Personal trainers talk: 'The worst way I've been fired'

Trainers have feelings too y’know…

Personal trainers talk: 'The worst way I've been fired'


If you think about your relationship with your personal trainer it’s probably one of the most intimate interactions you have in your life – this person is literally tasked with challenging your limits and making you a better version of yourself, often through lots of sweat and tears. It’s a bond built with trust and a taste of tough love. 

So when that connection doesn’t work out it can sometimes feel like a breakup – and if Sex and the City’s Jack Berger and his Post-it note are anything to go by, some people just suck at severing ties. 

Here a few personal trainers chew the fat with Body + Soul about some of the worst ways they’ve been fired by a client. 

Mel, Sydney – The ones that got away

“I was training some clients at a park and told them to go for a jog to warm up. There were a few moans and groans but as they went on their way I watched from a distance. They ran in a pack and as they circled around I saw three of the women run off track and toward a car. I watched as they opened the doors, got in and just left – never came back. Probably for the best if they couldn’t handle the warm up.”

Harry, Sydney: Fired by text, minutes before a dawn session was due to begin

“I was training one woman who was really keen to drop a lot of weight and was really dedicated to her training – seeing me three times a week for about a month. I thought we were going well but out of the blue 10 minutes before a 5am sand dunes session she texted saying she wasn’t coming to training… ever. 

“I tried to call and see what was up but she didn’t answer and never bothered to ring me back or call me again. Totally ghosted me. It was pretty frustrating because not only did I lose money and time but I was left wondering if it was something I did. 

“Months later I heard from a friend of hers that I trained that the client just wasn’t interested in getting into shape. It all caught up on her that morning and rather than possibly having to swat away my attempts to motivate her to come back she just texted and was done with it. But, even if she felt like that, it’s not the decent thing to do.”

Tim, Melbourne – Sacked and trapped

“I have a pretty exclusive client base – some of my regulars like me to travel with them. I had one gentleman, very successful, who flew me to Asia because he had been slipping with his exercise and felt like he really needed a kick start to his year to get on track. 

“The plan was meditation, training, yoga and recovery for two weeks – but when we got there it was a different story. He basically couldn’t cope with the heat and held me personally responsible for the humidity. After three days of trying to coax him into even the gentlest of exercises we had to call it a day. 

“Being the tight-ass that he was, he was peeved that he had essentially flown me over for two weeks in Thailand – but it was no picnic for me. 

“We had some serious conversations about money, he tried to wriggle out of payment and asked me to move to a ratty hotel because it would be cheaper and we weren’t training. I told him it was not going to happen. And since I couldn’t get a flight out of there immediately I spent a few days creeping around the resort trying not to let him spot me even having to mildest bit of enjoyment. 

“The lesson I learnt was to pick my clients to travel for more carefully – and get payment before boarding a plane.”

Samantha, Brisbane – The awkward aftermath

“I had a client who decided she wanted to part ways – no biggie. She just said she wasn’t wanting to do PT sessions anymore and just train on her own at the gym. 

“It was a shame because I hadn’t trained her for long but I thought she was lovely – she really confided in me a lot about her health battles, but I could see she was keen to move on without one-on-one training so we spilt.

“The thing was though when she would then see me in the gym she wouldn’t even say hi, and I could see when she spotted me she would duck and weave behind equipment just to avoid speaking to me. 

“I didn’t need to have a big ol’ chat with her but it was like she thought because I wasn’t training her I would be mad. I wasn’t but I did annoy me that she seemed to go to such massive efforts to not be civil. It was weird.”

Dean, Sydney – Fired via Facebook status

“Well this was super awkward. I had a client who after a PT session wrote on Facebook something to the effect of, ‘Who has a trainer that they can recommend? Mine is rubbish.’ He must have forgot that when I began training him he added me so I saw it and just liked it. 

“Obviously horrified he wrote me a message saying, ‘Sorry man,’ but I just deleted him online and texted him to say if he’s got something to complain about to do it to my face. He didn’t do that and I never saw him at the gym again.”

Ian, Melbourne – Sacked old school

“This was a while ago – before the days of mobile phones. I was training a lady for a few weeks and one day I asked her to warm up and stretch while I grabbed some equipment. 

“I was gone for a few minutes and when I came back she had put a note on the mat saying, ‘It’s not working out.’ I don’t even know if she saw the humour in her words but she must have got out of the gym quick as lightening because I didn’t see her grab her stuff and leave. 

“I saw her a few times in the street after that but she always put her head down to avoid me.”

How to avoid an awful ending…

Sifting through the anecdotal evidence, one of the biggest reasons trainer’s seem to attribute to clients firing them so dramatically is because they feel the client wasn’t ready to put in the hard yards. And if the mental preparation is lacking for the gruelling fitness journey ahead then a lot of client’s tend to project their pent up frustrations about their health onto their trainer.

