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!

17 April 2019

What you should know about sugar

How dietary sugar effects fitness

Sugar is the umbrella term used for natural sugar, added sugar or sugar substitute. As with any food type, eaten in excess or as part of a diet that contributes to excess will lead to weight gain. As sugar is a calorie dense food with very little in it that makes you feel full, it is easy to over consume it. Furthermore, sugars are often added to our foods without us realising. Obesity and being overweight can be a precursor to several conditions such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

So what are these sugars?

Let’s start with natural sugar: This is a form of sugar that is found in foods such as fruit which contains fructose, wheat which contains maltose, or beans which contain raffinose amongst many more. The sugar can take the form of simple or complex molecules and is often bound with proteins and fats.

Added sugars: Sugars that get added to food in manufacture in addition to ones naturally occurring. As a rule of thumb, they tend to be the type that are energy dense and nutrient poor i.e. ones that are made of small molecules and not bound to other types of nutrients. Examples include glucose, lactose, maltose, fructose, sucrose and other ingredients ending in ‘ose’

Sugar substitutes: This group of sugars include stevia, aspartame and sucralose and don’t have any calorific value. Studies have shown they can have an effect on gut bacteria and disturb metabolism.

Other substitutes like xylitol, erythritol and sorbitol are not as sweet and do have some calorific value but have been shown to have a negative effect on people who suffer with irritable bowel syndrome.

Moderating sugar intake in particular added sugars and sweeteners that come with very little additional calorific gain would be a sensible first step. Tips to reduce sugar consumption:

  • Try and save sports drinks for workouts of over 60mins only
  • Swap out flavoured yogurts for plain ones (add fresh fruit instead)
  • Swap sweetened canned fruit for natural syrup
  • Save desserts for special occasions
  • Sweeten food with mashed banana or apple sauce instead of sugar or syrup

9 April 2019

To eat workout calories back or not?

workout caloriesSo you’ve put some effort in calculating your macro nutrient requirement (macros) and you know how much you are burning in your workouts. Chances are you are looking to generate a small daily deficit in order to shift a few pounds, or you are aiming to avoid over eating. If you want help or more advice with this step please call any of our Brighton and Hove personal trainers

Your workouts will give you a few hundred calories per day to hypothetically consume (assuming they were not part of the initial calories in/out calculation). This would hold your calorie deficit at the same level that you calculated…. meaning that you could eat these calories back and still reach your goals in the same period of time.

Reasons that you should eat these calories back:

  • If your calculated macro deficit is close to 500kcals/day. Adding this deficit to the ones lost during your workout multiple times per week could put you at risk of reducing your metabolic rate (when the body senses it does not have sufficient fuel it makes changes to conserve energy such as a reduction in metabolic rate)
  • If you are hungry. All hunger is not the same! But all hunger is generated because your body is warning you its low on fuel. Hunger can be a useful tool to manipulate hormone levels that perceive levels of satiety (a key tool used in intermittent fasting), however assuming you are not fasting you should respond to your hunger signals and eat something.

On the other hand…..you may want to reconsider not eating workout calories back because studies have shown that it is common to overestimate calorie burn and underestimate calorie consumption so your calculated deficit may not be accurate.

It really comes down to what your goal is, how hard and long you are exercising for and how good your macro calculation is.

4 November 2018

‘Walking’ the Lycian way


When we booked the 4 day walk I was thinking how lovely it would be to walk the “Turquoise coast” in the autumn sunshine as a sort of chilled out break away from the impending UK frosty winter. I certainly didn’t think it would be physically challenging, but I was very wrong!!

We were given a route map by a local company who arranged for our bags to be transferred by taxi to the B and B we would walk to each day. On the face of it the walks, although reasonably long (15-20km) didn’t look too challenging, but if you add bouldering, vertical climbs, picking your way through rock gardens, sharp shards of loose shingle underfoot and about 28 degree heat to the mix it suddenly takes a whole different look!

