5 Tips for Getting Fit & In Shape

There is a downloadable form to fill in at the end, so don’t worry if this article gets a bit confusing!

1 Set Goals

This is a good starting point – what do you want to achieve?

Be specific, for example, you might write down
“I want to lose 2 inches from my waist, by December 20th, 2016”

Make all goals “SMARTER”

Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time bound, Evaluate, and Re-Do

Evaluate your goals once a month, tweak them if necessary but always make a note of why you’ve had to change them.

Have 1 or 2 “Target Goals” – these relate to the end result, e.g. having a 32 inch waist by December 20th.
The Target Goals are the “What”.

Have 3 “Process Goals” – these are the “How”

So you want a 32 inch waist – how will you achieve this?

3 Process goals might include:
1. Eliminate sugar from my diet completely
2. Go for a walk every day
3. Go to boxercise class every Wednesday

Personal Training chester

Finally, to keep motivated, write down why you want to achieve your goals.
For example, you may want to improve your health for the benefit of your family.

2. Prepare for & Eliminate Obvious Pitfalls

List all the potential hurdles, barriers & pitfalls; then list the solutions.

For example, your hurdles might include:
People offering you unhealthy food –
Solution – Say “no thanks” in a highly assertive manner

People not being supportive / making fun of your diet
Solution – Laugh and just see it as a bit of banter. If necessary explain that you are doing it for the benefit of yourself and your family and that their support would be appreciated.

Hurdles are things that will almost certainly happen, and you will have to jump or fail.

Barriers, you can sidestep these completely.
For example a barrier might be having unhealthy food in the house.
Solution – give it to charity.

Pitfalls are obvious things you shouldn’t do.
For example – Buying unhealthy food.
Solution – Make a healthy shopping list

Rex Kwon Do
Image Source

3. Have a Specific Plan

Unfortunately, deciding that you’re going to get fit, and leaving it at that, often fails.

You need a plan, with specific rules set out.

As outlined above, write down your goals and process goals.
These should form the foundation for your plan.

Write down what you need to succeed.
Everything essential – e.g. a chosen form of exercise, a set of diet guidelines, gym kit etc.


Get as organised as possible

Use a spreadsheet if you have to – write down a healthy main meal for each evening & plan what exercise you will do each week.
Leave an area to write comments and feedback for yourself.

How will you eat healthy? Get this organised.
Will you prepare batches and freeze food for each day of the week?
Will you cook fresh each day?
Will you prepare your own lunch?


4. Empower Yourself

Write down, and then answer these questions:

Do you think you have everything you need to succeed?
If not, what else do you require?

Do you think this plan will work?
If so, what is it that you like about the diet and exercise programme you have been given?
If not, what are you concerned about?

Are you convinced that this plan is worth your while? –  Is getting in shape worth the effort and commitment?

Accept Responsibility
This is your programme. Not your trainer’s programme. You must take ownership of the programme and be happy with it.
Is there anything you would like to know more about, or anything you would change before taking ownership? If so, write these down, research the answers or ask a professional

Finally, write down a positive affirmation or mantra that you will use whenever doubt starts to creep into your mind.
This could be something as simple as
“You can do this and it is worth it”


5. Access Expert Fitness Advice & Support

No, I’m not trying to sell you online personal training (not yet, but maybe down the road I will); you can get great support and information (although take it all with a pinch of pink salt), from Facebook groups and online forums.

Some websites and forums to have a look at:

Just beware of the groups and meatheads that share lion memes and selfies all the time. They won’t really help too much.



Download a pre-exercise questionnaire here

Contact me if you do need any additional help (I changed my mind, ask me about online fitness training!).

You could also have a read of my free book and have a look at this infographic for some nutrition basics:


Fitness Infographic

3 Fitness Misconceptions

1. You have to train for at least an hour, two or three times per week to ‘Get in Shape’

Not really.

Short, intense workouts can be just as effective.

In fact, many fitness professionals advocate workouts 30 minutes or less.