Personal trainer Dinny Morris, whose mantra is #toughlovenoexcuses, says the best way to avoid a bad ending to a PT/client relationship starts with a good beginning. 

“Some people are confused about the role of a personal trainer and what our realm of practice is,” explains Sydney-based Dinny. “And some of the time when you have a client who comes to you and just wants to try and talk for an hour about goals, they’re really coming to you because your one-on-one service is cheaper than that of a psychologist – which isn’t the right motivation. 

“I always make sure we have an end goal for the client at the beginning before we start training and we are measuring to ensure we are on track to hit that goal.”

Dinny adds that PT’s can avoid getting an awkward sacking by using the initial consultation as a chance for both trainer and client to assess their compatibility. 

“I’ve told clients things won’t work out between us after one session because I can see that they aren’t ready to do the hard work – when your a results driven personal trainer wanting your client to achieve their goals you must let them know this in the very first conversation. And, if they aren’t ready for the change or the process that is needed in order to succeed, they won’t get results. It’s not a happy combo for both of us.”

Read here for our guide on the best way to end it with a trainer.

*Note: Some interviews have been edited for length and clarity. 

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Don't Forget To Stretch

A workout is not complete unless you take the time to stretch, and yet many people overlook or fail to understand just how important it truly is. But here are the facts. Leading experts say you should always stretch out both before and after any exercise program. It doesn’t matter if you are an avid runner, love yoga or are simply lifting weights. The benefits of stretching at the beginning and end of these routines are numerous.

Stretching out will purposefully lengthen your muscles. Stretching will increase your range of motion and allow you to move with ease. This simple task will help you perform at an optimal level. In fact, studies show that stretching will help your body be more flexible and can even improve your overall performance. If you fail to stretch you can cause unwanted injury to your body.

Any professional athlete or trainer will tell you how vital it is to make stretching the starting and ending point of your exercise regimen. Your tendons, muscles and ligaments will gain protection when you take the time to stretch. Your body physically responds and changes when you stretch. The positive reactions are evident when we look inside the body

Anti Aging Foods

Each time you stretch your body releases synovial fluid. This allows the joints to move freely. Your body will be like a well-oiled machine and it gets better than that. Stretching takes blood to your soft tissues. You’ll find you won’t tire as easily and will be able to keep going longer. A good pre and post stretch will help keep you from aches and pains after a workout.

There’s nothing worse than being sore after exercising. Many people stay away from exercise because they don’t like feeling sore and tired. Stretching can change that. Stretching is a must if you don’t want to hurt. It will help motivate you to return to your workout when you feel refreshed.

For many people getting to their activity is the goal. But when you take the time to stretch you set yourself up to succeed. You should plan on spending 7 or 8 minutes stretching both before and after your workout. This way your body will get what it needs before and after you workout.

Warming up and cooling down through stretching just makes sense. The benefits are unending and it only takes a few minutes to make a workout that much more enjoyable. So the next time you go for a run or lift up a weight make sure stop and stretch out. You won’t regret it and you’ll be able to accomplish more than you can imagine.

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The Five Most Overrated Muscle-Building Moves And What To Do Instead

Hardly any moves are completely useless – but there are definitely some you might want to stop doing. While most of the moves on this list could be useful for, say, an experienced competitive bodybuilder, you’d be better off using your (probably pretty limited) gym time doing alternative exercises that will be much more effective. Unless you’re planning to end up on a stage in tiny sparkly pants.

Calf Raise

Schwarzenegger tore the bottoms of his sweatpants to force himself to train his calves more. But he was the Terminator; you don’t need to worry so much. “Your time’s better spent working on plyometric or jumping exercises alongside walking lunges, step-ups, squats, deadlifts and sled work,” says Olli Foxley, a trainer at W10 Performance. “I love the ‘calf pump’ you get when you go from a sled push into a sled pull.”

Swap It For: Box Jumps

Jumping moves involve triple extensions, which is where you simultaneously bend your hips, knees and ankles. Because your calves, glutes and quads all get worked, you get more bang for your buck than when you do isolation moves.

Decline Bench Press

If you’re using the Bro Template to work your chest – bench, dumbbell bench, incline, decline – something’s got to give. “Using the decline bench to target your lower pecs is pretty much useless unless you’re very lean and a competitive physique athlete,” says trainer Adam Wakefield. “You’re better off getting strong on the flat bench and losing some body fat.”

Swap It For: Dumbbell Bench Presses

The dumbbell version of the bench is effective because it gives you great pec muscle activation. Using dumbbells lets you move the weights across your chest as you press up, allowing you to squeeze the pecs at the top of the move for a better muscle contraction.

