Tracy Johnson Personal Trainer
Tracy originally trained in martial arts but now has her sights set on her first triathlon. She 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 actually got started in sport and fitness in my mid-30s, which was pretty late! My first big achievement was earning my brown sash in Lau Gar Kung Fu about five years later, and I also took a rather painful instructor’s diploma in unarmed combat.
Apart from boxing, I’ve gradually moved away from martial arts over the years and my next big event is the Lanzarote Half Marathon coming up in December. After Christmas, I will start training for my first sprint triathlon and try a local one such as Portishead or Westonbirt. I’m really excited to be doing something different and to be getting started with endurance sport in my 40s.
Tell us about your journey to fitness? Where did it all start?
I was absolutely not always fit or interested in sport! I was terrible at PE at school and went down a very academic path through my 20s, sitting at my desk and writing my PhD. It was my father’s early death from cancer at 60 that shocked me into action. While I was already practising a bit of yoga and dancing in my spare time, I got organised after that and started teaching myself to run, as well as taking up martial arts. I’ve never looked back and do a bit more or try something different each year. It’s so important to maintain strength and fitness as we age to avoid disease and maintain mobility, not enter a slow decline on the sofa.
What are your training goals now?
I’m training for longer runs now and building endurance for my first half. I also only started learning to swim a few months ago as I really want to do triathlons and overcome a lifelong fear of the water that has held me back from a lot of exciting possibilities. I have a surfing holiday coming up in October, so that’s a good deadline to have to meet!
Tell us one unusual fact we wouldn’t know about you.
I dance a mean Argentine tango.
What advice do you wish you’d been given when you started out?
Change happens very slowly if it’s going to stick. You have to make small changes and really be consistent rather than trying to do too much too soon.
Do you follow a specific nutrition plan?
I keep things very simple. I have a loathing of fad diets, unnecessary supplements, ‘superfoods’, quick fixes and that sort of thing. I eat to maintain my energy for work and training, which is usually three meals a day and a couple of snacks. I try to make most things from scratch, but it’s not always realistic when you are busy and tired. A typical day would be scrambled eggs on toast for breakfast, a chicken salad at lunchtime, fish and veggies with rice, or pasta with a homemade sauce for dinner. Snacks are homemade nut bars or fruit. I love strong black coffee and am very partial to chocolate or a Mint Magnum!
What do you do to keep your clients motivated? Do you have any top tips to stay motivated?
I listen. Trainers have to be coaches in all senses of the word. Telling a client what motivates me may not work for them, so teasing out what really gets them going is key. Most of my clients have specific physical goals they want to be proud of, like their first pull up, and they are often very motivated by how good they feel as they make progress. I stay motivated by having my own trainer to talk over my progress with. He calls me out when I put obstacles in my way and helps me solve problems. I also find reading about athletes and their achievements very motivating: I’ve just finished memoirs by triathlete Chrissie Wellington and ultra runner Scott Jurek.
Talk us through your training regime.
Up until recently, it has been 2-3 strength and conditioning sessions per week, plus a boxing session and a weekend run. Now, I’m doing one or two swims as well, and we’ll be reorganising my schedule very soon to accommodate the half marathon training runs and pull back in other areas. I also do a bit of indoor cycling, with my eye on a tri next year. Time to buy an actual road bike I think!
How do you keep your fitness knowledge up to date?
I am always studying and reading to stay up to date. I’m just about to take my exam with NASM to get my specialist certificate in corrective exercise, and I’m always reading online or lots of books and journals; my academic tendencies never went away! I also like talking with other trainers about current trends or comparing notes on how we work with clients. I write for fitness and yoga publications and websites, and researching articles is also a great way to update my knowledge.
What are your top three trainer tips?
- Find a form of movement that you love. Don’t force yourself to exercise for the sake of it and resent it.
- Slow, consistent change works better long-term than massive change undertaken too quickly.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Be very sceptical of quick fixes and weight loss ‘tricks’.
If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life. what would it be?
With my healthy hat on, I love berries with really thick Greek yogurt. Otherwise, pizza or mint choc chip ice cream!
Why work with Sundried?
Because we all need to do our bit to make the world a kinder and more ethical place to live. Knowing that no one has been exploited in the making of my kit is one small contribution to that cause.