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Why 'hacks' usually don't make a difference...

Posted on 2 November 2020
Why 'hacks' usually don't make a difference...


So hot right now (or for the last 5 years or so).

In case you've been living under a rock for the last few years, to 'hack' something probably generates images of a rakish tech-geek finding a clever shortcut into some sort of computer system to make it do what he wants. In that sense the new-age iteration of a hack is pretty similar, except people are now attempting to use new 'science' and technology to hack to improve some aspect of their bodies.
Now, I'm not going to outline the myriad of complex differences between a computer from the 80s and the modern human person, I wouldn't know where to begin. But one fundamental difference is that those attempting to hack human biology expect a 1-5% adjustment to fix 95% of their problems.

Moving your healthy snacks to the middle shelf at home won't make a difference if you eat out for most of your meals.

A glass of apple cider vinegar each morning won't negate those 3 glasses of Merlot the night before.

An Apple watch can't count your steps if there aren't any.

Nowadays people are so used to having instant access to whatever they want that their patience and understanding of hard work and delayed gratification has atrophied (or never developed). They are often so quick to outsource responsibility for their health and well-being to other people, apps, and brands instead of looking inward and addressing an attitude, behaviour, or mindset that usually needs to be adjusted.

The reality is that many of us live in relative abundance, where we want for nothing and our surrounding environment allows us to live well (whether we recognise and appreciate it or not).
We want our cake and to eat it too, but refuse to accept that our health and well being is the consequence of the total sum of our actions, not just those actions we want to acknowledge.

So there is definitely some merit to certain 'hacks', but unless you're already doing the important things really well, your time, money and effort would be better spent exploring the bigger components of your daily life.

Hope it helps

Posted in: Premier Fitness Collective Bio Hacks Personal Trainer Aaron Shepherd  

How can I stay on track during the silly season?

Posted by Aaron Shepherd on 28 October 2020
How can I stay on track during the silly season?

With less than 8 weeks to go until Xmas, it may seem like the walls are closing rapidly on any remaining goals for the year. After all, 8 weeks isn't much, and despite your best intentions to finish 2020 like a monk, you are probably noticing that everyday another Xmas party or end of year event is added to your diary. As such, here are a couple of reality checks that need to be considered as 2021 comes knockin'.

1. More partying has never equalled faster or better results. Sorry.

2. It takes the average human physiology 4-5 days to fully recover from a night of heavy drinking.

BUT all is not lost. There are ways that you can ensure these last few weeks are winners.

1. Pick a performance goal for the last few weeks

Use the last few weeks to focus solely on getting as strong as you can. The intake aspect of weight management can be challenging at the best of times, so shift your focus toward something that is usually more forgiving in terms of rest periods and 'calories in', like getting stronger.

2. Be more selective with your party choices

It's easy to lose track of time in the dark of the night, so lean towards events that start earlier in the day so that even if you're inebriated you're more likely to realise how long you've been at it. Hopefully your social conscience will remind you that it's not ok to be s***faced on a playground at 2pm in the afternoon.

3. Try new activities with an 'Accountabili-buddy'

'Misery loves company' is one way to look at this idea, but people are more than 85% more likely to achieve a goal if they have a clearly defined accountability buddy. So with Xmas parties comin'-a-calling, there's no time like the present for you and friend to distract each other with some more productive new activities.

4. Train lighter, but more often

If your current training structure is geared toward near-crippling yourself 3 days a week in the search for ultimate fatigue, try adding an extra day or two and reducing the overall training load per session. If you're boozing more than usual, two training sessions at 65% is much more beneficial (and safer) for weight management and overall health than trying to grind out your usual session at 85% while you're not at your best. If you're a bit dusty, rolling out of bed for some light weights and cross trainer is much more manageable than a hectic spin class.

5. Set a group challenge with family and friends

Chances are each and every one of your friends and family have a goal or two they're trying to tick off before December 24th, so try setting up some sort of 'big reveal' competition within the group that you'll be spending Xmas lunch or dinner with. Friendly competition of any kind can be a great motivator, especially if you know you'll all be 'breaking the seal' together afterwards.

I hope this gives you some ideas about how to make these last few weeks count.

So let's finish the year with a bang, and set things up for a powerful 2021.
Posted in: Premier Fitness Collective Personal Trainer  

When should I ditch my Personal Trainer?

Posted by Aaron Shepherd on 22 September 2020
When should I ditch my Personal Trainer?

Short answer: until they are no longer facilitating your improvement effectively.