Front Raise

They’re one of the most frequently performed exercises in any gym – and they’re also one of the least useful. “If you’re already doing a lot of pressing exercises in your workout, your front deltoids will already be taking a beating in your training,” says Foxley. “Adding in direct front delt exercises can push too much volume onto a small muscle group and cause it to be forever recovering and never adapting.”

Swap It For: Lateral Raises

Raising the weights to the sides instead will build more muscle mass in your shoulders and make you look broader. Just make sure you do them properly, by using your muscles rather than momentum to lift the weights and leading with your elbow.


Even with the best intentions, you might be doing them wrong. “Many people can’t perform these exercises with enough intent to stimulate the correct abdominal muscles,” says Foxley. “An exercise like a roll-out will target the abs better.” Start with five sets of five at the end of your workout twice a week, and work on increasing it.

Swap It For: Barbell Roll-Outs

Kneel on the floor while holding a barbell with your shoulders over the bar. Brace your core, then slowly roll the bar away form you, keeping your abs engaged. Go as far as you can without letting your back arch or your hips drop, then return under control to the start. Quality of movement on this move is vital for avoiding injury.

Wrist Curl

You may well have already binned these, but there’s always one guy in the gym using a perfectly good bench and barbells to focus on his forearm pump. “I like people doing arm work as they work hard at it and consistency is the thing I value most, but these are a micro-targeted step too far,” says strength coach Joseph Lightfoot. Instead, go heavy. “The best way to get jacked forearms? Get a strong grip,” says Wakefield.

Swap It For: Farmer’s Walks

This simple but effective move involves picking up a heavy weight and walking with it. Do it as a finisher: grab the heaviest dumbbells you can manage, set yourself a distance – 100m is a good start – and walk it in as few “sets” as possible.

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Outdoor Fitness Training Plan

So: you’re economising in an attempt to reduce the personal impact of the post-Brexit financial meltdown. Or maybe you’ve got a lovely park near you and spend most of your time at a desk so you wouldn’t mind getting an occasional glimpse of that big ball of fire in the sky. Or you’re allergic to mirrors. All entirely valid reasons to shift your workout away from the gym – but if that isn’t enough, consider that one recent investigation saw 800 people report reduced levels of stress and anger from training outside, while another study linked it with increased energy.

And apart from fresh air and oxygen prompting the release of feelgood hormone serotonin, there are other benefits. Five to 30 minutes of sun exposure at least twice a week will improve your body’s vitamin D levels, helping you build stronger bones and a more robust immune system.

Of course, dumbbells and squat racks can be hard to find outdoors, but that’s no obstacle. “With a bit of improvisation, you can mimic any workout you’d do in the gym outside,” says trainer David Jackson of the School of Calisthenics. “So if you don’t like the gym, there’s really no excuse.”

Even if you do like the gym, it’s still worth popping your shades on and your shirt off and hitting the grass for a workout now and then. See you in the park.

RECOMMENDED: Outdoor Fitness Classes in London

Mobility Training

Mobility training: it’s the new stretching. And the good news is using a select handful of dynamic movements won’t just improve your range of motion – it’ll get your circulation going and challenge your co-ordination. Forget doing an hour of yoga, just borrow a variation on the classic sun salutation. “Think of this as a slow-motion burpee,” says trainer Rannoch Donald. “It engages almost every muscle while providing a fantastic stretch.”

RECOMMENDED: Mobility Training Home Workout

The Aim A full-body warm-up that increases flexibility, sharpens mental focus and sets you up for a successful training session.

Why “Do this three or four times a week, and you’ll see your hip, ankle and knee range of motion improve,” says Donald. “Even if you don’t want to squat or do Olympic lifts, that’s certain to improve your quality of life.”


  • Start with your feet just wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointing forwards.
  • Squat down by bending at the knees and hips and place your hands between your feet.
  • Move your left foot backwards so you’re in a lunge position.
  • Move your right foot back to assume a press-up position with your body in a straight line.
  • From here, drop your hips to the floor while keeping your arms straight. This position is the traditional yoga “cobra”.
  • Hold the cobra position for a second, then raise your hips, do one press-up, and reverse the whole move until you’re standing up.

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Sjana Elise Earp: Instagram sensation responds to body shamers

And it might be the best response yet

Sjana Elise Earp: Instagram sensation responds to body shamers


In a world where health, fitness and bodies come in all shapes and sizes, there’s another group of so-called body shamers who have one set of standards — that’s it. You’re either too tall, too short, too skinny, too fat, and it’s this type of labelling that we’re seeing (or reading about) nearly Every.Single.Day.

