23 December 2021

Fit in your 40s with an office job?

brightonfit bike commute

I write this post from many tried and tested methods to integrate a full time desk job with a desire to retain a fully fit and functionally strong body. Having spent 20 years on my feet all day every day at work, I found the transition to a desk job extremely challenging. At the start I could not even sit for more than 1 hour without an aching pain in my buttocks! After some time (about a year) this discomfort eased and I was able to sit for a day, around the same time I began experiencing lower back pain. Flashbacks of my clients complaining about lower back pain over the previous 2 decades popped into my mind and I realised I had gone from someone whose body was not subjected to the physical restrictions that modern life and work choices brings to someone that very definitely was….and in an amazingly short period of time.

I then tried all sorts of training schedules and styles in order to regain what I had lost which was predominantly functional strength and a decent fitness level. What ended up becoming a sustainable pattern for me combines an active living approach with sessions I dedicate to exercising. I ride my push bike (pictured) into work every single day (5 miles) come rain or shine (having invested in some Gortex waterproofs!); I aim for speed without stopping. I go straight to the gym and workout for an hour predominantly weight lifting except for one weekly HIIT session I put in on a day that I feel energetic! After work I ride home for food and maybe to tie up some work hanging over from the day. I try and get out every evening after this; I will take my mountain bike out alone or with friends or go to my local indoor climbing centre for a couple of hours. These types of fun, social sessions are best for me at this time of the day since I’m tired and it’s often dark and wet/cold so it takes something like this to get me out of the house. Of course once I’m riding around in the woods feeling alive and connected to the earth doing what I love, the thought of sitting on the sofa seems like a crazy alternative.

Weekends are a mixture of active and relaxing activity but intentionally without the routine of the week. The result has been that I have returned to pre desk job fitness and strength levels and I feel that both my brain and body are fuelled in an equal way. Of course I realise that having kids would make this much harder but not impossible if motivated enough….the key message here is that I encourage you to find something that works for you. If it means getting up earlier, preparing bags/food the day before, getting bike tyres pumped or climbing wall sessions booked it will all be worth it once you are in the groove – you really can have it all!!

30 June 2019

How HIIT training can combat ageing

personal trainer brighton

The physiological age of our body may be quite different from our numerical age; you’ve seen it in your friends everyone is a similar age and yet some look like they are 10 years older or younger than others. Some of this comes down to genetics but a lot of it can be attributed to the way we lead our lives.

What we put in our bodies and what we put our bodies through, makes a difference to what is called our cellular age. This is the age that your cells operate as despite your actual age and the regulation of calcium influences it. During a HIIT session chemical channels in muscle cells alter their calcium regulation making them more efficient; similar to how they did when the cells (and you) were younger. This is seen even in the 65-80 year old age group.

A HIIT session is purported to be more beneficial to cellular ageing than resistance training alone even though many HIIT sessions involved weights it is not necessarily that which promotes this benefit.

Preventing cellular ageing can make them more resistant to stress and inflammation and increase longevity. Psychological factors may be at hand here too as part of adapting a more active lifestyle will mean that you tend to choose better foods, sleep better and drink less alcohol so the gains can be across the board.

To perform a HIIT session you simply need to incorporate a blast of high intensity working out with a period of less intense exercise and cycle the exercise types for the duration of the session. Often the workouts will fatigue you quickly and may only be 30 minutes long. When you start this kind of training it may be that you can only manage 5-10mins to start with and that is fine! Just weave this type of session in gradually and build up to it over time….after all your going to be around for longer!

10 May 2019

Weight lifting or cardio training first?

weights or cardio first

We get asked this all the time and our answer is the same: it depends on your goals, and here’s why:

If you are a regular gym goer with the aim of general keep fit, staying strong and beating the bulge then it is probable like 99% of other gym goers you will want to incorporate both lifting and cardio training into your workouts.

If you do a cardio session whether it’s a steady state or interval type session you will tire; you will have used up some energy stores. If in the same session you then want to perform some lifts, you may find your strength is depleted and/or your form is poor.

Alternatively, if you started your workout with a weight lifting session your muscles will be exhausted, having been trained to or close to failure and the chances of you pushing out any good cardio training next is unlikely.

So, the overriding answer to the conundrum depends on what you value as important in your own training and you may find it most beneficial to alternate sessions with one starting with cardio and the other weight lifting. In terms of science, recent studies have shown that the most cardio gain is to be had if placed before the strength training component of a mixed workout.

