FITNESS BLOG: Four week journey with a personal trainer

PUBLISHED: 19:13 08 June 2019 | UPDATED: 19:13 08 June 2019

Beth Sharp with personal trainer Elena at LED Leisure Centre in Honiton.

Beth Sharp with personal trainer Elena at LED Leisure Centre in Honiton.


Have you ever thought about getting a personal trainer (PT) to help you reach a goal? I have thought about it and then put myself off because of money, time or just any excuse I can find not to exercise really.

Beth Sharp at LED Leisure Centre in Honiton.Beth Sharp at LED Leisure Centre in Honiton.

My preconception of a PT was someone that liked to torture their clients. So when I was offered the chance to try out having a PT on a four week trial I was, needless to say, a little anxious - when I met Elena I was however pleasantly surprised to find I couldn't have been more wrong.

For the next month I will be working with Elena at LED Honiton Leisure Centre, in School Lane. I'll be doing two-hour long PT session and one class a week, and blogging my journey along the way.

During my first session, we spoke about what my aims would be for the month - they were to lose half a stone and do one full press-up (my upper body strength is non-existent).

As I hadn't really done a lot of exercise, Elena started me off gently and has been working me up slowly - it's hard and I have been a little sore the next day but nowhere near like what imagined. I have really enjoyed learning from Elena and the importance of looking after the body and the mind and the role exercise plays in that.

Beth Sharp at LED Leisure Centre in Honiton. Beth Sharp at LED Leisure Centre in Honiton.

What I found really interesting was that PTs don't just work with people wanting to get fit. They do a lot of rehabilitation work and work with people for a variety of reasons. This includes working with people recovering from cancer or operations, professional athletes, people training for an event, people with illnesses, like high blood pressure, that have been referred by a GP and people wanting to learn how to exercise for the first time, as well as so many more.

I have always been a bit of a yo-yo dieter, so I was interested to know the common mistakes people made when trying to lose weight - I discovered this was stress, lack of sleep, diet and not relaxing enough - things I'm all guilty of.

Elena said sometimes it didn't matter how much exercise you did, or how well you had been eating, if you were stressed and tired you could find it very hard to lose weight.

'Relaxing' activities should also not distract your mind (like TV) - good examples include yoga, meditation, a walk in nature and painting.

I have been listening to guided meditation sleep videos on YouTube - and I have really noticed a difference. Whether that is the placebo effect, I don't know.

During my first two sessions, we did a 10-minute warm up on the cross trainer and worked on different muscles on my body, using different machines and free weights. I was told while cardio burns calories there and then, weight lifting makes your body burn calories even after you have stopped exercising.

I enjoyed the back exercises the most. When I first tried it out I noticed my back was clicking a lot - I'm told this is a symptom of bad posture which can cause back pain when I'm older. When we slouch the muscles across the chest shorten while the muscles across the back lengthen, having a ball to sit on at a desk helps and being mindful of sitting and standing with shoulders back and the chest out will help with this - stretching before I went on the machine also helped with the clicking.

I also found out that the body is better at resisting than it is pushing. In order to build myself up to a whole push up, Elena said it would be easier for me to lower myself down and then get up and repeat it - this will build my strength until I have enough muscle to go all the way down and back up again.

Another thing we spoke about were habits - the small things you do each day without thinking because you are so used to doing them. They are hard to start and hard to get rid off and they grow stronger over time, eventually becoming automatic. The ones Elena recommended I adopt one by one were:

1. Start to drink more water.

2. Start to take fish oils.

3. Take break from sitting every hour (set the alarm and go and have a tea or water).

4. Do stretches every day - really good at relieving stress.

5. Do 10 min walk x three times a day - three walks a day can have huge health benefits.

6. Do little light exercises through the day (air squats, lunges, wall push ups x 10 reps each).

7. Eat more fresh salad/raw vegetables.

8. Reduce coffee/tea intake.

I've been left feeling a little sore after my workouts but I have caught myself slouching and adjusted my posture more, I have drunk more water and overall have lots more energy. I have also found that I have been in a better mood all week.

I have also been stretching more and have really enjoyed the tension and stress it released, especially at work. Read next week's blog about the second week of my journey.

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