Alison Graham Personal Trainer
Alison is a passionate personal trainer who has a big personal challenge coming up. She talks to Sundried about training and motivational principles.
Please tell us about sporting events you have taken part in or have coming up.
There are many crazy people in the fitness industry and I could be one of them. I have run 3 London Marathons, two of those races have been in support of the charity Childhood First that works with children who have had such a massive traumatic start in life that they have a real struggle to fit in and get on without the amazing therapeutic lifestyle and rehabilitation they receive through Childhood First.
So when I was offered a place in the Ride London-Surrey 100 mile bike ride I said yes without thinking of the consequences, cycling isn’t my most confident sport. But saying yes in life is where the adventures happen, so I'm going in 100% and the race is on 29th July. It’s 9 weeks of training but I’ve got a plan and it will all be fine.
You have to face the challenges and get out of your comfort zone in life, it’s what makes you feel amazing inside.
Tell us about your journey to fitness? Where did it all start?
I didn’t really get into fitness until I was 37, one of those late developers. Childhood fitness was hindered by asthma, but face the challenges, I love horses, I’m allergic to horses, I still went riding because it is what I loved. At 37 I lost some weight, stopped smoking and started running, after years of thinking I couldn’t do that I ran 10k that year. As I gained more strength and fitness my confidence grew and I loved the way I felt, I stopped sweating the small stuff and troubles ran off me like water off a duck’s back.
It was then I thought ‘WOW, I’m sure lots of women would like to feel this good’ and I was offered a PT course and it all blossomed from there. Since that initial 10k I have run many half marathons, 3 marathons, 1 triathlon, 1 Sportif (28 miles cycling) and about to embark on 100 miles…..it can’t be that scary right!
I have stuck with only training women, my business is called Feeling Fantastic Over Forty and when people ask me what I do I say ‘I make women feel sexy again’, not that seedy sexy but look at me I am confident and sexy, it’s a very powerful place to be and I love watching women change and become themselves. It’s like they emerge from their own bodies, I love it absolutely love it.
Within the group of women over forty I work a lot with those hating gyms, wanting to lose a lot of weight, post-cancer treatment and also event preparation such as running events and triathlons. Whilst I am a great personal trainer my sessions are driven by the client, their goals and what they enjoy doing, making sessions as fun as possible.
What are your training goals now?
Right now my training goals are a 100-mile bike ride, and that’s my focus! I have a group on Facebook called ‘100 Exercise Club’, it started as 100 Squats a Day in May which was 31 different variations with 100 repetitions of them. The group has evolved into 100 Exercise Club, it follows the same principle of about 5 mins exercise each morning at 6.30am. It’s a different exercise each day and each month has a different body area we work on. For June it’s the core, it’s a popular area to exercise.
Tell us one unusual fact we wouldn’t know about you:
I used to have sheep, a small flock of about 12…baa baa!
What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started out?
Belief in yourself. There is nothing more powerful than believing in yourself because if you believe you can, you will. I think that works for anything, in some circumstances it may be harder to find and it may take longer to learn but if you’ve got your own back then you are already halfway there.
Do you follow a specific nutrition plan? If so, what/when do you eat?
I’m an 'eat it fresh' kind of girl. Processed foods are out big time, vegetables are in big big big time. I soon know when I’m not eating enough vegetables as my energy falls, my resilience sags and my whole system goes a bit wonky.
Fresh veg at every meal is something I try to do, yep even breakfast.
What do you do to keep your clients motivated? Do you have any top tips to keep motivated?
I have a foundation for my business called ‘SHINE’, it’s Sleep, Hydration, Internal Conversation, Nutrition and Exercise. I work with women who have busy lives, careers, families and they want and need easy information to follow. SHINE works well as an acronym but also when you follow the principles of it you do actually SHINE a bit brighter. So when problems arise and life gets a little tough I look at these areas with my clients to see what improvements we can make. Each part of SHINE has equal importance to make it work and when they are done equally your resilience is nearly tangible, but when they aren’t then you can feel the struggles and distractions.
Talk us through your training regime.
My training regime….that’s a lot of cycling right now. Cycling isn’t my easiest discipline and not something I have done regularly…yeah, that’s why I’m crazy to take up the challenge, so totally focused on time spent in the saddle.
How do you keep your fitness knowledge up to date?
Keeping my fitness knowledge up to date is crucial to give my clients the best experience and to get them to their goals. I have studied a lot with Faster and I’m now one of their mentors which means I mentor students through their courses, so I have to keep up to date. But adding to that, I am always learning from the people around me and my clients, I train the person stood in front of me, so it’s bringing the knowledge, experience and understanding to that session and making my client feel great every time. Being open, learning, asking questions, researching, it’s an important topic for me I could go on……
What are your top 3 trainer tips?
To another trainer: Listen, don’t make assumptions, be kind
To my client: be ready for your session, pick a goal that’s a challenge and then pick another one when you’ve done it, it’s not just exercise or food do the SHINE.
If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
That’s a super tough question but probably eggs because you can cook them in a variety of ways, but that would be tough on the old digestive system if you know what I mean!
Why work with Sundried?
Sundried has a great philosophy and ethics about the clothing they make and who it is for, using fabrics that create a great experience for the end user and their goals. They have worked to create a low carbon brand which for me who loves animals, birds, fish et al, this is important I couldn’t be associated with a company that went against those principles. They say Sundried is a lifestyle choice and my whole business is about creating a lifestyle that works for you, Sundried works for me, I hope it works for you too.
Favourite fitness quote:
This comes from my first London Marathon in 2007, it made me cry then and it makes me cry every time I share it, even when writing this, it’s emotional for me. And this was something to be aware of in your training for the London Marathon as the days and weeks went by.
‘Some days it may feel that you can’t run a marathon but you’ll spend the rest of your life knowing that you have’ and no one can ever take that feeling away from you, it’s yours and it’s personal.