Dylan grew up in South Africa and is now Head Coach at a prestigious gym in London. He talks to Sundried about all things fitness and nutrition.
Tell us about your journey to fitness? Where did it all start?
Growing up in South Africa, I have always been passionate about fitness and sport. Having tried most sports from MMA to water polo I have always wanted to try and stay in the best shape possible. It all started at age 12 at home with a few free weights in my bedroom and I am now the Head Coach and Master Personal Trainer at Virgin Active in Paddington. Working with my team and my clients is my passion, I love making a difference in people’s lives as well as my own.
What are your training goals now?
I am currently training purely to stay functional and fit. I do not train for aesthetics but purely so that I can overcome any task thrown at me both physically and mentally. Having completed open water swims and runs I feel the next challenge may need to be a triathlon.
Tell us one unusual fact we wouldn’t know about you:
When I was 12 I accidentally cut off my finger when an iron cast table fell on top of it. I still have it though! The finger and the table!
What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started out?
I used to train purely to see how heavy I could go and to try prove things to other people. Burry your ego and do it for yourself! Not to impress others.
Do you follow a specific nutrition plan? If so, what/when do you eat?
I do not follow any specific plan at the moment but I do try to eat as healthily as possible during the week (staying away from carbs). I don’t drink fizzy drinks and try to stay away from anything high in sugar.
What do you do to keep your clients motivated? Do you have any top tips to keep motivated?
Make training your hobby so that it does not feel like a task. Training should be both fun and rewarding so find a way to have fun whilst getting the results. I can often be seen getting my clients to bowl over foam rollers with a medicine ball or listen to “sing along” music to keep them going! Each person needs different styles of motivation so find out what motivates yourself or your clients and drive success through that. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing change.
Talk us through your training regime.
I train 5 days per week on a split routine. On a Monday I train chest and biceps. Tuesday I do HIIT. Wednesday is leg day. Thursday is HIIT. Friday is back, shoulders, and triceps.
How do you keep your fitness knowledge up to date?
Everyone you meet has something that they can teach you. Talk to other fitness professionals as well as read and do your own research. Don’t believe everything you read!
What are your top 3 trainer tips?
- Don’t train alone.
- Set clear goals.
- Rest and reward is just as important as training.
If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Why work with Sundried?
I believe that with the way the world is at the moment we are in desperate need of ethical,- guilt-free clothing. The quality of Sundried's clothing is better than well known brands and you feel like an absolute champion when you put it on! Sundried means you can train, feel great, look great and save the world at the same time! What’s not to like?
Favourite fitness quote:
"If it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you."
Sundried recently ran a poll and found that 80% of people felt nervous the first time they set foot in a gym. This statistic doesn't come as a surprise as the combined fear of the unknown and feeling self conscious can make going to the gym a difficult step for a lot of people. We're here with our top tips so that you can feel confident in the gym and enjoy your workouts more.
Wear the right activewear
If you look good, you'll feel good. If you're wearing old fitness clothing that doesn't fit properly, you are far more likely to feel self-conscious and constantly worry about how you look, distracting you from your workout. By treating yourself to good quality activewear such as cute sports bras and flattering gym leggings for the ladies and a well-fitting technical gym t-shirt for men, you will instantly have the confidence you need to go and do an awesome workout.
Go with a buddy
If you're too nervous to hit the gym alone, buddy up and take a friend with you. With a trusted pal by your side you will instantly feel protected from whatever it was that was causing you anxiety and you'll be able to workout together and enjoy your time. Having a friend to go with can alsoboost your motivation when you don't feel like going to the gym.
Get stuck in
The free weights area can be a daunting place, especially for women. One of the best ways to get over this fear is just to get stuck in and head over there. If the free weights area seems very busy and full of grunting men from afar, once you're in it and you've found your space you'll realise that it doesn't feel as busy and all the guys are just busy getting on with their own workouts and aren't paying any attention to you.
If it's the other people in the gym that seem scary, the best thing you can do is befriend them. They're just people after all! Not only this, they are like-minded people who have the same goal as you and so chances are you will get on well. Strike up a conversation by asking someone about their workout or their goals to break the ice.
However, make sure you don't interrupt someone when they are in the middle of a lift or exercise as you may put them off and annoy them. Save the chatting for when they are resting or finishing up their workout.
Ask a professional
If you're nervous because you're not sure what to do at the gym or how any of the machines work, go ahead and ask one of the personal trainers or fitness coaches. It's what they're there for! A member of staff will also be more than happy to help you out and show you the ropes, some personal trainers will even offer you a complimentary training session. Most if not all gyms also offer a free induction when you first join. If you missed this and are no longer a 'new' member, most gyms will still be happy to honour the free induction and have someone show you around.
Whether it's your first race or your 100th, pre-race nerves can get the better of all of us. Follow our tips to help you calm your nerves and relieve any pre-race stress so that you can enjoy yourself and perform at your best.
Be well prepared
This surely is advice for a lot of things in life, but being well prepared will help to ease any anxiety or nerves you may be feeling. Of course, you can't control everything (which we will touch on in the next point), but being as prepared as possible will help keep your mind at ease.
When it comes to racing, make sure you read all of the information that the organiser sends out as well as checking the race website. There may be some important information that you need and this will also hopefully answer any questions you may have before the big day.
Additionally, recce the course beforehand if you can to suss out any tricky parts and if you can't do it in person, check to see if there is a comprehensive route map online.
Finally, reading race reports from people that have done the race before will give a realistic and personal account of what you can expect from the race.
If there are no nasty surprises on the day and you are confident you have everything you need, any excess stress and worry should be reduced.
