling personal trainers and gyms was hard work – cold calls and lots of discussions about why listing on was a no-brainer … all listings are free.

Adding content to the site was a little harder still. I came up with the idea that personal trainers and other industry experts could contribute stories and content in exchange for better coverage of their business on This idea worked. So now has a wealth of writers and contributors who all benefit from giving us content because time and again we send them quality business leads.

TG: What do you feel sets apart from other fitness based sites?

LM: is everything a fitness site should be – interactive, relevant, up-to-date and interesting. What separates us from the rest is that we add ‘news’ stories almost daily, which means we are up to the minute in terms of health, fitness and wellbeing news.

As our listed businesses are concerned we drive quality business leads to their services for FREE as well as giving them full access to their advertising stats – impressions, web click numbers, emails sent via (and more) … something NO OTHER web site does, not even the likes of!

TG: What is the best thing about your job?

LM: I have created many sites in the past, some in and some outside the fitness industry and the real thrill is creating something from scratch that people really appreciate and interact with – now has a readership of over 80,000 + users a month

TG: What does an average day in your life look like?

LM: To be perfectly honest working solely in the IT industry holds very little interest for me. Sure I enjoy watching the site grow in terms of pages, readership and income but as the site is full automated I found the site needed very little management. So a few years ago I trained to become a primary school teacher. So my typical day sees me teach 5 and 6 year olds. Needless to day, as you can imagine, each day is very different … not to mention full of laughs and endless entertainment supplied by the children.

TG: I have been particularly impressed with the forum, I have been a member for a few years now.  What is the future for this particular aspect of your site?

LM: Well, the forum, for me was a little disappointing. It hasn’t grown as rapidly as I’d have liked. Sure, some people do post – you for example, but not enough people interact with the forum to make it a place for people MUST visit and post Q & A’s.

So, I’ve decided to focus user interaction in comments within stories. In the very near future users will be able to post their comments on any story that interests them. This, I hope, will keep discussions alive and allow stories to grow organically based on the comments users make.

TG: What are your top tips for weight loss?

LM: Weight loss is all about calories in versus calories used. You can exercise until the cows come home but if you eat more calories than you burn you won’t lose any weight at all.

TG: What would be your top three tips to improve your overall levels of wellbeing?

LM: I believe wellbeing is all about the mind so I’d suggest the following:

  1. Exercise & eat healthy foods – it makes you feel good, gives you energy and helps you to focus on mental tasks.
  2. Get enough sleep. I personally need 7 – 8 hours a night.
  3. Expand your experiences – meet new people, go on holiday to somewhere different, eat new foods.
  4. Set yourself achievable goals and reward yourself when you reach them. For example, if your goal is to lose 10 lb, as soon as you do go out and buy yourself some new clothes as a reward or go out for a meal at your favourite restaurant.

TG: What’s in store for the future of the site?

LM: Good question. I have new ideas all the time, some good, most not. However, I think over 12 months my main aim will be to expand the site in terms of content – more stories and new channels etc rather than investing in site development.

That said, as mentioned before I will be developing a ‘Add your comment section to each story. But in terms of cost, this is a relatively cheap update.

TG: It has been great talking to you Lee, good luck for the future!

Josh Rubin Interview

Monday, December 7th, 2009


Tom Godwin: May I first of all thank you for giving up time in your busy day to take part in this interview.

TG: Let’s start from the beginning, what got you started in the Personal Training Industry and wellbeing in general?

JR: It is pretty simple, I got my OTR/L degree and was practicing in hospitals for many years. I saw a lot of people, but most never got better. Insurance companies dicated what we could and could not do and we could not do more, lets say that! So I started to personal train on the side and really started to fall in love with it. I did NSCA, NASM, etc but really found myself looking for more. It was good stuff and is, but I needed more mental stimulation. Then around that time, a good friend of mine named Jason Waiton introduced me to Paul Chek’s information, etc and that was the beginning of the itch I could never scratch! I first watched Scientific Back Conditioning and was blown away with the depth of information and the comrehensiveness of it all. I was hooked!

TG: What first attracted you to studying with the Chek Institute?

JR: Plain and simple…I loved how confident Paul was and that he only had a 9th grade educating. I had a degree so I felt I could match up to that…at some point! As well, I looked into other institutes, but no one had as comprehensive approach as theirs…..looking not only at the physical, but also at the nutritional and lifestyle. Most, actually all other organizations…..such as NASM, NSCA, MAT, etc do not go into the Holistic Approach, which means Whole Person.

I know some people think Paul is a cocky asshole, but that is one way to look at it…he is just confident because he walks the walk and talks the talk. When you meet him and understand what he has done and what he knows, you understand that it is just confidence, not cockiness.

TG: What do you feel the major differences between a Chek Practitioner and a fitness professional who has trained with another education provider?