For super-leggy and lean Aussie #fitspo sensation, Sjana Elise Earp, she’s all too familiar with these types of negative body remarks, but in a recent video out of Cosmopolitan Body, she’s fought back at her haters, with a response that is so perfectly spot-on. 

“I am so much more than a body, I know that. I’m not defined by numbers or by other people’s opinions of me. And the body I have, as imperfect or as skinny or as gross as people may think it is, is my imperfect body. And I’m happy with it the despite their irrelevant opinions,” she says during her yoga sequence. “I have never and will never suggest that other people should aspire to have my body.”

She then ends with this: “You’re a soul with a body, not a body with a soul.”

Earp is just one of the many #fitspo Instagrammers/models/athletes/celebrities that are receiving hate messages for the way they look. From Gigi Hadid and Chrissy Teigan to our very own Bridget Malcolm and Kayla Itsines, it’s so common now, that there may as well be a hashtag for it. Some of these woman are admittedly smaller than others, but what we know (or should know) is skinny doesn’t necessarily mean not-strong. They’re publically putting themselves out there because they are proud of who they are and what they do – so who is anyone to judge?

Kayla Itsines recently told us that, woman are strong in so many different ways. “People say to me — do you lift heavy weights? And I always say, what do you class as heavy? Because what might be really light to me could be really heavy to someone else and vice versa. Your strength doesn’t come from what you can lift on the outside. Your strength comes from the inside first and then out. Actually, the first person to call me weak was my grandpa. I told him I wanted to be a personal trainer and he told me I was too weak because I was a girl and I couldn’t lift weights. I said, yes I can. Strength comes from within. Women are strong in different ways,” she said.

And earlier this week we saw yoga girl, Kerri Verna also fight back to her body haters: “Women OF ALL SIZES need to LOVE their bodies and wear white shorts if you want to! If you like it, wear it … NEVER let anyone’s opinion make you feel bad or shameful about your body.”

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How To Run Faster

It doesn’t matter if you’re training for your marathon PB or your first ever Parkrun, these tips from the experts are a surefire way to help you pick up the pace.

1. Warm Up Right

Static stretching won’t warm your muscles up in a way that allows you to run faster. In fact, it will be detrimental to your performance because it will relax your leg muscles to the extent that they are less efficient at propelling you forward. In a US study, runners who completed a sit-and-reach test before running had a worse running economy than those who didn’t, because their hamstrings were too relaxed. Perform dynamic stretches instead, such as high knees or walking lunges, to get your leg muscles fired up.

2. Set The Pace

It’s tempting to charge off at the gun when you’re feeling fresh – but you need to hold back if you want to finish fast. Starting too fast will increase oxygen consumption and blood lactate levels – the two key indicators of performance – faster than running at a consistent pace, according to research in the European Journal Of Applied Physiology.

Work out equal mile or kilometre splits that will give you a new PB and stick to them. Even if you feel you have more in the tank, save it for a sprint finish.

3. Keep Strides Short

You may think the longer your stride length, the faster you’ll finish. Unless you’ve got Inspector Gadget legs, you’d be wrong. Reducing your stride length improves running economy and cuts the time you spend in contact with the ground, which makes you faster. This was the conclusion of a Japanese study that found an 18% increase in stride frequency reduced impact forces, making runners more efficient, faster and less likely to suffer joint or muscle injury.

RECOMMENDED: 21 Running Tips

4. Breathe Easy

We’re pretty sure you’re aware that you need to breathe if you have any hope of setting a new record time. But it’s important you try to keep your breathing as easy and relaxed as possible when racing. Once exercise intensity becomes moderately hard – as it will be if you’re chasing a new PB – the most efficient breathing strategy is in through the mouth and out through the nose to maximise oxygen intake, according to a study from Liverpool John Moores University.

5. Work Up A Thirst

Instead of necking water or a sports drink every kilometre, only take a sip when you are thirsty, according to advice from USA Track and Field. It’s more important to start the race well hydrated (check your urine, which should be clear or very pale yellow) than to start dehydrated and overcompensate by drinking too much water too often during your race.

RECOMMENDED: The 10 Best Running Water Bottles

NEXT: 5 Ways to Improve Your Sprint Time

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How DJs Jamie Theakston and Andy Goldstein Shed the Pounds

Late-night finishes, early-morning curries and long days in the studio – the life of a radio DJ isn’t exactly conducive to a poster-boy physique. But when Coach‘s sister magazine Men’s Fitness challenged Jamie Theakston and Andy Goldstein to get back to their best, both men were more than just talk…

Anyone who works in an office knows the temptations of the 4pm biscuit run, the Friday doughnut round and the swift post-work pint. As it turns out, things aren’t much different in a radio booth: except that the volume gets turned up. “There’s always some kind of ‘week’ on,” says Jamie Theakston, Heart FM’s man in the morning. “Curry week, pie week, pizza week – we’d get sent that stuff, and so we wouldn’t feel bad about eating it first thing in the morning.”

