Tom decided to join the Royal Marines after finding himself unsatisfied in life. He talks to Sundried about life as a personal trainer.
Please tell us about sporting events you have taken part in or have coming up.
I’m a keen triathlete and have taken part in races from Sprint to Ironman distance all over Europe. This year I’m doing Ironman 70.3 distance and have 4 or 5 races booked. I’m a former Royal Marines Commando, not a ‘sporting event’ as such, but the physical fitness and knowledge you gain about your body and what you can achieve is phenomenal.
Tell us about your journey to fitness? Where did it all start?
At 20 years old I was very overweight and unhappy with the direction I was going. One day it all just changed, and I vowed to sort myself out and join the Royal Marines. It took a lot of effort for me to do that sure, but it also took help from lots of people along the way. I’ve always loved helping people but after leaving the Marines I knew I could now help others in a way I once needed. After leaving the Royal Marines I went into security consultancy for a while but this wasn’t fulfilling my passion for fitness enough so I changed direction and took on a role managing the UK’s largest bootcamp in Hyde Park, London. This allowed me to use all my skills, from fitness knowledge to management skills for a team of 25 instructors, organisation of people, training and events to inspiring over 1000 clients. This was great for over 3 years, I learnt so much and met so many wonderful people; I’ll never forget my time there. I then decided to really dial in helping people on a smaller scale and set up my Personal Training and Group Exercise business Fearsome Fitness. Here I could really help a smaller number of clients change their lives; it feels like you’re really a part of their journey. Since then I’ve also set up two further businesses in triathlon/endurance sports; TriFactor Coaching where I coach athletes of all abilities, mainly online, to achieve their triathlon or endurance sports goals and BeUrBest Camps where, along with my business partner, we provide training holidays, or rather as we believe it is, coaching camps in places like Mallorca. It’s such a fantastic way to live a life of fitness, how can I call that work?
What are your training goals now?
I tend to take a short break from structured training from November – December after the Ironman season finishes. I find it helps me reset both physically but especially mentally as training up to 9 times a week for my biggest race of the season can really drain me. Now we’re in the new year I’m back into a strict programme and building my endurance up again ready for the Tri season to start in April-May. This year I’m only going as far as half Ironman and want to see how well I can rank. Lots of strength and base endurance training until it gets more fruity in a month or two.
Tell us one unusual fact we wouldn’t know about you:
Well, the only thing I can think of is very odd and random… I can make my big toe touch the top of my foot! See, told you.
What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started out?
I got a lot of advice so I was lucky, but one thing I feel needs to be stressed more is it’s all about balance. ‘Cold Turkey’ or ‘all or nothing’ approaches don’t work in my experience, and there’s not one method that fits all. You need to find out what works for you and your body, and then go with it. It’s never a ‘short term’ plan, it needs to be a lifestyle change with that all important balance.
Do you follow a specific nutrition plan? If so, what/when do you eat?
I’m a big foodie and want to eat everything, however if I do I’ll be back to my 20 year old self. I naturally put weight on fast (both muscle and fat), I can look at something high calorie or that I’m not good with and it jumps on my stomach! What I eat depends on what I’m doing that day or period in the season so it changes all the time. I’m not good with gluten or stodgy high starch foods so I avoid these most of the time, but I do love them! I really don’t believe in strict ‘diets’ and I virtually never write a specific plan for a client. I’ll educate them to make their own choices each and always insist on a ‘cheat day’ where they can make a list all week of things they crave then crack on when they're on cheat day.
What do you do to keep your clients motivated? Do you have any top tips to keep motivated?
I ask them what they want to achieve and then we formulate a realistic plan to get there. SMART goal setting is key, it doesn’t have to be as strict as writing each part down, but as a model it works because if you set unrealistic or non-recordable goals then you’re setting yourself up to fail. I follow a tried and tested framework with all clients in order to achieve their success; Specificity, Accountability and Evaluation. We make their goals and training very specific to them, no pre-set plans, every plan is different. We then enter into a verbal agreement where they become accountable to me and I to them, so they never feel alone. I evaluate every session they do with me or alone, their nutrition and goals in order to tweak the plan moving forwards. It just works.
Talk us through your training regime.
This changes throughout the season but I’ll give you a rough idea:
Winter: ‘Coffee shop’ social bike rides, cross country running, functional training (bodyweight, kettlebells etc, HIIT) and climbing/mountaineering.
Tri season: Each week tends to change based on work commitments however an average week looks like this:
Monday: Recovery ride/turbo session + Yoga
Tuesday: Strength & Conditioning + Swim
Wednesday: Interval Run
Thursday: Strength & Conditioning + Interval bike
Saturday: Long ride
Sunday: Long run + Swim
How do you keep your fitness knowledge up to date?
I love to go on new training courses whenever possible, not just to learn new skills, but to refresh topics I’ve already covered and meet new people that re-energise that passion for all things fitness. Just because you’re the trainer (teacher) doesn’t mean you have nothing to learn.
What are your top 3 trainer tips?
- Set a goal and be ready for it to evolve
- Surround yourself by people and environments that will help you flourish
- Remember why you started out on this journey and where it will take you
If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Meat, I just love meat!
Why work with Sundried?
A fantastic and openminded brand that’s been built by athletes and fitness professionals, providing the highest quality and value products from ethical sources. You know you’re dealing with people that have been there and done that so every consideration has been taken.