JR: Well, that is a judgement call as there are some who are very educated and good at what they do. But I would have to say the main difference is that every CHEK practitioner practices what he/she preaches….they live it 100% of the time as you cannot give what you don’t have. Some say we are cocky, but I saw we are confident, gleaming and vital expressions of health. Typically what you judge you are expressing hidden personal needs.

If you go to any conference, seminar, etc and there are 300 people there, you will be able to pick the CHEK Practitioners out without them even saying anything. I know that is a big statement, but it is true. I speak all over the world for them and some of the most put together, healthy, vital, compassionate, and confident people I see our CHEK Practitioners. Another main point is that most, not all in the industry talk talk talk, but they never back up what they say or even understand the true meaning behind what they say. Everyone talks movement, which is great, but we understand anatomy, how the body works mechanically, chemically, neurologically and hormonally.

TG: What would you say are the best aspects of being a personal trainer and being involved in the wellbeing industry?

JR: Educating others and teaching people how to help themselves! I do it every day, but as well, I am able to learn from people all over the world every day. What is better the University of Life!

TG: Who have been your major influences within the industry?

1. Paul Chek and the entire CHEK Institute. This was a major and has been a major influence on who I am today.

2. Dr. Timmins and BioHealth Diagnostics. This is what got me started in Functional Medicine 6yrs ago and today I work with people all over the world helping them with hormonal, detoxification, immune and GI system dysfunctions.

3. Janet Alexander and Chris Maund….two CHEK Faculty members who taught me the beginnings of what I know. I still consult with them here and there.

4. John McMullin…this guy is amazing. He is a Holistic Health Coach and Intuitive from Ohio. I worked with him every other week for about 2yrs working on myself in order to work through my past bullshit and my current issues in regards to myself, relationships, my own thoughts, my business and so forth. I love this guy!

5. My parents….for 100% supporting me along the way and never doubting any decisions I made!

6. My wife….she is great at what she does and I have to say I learn compassion from her each and every day. I learn about myself though my experiences of myself while around her….she humbles me, teaches me that there is more to life material things and she grounds me each and every day. I thank her everyday for joining my life and teaching me that it is OK to be me 100% of the time!

7. From there, I just read, take courses, study on my own, research. I love studying Chinese Medicine, Canadien Osteopathy, Functional Medicine and Physiology and Anatomy.

I am a very driven person and I do well studying by myself. I love to study on my own, learn and teach myself as I find it more rewarding. I am not under the contraints as…”you have to do it this way.” I take what I want and adapt everything into MY own approach. I find that taking certification after certification, class after class, etc, leads people far from THEIR path of what THEY want to become and down many paths of what all these teachers are becoming. They get caught up with “well he said this, but she said that,” which leads to too many cooks in the kitchen.

TG: What would you say is the most important attribute of a personal trainer and why?

JR: I think the most important things are to live it, study and learn about you so you can give what you have, someone who learns to ask the WHY question behind what is said and someone who is passionate about their profession.

There are a lot of “so called health professionals” that think eating like a bodybuilder and training to kick ass and take names is the way to go. I think that is the easy way to go and it does not take much skill. I feel that most have to understand that you have to treat and train each person as an individual, that not everyone needs bodybuilding, that kicking ass and taking names just keeps people like me in business and that most are in this business for the money. If you love what you do, the money will come. We have to change the energy behind the word personal trainer from negative to positive. Once people realize that success is not how many people you train, but how many people you actually help by treating them as an individual, it will shift.

TG: You are a faculty member with the Chek Institute, what does this involve?

JR: I teach Exercise Coach, CHEK Level 1, HLC 1 and HLC 2, plus speak at many conventions (IDEA, SCW, ECA, BAM, and more) all over the world. I travel and teach all over the US and Canada about 8-12 times per year. It is a lot and it is hard being away from my wife, my business, my rhythms, but it is worth it in the end as I love educating students and passing on the passion I have for what I do.

TG: What has been your most rewarding moment in the field of health and wellbeing?

JR: The most rewarding moment….that is a tough one….I would have to say everyday is. I love what I do and I thank my creator every day that I can do what I love and love what I do. It is not a job to me, it is a hobby. I get to learn from clients all day, study in my off time and get to grow each and every minute of it. We think we are in this to help and change others, but we are really in it so we can help and change ourselves….as your life and business are an extension of you!

TG: Your East West Healing You Tube videos ( are well known within the fitness world for their informative content, not to mention the great information on your website. Where do you get your ideas from?

JR: I get my ideas from clients I am working with, from past clients, from conversations I have with family and friends, etc. There is no rhyme or reason, whatever comes up that minute or day I put it on my YouTube list….which is about 25 deep as we speak. So I have a lot to say and there is no end in site.

TG: If you could only give someone one change to make to make a start improving their levels of wellbeing what would it be?

JR: Learn that is must come from within, that you can’t give what you don’t have and that you must get healthy to loose weight and not loose weight to get healthy. There is more to health than chicken, protein shakes and doing cardio til ya drop. Health is taking responsibility for oneself!

