Everyone who knows me knows I love fitness. I’m obsessed with the gym. I work out five times a week and love running, weight training, spin classes… My thirteen-year-old PE detesting self would be shocked at this statement, but when it comes to keeping fit I’ll give anything a go! But one thing I’d never really considered was getting a personal trainer, and I’m not really sure why.
I guess the main concern was money. Personal training sessions can be expensive, and as I’ve only been working full-time for about 18 months, with rent and bills to pay, I wasn’t sure I could afford it. The second was that admittedly I was a bit nervous about it; the thought of having someone shouting at me as I trained just didn’t seem appealing. And the third, in my local gym there is a serious lack of female PTs. This number has increased in the past few weeks though, which is great, but I guess I thought I’d be more comfortable training with a gal than a guy.
However, 2018 for me is all about pushing myself and my body, and building my body confidence, so when Jon from Lifesmart Fitness asked if I wanted to sign up to a training plan* at my local PureGym in Cardiff Central I decided it was time to give it a go.
I signed up for 8 weeks of training sessions with Jon and my goals were simple. I wanted to tone my back and core, grow my booty, and generally wanted to shift a little bit of weight. I also wanted to become more confident in the weights area. Being amongst those groaning, pumped up guys lifting weights, their eyes popping out of their heads as they try to squeeze in one more rep, wasn’t really something I felt comfortable with, especially as I was lifting a mere 3kg in an attempt to keep any bingo wings at bay.
We decided on two weekly sessions, which I would fit in alongside my half marathon training and spin classes, Jon gave me nutritional guidance and a plan on My Fitness Pal, and I was instructed to aim for at least 10,000 steps outside of the gym a day. We had 8 weeks before my holiday to Majorca to get in shape, not a lot of time in the grand scheme of transformations, but it’s safe to say the changes have been amazing.
Jon created a training plan which consisted of two workouts, Workout A and Workout B. I would usually train on a Tuesday and Thursday and would take Wednesdays off in between. He explained that it was important to rest in between my weights workouts, in order for the muscles to repair themselves. However, during the weeks where I had shoots on the weekends I would do a spin class on a Wednesday to loosen up my legs. Once I did a HIIT class on a Wednesday between my workouts. BIG mistake – it really impacted upon Thursdays session, so I made sure to give myself a day off where I could.
The sessions were pretty consistent. I would do a short warm up, approximately 4-5 minutes on the cross trainer, and then would start on legs. Again, I’d warm them up on the squat rack by doing some body weight squats before adding weight and from there the session would begin. Workouts A and B were different, but they’d both start with the legs and then we’d move on to back and shoulder exercises, before squeezing in some abs. I would do 3 rounds of each exercise, with about 12 reps of each. Jon would judge whether I could squeeze in more reps if he felt I had the energy, and with each week that went by, my technique improved and I would either lift heavier weights, or would lift more reps. It was a gradual improvement each time.
After 4 weeks, Jon mixed up the training plan. He started to introduce “super sets” where I would do a round of one weights exercise (about 12 reps), immediately followed by another weights exercise (about 12 reps), before taking a rest. This would help to work on different muscles in the same part of the body, and I’ll be honest when I say it was pretty tough going. However, Jon was always encouraging and would always insist I think strong and complete the set I was given.
We used a My PT Hub App to track my progress. Jon would make a note on his iPad each session with which weight I used and how many reps I did. I also had the workouts there so I could follow the plans myself if I wanted to (I did a lot of the exercises I could with the equipment I had on holiday) and it was great to see the difference.
It’s safe to say, I absolutely loved the sessions. I’m a cardio kind of gal, and I’ll be honest when I say that I didn’t leave the gym having sweat as much as I would have done if I’d been running or if I went to a spin class, but that’s just the beauty of weight training. And I wish I had started getting into it sooner. Lifting weights is absolutely key to toning up and getting in shape, and now I’m pretty much addicted! I think there’s always an impression with girls that lifting weights is going to leave us looking like Arnold Schwarznegger, but that’s definitely not the case, and I don’t think girls should be afraid to lift in the gym. Half of the time, our technique is better than the guys’!
The sessions were cool, calm and collected (there’s definitely no shouting from Jon!), and the changes I have seen in my body have been insane. My waist has shrunk, I finally have muscle definition on my back. My legs are more toned, as are my arms and shoulders. And then biggest difference has to be how much my ass has grown, and how much firmer it is. See the pictures in the results section below which were taken at the start of week 1 and just after week 8…
The first thing that Jon got me into was My Fitness Pal. We agreed a set of calories I should stick to a day (I won’t list it here as everyone is different) and we went from there. I eat pretty well anyway; cereal is my weakness but when it comes to sweets, chocolate and crisps, I can happily avoid these if needed and do my best to do so. He told me to try and eat protein for breakfast and to fill my plates with veggies, protein and a small dash of carbs after training. Although I found it difficult during the working week, I stuck to this as best I could, making smarter choices and trying to cut down on snacks and sweet stuff.
