Last year Daniel and I sat down to discuss his Personal Training website needs. It felt a little ironic as I have been known to make PTs cry on occasion due to my lack of commitment to training or any form of exercise.
Chatting to Daniel opened up a whole side of training and lifestyle I hadn’t previously considered. His approach appealed to the former Holistic therapist in me and I fell in love with his ethos of looking at the whole person, their routines and improving their lives. For Daniel it’s not just about exercise and nutrition, he focuses on mental health and helping people to make life long changes.
In this interview Daniel talks about his own journey, how to incorporate lifestyle changes, what’s important and how to focus on it, as well as his aspirations for his clients and his young children.
I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed chatting to him and if you’d like to connect with Daniel, you can do so by clicking the links at the bottom of the page.
I loved working on your Personal Training website as your approach feels different to other PTs. I was intrigued by your Holistic approach and can see you’ve incorporated that into all areas of your work.
Someone recognised me from my website, stopped me in the street, said they found the website interesting, that my story caught their attention and they were wondering if the info was too personal. I replied that my whole approach is not to be a business website, I’m not your average Personal Trainer, it’s not just about the exercise portion of it, there’s so much more to getting fit. So many people have their own stories, their own journeys as to why they want to look at their health and wellbeing. I wanted to get my story across as there are so many people out there who don’t tell their story, who are feeling self conscious who don’t want to go to the gym, they lack self belief or self worth. I wanted to get across that I’ve been through various aspects of it with my own journey and have come out the other side through the powers of exercise and positive lifestyle changes and I want to help others with that.
One of the things I express to all of my clients, whether they’re there for a few free sessions, or signing up for a long term plan, I treat everyone the same, I give everyone the same food template diary to fill out, to give them an opportunity to explore their own food choices and think about what they’re doing and potentially make some changes from that if needs be. I’m not there just for the free session then you don’t hear from me again. I check in to see how you’re feeling, how your week’s going, how your diet’s been, your sleep. It’s about covering all the different areas of life. That’s what’s needed in order for me to help them get the results they’re looking for. I need to understand what’s going on in their lives to help them to make the most out of it.
Personally I’ve not liked working with PTs. I don’t like being pushed and exercising and training doesn’t fulfil anything within me, it’s a means to an end. Sessions never felt they were interwoven into my life.
When you’re looking for a PT or looking to get help with whatever your goal is, it’s not just the element of you doing the session, there are so many different aspects to it. Everyone has busy lives. The last thing they want to do at the end of the day is go to the gym. If you go to a few sessions and it feels like more work than enjoyment, after a while you’ll stop going.
It needs to be a time that’s easy and convenient for you. it shouldn’t feel like a chore. If you’re going out of your way to exercise then it’s not sustainable. It needs to fit into your daily life. In terms of exercises it needs to be something you like. I ask clients what they dislike and why they dislike it? If it’s something they really don’t enjoy then we don’t do it as 9 times out of 10 there’s an alternative solution with exercises that they can do and may enjoy. It’s trial and error, making the experience something they can enjoy and get benefit from, rather than them exercising for an hour, they hate it and they won’t come back.
One of the reasons I offer longer term packages is so we can nail what people enjoy and benefits them and over the period of time we can look at how they can implement these lifestyle changes for the rest of their lives. Incorporating both a nutritional and workout perspective. It should never be a chore, it should be something they enjoy and look forward to doing.
I’ve noticed you post a lot of food pics on your Instagram. Most PTs are big advocates of eating meat. If that’s not an option, what are your thoughts on sustaining a good balance without going to meat to get it?
From a protein perspective there are plenty of options; a lot of people are advocates of meat because of the BCAA value (Branched Chain Amino Acids) – there are 8 essential BCAAs that our body doesn’t produce and we need to get it from food sources. With meat it generally has all your BCAAs in one area. With plant sources you usually have to combine 2/3 different plant sources or nuts to get the same value. It’s important to know if you’re becoming vegetarian or vegan and you’re trying to reduce your meat intake is that you need to be looking at various different food sources such as lentils and combining different foods. I don’t recommend supplements to anyone because there are always ways you can get it into your diet. if you’re on a hectic lifestyle and you need something on the go, there are vegan protein shakes, fruit snack packs etc.
When it comes to vitamins – people know we need vitamins in the body – people generally have an idea of ‘if they take vitamin C it will prevent them from getting a cold’. This isn’t going to happen. People often think if they take a supplement it’s easier. With vitamins it’s easy to take excessive amounts which then has a negative effect on the body. and does more harm than good. There’s no reason people can’t get their daily intake from their diet; a mixed portion of fruit and veg a day.
So it’s like vitamins are a lifestyle choice?