As mentioned above, you can't control everything and no matter how prepared you are, there may be things that don't go your way and this could cause you extra stress on race day. Bad weather is a perfect example of this.
In these instances, it's best to be as flexible as possible. Unexpected rain shower? Make sure you've got a water resistant running jacket in your bag. Race is delayed? Make sure you have extra water and nutrition as well as extra layers to keep you warm while you wait if necessary.
Sometimes accidents happen, like dropping nutrition on a bike course. In this instance you can instantly fix the situation by making sure you have extra with you. Don't have a hard-and-fast plan in place and make sure you're flexible so that you can adapt to the situation without stress.
There's nothing worse than turning up late to a race and having to skip your warm up so that you can make it to the start on time in a fluster. Leave yourself more than enough time to arrive to the venue, check traffic and travel conditions the night before, and remember that it's better to be too early than too late.
Of course, if you arrive really early then this could give you time to overthink the situation and cause even more pre-race stress. If you're someone who is prone to doing this, try to find the right balance when deciding what time to arrive at the race venue.
Do your usual warm up
Not only will doing your usual warm-up help to put you in the right mood for the race, it could allow you to physically shake out any nerves and stabilise your heart rate and help you concentrate. If you're feeling stressed despite taking all the steps above, doing a steady warm-up will help you find your rhythm and focus your mind on the race ahead and help you forget about whatever it is that is stressing you.
CrossFit is more than just a way of training, it's a way of life. Anyone who's tried it will know what a special community it is, and how different it is from anything they've tried before. Here are 5 things only CrossFitters will understand.
1. You ache in places you never even knew you had
CrossFit is notoriously tough. It is a mix of several different training principles, and as such works the entire body in ways you never knew it could. After your first CrossFit session, you have more than just the usual aches and walking up stairs is probably a no-go for a few days!
2. Putting your all into a WOD is strangely enjoyable
Lifting heavy has a great feeling of accomplishment, but completely wrecking yourself by completing a chipper or a metcon has a feeling all of its own. Lying in a sweaty heap on the floor knowing you've left it all out there is an amazing feeling, and you know you'll be fitter and healthier for it too.
3. Training in a supportive community makes a huge difference
Training with a gym buddy or doing a standard class is great fun, but it really doesn't compare to throwing yourself around a box, chucking weights above your head, and being cheered on by fellow CrossFit enthusiasts who want nothing more than for you to succeed. Getting a PB never felt so good.
4. Handstands are much harder than they seemed as a kid
You loved doing handstands as a kid, but somehow you never realised how much it kills the shoulders! Handstand push-ups are something you really want to master, but it's far more technical than you thought and after a while all that blood rushing to your head isn't ideal!
5. You've never felt better
If you're a keen CrossFitter, chances are you already tried other training types like bodybuilding, powerlifting, or cardio. While all of those are great ways of training, you've never felt better than since you've been into CrossFit. You're stronger than ever, but your cardiovascular fitness is also better than ever, and you feel like you can achieve anything. That is the beauty of CrossFit.
Getting in the water can be incredibly daunting for some people. 20% of the UK’s adults are scared of the water or can’t swim. A lot of people doing triathlon or contemplating doing one don’t enjoy swimming or are new to the concept. So, starting out can be a tense process.
There are 3 main steps when getting started with swimming:
Putting your face in the water
This will make your life easier and you won’t then get a horrible shock if you get splashed.
Learning to float
Most humans will naturally float to some degree. Maybe not perfectly (men especially), but if you can learn to trust the water to support your body weight, you can learn to allow your body to relax.
Frantically trying to kick and pull will spike your heart rate and breathing rate, which are counter-intuitive to feeling that calm and zen feeling that being in the water can give.
My go-to when teaching to swim is to get people floating on their back – aiming for some sort of starfish type position. It takes some confidence that you might not entirely have, but the trick is to try and stay still and fight the urge to kick or pull to keep yourself stable on the surface. These things will lift you in the water, but then you will sink again to your starting point so there is no real gain. Once you find that you can trust the water to support you, you’ll be a fair bit calmer!
The second thing to do when getting water-ready is to do some sink downs. Take a big breath of air, sink under the water/push yourself under and breath out – then stand up. Simple! In practise, if you’re not so comfortable it can be a little challenging to start with, so really force the air out of your lungs. When you come to swim this will be key, as it will allow you to breathe in efficiently when the time comes.
The final stage to getting started in the water is getting comfortable on your front. My favourite drill to teach this skill is the dead man float.
Start face down, completely relaxed and floppy. You should feel your legs and arms hang down (for the vast majority). Then repeat the float but with 3 distinct changes:
- Lengthen your spine – pull your ears away from your shoulders, keeping your neck neutral
- Lift your arms up in front of you so that your ears are between your biceps (keeping your hands in the water)
- Engage your core – pull your belly button toward your spine, and squeeze your glute muscles.
For the most part, people should feel their legs raise up toward the surface – if not completely then at least in part. This gives us a starting position to work from in the water. From here, you can practically do anything with your arms and legs, and you should get smooth forward movement.
One point to remember; swimming is incredibly counter-intuitive. Human nature is to want to look where you are going – but this will drop your legs in the water and make it harder to pull and to breathe. Survival instinct is to want to lift your head to take a breath – but the same thing happens. Your brain will tell you to frantically kick your legs to keep you afloat and moving, but a smooth relaxed and slower kick will be far more productive and less energy-sapping. If you can overrule your panic and discomfort reactions, it will make your life in the water far easier.
About the author: John Wood is a triathlete and triathlon coach.