By the end of day one (after a 7.5hour ‘walk’, a twisted ankle, lots of blisters and a few crossed words) we felt toasted and fell into bed soon after we arrived. By the morning however, and after a very plentiful fill at breakfast, the pain of the previous day wore off and we felt able to tackle day 2. This was a walk up one side of a mountain and down again the other side; total ascent = 1000metres (again!!). We missed the entrance onto the path from the village so started the day with a climb up the rock face to hack into it 2 km down the path. It was exhilarating as it was stupid really, but anyway I am not sure we were in the mood for back tracking to cover extra mileage to start the ascent in the prescribed manner! We climbed all day until about 3pm and spent a couple of hours in the afternoon coming down again, the climb although difficult was actually less painful than the treacherous descent as the gradient was so steep and the ground so poor that the knees took an absolute hammering. Queue day 3; an undulating route taking us up and down 3 peaks of 200, 500 and 300 metres respectively – another 7+ hour day which was hotter than the previous 2 but somehow as we were over half way through and acclimatised both in the temperature and psychologically not as bad as it sounded. At points we chose to swim along the coast as oppose to walk where it was feasible on this portion but on the whole the day was good, possibly the best of the lot albeit a tough one. Day 4 was relatively easy, only covering 8km in total and most of the gradient was down hill, really an amble in comparison so we took advantage with as much swimming, and photographs as possible….

The 4 days were extremely tough, our legs took a battering and the blisters are still evident; our muscles took a couple of days to recover and walking has taken on a whole new meaning to me! Before we go again (which we have already vowed to) we will definitely do some physical preparation. For these kind of walks I am planning on a couple of months of long distance hiking once or twice a week in combination with: squats, deadlifts, lunges, Bulgarian lunges, side lunges, weighted step ups, single legged squats and a few plyo exercises in like wall balls, split jumps and some mountain climbers only because they are so aptly named!

29 August 2018

A Brighton personal trainer walks around England

personal trainer brighton

Yup this is my goal! I plan to knock off chunks of the England coastal path on bank holidays and in time off until I’ve walked the whole coast. The England coastal path scheme aims to join up all existing coastal path sections with new paths by 2020. I started this project in 2016 in a relaxed format but have increased the length of trip and miles per day walked each time I’ve attacked it (mainly through fear at the scale of the task every time I go away!)

The coast path is 2800miles and I had originally wanted to add Wales coastal path bringing the total to 3670miles, although this is now under review given that in the 5 trips I have done I’ve only knocked off 200miles!!

However I do have human and canine company (see pic) which makes the whole thing much more pleasurable which is our main goal; the novelty factor for me is participating in a form of exercise that isn’t full on and focuses more on wellness and health.

Perhaps its because I’m a personal trainer in my 40’s now that this is so enjoyable, I certainly think it takes a certain mind set to chip away at something this mahoosive without wanting to run or bike sections to get to the end before I’m 50!!

And it’s been very revealing so far – coastal towns and villages attract an interesting cross section of life from the bohemian to the 2nd homeowners and everyone in between, yet across the board everyone has been welcoming and hospitable to us arriving bedraggled, sometimes soaking wet and cold or sweaty and smelly with dog in tow. Its been a real comfort to meet such a nice cross section of humanity and enjoy the beautiful land that we live on.

18 August 2018

Is the wait worth the weight?

Intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting, what is it?

There are a number of ways of achieving the same goal here but simply put this is a period of fast in your eating. Common ways of introducing a break in eating are introducing a 14-16 hour fast into a 24 hour period, whilst this may sound like a long time one way people find relatively easy to achieve this stretch is by including the 8 hours of sleep at night time into this and skipping breakfast in the morning. Other ways you may have read about are the 5:2 diet, the 24 hour fast, alternate day fasting, the warrior diet, spontaneous meal skipping and many more!…

The 5:2 diet has previously been discussed here , the 24 hour fast is tricky for a lot of people as the fast window is so big, on the alternate day fasting it is recommended to eat 500kcals on your fast day, the warrior diet proposes a period of fast during the day and feast at night, and so on…

Q: What do the marketeers promise from the results of intermittent fasting? and what do some in the fitness industry (marketeers?) promise from the results of intermittent fasting?

A: Weight loss and improved athletic performance respectively


Firstly throw away anything you read that promises you anything, you want to read only information backed by peer reviewed scientific study; this will ensure you receive objective, unbiased information not motivated by your cash. You will be offered statistics to prove or disprove a hypothesis made in the publication followed by a conclusion based on the stats, i.e. simply offered the scientific results.

We often hear from people that there is too much confusing and conflicting information out there, this is because you are reading information from the wrong source! The majority of people writing online are doing so because they are making a living doing so and therefore need to influence you!.A good place to start if you do not have access to scientific papers through a university is Google scholar. Fortunately I do have access to a University library (I am completing my doctorate as we speak!) and have filtered out some relevant papers on this subject to clarify the debate:

The subject of weight loss as a result of intermittent fasting (IF) is inconclusive. Testing hundreds of fasting protocols across many species in many research groups has not led to the guaranteed weight loss solution that is punted by get rich quick marketeers. The weight loss results from IF are no better than the results from calorie restriction and have actually been shown to increase sleep disturbance and reduce concentration/accuracy result when tested with patients in a Ramadan fasting study (similar to the warrior diet). What this means is that whilst you may lose weight as a result of IF it may not be directly due to the metabolic and hormonal changes that IF induces, instead probably being the results of a reduction in overall calorie intake.