The same does not apply for those with less general goals: If you want to bulk then definitely put the strength before the cardio and perhaps consider interval/HIIT training over steady state cardio when it comes to it (but don’t forget it!). For long distance runners the cardio sessions need to take precedence however it is a good idea to have a couple of dedicated strength sessions pw to add to your long distance running as it is likely you will have run out of time or energy to add anything useful after a session.

2 July 2018

Have fun in the sun workout

summer workout

Do you remember when you were a kid and you played outside for the whole summer holiday? The sun and the summer went on forever and ever, well why does it have to be any different because you’re all grown up? This weekend we spent on Dorset’s Jurassic coast, on a Famous Five themed birthday weekend. No one thought consciously about getting exercise in or burning calories but we all spent the day outside charging around in the sunshine. We biked up and down hills and kayaked in the sea, the sun shone and we all had a jolly spiffing time.

What does it take to get 15 like-minded adults away from the grind of family, work and city lives to enjoy these simple pleasures? A few months of planning a big birthday and a lot of logistical juggling to get the kids sorted….and how often to we get the opportunity to do this? And should it be this hard?

Really we should join up these precious moments in the wonderful tapestry of our rich an diverse modern lives instead of them being peppered with days like these every 10 years! We need to remember what is important and include more of this in our day to day. How can we get together more often with those friends who make our cockles warm and get outside and run and laugh in the sunshine? Why do we have to be serious and mundane and how did that become what we are most of the time.

The train grinds to a halt as you get off into the rain on the platform and fight with the swell of commuters for a bus or cab to your grey concrete office building where you sit in front of a fluorescent screen all day. Punctuated with a rubbery lunchtime sandwich in plastic wrapping and a weak coffee from the machine in the hallway your cortisol levels steadily rise throughout the week until you hit Friday and decide to ‘treat’ yourself with sweet alcholic beverages and saturated fats until Monday arrives….OK so this is a bleak version of most people’s weekly reality but why are we mainly revolving around this format, why cant it be more like:

The week starts with an early morning jog along the seafront with dogs breathing in the fresh air and an effort at lunchtime to at least walk around town before heading home after work and making an effort to engage with people who you are stimulated by so that we don’t fall out at the end of the week feeling lucky and grateful to have got there but instead comfortably arrive at Friday with a full sense of wellness and all around health…..We all make choices, is it time to re-frame yours?

23 March 2018

Brightonfit personal trainer workouts

Ever wondered what kind of workouts we do? Well the answer is we do all of the workouts we ask you to do! Otherwise how would we know what to ask of you and where the difficult sections were and how to coach you through and design a balanced program?

This Brighton personal training session is designed for intermediates. It should take you about 45mins and some of the exercises use a weight (ball, kettlebell or dumbell), you should be able to perform this at home, in a park or your gym.

The session is split into 3 x 15 minute sections. Each section contains 5 exercises. You should aim to complete each exercise 10 times each side (ie split jacks) or 20 time if using both sides of your body together (ie a box jump). You must not rest between exercises and when you get to the end of the first 5 you rest for up to 60 seconds before repeating 4 more times. That will be the end of the first section and you may rest for up to 3 minutes before repeating the same format for the second and third section.

This is a fast paced session, each exercise must be performed with the focus on form, power and speed with the goal of keeping your heart rate as high as you can for as long as you can whilst maintaining form.

The explosive exercises (tucks, jacks, jumps, squats and thrusts) are very important to make sure you are really jumping/pushing hard and fast in combination. These are the plyometric sections of the workout and improve the power capacity of your muscles in a slightly different way to some of the pure strength based ones.

This workout can be repeated as often as you like. Remember not to train on sore muscles. You will develop lean muscle and burn excess fat very effectively training like this, but remember even as personal trainers doing these sessions we don’t rely on just one type of training and we mix these sessions up with running in Brighton and Hove, pure strength training and training specifically for the sports we play and recommend that you do the same. Watch this blog for more training sessions.

Click on the photo below for a link to a bigger image you can print out if you like.

Let us know how it goes….any questions, get in touch.

brightonfit personal trainer workout

5 March 2018

Make the most of your time in the gym

brighton personal trainers


When the weather is bad it’s a great time to bank some sessions at the gym. But it can be difficult without a goal or program to follow to know where to start. If you’re only hitting the gym 2 or 3 times a week this is what you should be aiming to cover at the end of each week:

  • Try to move all of your joints through all degrees of freedom. This is a fancy way of saying that you should mobilise your joints in all directions. So for example a hip joint is a ball and socket; it moves forwards, backwards, left and right but it can also pivot clockwise and anti clockwise AND you can combine by say moving it left and back and anticlockwise!!
  • As well as mobility training be sure to include Strength, Cardiovascular fitness/explosive training, Flexibility and Speed/agility/coordination work

As Brighton personal trainers we would recommend you aim to train more than 2-3 times each week in which case you could probably start splitting the sessions up quite nicely and still get everything covered each week but if you’re only hitting the gym on the weekend you may need to get everything in on each session.

