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Alison Smith Personal Trainer and Triathlete

by Alexandra Parren

Alison Smith Personal Trainer Sundried Photo

Not only does Alison manage to balance her work as a PT with a social life, she has the challenge of fitting in three other disciplines; the swim, bike and run, that is a triathlon.

How did you find yourself in the world of fitness?

I found myself in the world of fitness through competitive sport and the need to leave the corporate world rat race. In 2005 I was a competitive rower, winning gold medals at Women's Henley Regatta and the National Championships in a lightweight coxless 4. From there I went into triathlons and found that my full-time employment was getting in the way of what I loved, which was sport. So I was in a very fortunate position to be able to give up gainful employment, re-train as a personal trainer and set myself up as a freelance trainer. That was in 2012, and my client base has steadily grown, and my services offered evolved so that I am now a running and triathlon coach and focus on getting women into the sport who have never done it before.

Do you follow a specific diet?

Not at all! I eat clean, fresh food. Lots of meat, veggies, fruit, dairy, grains and pulses. I enjoy chocolate occasionally, also a glass or wine or two. I believe in everything in moderation, but avoid processed packaged foods. I don’t eat takeaways and I make virtually all my meals from scratch, including bread, granola, pizzas and cakes!

Anything with the word ‘diet’ in it gives me shivers, as so many people follow a ‘diet’ which is unsustainable and unrealistic, and their weight yo-yos and their health suffers.

What do you do to keep your clients motivated?

Good question! I talk to them about their goals and focus on this, making sure we work towards them if it's appropriate. I try to encourage them to take up a sport, whether it's something I offer or not.

I change their workout when it gets too easy.

I give them homework if they want it.

I’m not one for gadgets and numbers, and most of my clients are happy with that.

I give them gentle encouragement without shouting or bullying!

Talk us through your training regime.

I swim three times a week. In the summer this will be outdoor swimming in the local lake. I love wild swimming, but usually will be wearing a wetsuit as it still can be a little chilly. In the winter it’s the local 25m pool, usually first thing in the morning. I will swim anything from 1500-2500m.

I run two or three times a week. This will be one long steady run off road (12k), one faster midlength run (8K) and one set of sprint or hill intervals. I prefer the latter as its fast and effective.

I bike two or three times per week – either on the road or turbo trainer (the latter in the rain). Bike rides can be between 1-4hours long and either on the time trial bike (fast paced) or road bike (not quite as fast).

I love all of these aspects of triathlon.

I also try to get some strength & conditioning training in twice a week. My least favourite training session but one I know is so important to keep shape, tone, and strength for all the CV work.

How do you keep your fitness knowledge up to date?

Reading and courses. It’s a never-ending journey of learning and keeping up to date. And its fascinating reading about the new ‘trends’, ‘fads’ and seeing what other trainers are up to.

I am a member of triathlon England, Athletics England, REPS, Fitpro and get regular updates from all of these.

How do you balance work and a social life?

I took a decision last year to minimize the evening coaching sessions and take PT clients during the day. This seems to have paid off and I now have Monday & Thursday evenings free, and finish at 7pm on a Friday. I rarely work on the weekend and if I do its for run or bike coaching for an hour in the morning.

What are your top 3 trainer tips?

  1.       Find an activity you love, by trying different things and sticking with something
  2.       Eat in moderation and avoid processed foods
  3.       Move more

If you could only give your clients one exercise, what would it be?

That’s a difficult question!

With a lot of coaching I would get them to perfect the clean and jerk. It builds leg, hip, core and arm/shoulder strength.

What are your training aspirations?

Personally I’d like to qualify to represent GB in my age group for a triathlon in the next few years.

Business-wise I want to build a strong female only triathlon group which embraces beginners, and takes the fear out of the sport, whilst also encouraging more experienced athletes to achieve their full potential.

Why work with Sundried?

I like the ethos of Sundried and love encouraging clients to try new products.

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