Reducing your overall calorie intake has been proven scientifically to reduce weight, however this is only maintained long term under certain conditions for example; reducing calorie intake (generating a calorie deficit) by a small amount (a percentage of your daily BMI is usually the way we calculate this) over the medium term, ensuring you still hit your daily macro nutrient split (although varying these is reputed to have effects on satiety, which we will discuss in another post) and then gradually increasing your calories after the period of deficit. These results will be maximised with a balanced exercise program, but significantly the weight loss gains you make have been proven to be best in those who engage in regular exercise after the period of calorie deficit as well as during.

What the studies do agree on with IF, however, is that of gut health improvements leading to lifespan extension, it ameliorates the clinical course and pathology of Multiple sclerosis (MS) and can counteract other disease processes, has profound beneficial effects on many different indices of health, can improve functional outcome in a wide range of age-related disorders including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancers and neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease Parkinson’s disease and stroke. All due to a cascade of reactions related to the gut flora changes.

So that’s the science. Now you make up your own mind

31 July 2018

Macro’s 101

online macronutrients

You’ll hear this term a lot if you read anything to do with food and balance; in the fitness industry we use it in the same way as they do in the nutritional industry. Which is to say that a diet is made up of macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients, or macro’s are your carbohydrates, fats and proteins whereas micronutrients are your vitamins and minerals.

In biochemistry a macronutrient is any substance such as carbon, hydrogen or oxygen that is required by the body in relatively large amounts and it is the same in botany (plants) for nitrogen, hydrogen or phosphorus.

Macro, from the Greek makros, means large and so we use it to describe fuels that are required in large amounts by the body.

Carbohydrates, fats and proteins are made up from molecules and these in turn are made up from atoms of carbon, hydrogen or oxygen in different combinations. It is how these atoms are put together and with what bonds between them that determines their function in the body. Essentially, the break down of molecules releases energy and this energy is used by the body to function.

The body operates a priority system whereby the first source of energy is derives is from the glucose circulating in the blood. This is a small molecule that is easily accessible and easily broken down to be used for energy, however there is only a certain amount of circulating glucose one can store in ones blood and so the body then must turn to its second choice. This usually happens after about 20mins of aerobic exercise and is one of the key factors we consider when, as online personal trainers or Brighton personal trainers, we are creating weight loss plans for clients. Because what happens next is crucial; the body looks for its next favourite energy source and as a result of prior planning it is able to accesses the molecules of fat it has stored for just these occasions.

These are converted to glucose to be used for energy, in fact the number one goal of the body is to serve the brain with energy so this is the first place the body will check if it needs fuelling. In an exercise session the energy will quickly then be directed to the working muscles via the pumping blood flow to ensure they can keep operating at the level needed.

So that’s it in a nutshell! If you have any questions about any of this or anything else just drop us a line as usual…

30 May 2018

Food and Exercise made simple

food and exercise

What if you could combine the services of an expert in nutrition and dietetics; someone who could take account of your personal food likes and dislikes, who understood your work routine and time restrictions and could plan all 3 meals a day for you – down to the gram!

….Along with an expert in health and fitness; someone who could plan an exercise regime for you whilst noting your biomechanics and fitness levels, who considered your injuries and body type along with your exercise loves and hates.

Not just people who have gone off and done weekend courses or online training but genuine experts who have spent years studying and working with people like you. Who understand how you tick, when yes means no and when to push and when to give you space. People who actually like people, people who have learned as much in their academic pursuit as they have in clinics and studios around the world. Experts in their fields who give talks, seminars, teach and train others and who are quite rightly highly respected.

What if these people talked to each other, altered their prescription for you based on your feedback and response. What if they incrementally pushed you along a clear and planned path whilst continually communicating with you and listening to your wants each step of the way?

Would you fall of the wagon then? Would ya? Well would ya?


But what if those same people picked you up, helped you dust yourself off and provided a push up back onto the wagon, without pressure, without patronising you but instead with a very fair, kind and firm hand until you were well seated and gently started nudging you along again.

Would that work for you? Would it give you the boost to get your own drive back? Could it buy you the precious… oh so precious time you need to sleep/think/plan/catch up/take control/ and eventually walk, head tall away from them in control, with all the confidence in the world?


Well what’s stopping you?

Here you go: https://brightonfit.co.uk/weight-loss/



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!!