TG: So what does the future hold for Josh Rubin?

JR: My goals are simple:

1. To continue to teach for the CHEK Institute and begin to teach CHEK Level 2 in 2012 and CHEK Level 3 in 2013, which I am already assisting on.

2. To continue to market and grow our (my wife and I, she is a CHEKie too!) business, not with practitioners, but with new clients all over the world.

3. Continue to educate by coming up with some of my own seminars in regards to holistic health

4. We are working on a 5 part Ebook called…The Ultimate Holistic Weight Loss Program!

5. I am beginning in Sept 2010 to attend The Canadien School of Osteopathy in Vancouver to obtain my 5yr D.O. (M.P.)

6. To continue to grow and learn to love myself more and more each day

TG: Josh thanks so much for sharing with us!

It was a pleasure!

Have a look at Josh’s website at it is packed full of great information and articles!

Helen Jones Interview – FitPro Magazine

Monday, November 30th, 2009

helen bio

Helen Jones is the editor of FitPro Magazine, one of the leading industry publications, she has written for a large number of on and off line publications.

TG:  Hi Helen, and thanks for giving up some of your busy day to talk to us!

Thank you. I’m flattered to have been asked.

TG:  You are the Editor of Fitpro magazine (, what is your history in terms of writing for the fitness industry?

HJ: I’ve been in the industry nearly five years and have written for fitness websites such as YMCAfit, and magazines such as Australian Fitness Network. I focus most of my time writing for FitPro’s three magazines and the Virtual Magazine (

TG:  How did you first become involved with FitPro?

HJ: I wanted to become a magazine editor from the age of 12 so when I left to school I moved to Dublin and got a BA in journalism, before returning to London to do various work experience. It was around this time I landed the job of Media Assistant at FitPro. Since then, I’ve worked hard and have a new-found passion for fitness too. It’s so satisfying to edit a magazine about a subject that really matters, rather than focusing on celebrities and make up.

TG:  What does the average day look like for you?

HJ: I get into the office around 08:30 and spend a bit of time replying to emails. Then I may have some articles to edit and send across to the proofreader. Mid-morning there could be a photo shoot or video taking place in the studio, and then I’ll be back at my desk doing some research. After lunch, I might edit a couple of the writers’ articles and then meet with them to discuss how to develop their content or style. Sometimes I’ll be out in the afternoon testing a new product or fitness class and then it’s home time.

TG:  How do you stay up to date with the goings on in the industry, any top tips?

HJ: Well I’m signed up to lots of press releases and newsletters. I try to get out of the office as much as possible too for new launches and to trial new things. I think it’s so important to attend industry events to keep up-to-date with what’s going on. I always attend Leisure Industry Week and FitPro Convention ( of course.

TG:  Who inspires you?

HJ: Professionally I’d say Morgan Rees, Men’s Health editor. Men’s Health does exactly what it’s designed to do, providing content laid out in a way men actually like to read. In the fitness industry I’m actually inspired by most of the instructors I meet. Especially presenters I meet at conventions – they all have so much energy and passion that it just makes me want to exercise as much as I can.

TG: What would be your top fitness tip for the average person on the street?

HJ: Keep changing your workout. Too many people do exactly the same thing day in, day out without challenging themselves. Mix it up – find a couple of sports you enjoy and fit them in around your varied sessions at the gym or in the park.

TG:  Who would you say are currently some of the top writers in the industry?

HJ: I like Jane Wake’s style of writing. Pete Cohen’s also very inspiring.

TG:  What is your opinion of the quality of fitness and nutrition based information that is out there in the mainstream magazines/publications?

HJ: I do get frustrated when I see that some are still recommending sit ups as the best way to get a flat stomach. The education is gradually getting better though, and as fitness continues to increase in popularity so does the quality of information out there. What Fitpro does is to take the latest research on exercise science, physiology, nutrition etc and present it in an appealing way for instructors and trainers.

TG:  How do you think that writers can make sure that quality information is getting out to people that need it?

HJ: I think they really need to stand their ground when editors ask them to write something they don’t feel comfortable with. Some will just put their name to anything to get a bit of advertising. We always use the highest standard of contributors in Fitpro and discuss the articles closely with them to ensure readers get the best possible information.

TG:  What does the future hold for FitPro magazine?

HJ: It’s a really exciting time for us right now as next issue we’re launching a fresh, new look magazine. Circulation has increased by 5% over the last six months so considering we’re not out of the recession yet and other magazines are struggling, we’re really happy with the success and hope to continue to grow.

TG: What does the future hold for you?

HJ: My focus at the moment is to keep improving Fitpro magazine, with even better content and design work, while increasing readership further. Aside from that, I’d also like to expand my freelancing work in various fitness publications and websites.

TG:  Helen, thanks for sharing with us, and thanks for such a great publication!