One thing Jon really highlighted was that working out and being on a training programme should be enjoyable. It’s all about balance, and I’ll be honest and say I had a slice of chocolate cake when there was a birthday in the office, I ate curly fries and chicken nuggets when I went to a festival, and I chose a large pizza over a salad when out for food with the girls. Of course, I did have the odd treat here and there. But for the most part I made healthier choices, my stomach was flatter and enjoyed feeling less bloated and sluggish.
I think the one thing I probably could have worked harder on during the 8 week programme was watching what I ate. Had I strictly followed a diet plan then I probably would have seen an even bigger improvement, but I did my best to ensure I was eating more healthily and I definitely noticed a difference in doing so. Now that I’ve been away to Majorca I’m planning to get back into training and definitely want to focus more on nutrition from here on.
CHANGING YOUR LIFESTYLE
I’m pretty health concious anyway, and this year I vowed to get back into the mindset I was in about 3 years ago, where I was completely focused on my health and fitness. It’s been great to have these PT sessions to keep me on track with that, and combining weight training with my half marathon running prep has left me looking and feeling better than I have done in years.
I think the best thing about being on a PT programme is that your lifestyle adapts and changes to ensure you’re looking after yourself. From the start of my 8 week stint, Jon emphasised how important it was to rest. This meant taking days off the gym (something I admittedly struggled with at times – I just love working out haha!), getting plenty of sleep (something I definitely didn’t struggle with), and making sure I didn’t overdo it and burn the candle at both ends.
I found that I was choosing to spend my time so differently. I went out for drinks about three times during the course of the programme, and then I was ensuring I got home at a reasonable time and often I was opting to stay in and get an early night ready to train the next day, instead of accepting offers to go out clubbing.
I also walked far more. I made a concious effort to get to 10.000 steps each day, and I would track my progress and make myself get up and get moving. I think the extra walking and being mindful of how long I spend sat down at a desk ech day helped my overall progress. My weekends were spent in the sun, eating well and making sure to get lots of walking in to make up for the days in the week spent sat in the office. I definitely felt more energised and more focused, and lifting heavier weights more often left me feeling pretty pumped, and my mind was far less frazzled.
So. here we have it. After eight weeks of hard work and dedication I can say I’m feeling slimmer, more confident and just generally better than I have in so, so long. I feel like I’ve definitely achieved one of my 2018 goals in that I’ve got back into the groove when it comes to working out, eating well and looking after my body. Admittedly I had been working hard in the gym since Christmas time, but that extra boost in those 8 weeks of training with Jon really has had an impact.
The pictures say it all really, but I have definitely seen a huge improvement on my shoulders and the top of my arms. My back is finally looking toned, and I’ve managed to work on those areas just above my bra strap on my back that would often overhang. This was a particular area of concern I had, so it was great to see these become firmer.
My core is feeling more defined (not so much now after a holiday but it’s time to get back into it!) and I do feel as though I’ve developed more of an hour glass shape. I really want to work on this more when my sessions with Jon start back up again next month.
Finally, the biggest change of all has to be how much my bum has grown. I always thought it was pretty big anyway but the squats, glute bridges and lunges definitely made a huge difference. I actually can’t believe how big the change is in just 8 weeks. The only downside is that I no longer fit into a lot of last summer’s skirts and shorts – but a little summer spending never hurt anybody!
It’s safe to say that I absolutely loved having a PT. It was eye opening, and seeing the difference in my back, stomach and how my bum has grown definitely spurred me on to keep going and to work hard on my nutrition and movement outside of the gym. I’ve had to take a short break, due to going on holiday and having lots of shoots with work, but I am planning on taking up my training sessions with Jon again at the end of this month and I already cannot wait to get back into it.
This time the main focus will definitely be my core and back. I want to focus more on my nutrition too as I definitely could have pushed myself more in that area, but, as Jon said, it’s all about balance and I wanted to enjoy my sessions and didn’t want it to impact upon my lifestyle too much. This time though, now that life has settled down a little, I want to give it my all and I’m already excited to see where the next 8 weekes take me.
For me, seeing the progress and change in my body since working out with Jon has really boosted my self-confidence. This was the first time on holiday that I felt confident enough to take a bikini photo.
LOOKING FOR A PT YOURSELF
If you’re thinking of signing yourself up to a training regime with a personal trainer then I would definitely recommend it, but under two conditions. The first is that you have to commit. There’s no point in putting the work in in the gym, if you’re going to go out drinking every weekend or will spend the rest of the week lazing around. You have to put the work in, and have to give it your all, or you won’t see results. It’s as simple as that.
And secondly, you need to find a PT that works for you. Jon knew exactly what I wanted to achieve from my programme and he planned it so I would do just that. He squeezed my sessions in on weekends and on late evenings when I was busy, and also worked around my hectic filming schedule to ensure I completed two weekly sessions. Plus, the sessions were always relaxed and fun. I always looked forward to them and am eager to get back in action!
If you’re based in Cardiff or South Wales and want to get in touch with Jon you can find him on Instagram and Facebook. He also does Online Coaching, so you can complete your sessions in your own gym and consult with Jon via Skype. Definitely worth it if you’re a busy bee!
Have you ever thought of getting a PT?
Lots of love. xoxo