At the other end of the schedule, late-night shifts for TalkSPORT’s Andy Goldstein meant frequent runs at the station’s (now-defunct) vending machine. “It wouldn’t be unheard of for me to have four packets of crisps in a shift,” says the Andy Goldstein’s Sports Bar presenter. “I was slowly getting obese.” Neither man knew much about weight training or nutrition – and the pair had never met before MF and London’s Embody Fitness gym challenged them to recapture their former glory. So were they ready for the real HIIT parade?

“I was struggling to fit into anything I could buy off the peg” – Jamie Theakston 

Jamie Theakston, 45, co-host of the Heart Breakfast show, weekday mornings from 6am to 9am.

Body fat before 24.1% / Body fat after 10.4%

In years gone by, the one-time presenter of C4’s The Games was quite the sportsman – fencing for Sussex, playing club cricket, winning a Man of the Match trophy in Soccer Aid 2010 – but injuries and life got in the way. “When I was active it was easy for me to drink and eat what I wanted, and I would never get any heavier than about 15 stone [95kg],” says Theakston.

“When you’re 6ft 4in [1.93m] your height can hide a multitude of sins, but at the end of last year I was struggling to fit into anything I could buy off the peg. I had a 38in waist: I remember thinking, ‘That’s quite big’.” Theakston had barely looked at a weight before, so early training – with Embody’s Chris Walton – was a struggle.

“I said to Chris that parts of my body that I didn’t know existed were hurting, and I thought I was physically unable to do the things he wanted me to do,” says Theakston. “He said it’d get easier and I didn’t believe him. But he was right.”

The real education for Theakston, though, came with his new diet. “I didn’t know the difference between protein and carbohydrate,” he says. “I’ve never taken much notice. I’d be in the studio at 5am, then I’d have a breakfast at 6.30am and maybe another one at 8.30am, and it was sausage or bacon sandwiches, tonnes of coffee… looking back it’s kind of shocking.”

He discovered it was about changing bad habits. “People persuade themselves that they ‘need’ a big breakfast to start the day, but it’s just what they’ve always had. Now I have two eggs with porridge and that’s it.”

RECOMMENDED: Healthy Breakfasts Worth Getting Up For

Now he’s in his best shape for over a decade. “You see it in the little things, like running upstairs: a year ago, I was carrying an extra three stone up. I feel brighter, my complexion’s better, all of those things.”

To anyone thinking of changing their own lifestyle, his advice is simple: “Don’t be afraid of the challenge. The hardest bit is the first couple of weeks. Then it keeps getting better.”

Start Stripping Body Fat

“The first goal for both Jamie and Andy was to start stripping some body fat and develop good movement patterns, as both guys had been pretty sedentary for a while,” says Chris Walton, director of training at Embody Fitness. “Jamie had also had a shoulder reconstruction a few weeks earlier so we had to go light on a lot of the upper-body work and also include quite a lot of rehab for his scapula, rotator cuffs and so on.”

RECOMMENDED: How to Reduce Body Fat

This targeted session does just that, before Theakston moved on to the tougher moves pictured.

1 Standing anti-rotation hold

Sets 2 Reps 20 Rest 30sec

Stand perpendicular to a cable machine and hold the cable at shoulder height, resisting the weight of the machine without moving. Do 30 seconds on each side for one set.

2 Step-up with single-arm press

Sets 2 Reps 10 Rest 60sec

Step up onto a box or bench, and press a dumbbell overhead with the opposite arm to your lead leg.

3A Dumbbell split squat 

Sets 3 Reps 10 Rest 30sec

Holding a dumbbell in each hand, step forward into a lunge, bending your front knee until your rear knee brushes the ground. Straighten your leg, then lower again.

3B Isolateral row 

Sets 3 Reps 10 Rest 60sec

You’ll need the machine for this one. Sit in the saddle and pull the handle down with one arm. Control it on the way up.

4A Cable pull-through 

Sets 4 Reps 8 Rest 30sec

Set up a cable rope attachment at just above knee height, and grip the cable between your legs. Pull it forward by straightening your hips, as if you were doing a deadlift.

4B Bench press 

Sets 4 Reps 8 Rest 30sec

Grip the barbell, brace your core and lower slowly, keeping your feet flat on the floor. However much you want to up the weight, don’t bounce it – aim to make each rep brush your T-shirt.

5 Rowing intervals 

Distance 100m Sets 6 Rest 40sec

Your goal for 100m: get it under 20 seconds.

Jamie on Andy “We took it quite seriously but we always had a good time. Andy was always determined to lift heavier than me, do more reps than me. It’s always easier training alongside someone else.”