You can take this a step further –

Doing 4 minutes of exercise, twice a week, can improve markers of health & fitness significantly.


You can make drastic improvements in terms of health, fitness and body composition, with just 10 minutes of exercise per day.

The difficult part, is staying disciplined with your diet.


2. You Need Expensive Equipment to Build Muscle

Not true, in fact the trend at the moment, is functional, bodyweight exercise.

I personally like to use a door frame chin up bar, and some resistance bands – costing in total about £50.
These are not essential however, you can certainly make a start without them.

3. You Need Supplements to Look like the guys in the Magazines

Well, yea, kinda – you need lots of steroids, IGF-1 and HGH to look like the guys in the magazines and adverts.

That’s not me being cynical – ask any weightlifting veteran.

I’m not anti-supplements, but you need to ignore 90% of the claims and marketing jargon.  e.g. “peptide bonded” and “micellar” even “anabolic” are often used to imply something that people assume is beyond their understanding.

In case you are wondering:

Peptide Bonds – “…proteins are chains of amino acids held together by peptide bonds, as is the backbone of PNA.”

Micellar (a term often used to sell “Micellar Casein” protein powder”)
All casein protein is ‘micellar’, it means it basically clumps together in a ball, releasing amino acids/nitrogen, bit by bit until the ball dissolves

I wouldn’t recommend any supplements to begin with.

If you are looking to build muscle, there is plenty of research around creatine, and whey protein too. I’d recommend, researching and perhaps including these in your diet, after 2 months of weight training.

Whole foods are generally largely superior.  In fact, I would recommend a hemp smoothie instead of protein powder, but I’ve found that people just want to take supplements.  So, if you do, research whey protein and creatine.  But make sure 90% of your food, is actually food!

How much protein you need is an aggressively debated topic, which I’m not going to touch with yours (or with a bargepole).



Mindfulness Requires Organisation

It’s fantastic living in the moment; but I only seem to manage to do it when playing or competing in sport – when in ‘flow state‘.

In practical terms, it is very tricky to be 100% mindful at home, and especially in work…but I think it can be done.

You just need to be very organised; if you know everything you need to get done is ‘in a system’ that you adhere to everyday, then you can relax, or at least focus 100% on the task in hand.

If you don’t have a ‘system’, then you’re constantly worrying about whether or not you’ve missed something…

I’ve made an attempt to do this recently, here are some tips on both Mindfulness & organisation:

  • Have a “Family to-do book” at home.  Rather than telling your partner, and vice versa, stuff that needs to be done over-dinner, or when you’ve just stepped in from work – put it in a book that’s next to your seat in the lounge or somewhere easily accessible.  Have a quick review of it each night.  This stops you from getting it in the throat for ‘not listening’ and not having done A and B at the weekend.
  • Make a list of 3 things that need to be done each day and label them A, B and C in terms of priorities.
  • Have a list of everything that you need to get done in 1 place.  I’ve been guilty in the past of writing tasks down in loads of different places.  It’s much easier if everything organised in 1 place
  • Turn the radio off in the car on the way home.  This helps you from not feeling ‘over-stimulated’ when you walk in at home.
  • Try and focus 100% on whatever you are doing. If you are doing the dishes, stop rushing it, focus on the task at hand, feel the water and plates etc.  “Nothing is more important or enjoyable as the now”

Meditate – focus on your breathing, and keep bringing the focus back, as the mind wanders (which it will).
If you can’t meditate for any reason, just be mindful whenever possible. For example; when typing, focus on the feeling of the keys when you touch them.


Image source

Active Breaks in North Wales

The wild and wonderful countryside of North Wales has always been a popular destination for avid walkers, with Snowdonia National Park standing out as a haven for anyone seeking to spend some time in the great outdoors.