Given that the nature of the trainer-client relationship will usually evolve from 'strictly business' to 'friendly interaction' over time, this is a bit of a dicey one, but there are 3 definitive signs that your relationship with your trainer may have run its course:

1. You're not progressing

Be mindful of how deep you are into any given stage of training before kicking your trainer to the curb, but if you have been doing the same thing for 16 weeks and you haven't seen any improvement, at the very least you should make time to discuss this plateau with your trainer, and don't let them leave until you're happy that they've given you a sufficient explanation, not just danced around the issue..

2. Your trainer seems disinterested

No one ever does anything well if their heart's not in it. Trainer engagement, organisation, and enthusiasm (or a lack thereof) are hugely important indicators of how well your professional relationship is working. A trainer that doesn't properly engage with you is going to miss important cues and information, and be unable to offer constructive feedback.

3. You haven't set clear goals

If you can't explain explicitly what you're working towards and why, then your trainer has missed a crucial step early on in your time working together. At all times both trainer and client alike should be able to confidently say what the short, mid, and long-term goals are so that both can be held accountable, making it easier to specify each person's roles.

Remember, these are signs that your trainer's standards are slipping, but they may be dealing with some problems of their own, so it's always best to take stock of these 3 things and then raise your concerns in a calm, assertive way.

Find a personal trainer that will that will be interested in helping you achieve your goals with Premier Fitness.

Posted in: Premier Fitness Collective Personal Trainer Aaron Shepherd  

Which personal trainer is best for me?

Posted by Aaron Shepherd on 2 September 2020
Which personal trainer is best for me?

It can be a tricky and often blind process choosing a Personal Trainer.

'Try before you buy' isn't usually an option, and as such the decision to seek help with your wellness goals is usually accompanied by equal-parts enthusiasm, optimism, and nervousness. The first two are understandable; you know what you want to achieve and you are eager to get started, but you are also about to enter into a new 'contract', with someone you may have only seen on Instagram or a website, or walking around your gym.

Choose the right trainer, and he or she may genuinely turn your life around and become integrated in your life forever.

Choose the wrong trainer, and it won't be long before your interactions become an awkward, hour-long waste of time and money.

Of course these are at opposite ends of the spectrum, but before you charge abs-first towards the nearest 'Influencer' or gym buff there are 5 key points that will help ensure you have the tools you need to confidently choose a suitable personal trainer.

Rule 1: Know what you want

Like any contract or relationship, if you don't have a clear idea of what you want from it it is hard to set parameters or gauge progress, let alone gauge the performance of either party. Be as direct and concise as you would with a taxi driver or tattooist. And don't just offer a conservative cliched goal for the sake of getting started. If what you really want is to tone up and look better, don't say you want to "get healthier" or "improve your fitness" because the former will involve interventions or changes that are not related to weight loss at all, and the latter is entirely performance based, not intrinsically tied to being slimmer.

Remember, this process should be a fun one, so if you only have a very general idea about what you want to achieve take the time to narrow it down before you start your PT search. Having a clear, honest vision of what you want will help avoid disappointment at review time, and create accountability for you both.

Rule 2: Know what to look for

If it is possible for you to anonymously observe a potential trainer working with another client, it will teach you more about them than any website, blog, or consultation. If they appear organised, attentive (especially when out of the client's eye-line), and engaging it is a great sign. Conversely, if he or she keeps checking the clock or their phone, or if either person seems disinterested, bored, or disengaged then continue your search elsewhere.

If observing isn't an option, at your first meeting arrive slightly early and take note of how the trainer engages with other people before and after your meeting. Once the consultation begins this is your opportunity to learn as much about each other as you can, so make sure the trainer is focused on you and not distracted by their phone or things and people around them. They should be listening carefully, asking for clarification of certain things, and taking notes (unless this has been done in advance), and allow them to challenge you on certain points and probe deeper into your goals or motivations.

In my experience physical presentation (looking good) is usually a good way to see if someone practices good habits, but it should never be your primary consideration for choosing a trainer. Just because someone has successfully completed a "transformation" or is below 10% body fat does not mean they can coach or motivate someone else to do the same. This is how some people stumble into the industry and while it might eventually result in quality trainer, this is not the norm.

Rule 3: Know what to ask

There will be certain things that you will only learn about each other as time progresses. More often than not, this is an enjoyable aspect of the growing dynamic and is usually more personal than training-specific, but once you have settled on your training goals, there a few questions you should ask a prospective trainer at the outset:

  • "Is there a specific style or approach to training that you think I should use?"
  • "Do you think my goals are specific or realistic enough?"
  • "How and when will we be measuring my progress?"
  • "What is your approach to the non-training aspects of my goals (i.e. recovery, nutrition)?"
  • "Are you able to design my full goals programme for me?"
  • "Is there any industry reading, podcasts, or audiobooks you could recommend?"