“I had about ten pints, a hot dog, six nuggets, two hamburgers and a large fries, and didn’t think anything of it” – Andy Goldstein

Andy Goldstein, 43, host of Andy Goldstein’s Sports Bar on talkSPORT, weeknights from 10pm to 1am

Body fat before 25.4% / Body fat after 9.1%

“I was slowly getting obese,” says Goldstein, about the moment he decided to make some changes. “For me the turning point was around Christmas when I went to the darts. I had about ten pints and a hot dog, and on the way home I had six nuggets, two hamburgers and a large fries, and didn’t think anything of it.”

Goldstein’s no stranger to training, with a handful of half and full marathons under his belt, but he’d always avoided the weights room. “Like a lot of people, I was scared to lift heavy weights,” he admits. “I’d be on the treadmill for an hour.”

To put on functional muscle and burn fat, Embody’s Chris Walton gave him a programme of compound exercises with low rest. “I don’t believe in bodybuilding splits for new clients,” Walton explains. “If you only train one body part once a week, you’re resting it for too long. We’d superset upper and lower body moves, never going below about six reps. We pushed both guys hard.”

Goldstein had also tried diets before – “the 5:2 fast, the smoothies” – but this transformation required lasting changes. “The first three days were tough because I couldn’t eat any of the crap I normally have, but after that it was a breeze,” he says. “For breakfast I’d have chicken or steak or salmon. People pull a face when I say that, but then I wouldn’t get hungry for hours. It’s not like it would take me an hour to make – there’s no excuse for not eating healthy.”

Binges were replaced by new habits. “I’ve got into black coffee now,” he says. “I’ll still have a curry, but with a healthy sauce. I have 95% chocolate for a treat – I don’t need to indulge myself all the time.”

For Andy, the work outside the gym made bigger changes than the lifting inside it. “When I met Chris he said, ‘There’s 168 hours in a week and I’ve got you for three of them, so the rest is up to you’. Other people can help keep you on the road, but you’ve got to want it. Everyone’s got it in them. Don’t think of it as an end – think of it as a new way of life.”

Build Lean Muscle

“The training sessions towards the end were much more focused on trying to add some lean muscle,” says Walton. “As neither guy had done much weight training, we were still able to keep reps fairly high because they would still respond positively – from a lean mass perspective – to relatively high reps. They trained three times a week with me, and supplemented that with some high-intensity interval work on their own.”

Here’s one of Goldstein’s typical lean mass sessions.

1A Side step-up

Sets 4 Reps 6 each side Rest 30sec

Stand holding heavy dumbbells with a box to one side of you, and step up onto it. After you’ve done all your reps on one side, turn around and do it again leading with the other leg.

1B Semi-supinated lat pull-down

Sets 4 Reps 10 Rest 30sec

Hold the pull-down handle with your palms facing in – this targets your biceps, and it’s easier on the elbows. Pull the weight down strongly, and control it on the way up.

2A 1¼ goblet squat

Sets 3 Reps 8 Rest 30sec

Holding a kettlebell by the “horns”, drop into a squat so your elbows touch your knees. Come a quarter of the way up, drop down again and then stand up. That’s one rep.

2B Bench press

Sets 3 Reps 10 Rest 30sec

For a power boost, squeeze the bar: it’ll fire up the surrounding muscles, letting you squeeze out an extra rep or two.

3A Dumbbell push press

Sets 3 Reps 10 Rest 30sec

Holding a pair of dumbbells at shoulder height, bend your knees slightly and then use the momentum to drive them overhead.

3B Lateral step-over

Sets 3 Reps 12 each side Rest 30sec

Set up a low bench and hop over it, touching it with each foot at the top.

3C Renegade row

Sets 3 Reps 12 Rest 30sec

Gripping a pair of (preferably hexagonal) dumbbells, do a press-up, then row each dumbbell up to your armpit. That’s one rep.

Andy on Jamie “I didn’t know Jamie before this, but we train together all the time now, and we’re going to carry on, at least for the rest of the year. I think it’s harder for Jamie – he had to train after he’s got up ridiculously early in the morning, with no time for a decent breakfast. He’d go, ‘Well, I’ve had an egg…’”

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Eight elite trainers share how they recover after a long run

From ice baths to foam rolls, these top-notch runners share how they beat soreness.

Photo: iStock

We’ve all felt the burn – some of us, more potently so than others. But have you ever wondered, how do other people recover? Especially when you know your running routines can make your legs feel like lead. Here, Sydney’s best elite trainers share what works for them and hey… they more you know.

Foam rolling

“Foam roll and warm up prior to running to ensure that your muscles respond to the task at hand. Then stretch and foam roll afterwards to speed up your recovery and reduce the likelihood of injuries.”