There’s far more than just walking to be done in North Wales, however.
There’s a wide range of activities to experience, providing fun for the entire family.
What’s more, there’s no need to leave the dog at home when you visit – thanks to
the abundance of dog-friendly holiday cottages in Wales, they too can experience
the stunning Snowdonia countryside.
If you fancy combining long country hikes with something a little more challenging,
then here are just a few of the best places to visit for a more active break in North Wales…

Bear Grylls Adventure Day

Head over to the Dragon Raiders Activity Park on the Lleyn Peninsula to test yourself against the wild and rugged terrain on one of Bear Grylls’ Survival Academy’s Half Day courses. Once there, you will combine essential survival skills with adventure tasks, all under the guidance of a team of highly experienced instructors. You’ll learn how to build a fire, to find edible food and even build yourself a usable shelter. It’s a fun, exciting, educational adventure that is perfect for families, school trips, and even team building exercises.

Segway Adventures

Also situated at Dragon Raiders Activity Park is the chance to experience one of their thrilling Segway adventures. Set in over 30 acres of woodland, the latest Segway X2 will allow you to zip about in style on one of their tough and durable machines. It’s your choice between a relaxing forest trek or a far more vigorous off-road rally.

The National White Water Centre

If you fancy a real adrenalin rush then why not tackle some genuine white water rapids on the River Tryweryn at the National White Water Centre. Here, you can experience a range of water sports, including rafting and kayaking, down the wild mountain river that presents an imposing challenge all year round. There are multiple routes to tackle, so don’t panic too much as all abilities are amply catered for.

Zip World

Zip World has three locations in North Wales, each offering a special high-velocity adrenalin rush. At the Blaenau Ffestiniog site, you can experience the first 4 person zip line in Europe and a unique subterranean adventure in their fantastic unground site. At their Bethesda site lies their “Velocity” zip line, the longest in Europe and the fastest in the world, which is a huge rush and certainly not one for the fainthearted. Finally at their Betws-Y-Coed site, you can go on a spectacular zip safari through the forest treetops and enjoy the enormous five-seater swing, known as the Skyride.

Go Below

Go Below’s Underground adventures take you deep into the former mines of Snowdonia. It’s a fascinating chance to explore a spectacular underground world as you undertake a series of challenges while abseiling and zip lining through gaping caverns and lakes. Your nerves will be tested as you are challenged to climb a vertical shaft and abseil down a waterfall. It’s all hosted by some of the country’s premier mine exploration experts and the adventure can be tailored to your group – be it a school trip, a family outing or a stag or hen do.


Cycle Paths and ParaCycling

If cycling is more your thing, then North Wales has plenty of options.  In fact, it’s arguably the best place in the UK for cycling fans.

Off Road Routes include:
Coed Y Brenin – http://www.beicsbrenin.co.uk/trails/
Llandegla – https://oneplanetadventure.com/
The two lake tour – http://www.ridenorthwales.co.uk/english/routes-detail.asp?rtype=18

There are also a number of great, circular on-road cycle routes that can be found here.

North Wales also has a number of para-cycling and para-triathlon events. If you are interested in All Ability Cycling, I’d recommend checking out Quest 88’s site here.



Where’s your favourite place in North Wales for an active break? Let us know in the comments!

Britain’s Botanical Gardens

Over thirty million people a year visit the UK as tourists, making the UK one of the most popular global tourist destinations. Every year, more and more tourists holiday in the UK – not surprising, given the abundance of natural destinations, heritage sites and cultural attractions. One of those quintessentially British attractions: our wonderful botanical gardens, dotted across the country. We’ve put together a list of absolute must-sees, including a few hidden gems that you should try and visit in 2016.

Fenton House & Garden
Fenton House & Garden is an Edwardian garden in London’s charming Hampstead area. Expect roses galore, curated hedges, and an apple orchard in a garden that has remained almost unchanged for 300 years.

 Fenton House Hampstead front February 2006.jpg


Ness Gardens

On the Wirral, just down the road from the old Roman city of Chester, Ness Gardens is a must-see in the North West. The gardens themselves have a focus on preservation, creating a ‘living library’ of conservation in this treasured local feature.