Any trainer worth their salt should be able to answer most of these questions in their sleep, so if they can't then you might be better off finding someone else.

Rule 4: Know the relationship

If by now you know what you want and have found a trainer that fits your needs then you are ready to begin. Hopefully you made your own notes during the initial meeting and have a clear agreement as to what services and resources you will receive, thus eliminating 99% of the guesswork and creating accountability for you both.

As mentioned earlier, the relationship between trainer and client develops over time. Like work colleagues or teammates, or anyone you spend time with regularly, it is natural for your relationship to grow and for you to become more at ease with each other. Time between sets is usually spent discussing politics or sharing stories of life outside of training, and as common interests emerge you may find yourself a lot more comfortable. Your gradual willingness to confide more freely is often useful for a trainer trying to identify underlying motivations for certain goals, but this transition to a form of budding friendship needs to be tempered with a certain amount of caution.

If the relationship between client and trainer becomes too relaxed and the waters become muddied, things can begin to dissolve. The trainer can get lazy and start to see you more as a 'mate' than a paying client, and his or her performance and organisation may start to slip. On the other hand, you might start skipping sessions, ignoring the 24 hour cancellation policy, feel less inclined to pay on time (or at all), or begin to ignore their advice as you no longer see them as a person of relative authority.

You are both responsible for monitoring and maintaining the dynamic of your relationship and must respect your original agreement and terms of service.

Rule 5: Know what to expect

Even if you have set rock-solid goals, found a great trainer, and have steely determination, there are other considerations you should also keep in mind.

Firstly, things won't happen overnight and it won't always be smooth sailing. Results are only ever dramatic if you manage to absolutely nail each component of intake (nutrition, fluids), recovery (sleep, rest days, lighter training days), and exercise (scheduled, passive) so bare in mind that while your PT might be able to offer advice in one or more of these three areas, they cannot enforce things outside of your training sessions so much of the responsibility falls with you. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink (or not drink) if you're not there.

From the PT's perspective you are a completely blank slate. They do not know you outside of the consult so it will take time for them to fully understand what you're capable of, what you can handle, and what they can safely prescribe. You might be used to doing interval training 6 days per week, but allow a few sessions for them to safely 'feel you out' before you demand harder, heavier circuits everyday.

The PT may direct you to do things you have never done before that aren't easy initially, but growth comes from challenging yourself so have faith that your trainer has designed your training well and follow their instructions to the best of your ability. If something causes you unusual or unexpected physical pain always let your trainer know, and you are by all means entitled to ask the trainer how whatever you are doing benefits your long term goals.

If you plan on using these rules to help guide your trainer selection process, they are not intended as a list of strict deal-breaking guidelines to be forced on a potential trainer, they are meant to help you understand and navigate the transition with confidence, and think more about the process. If you are a PT reading this hopefully it somewhat mirrors your own process, and if not hopefully it provided you with some food for thought.

Either way, I hope it helped.

Posted in: Premier Fitness Collective Personal Trainer Aaron Shepherd  

1-on-1 vs Group Personal Training

Posted by Aaron Shepherd on 2 September 2020
1-on-1 vs Group Personal Training

When investigating your local personal training landscape you are often presented with two main options: 1-on-1 or small group personal training. They are both prevalent in most cities, each with their own advantages, and a good analogy for comparing them is to think of it like working directly with a tutor vs being a part of a small classroom, and there are a few key 'pros' to both formats.

1-on-1 Personal Training

1. You will have the undivided focus and attention of the trainer.

2. It is much easier to learn more techincal exercises.

3. The trainer can give you, the only client, direct feedback and cues about your performance.

4. There is a much greater potential for session content flexibility when you are training on your own.

5. You'll spend the entire sessions focusing solely on your own specific needs.

Small group training

1. You will build a community through the shared experience of hard work

2. Motivational stories of other people's success will act as a visceral tool for your to aspire to.

3. More attendees equals more people encouraging you and pushing you to complete each task.

4. As new and interesting training ideas are implememented you are able to learn from and observe other people

5. The bigger your crew, the more people there are that expect you to be at each training session.

So whether you're a shy guy that wants to rehab a knee reconstrustion, a lively lady that is all about the lunges and lols, or anywhere in between, I hope these quick pointers help you choose wisely.



Posted in: Premier Fitness Collective Personal Trainer Group training Aaron Shepherd  
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