Brad Berkley, Personal trainer, vegan and Sundried ambassador talks about his training, diet and all things fitness.
How did you find yourself in the world of fitness?
Growing up I was never really into sports or fitness, in fact I was quite the opposite. My parents weren’t interested in pushing me towards team sports or any kind of activity, as a result I became overweight and inactive. When I left home and started college I began to spread my wings and set out to change my life for the better. I got a job as a part time chef and started learning how to eat healthily, at the same time I started exercising. My workouts were mainly based on athletic training so I focused a lot on speed, agility, mobility and explosive power. I wanted to become more functional and be able to tackle anything life threw my way. As I got older I became interested in weightlifting and started adding that into my training. Making that choice was one of the best I’ve ever made. The discipline behind weight training is phenomenal, if you really want to get the most out of it you have to educated yourself, learn how the muscles really work best and above all else you have to be focused.
What do you do to keep your clients motivated?
All of my clients respond differently so over the years I’ve really learnt to get to know the people I work with, not so much on a social level but on a behavioural and psychological level, so I can find the best way to get through to them and break down the limitations they set for themselves. Some people respond better to negative reinforcement, others need to be told that they are doing a good job and some just need to be shouted at. It completely depends on the person but I’d like to think that one of my greatest skills as a personal trainer is my ability to get through to people and help them to realise their true potential.
Talk us through your training regime.
My current training regime is mainly focused on building strength and power, maintaining good mobility, being fit and functional, and doing something new to push myself in different ways. My average week usually involves running at least twice a week, weight training 5 days a week, body weight and agility training 3 times a week. I’ve never really been a fan of long distance running because of a prior injury but I try to run a couple of times a week as it’s a great way to start your day. Weight training is a huge passion of mine so I mainly stick to heavy compound movements (like deadlifts and squats) and Olympic lifts (like a clean and press). Body weight and agility training for me is something I think everyone should do, it’s a great calorie burner but it’s also great for building functional strength and mobility that can be applied to everyday life.
Do you follow a specific diet?
About a year and a half ago I decided to become vegan and it’s genuinely changed my life. I used to eat a lot of meat, dairy and eggs because I’ve always been told that in order to get big and strong you have to eat lots of protein, and when you mention the word protein most people will immediately think of meat, dairy and eggs. But after falling ill several times I decided it was time to try something else so overnight I changed to a vegan lifestyle and I’ve never looked back. My health has improved tremendously to the point where I haven’t so much as had a cold since making the change, I sleep better, my mood is better and I’m leaner and healthier than I’ve ever been.
How do you keep your fitness knowledge up to date?
I love to read so I’ve always got my head in a book or I’m scrolling through studies on the internet to find out as much as I can about how our bodies work and what we can do to make them work better. Not only do I do a lot of research but I really love doing courses to add new skills to my arsenal. I’d like to think that if any of my clients come to me with a question about their training, health, diet or lifestyle I can help them and if I don’t know the answer I’ll definitely find one for them.
How do you balance work and a social life?
Sometimes it’s hard to get the balance right. Being self employed I like to make myself as flexible as possible for my clients so sometimes that means working until really late at night, or getting up at 4am to train with a client at 5am before they head off to work, but for me it’s all about being passionate about helping people so it’s more of a career for me rather than just a job. Most weeks I’ll work for 6 days and have a Sunday off so I can spend some time with my friends or go out for a meal somewhere.
What are your top 3 trainer tips?
Wow, top 3 tips, that’s a tough one as I could probably give you a top 10 tips list. That being said I’ll give you 3 tips that can pretty much apply to anyone looking to make a positive change to their life through fitness.
Number 3: Do something you enjoy. People often say to me that they hate running, or they can’t be bothered to go to the gym and in my eyes that’s fine, it’s not for everyone. But if you want to get fit and healthy you have to realise that it doesn’t happen overnight, you have to stick with it and be devoted. In order for you to do that you have to enjoy it, if you enjoy it you’ll keep doing it. So if running isn’t for you why not get involved in a sport? If you don’t like going to the gym why not invest in a decent home workout plan and do it in the comfort of your own home? There are so many options out there to choose from, it might take a while for you to find something you really enjoy but once you find it you’re on the path to success.
Number 2: Don’t over think it. There’s so much information out there about exercise, fitness and nutrition that it can be hard to truly know what to do and most of the time it leaves people feeling confused which leads to them giving up or not achieving what they want to achieve. Keep it simple, eat a healthy and varied diet, get regular exercise, get plenty of sleep and drink plenty of water. Start with the basics and build your knowledge from there.
Number 1: Be your own idol. We live in a world of celebrity transformations and social media manipulation where we’re constantly bombarded with the latest fitness tricks and shortcuts. The truth is there are no shortcuts. Sure, you can lose 20 pounds in two weeks or get down to 7% body fat, but trust me when I say you won’t feel healthier for it. If you want results that last you have to take your time, stay on track and be devoted to your goals. My biggest piece of advice to anyone is, don’t idolise people who you think have the perfect body, what we see is a little snippet of their life, it’s not the whole picture and most of the time it’s not even real. Be your own idol, set realistic goals, work hard and never give up.
If you could only give your clients one exercise, what would it be?
That’s such a tough question to answer but if I had to give one it would be hill sprints. The amount of energy you have to use to get to the top of the hill as fast as you can is a true test of will power. Set your start and finish point, have a timer at the ready and try to beat your own time every time you do it.
What are your training aspirations?
My biggest training aspiration for this year is hit a 220kg deadlift. I started deadlifting around 2 years ago and fell in love with the exercise. Personally it’s my favourite thing to do in the gym.
Why work with Sundried?
The biggest factor for wanting to work with sundried was the ethos behind the production and manufacturing. I’d consider myself to be an environmentalist so to work with a company that shares that same passion is amazing. The products are fantastic too which is definitely a bonus. I’ve been approached by many brands over the years and I’ve turned them all down, but as soon as I saw the website and read about the company I couldn’t wait to be a part of the team.
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