Benmore Botanic Garden
Once part of the estate of a Scottish trade baron, the Benmore Botanic Garden serves to host a rich collection of living plants, focused on conifers and rhododendrons. The Edinburgh Botanic Gardens are also worth a visit, if you’re willing to travel between the Scottish coasts.


 Benmore's majestic avenue of giant redwoods


Snowshill Manor & Garden

Not far from Gloucester, the Snowshill Manor & Garden offers you not only a lovingly cultivated garden, but also the chance to explore the museum/house designed by architect and poet Charles Wade. Wade has assembled a manor full of curiosities, including weaponry and scale models of boats.

 A view of Snowshill Manor in Gloucestershire from the gardenhttp://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/snowshill-manor-and-garden

Throckmorton Family Gardens
The gardens, south of Birmingham, are a part of the wider Coughton Court. Designed to be experienced as a series of rooms, Throckmorton Family Gardens offer you a walled, labyrinthine garden.


Mottistone Gardens
The Isle of Wight is already a beautiful destination for a trip, but the Mottistone Gardens are a distinctly peaceful and gorgeous valley filled with exotic and local plants. With ocean views from much of the garden, part of the garden’s mission is to bring plant life to the UK and see how they fare in our changing climate.

 Summer flowers and plants in the gardens at Mottistone, Isle of Wighthttp://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/mottistone-gardens

The National Botanic Garden of Wales
Just a short drive north of Swansea, Wales’ national botanical gardens are fantastic. Playing host to the world’s largest single-span glass greenhouse, there’s a huge host of Mediterranean plants under one roof. Outside of the greenhouse is a geological time-walk through Wale’s natural heritage, as well as a series of themed gardens.

Melbourne Hall Gardens
South of Derby, in the village of Melbourne, the Melbourne Hall Gardens is very much a Georgian manor. The house itself is open to the public, and features seven rooms that you can visit in a house that is still occupied by Lord and Lady Ralph Kerr. The gardens themselves are vivid and tranquil, and host some rare shrubs in the planted borders and intersecting paths.

Have we missed one? Let us know in the comments if you just can’t believe we missed your favourite garden. We’d love to hear from you!

Middle Age Training – Fitness for the Male Menopause

I recently listened to the Joe Rogan podcast, featuring Steve Maxwell, some great takeaways for the over 35s still training hard…

Super Slow Reps and Time Under Tension
Try not to worry about reps and weight so much, instead look to increase the time you can do an exercise for, without pausing in between ‘reps’.
For example, instead of smashing out chin ups; try slowing things down:
Take 4 seconds to slowly bring your chin up above the bar
Pause for 2 seconds at the top
Take 4 seconds to lower yourself down (95%, don’t lock out completely)
Pause for 2 seconds at the bottom
Then repeat for as long as possible.

Slow reps are less likely to cause injury, as is a lower weight.
I’ll do these reps for chins, then I’ll finish with one ‘explosive’ set at the end, as I still train in MMA and Jiu Jitsu, I need to be explosive in the ‘scrambles’ for positions.

Avoid Overhead Presses
Be very careful with your shoulder joints, these are almost always ruined in older guys who have trained intensely over the years.  Again use super slow reps if you must do overhead presses, and or use bands (my tips). Bands increase in resistance as you move/stretch them, so there’s less pressure on the joints.  I use chains when doing bench press, the weight is light when I start pressing, and gradually gets heavier as I extend my arms – and as the chain lifts off the floor.  This takes the stress off my shoulder joints a lot.

One Set Training
Something I was introduced to in uni, apparently Kelly Holmes would do one set training, as otherwise her running sessions would be negatively impacted.  Then Mike Mentzer has similar concepts with his Heavy Duty training system.  This is also good for middle aged men, warm up, do a couple of light sets, then one working set to failure. It works especially well if you are training for a sport – it’s easy to overtrain.