When it comes to supplement companies churning out – it’s huge, a bigger business than ever. They’re relatively expensive to buy compared to fruit and veg. People complain about the cost of eating healthily. I follow a nutritionist, Ben Coomber, who is doing amazing things in the industry – he has a podcast and he did something recently about people complaining about how expensive it is to eat healthily. His argument is it’s not expensive to eat healthily and you have no concerns about spending the same money in the pub or when going out for a meal. It’s mindset – when you’re in the supermarket you’re not thinking of going to the pub and spending £5 a pint, you’re comparing the price of this piece of fruit with another. You can get a bag of sweets for 80p compared to vegetables which cost more. In that environment that’s all you’re comparing it to – fresh produce vs processed.
What are your thoughts on organic food?
People make a judgement on things without knowing much about it. For me, as someone who sees that people aren’t taking in enough fruit and veg on a daily basis, it wouldn’t matter too much whether it’s organic or not. It’s a case of getting people to eat more fruit and vegetables and having a more balanced diet. Once they’ve established a healthy lifestyle choice then you can start looking at exploring further options. Our country has an obesity epidemic and childrens obesity epidemic with everyone getting bigger, it’s become more worrying. Getting people to eat the right foods first of all is more important than getting them to eat organic food.
“So many people have their own stories, their own journeys”
Can you tell us more of your story, how you ended up in this career.
When I was young my Mum was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour. Over the years they weren’t able to remove the tumour but they could shrink it. The long term effects of the medication have deteriorated many parts of her from bone density to teeth crumbling and her short term memory. Growing up around it I quickly learned about her condition and I had to mature and grow up quickly so I could support and help in any way I could.
The biggest thing for me when I hit 10/11 was not being able to help. I couldn’t physically cure her. Watching her deteriorate every year a bit more became a challenge for me to deal with mentally. School was rough; I was bullied for a portion of my years there. I didn’t enjoy school at all and had that to deal with as well as what was going on at home. Being bullied hit my self esteem, self confidence and self worth. I never wanted to see people go through what I went through. Obviously people go through their own things and my situation wasn’t unique.
My weight increased through bad eating habits at work, I was miserable, depressed, working long hours. One day I looked in the mirror having not done so for a long time. I had a proper look and I was in a really dark place, I could either go down a road I wouldn’t come back from or I could start to make a difference. Thinking of my Mum and the journey she’d been through, we’d all been through it. I decided I was going to do something different. I didn’t know anything about exercise or nutrition. My diet was atrocious. I found when I started exercising and talking to PTs in the gym, the positive energy and reinforcement gave me the confidence to keep going. My confidence started to return, I could start to feel my energy come back and I was beginning to feel better about myself. When my wife became pregnant with my eldest son I sat back and really thought about what I wanted, What did I want to do with these feelings and this knowledge?
For a lot of people there’s usually a factor which will jolt them to make that change. You don’t just wake up one morning and decide. In my circumstance, my wife’s pregnancy was that jolt. How did I want my child to see me as he grows up? Do I want him to see his Dad coming home from a job he doesn’t enjoy and spends 2 hours commuting into or do I want him to see someone doing something positive, something he enjoys and loves to do? I want him to follow in those footsteps, go off on his own journey, something that he feels strongly about. I don’t want him to have to settle. The same with my second son. I want them to do whatever makes them happy but set the example of you have to work hard to get it.
“I’m a big advocate of having quiet time to yourself at the beginning of the day”
If someone says they can’t fit exercise into their day…
They’re not making it a priority. Number one reason is time. People say they don’t have enough time and when people say that I ask them to take me through their day. What time does it start? What time does it finish? What are they doing in the evening? There’s always ways to make time if you’re making it a priority. If you want to make a health and lifestyle change you’ll manage it.
Get out of bed an hour earlier. When you wake up you feel tired anyway so there isn’t a difference getting up an hour earlier. I’m a big advocate of having quiet time to yourself at the beginning of the day.
3 suggestions to people living a sedentary lifestyle:
Every half an hour to an hour get up and move around, whether it’s to get some water, stroll through the office. Get moving
Lunch break – get up, go outside, take a walk. Moving will change your mood. If you sit at a desk all day you won’t be in a great mood. Moving will chemically change your mood. You’ll feel better immediately.
Sitting at a desk all day – you’re going to snack. It’s always someone’s birthday, there’s always something going on. Don’t have the cake. Have a fruit bowl on your desk, have healthy alternatives. If you’re going to snack, snack wisely. Often if you snack you’ll go for the first thing you see. If the first thing is the healthy option you’re more likely to have that.
If you could remove one thing from everyone’s diet which would improve their health immediately what would it be?
Refined sugar. People think that fats and carbohydrates make people fat. It’s not the case. Refined sugar is what’s making people fat. When people go onto low fat diets they’re often removing fat but replacing it with sugar and they’re either not losing weight or actively putting on more weight. If something says it’s low-fat it’s not necessarily a good option. Being aware of what sugar you’re taking in is a huge step to getting healthy.
I’d never suggest cutting out whole food groups unless medically advised. There’s a reason that each food group is included in the eat well plate because they all have their own benefits to the body.
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