– Moodi Dennaoui, Body Science.

Stretch it out at Yoga

“When it comes to recovering from training, I swear by yoga and hydration. After drinking water by the litre and completing a Yin Yoga session, I am a new man. When I am training hard, I try to fit in two yoga sessions per week.”

– Ben Lucas, Flow Athletic and Rebel Insider.

Sleep is key

“Sleep and nap as much as you can. Sleep is the key to recovery. Aim for 8-9 hours a night. If you can’t get that in, then a 20min recovery nap during the day will do you wonders, and not enough sleep increases your chance of injury and affects the level of intensity you can achieve during training.”

– Kevin Toonen, S+C Coach for the Special Forces and Body Science.

Take an ice bath

“When it comes to recovery I swear by ice baths. While opinions on this method vary between strength coaches and sport scientists, they always work for me, especially after a marathon. It’s so easy too. I just pick up few bags of ice from a petrol station, chuck it in a bathtub, add some cold water and submerge myself from waist down (I often keep on my jumper!)

“For me, ice baths help to reduce inflammation and reduce muscle soreness.

“Adequate nutrition and hydration, magnesium supplementation and compression are also great recovery methods post-long run. Sleep is probably the most important – no matter what you do.”

Go for a swim

“You can’t go past a swim to get the blood moving in a weightless environment. It’s the best way to flush out lactic acid after a tough workout or a run, especially if it’s cold! I then like to use a heat rub like the Deep Heat Pro sports recovery massage oil to further promote blood flow usually in the evening or whenever I can beg my girlfriend for a massage!”

– Tim Robards, founder of The Robards Method.

Walk it off

“Once you have finished your run, whether it be a long distance or sprints, spend a few minutes walking it out to allow your legs to cool down gradually. Also spend a few minutes doing a whole body stretch down to lengthen out your muscles post run and then again before bed.”

– Lauren Hannaford, former elite gymnast for Australia.

Get a massage

“I swear by self-myofascial release (or MFR) and stretching, in fact I feel that it should become a daily ritual for anyone who wants to lead an active lifestyle. If you don’t know how to execute this correctly, I suggest asking a trainer for guidance.

“Having said that, when preparing for a tough task, such as an endurance run where you are building up your kilometres each week, your body will require more attention.

“I suggest booking a reputable massage therapist once per week. Looking after your body enhances performance and proactively avoids injuries.”


“Take rest days. Staying mobile and flexible is vital for not only performance and recovery, but also injury prevention. Throw in some yoga and a massage into your weekly schedule too.”

– Katie Williams, beach sprinting champion.

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Get Lean and Strong At Any Age

The Performance Life

Pete Williams

The best thing about having the good fortune of co-authoring Core Performance books with Core Performance founder Mark Verstegen is having access to experts in human performance and cutting-edge research. (It’s the same information provided in the books and on this site, but being around it so closely keeps it in the front of my mind.) Last month I had my bodyfat measured with skinfold calipers at Athletes’ Performance in Phoenix for the fourth time since December of 2008.

Body composition is a more accurate barometer of overall fitness than scale weight. Two men or two women roughly the same height, weight, and age can have dramatically different appearances based on body composition. Simply put, body composition is the percentage of body weight composed of fat as opposed to lean mass (usually expressed in terms of a body-far percentage – 12 percent, for example, which is typical for a male team-sport athlete).

There are options when it comes to measuring body composition, ranging from the high-tech (Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry, also known as DEXA or DXA) to hydrostatic weighing. There’s also bioelectrical impedance (BEI), which can be as simple as stepping on an inexpensive BEI bathroom scale. The subject stands on two electrodes that send a small current through the body, measuring the impedance to this current. (For a more thorough breakdown on body comp options, see our complete guide to body composition.)

Skinfold calipers are perhaps the best combination of simplicity, portability, and accuracy. That’s assuming a trained technician does the measuring. The technician uses the calipers to pinch the subject at seven sites: chest, abdominal, thigh, tricep, subscapular, iliac, and midaxillary. The thickness of the skin folds at the seven sites, measured in millimeters, is totaled and inserted into an equation (Jackson-Pollock), along with sex, age and weight to determine the subject’s body fat percentage. “You’re separating the skin and fat tissue from muscle tissue,” says Erika Wincheski, a performance nutritionist at Athletes’ Performance. “We find skin folds to be a fairly accurate measure.”

In March of 2009, I weighed 173.8 and measured 11.48 percent body fat. By December of 2011, I weighed 161 and had dropped to 8.65 percent body fat. (Height, of course, remained unchanged at 5-foot-11.) After a year of training for triathlon, stand-up paddleboard events, and obstacle races, I finished 2012 at 155. Perhaps more importantly, I had dialed in my nutrition further. The results were encouraging, especially for a 43-year-old recreational athlete.