We like high paced, explosive and weighted circuits to achieve this; you will need to have a think before you dive in and make sure that your exercise selection taxes the body’s musculature in a balanced way. A good way to do this is pick 5 exercise’s and repeat them 8-20 times (depending on the exercise) without stopping, then repeat these 5 exercises in the same order 4 more times. Then take a short break and select 5 more exercises and do the same and repeat this for as many times as you can.

If you are super fit and can keep this going for over an hour you should be able to fit in 5 circuits with at least 2 plyometric exercises in each circuit and a 2 heavy weighted exercises plus one body weight exercise.

If you are a beginner start with one circuit and stick to body weight exercises focusing on getting the techniques correct. You may find a few sessions of personal training in Brighton a help to begin with.

If you know what you are doing and are an intermediate then aim for 45 mins for this keeping your heart rate as high as you can and resting for as little as possible. You should be able to fit 3 or 4 of these in.

The next blog will give you a few examples of these types of circuits

13 February 2018

Sleep and how it can help you loose weight

sleep for weight loss

We sleep to restore our bodies and minds; it is an active period where we synthesis hormones, develop muscles and repair tissues. It also is the time where memories are ‘consolidated’; this is a process where by short-term memories are moved to longer-term memory vaults in the mind. One of the hormones typically associated in people with weight control issues is cortisol and yup you guessed it, a lack of sleep leads to an increase in cortisol levels. As a double whammy sleeplessness also leads to the synthesis of more ghrelin, which essentially stimulates appetite and, even more depressingly, encourages fat storage.

Many of us (myself included!) suffer from un-rested nights (approx. 60%) with some of the first signs including irritability and mood swings, leading to more serious conditions like apathy and memory loss. Very often the cause can be something minor like the temperature of the room, noise, light levels etc… but with ‘stress’ being the biggest cause of short term sleeping problems there are usually more subtle issues at play. Even if the underlying problems are subsequently resolved and that stress is removed, the sleep pattern may not resolve itself and may turn into a longer-term problem so it is important to be fully aware of what is going on. This can be very difficult and frustrating for someone to rationally quantify in a state of irrational sleep deprivation so it is useful to have support around you to help you identify the issues here.

There are other reasons that can lead to sleep deprivation too such as alcohol/caffeine consumption in the afternoon/evening, shift work, travel/jet lag, some medications (decongestants, anti depressants) and mentally intense activities before bed to name but a few. Having a cool calm room without gadgets after a wind down period before getting into bed is usually a good start to giving you the best chance of drifting off.

Longer term sufferers may get some relief from cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which helps retrain our minds. Many people use the quiet of the night to solve their problems and as their mind races they become less and less rested, CBT can help challenge this thought process. Other people get fearful of not being able to sleep at night and CBT might be useful to break this cycle of insomnia by restructuring the thought processes to break unhelpful sleep beliefs and/or patterns.

Of course like most of these things a balance is key. So retraining your mind and body to live a healthy and active life will help infinitely; taking regular exercise, drinking enough water, putting mental boundaries between work and home life, and a couple of tricks for you to try would be to aim to get to bed earlier and earlier every night and to sleep without an alarm clock…your body will hit its natural circadian rhythm (nature’s alarm clock) and you will get the exact amount of sleep (and all its restorative benefits) you need and feel GREAT!!

22 August 2017

Stuck in a rut

gym training rut

The first thing to remember is DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP!!

You’re here now and for whatever reason your routine, motivation or satisfaction has taken a knock and you’re not training at all or far less than you want to. Maybe you have now run the marathon you’ve been training for all year, maybe the seasonal changes have affected you, maybe you got a new job, maybe maybe maybe….it could be a zillion things but you are better spending your time looking forwards than back.

I speak from personal and professional experience. You may hear people say ‘if you can identify the cause you can prevent it from happening again’ but that will not help you out of this rut. That may help you manage your life but to be honest if you identified the cause this time I betchya there would be a different cause the next time, and the next and the next….you are best to roll with the punches. Understand that life will toss you around a bit and that your training regime will take a knock and just get on with working out how to get stuck back in again.

