In last Wednesdays blog we met Paul Robinson, 55, who Farringdon VPT Ray Buckton has been training back to fitness after two knee replacements. This week we get Ray's side of the story. "We have a laugh whilst we get the job done! Paul has grown in popularity around the gym since we've been training".
Hi Ray. On Wednesday we met your client Paul Robinson. What’s the journey been like with him so far?
You often get a very good gauge from the first session with a client, such as what sort of attitude they will have towards their training. I knew from the get-go that Paul would be easy to train as he has a mind-set which allows him to push through barriers. Unfortunately, for Paul it was this mindset which had caused him to pick up so many injuries in the past. When we first started training, I had a list of 11 serious and on-going injuries and restrictions to contend with, which included two full knee replacements, a shoulder impingement, stiff neck, plantar fasciitis, as well as a variety of other stiff and inhibited movement patterns. Add to this that Paul was arguably in the worst bill of health that he had ever been in weighing in at over 106kg. He was certainly a great challenge to take on! It has been an incredibly rewarding journey with Paul, and I'm immensely proud of him and the progress we have made together, despite having so many things to overcome.
Have there been many ups and downs?
Because of the way Paul's body works, it doesn't necessarily move like a 'normal' person's would, so this can cause muscles to stiffen, and muscles fibres to tighten up. But these niggles have always been very manageable, and have never inhibited our progress. Nearly every time I've pulled the body fat callipers out on Paul there has been progress, unless of course there have been holidays or a break in training. Reaching the milestone of getting him under 90kg before his 54th birthday was a particular highlight. This meant he went into his 54th birthday 16kg lighter and around 16% less body fat than his 53rd birthday, which was obviously an amazing achievement.
How do you approach creating a training plan for someone who has undergone such extreme surgeries?
Of course, an in-depth knowledge of biomechanics, and how the body moves is integral when you're dealing with these sort of injuries. Understanding how one area of the body can impact another in varying movement patterns is key, as injuries tend to breed imbalances, and imbalances can cause a variety of different strengths and weaknesses across the body. With Paul, we started very slowly with just one session a week, working on strengthening and correcting these imbalances. Over time, once Paul was moving better, we have gradually built on the amount of sessions he trains each week, progressively changing his training split, and constantly focussing on any weaknesses. Alongside the functional and rehabilitative exercises, we have slowly built on the amount of high intensity exercise Paul does, which as his weight has decreased and his cardiovascular and respiratory system have improved, has lead Paul to training harder than most 30-year-old gym-goers!
Paul is 55, how much does age impact on the level of training you can put a client through?
Age is not a measure of ability. I have worked with men and women of all ages, and I can categorically say that age is irrelevant when formulating a program for someone. I have seen 50-year-old women train with heavier weights than men in their 20s, just like I've seen Paul, who is 55, complete high intensity intervals faster than some of my 30-year-old clients. Everyone is unique and individual, and it may be correct to say the average 55-year-old man may be weaker, slower and take longer to recover than the average 30-year-old man. However, as a trainer, you have to look at every client on an individual basis. That is why we are called 'personal' trainers, because we offer a personal service to every individual we deal with.
In what ways has Paul impressed you with his commitment to training and his results so far?
Paul never leaves anything behind when he trains. Every session we will beat a previous best on at least one exercise or part of his program. He never misses a session, and it shows in the results he has achieved how determined and committed he is. He is always an absolute pleasure to train because his level of intrinsic motivation makes him a very easy client to make and break targets with.
Great to hear! How important is getting and maintaining fitness for one’s older age?
It's vital! It sounds very cliche, but if you don't use it, you lose it. This is true for both your mind and your body. Your body, regardless of your age, will not hold on to anything unless it needs to. Take for example your muscular strength. We've all trained really hard before a holiday only to return after a week away feeling like we have undone months of hard work. This is because your body doesn't want to unnecessarily strain itself to fuel resources that are not vital for survival, like excess muscle. As you get older, this process tends to speed up even more. So it's even more important to try to maintain a good level of fitness as you age.
You set Paul a nutrition plan to help him lose weight, what are you top tips for us?
Nutrition is key when trying to lose unwanted fat stores. People get way too fixated on how many calories or macronutrients they are eating without actually understanding the differentiating effects that different types of foods will have on their bodies. Once you understand what is happening inside your body when you eat certain foods, it is much easier to make better informed nutritional choices to optimise your fat loss. I have written an ebook called the 'Lean Body Guide', (members get 50% off if you use the code: GYMBOX) where I outline everything that is needed to be addressed from a nutritional and lifestyle perspective to drop body fat in a sustainable way. It's a comprehensive guide that provides a better understanding of the many important factors that need to be considered, including the role that hormones play, how to break and make habits, and it outlines a few rules, all of which Paul and all of my other clients looking to get leaner, have adopted with great success.
The client-VPT relationship is important, what do you like most about working with Paul? He told us he winds you up.
We have a laugh whilst we get the job done. He has an old-school style of banter, which I think often confuses him more than it does me, ha-ha! He has grown in popularity around the gym since he has been training as well, and often winds up a lot of the other trainers too which is always amusing. But, it's his determination to work hard that I enjoy most about Paul. Even if I have had a really tiring day training countless clients, I know Paul will always bring a good energy which is infectious.
You used to play football for Paul a few years ago, tell us about that?
This is going back a few years, but we had quite a bit of success back-in-the-day when I played for our local Sunday league team back in Bedfordshire. It never did seem that strange taking Paul on as a client. A lot of the lads I used to play with are always commenting on what a great job we have done together.
What are your motivational strategies if clients start flaking out/losing drive/swearing during sessions?
It's all about setting realistic targets. This can be something very small, like getting an extra rep, or lifting 1kg heavier than last week on an exercise. Whatever it is, it has to be measurable. That way, the client can always leave the session feeling like they have bettered themselves, and can take something positive from the workout. We all have days where we feel deflated or defeated, but doing one thing better than the previous week can completely change the outlook and mood of the session.
What makes you unique as a VPT? What gives you the edge over others?
I've been a trainer for quite a few years now, working with 100s of different people, and have had the pleasure of working with almost every demographic of clientele you can imagine. This practical experience, alongside the investment I've made in my theoretical education – including a BSc in Sports Science, an Advanced Nutrition qualification, and various biochemistry courses – gives me a solid foundation to confidently work with and achieve great results with whoever is in front of me. I focus on helping clients a lot more outside of the gym – getting things right on the other 23 hours of the day when they're not under my watchful eye. My clients are all given their own personal nutrition and lifestyle programs, alongside customised training programs, and know that if they ever have a question they can contact me, no matter how 'silly' the question may seem.
Want to train with Ray? Don't be shy, drop him an email right here.