1. How did you get started in the industry?
I suppose you could say I was always pretty sports oriented before getting into personal training. I had a flatmate that was a student Personal Trainer (PT) that used me as a practice client when he was studying. Doing that got me inspired to try it out, and so I decided to take the same course, which was a Diploma in Sport & Exercise Leadership (specialising in Exercise Prescription & Personal Training at Otago Polytechnic). Once qualified, I was offered a position at CityFitness Moorhouse in Christchurch. So I took that job opportunity and have been working there for over two years now.
2. What's your number of training days per week?
First and foremost my sporting passion is Squash. So my training differs depending on whether it's in-season or off-season.
During the squash season, all my sessions are focused around that, so I have two Canterbury group training's per week and three solo practice sessions. In between that I also incorporate two strength and conditioning trainings per week. I'll then play three tournaments a month, with three games over three days.
In the off-season, my primary goal is strength and size, which is another hobby of mine. I will primarily do six 1-2 hour strength trainings per week, in which I will focus on overall full-body strength and size, using functional training.
3. What has training taught you outside of health and fitness?
Multiple things carry over from my work life to my personal life. Being a PT has helped with one on one personal interactions and further developed my social skills. It's also helped with building rapport with people, allowing me to find common ground more easily. As well as that, it's influenced me to be a genuine down to earth person, something you can’t fake that in the industry and strengthened my empathy towards understanding others’ point of view.
Regarding training, discipline is the main with that sticks out. But also patience, with things like injuries, muscle development, etc. Just generally not getting too frustrated with anything you come across in life. Time management in particular as well, I have to get up early in the morning to meet clients before they go to work and also when they finish work, so I'll generally get back late at night.
Lastly, being flexible, like if something changes with a client (may have an injury etc.). Being able to quickly figure out what to train and how to do it based on circumstances (with the gym being busy, equipment being used etc.).
4. If you could only do one exercise the rest of your life, what would it be?
Squats hands down, as they’re by far the most functional exercise you can do. Not just back squats as well, every variation: Overhead, Front, Goblet, Zercher, bodyweight, plyometric (e.g. jumping squats). It benefits every part of the body.
5. Best advice for starters?
Be consistent, and build the habit. Doing it by yourself is the worst, but if that’s all you have then do it. You should commit to at least three months of 3-4 times per week. Even if you think it’s not for you, it’s a necessary part of people's lives to be consistently active in some way.
6. What supplements do you recommend?
Whey & Casein protein, BCAAs, Omega 3s, Magnesium, Glucosamine, Super greens powder (to get the micronutrients I miss). Also starting to use nootropics as well to help with training and running my business. I find it makes being motivated a whole lot easier.
7. The most common fault you’ll notice when people workout?
Lack of intensity in their workout. Get off your phone. Just because you’re inside the gym doesn’t mean you’re improving your fitness.
8. How important is nutrition to your training?
Nutrition is important to me, but I believe in balanced nutrition (like flexible dieting). What’s the point if you can’t enjoy a meal or beer etc. It’s a balance of enjoyment and discipline. That’s what Golden Mean Fitness (my business) is to me.
9. Do you recommend any recovery tools?
Yes, a lot. A good diet for one, and self-myofascial release – which can include foam rolling, trigger point therapy, self-massage, etc. Mobility training – ability to work through a full range of motion through any function. Good sleep, meditation – for mental recovery. Hot-cold therapy – for sports performance and recovery.
10. Best training regimen in your opinion?
Considering my business is focused on balanced training of all components of fitness, then it would only be fair to say that the ideal method to me would be CrossFit – even though I don’t do CrossFit. Functional training with a balanced approach for overall health and fitness. There’s a reason why CrossFit got so big in the time that it did.
11. Favourite quote/philosophy?
Quote for beginners: “Do not wait until the conditions are perfect to begin. Beginning makes the conditions perfect.”
Philosophy: It’s better to create something that others criticise, then to create nothing and criticise others.
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 doesn’t. There’s a huge misconception surrounding resistance training with women. Women often avoid resistance training under the impression that they will get bulky. However, it is proven that women don’t have sufficient levels of testosterone and growth hormone to provide higher levels of hypertrophy. Women doing high levels of steady state cardio is often ineffective, as it burns little fat while doing it and doesn’t increase metabolic activity outside of the session to provide body composition change.
13. Lastly, how important is flexibility in your training?
Right up there as one of the most important components of training. If you can’t access a full range of motion in a functional movement pattern (e.g. squat), then you’re not harnessing the full benefits of that movement.
Thomas Cooper is an award-winning Personal Trainer at CityFitness Moorhouse in Christchurch. He prides himself on the ability to cater to all individual's fitness needs. If you're in the Christchurch area and would like to get in contact with him, you can call or email him via the details listed below.
(EDIT: email address is firstname.lastname@example.org)