All that said, how do you do it?

OK so lets assume you are mainlining Hagen das cookies and cream on the sofa binge watching Netflix; watching your recently gained weight loss/muscle definition/new trousers/delete as appropriate go to pot. You’re thinking ‘Ah well, I know I can do it because I’ve been achieving these gains over the past 6 months so I’m just going to enjoy myself whilst I can and then when the motivation hits me again ill get back on the wagon’

In this moment I want you to truthfully answer me this: Are you actually happy sitting there? How many of you can say that your stomach doesn’t feel bruised from all the fat and sugar you’ve been throwing down there, or that you don’t miss the DOMs and the post workout euphoria. Can you actually admit to feeling better slobbing out there than the agile, light, strong, lean person you feel (or are getting towards feeling) like when you are working out. Can you say that you are in control, that you have made the choice to sit on your behind shovelling one handful of food after another into your gob? Wouldn’t you prefer to feel on top of your game? Doesn’t it make you feel more virtuous, more in control, better at work, more productive, happier, more positive and upbeat?

Right so we’ve got an admission, and that is that your subconscious mind is playing a trick on you and actually you are much happier when you are working out. Stop immediately what you are doing and stand up. Go pack your gym bag and put it by the front door then place a healthy food order to be delivered to your house/work the next day; set your alarm for an hour earlier, fill your glass up with lots of water and go have a soak in the bath. Physically cleaning yourself may only be a psychological aid but it’s a cute trick to shut your subconscious devil up!

Go to bed early, feel excited, give yourself a pat on the back, you’ve broken through and tomorrow you’re going to reap the rewards. Don’t think when your alarm goes off, grab your bags and get to the gym/out on the road/your bike/your class…..its much better to get the first few sessions done first thing in the morning than after a day at work, it is less likely you will find an excuse to miss the session. Once you are back in the swing of it you can flip your times to suit you but I would suggest for at least the first week to aim for early morning sessions every time. That evening cook some healthy food, maybe even a couple of dishes to split out into Tupperware so you have some for the next few days and there is no excuse to slip. Start planning throughout the first week how you are going to attack your training and food this time, write things down, read about different training regimes. You may even want to start having a look now at what went wrong last time and put some measures in place. But don’t whatever you do BEAT YOURSELF UP!!

20 May 2017

Why setting goals is important

brightonfit training plan


There are two ways to incorporate exercise into your life. The first is as a pleasurable pastime; the idea that you get joy from using your muscles and working your heart. The second is in the pursuit of a fitness or strength related goal for example a marathon.

When you incorporate exercise into your life for pleasure you sub consciously build in the flexibility to cancel…. why? Because you can. You have no one to meet, no one to be accountable to, no frequency of attendance or measure of intensity is built in to your exercise, you simply exercise for the pure pleasure of it and lets face it there ‘aint many of us who can attest to that being very motivational!! Especially not if you are reading these pages!!

If you’re setting a goal there are some tricks to make sure you are successful. The first and most important is make sure you factor in enough time to sensibly train for your feat. It doesn’t matter how massive your goal is, if you don’t plan enough time to get there you aren’t going to get there. The next thing about goal setting is to make sure you don’t train for a goal more than 3-4 months in advance; why? Because you simply cannot stay that focused for that long. So what if my goal is massive and I need a year? Well the answer would be to break it down into 3 smaller goals each on building up to the big final goal. That way you just maintain focus for a third of a year per goal.

And finally; make sure you pick a goal that means something to you, don’t use someone else’s goals, make your own. You have to want to get to the end so bad that when its raining outside and you’ve planned your sprint session you don’t have any excuse not to get out there and do it.

31 October 2016

It’s all in your head ‘love’


Recently I was approached by a desperate friend whose daughter is overweight and about to leave home to go to University. Worried the daughter would go off the rails having left the supportive environment of her family home, we discussed her options.

Weight gain is a really tough one; both for the individual and for their loved ones. No one likes to see someone they care about becoming unhealthier, missing out on activities because they are too overweight, feeling terrible about themselves and loosing self-esteem or possibly having work issues. Added to this list and more, people stigmatise the overweight; society is conditioned to align beauty and success with slim people.

The solution, however as I explained to my friend, is not in a healthy education although this helps with the ‘rehabilitation’ part but in resolving the root of the overeating. And this is almost exclusively a head issue, which needs careful and professional (often) dissection, exposure and resolve before it can be eradicated in a way that means it won’t bounce back next time that person feels down, unloved, vulnerable or alone. Because there is a better therapy than food and that is self-love….