The Professionals Perspective - Shayna Cuff

1.   How did you get started in the industry?

I began studying at the Otago Polytechnic sports institute in Sports Management and Coaching. After attaining my qualification, I moved up to Christchurch and got a job selling memberships at a local gym, but I found out pretty quickly that I’d much rather train clients. I've always had an active background (with sport and fitness etc.). I enjoy helping people and making people happy, so it was an easy transition into personal training.

2.    What's your number of training days per week?

5-6 per week, generally aiming for 6. I start with strength training at the beginning of the week; then build up to more volume towards the end of the week.

3.    What has training taught you outside of health and fitness?

Discipline is the big one. Work schedule, nutrition, training; you must have discipline in all of these areas in order to achieve massive success. Patience as well – knowing that good things take time, you just have to trust the process.

4.    If you could only do one exercise the rest of your life, what would it be?

All the variations of squat – squat thrusts, front, back, etc. It's the most functional exercise, it incorporates a deadlift as well you know, so you’re basically working everything.

5.    Best advice for starters?

Don’t complicate it, just keep it simple. Start off light, then build from it and always trust the process.

6.    What supplements do you recommend?

Whey protein, BCAAs, and a good multi-vitamin.

Shayna Cuff PT

7.    The most common fault you’ll notice when people workout?

Working in a gym, you come to realise that there are two types of females: one that spends all their time on cardio machines, and the other that does high reps on just one machine.

Another big fault you'll see is people not having rest days. A lot of clients think training every day is okay. However, recovery is just as important as training.

8.    How important is nutrition to your training?

Very important - it can be the be all and end all of your training. However, I believe in the 80/20 rule. Eating whole foods (vegetables, eggs, etc.) 80% of the time, and then still being flexible enough to be able to eat out now and then and socialise with friends without feeling guilty.

9.    Do you recommend any recovery tools?

I recommend stretching, foam rolling, doing dynamic movements before working out that muscle(s). Hot-cold therapy is good as well.

10.    Best training regimen in your opinion?
In my opinion, the CrossFit philosophy. The higher intensity (AMRAPs, Tabata, EMOMs, etc.) training that the general public is more than capable of doing. It gets them out of their general workout routine. Spending an hour on the treadmill is a waste when you can get the same effect from a 10min AMRAP.

11.    Favourite quote/philosophy?

If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. 

12.    There’s always a common myth to female training that women will stick to a cardio dominant regime for their fitness. Can you explain if or how your approach changes when training a female client, as opposed to a male client?

It all depends on the individual. 80% of my clients I’ve got to be more gentle on (in terms of strength training etc.). However, all in all, my approach doesn’t really change.

13.    Lastly, how important is flexibility in your training?

You’ve got to be flexible to do anything, concerning mobility. Therefore I would say it’s of vital importance. Some of my clients are extremely inflexible, particularly older males, so I’ll spend time focusing mobility and movement patterns before chucking any load on at all.


Shayna Cuff is a qualified Personal Trainer at SnapFitness Rolleston. As well as being a PT, Shayna has also competed in powerlifting competitions, placing 1st in her age group in the 57kg weight class at the Canterbury Provincial Championships in 2016.

For more tips and advice on fitness or to get in touch, you can reach Shayna on her Facebook page, or Instagram listed below.

Facebook: Shayna Cuff Personal Training
Instagram: @shaynapaigecuff

Leave a comment