The best fitness for a sport, is generally doing your sport.  I love to do Tabata Intervals with a given movement from my sport.  For example, for wrestling I’ll do ‘sit throughs’ for a tabata interval.  Do 20 seconds of 100% intensity work (e.g. sprint like mad on a bike), then rest 10 seconds, then do another 20 seconds 100% intensity burst, then rest for 10 etc.
Repeat until you have completed 4 minutes in total.

Meriva Curcumin
Got this tip from Dr Rhonda Patrick. Found it great. Tumeric’s ‘active compound’ is curcumin, but it’s absorbed poorly. You can take it with black pepper to increase the bioavailability somewhat, but warpping in a ‘phytosome’ (Whatever that is) is proven to dramatically increase the absorption and anti-inflammatory effects.  More info here.



Enlightenment on a budget

So you finally ‘woke up’, you can see through all the marketing, the consumerism and the general BS that drives most of the economy.
But rather than feeling liberated and freed, you’re stuck in this kind-of cynical and depressing middle-ground.

So next step, you start meditating and going to yoga class.  To take things to the next level you start researching online and hear about all the yoga retreats that you can attend, and even read about ayahuasca retreats tripadvisor.

Ayahuasca, if you haven’t heard, is a herbal ‘drink’ that is often used by indigenous tribes in Peru.  It has been touted by the likes of former CNN reporter Amber Lyons as a cure (for want of a better word) for mental health problems including anxiety.

As good as this sounds, unless you have a spare grand or two floating round in your savings account, a trip to Peru to speak to ‘Mother Ayahuasca’ is probably not on the cards.  Other ironically expensive Buddhist-treats including flotation tanks, are beyond the budget of many of us too. So if you can’t afford to buy into the ‘enlightenment industry’, what can you do?

Flotation Tanks
You can learn more about them by watching this documentary:


American comedian, and martial artist Joe Rogan has one is his basement.  But he’s rich, and I am not.

Here is an alternative, which I’ve found a lot more effective for sensory deprivation than a floatation tank. Although, you will look proper mental.

Listening to white noise on it’s own, with sound proof ear phones is enough on its own, to normally produce hallucinations etc, due to the impact of sensory deprivation. Add the weird white-eye-mask to this, and you’ll feel ‘bodyless’ in about 20 mins.


Whilst ‘Mother Ayahuasca’ possesses the female energy, San Pedro and Peyote cactuses posses the male. 


You can’t use San Pedro or Peyote in the UK :(

You can however get an Easy Jet flight over to Amsterdam, and buy and use Peyote or San Pedro legally. I have never done this myself, so cannot tout for the quality etc of what you can buy, but do feel it necessary to emphasise the importance of site and setting at this point. Don’t use it in the cheapest hotel you can find in Amsterdam. I’d recommend reading up and making some enquiries on Reddit.

Creating Positive Change

So I just watched this Ted ex video –


This screenshot pretty much summarises the take-away message form the talk:

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 20.19.20

Do these things for 21 days, and we should all be wonderfully happy…so here goes:

  1. My 3 Gratitudes
    Today I am grateful for:

My piglet


2. My next door neighbour being a plumber after the sink decided to explode this evening.

3. My wife being an ace Mum


2. Journaling – I guess that’s what I’m doing now

3. Exercise – done today in work

4. Meditation – will do the ‘headspace meditation’ for 10 minutes on youtube after this

5. Small Acts of Kindness – ah hell, will have to find something nice to do before i go to bed!

Getting Focused on Work or Studying

Get a binaural beats study ‘soundtrack’ on youtube:

Proven (to a certain extent) to aid focus, mood, reduce anxiety and some aspects of creativity.

Set and start a Pomodoro timer – http://tomato-timer.com/

This allows you to work it ‘sets’ of 25 minutes, with 5 minutes break in between. Ideal for focus.  Wait until your 5 minute break to think about what else you need to do etc.

And off you go…


If you don’t like binaural beats, instrumental rock (or any music without vocals and with a beat) seems to work just as well for focus.


Here’s an interesting infographic too – cancel all meetings is the basic, underlying message by the looks of it!


Image Source