Tester  Erika Wincheski
Date  12/5/2012
Weight (lbs)  155
Tricep (mm)  6
Chest (mm)  5
Mid Ax (mm)  3.5
Suscap (mm)  7.5
Abdomen (mm)  7
Iliac (mm)  6
Thigh (mm)  6
SUM 7 Site (mm)  41
Body Fat %  7.19%
Lean Body Mass (lbs)  143.85
Fat Mass (lbs)  11.15

Just for comparison’s sake, Wincheski lowered my age to 25, which dropped my body fat percentage to 5 percent. Since we lose lean mass as we age, age is a key variable in the equation. So too is adequate pre- and post-workout nutrition, something I’ve focused on more during the last year.

“As you age, your body is going to lose some of its lean muscle tissue,” Wincheski said. “We want to prevent that and increased activity will help. There’s a recovery piece there as well. You want to recover your body after training, otherwise you’ll continue to break down that muscle tissue. So by allowing yourself that recovery period to refuel your glycogen stores, and giving yourself the proper amount of protein and carbohydrate, you’ll prevent that muscle tissue breakdown.”

Seven percent bodyfat is comparable to some of the world-class soccer players and sprinters who train at Athletes’ Performance, though they can be as low as 3.5 percent. Of course, I never had world-class athletic skills at their age—or any age. The 7.2 percent “speaks to how lean you’ve become,” Wincheski said. “Muscle tissue is not being broken down and that’s a challenge for all of us as we get older.”

Related: The Problem with All This ‘Overweight People Live Longer’ News [The Atlantic]

About The Author

Pete Williams
– Pete Williams is a contributing writer for and the co-author of the Core Performance book series.

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Longevity, Health, Build Muscle

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Aerial Acrobatics: We give this new fitness trend a whirl

Ever dreamt of running away to a circus? This is the next best thing

Aerial Acrobatics: We give this new fitness trend a whirl

Now that we no longer have to chase our own food, I’m constantly amazed by the way humans choose to keep fit.

Treadmills, for example – what an odd invention. Can you even imagine the pitch meeting? “I’m looking to fund a machine that won’t let people go anywhere, do much of anything or get any fresh air or stimulation of any kind. They’ll walk on the spot and expend energy for the sake of it. What do you think?”

There are other, more artistic options. Like aerial acrobatics. This pursuit is more the Lady Gaga to your treadmill’s Margaret Thatcher. If you’ve ever taken in a Cirque du Soleil show, you’ve seen it done.

It basically involves wrapping your limbs around lengths of fabric bolted to the ceiling and then climbing up those lengths in increasingly imaginative ways. When done right you look like a lithe and sensual squirrel. When done poorly you come across as a moron, hog-tied in your own bed sheets. I won’t ruin the ending by telling you which one I was.

I started by signing up for the 90-minute beginners’ class at Wild Spirit Productions in Sydney’s Botany. Maggie Kelley is head honcho here and took our class of eight willing apprentices. If Jessica Rabbit and Pink had a love child it would be Maggie. She’s all red hair and toned limbs, minus the air of intimidation. 

What I hadn’t anticipated is that we’d spend 45 of our 90 minutes doing warm-up stretches. At the time it felt like pointless busy work. It became apparent the next morning, however, that without those stretches I wouldn’t have been able to wipe my own rear. I’m not exaggerating. You will use muscles you’ve probably never used unless you’ve had sex in space. And even then…

I quickly discovered I was the Rob Kardashian of our merry troupe. At one point I got my right foot so knotted up in my silk I had to just hang upside down until Maggie untied me. She was very patient – demonstrating each move before we tried it in pairs. It’s all quite choreographed and not at all like the scrambling-up-a-rope-in-gym-class I imagined it would be.

There are names for each climb, too. There’s the French: it’s dance-y and pretty, but slightly ineffectual. Then there’s the Russian: it’s gutsier and gets you where you’re going.

In the end, it was easier than I expected. The learning curve is steep but satisfying and by the end of it, we were all doing backflips. What a time to be alive. 

I admit the whole thing left me hurting more than Donald Trump after a John Oliver roast, but I’d choose this over running down my next meal. Unless that meal was piping-hot and waiting at the end of a stationary treadmill… We squirrely circus folk aren’t silly.

The Lowdown

What: Aerial silks. 

How much: $34 for a 90-minute class.

Where: 1/42 William St, Botany;

I loved: That you could get adept at this art very quickly – and that’s an excellent quality in a hobby.

I question: How long you have to keep at it before you’d be allowed to wear feathers. I mean it… I’d like a time stamp on that.

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