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Posts Tagged ‘personal training courses’

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