'Dump the Diets, Ditch the Scales, Drop the Inches' is a life-long accumulation of exercise, dietary knowledge and experience from my partner Ann Hirst and myself, Paul Lonsdale. Each of us has over thirty years of 'hands on' experience in the exercise and nutrition industry. We haven't been to a University (although Ann would be given an honorary PhD in common sense if it was on the curriculum) but we are fully qualified gym instructors and although 'personal trainer' is now the posh name, it's still only a gym instructor at the end of the day.
Ann attained her Level 2 YMCA Gym Instructors Award and I did the Institute of Sport and Recreational Management but we don't really get excited about qualifications as we've dealt with too many people over the years with loads of certificates and letters after their name but with absolutely no real idea of what they're doing - passing your driving test means you are deemed safe to drive on the road; it doesn't mean you're a good driver - only time and experience does that.
The Early Years
I was always physically active at school, playing every sport I could, but the introduction to my future career came about quite by accident in 1978. The accident in question involved me and my motorbike having a very brief but painful altercation with a lamp post (the lamp post won easily). 18 months later, aged 19, I was discharged from hospital but was now about four stone overweight. So, I joined a gym and set about learning how to best get rid of the weight. I studied everything I could get my hands on, attended courses, sat exams etc., eventually becoming the gym manager. For the last thirty years I have both taught others and trained myself in the arts of body building, strength, fitness and conditioning, as well as boxing and a number of martial arts; ultimately training and advising thousands of people - but I am still studying. Even though I am self-taught, I used to lecture on sports nutrition on a regular basis at the Sheffield Hallam University and have written numerous articles for various health & fitness magazines. Exercise and nutrition is a science and is constantly evolving, therefore, you have to keep on learning if you want to be good at your job. A martial arts master we know sums it up perfectly when he says: "Always a student, sometimes a teacher".
Ann's background is slightly different. She was a gymnast at school and has always been physically active, playing many sports, including hockey, netball, badminton and squash. Like many women, she started doing aerobics in the 70s but it wasn't giving her the shape - or the buzz - she wanted, so she started training with weights. As an ex-gymnast this was a simple step due to her natural strength and inner discipline. The transformation to a tighter, leaner body shape was immediate. She became hooked and was soon offered the opportunity to compete on the natural body-building circuit. Personal commitments - bringing up a family and running a business - curtailed this chance but she continued training nevertheless. After her family had grown up she finally decided to put her passion before profit. She left the family business and became a full-time gym & fitness instructor and is now doing what she does best: training people. Ann's great ability is her years of experience and no-nonsense approach to life, solving apparently complex problems with simple common sense.
Our company - Get Physical - was eventually borne out of our success as instructors, as everyone kept telling us how simple and effective our solutions are to problems encountered with exercise and weight management. After hearing, "It's so obvious" time and time again and we finally decided to start writing things down, with 'Dump the Diets' as our eating guide and our 'Train smarter, Not Harder' programmes showing how simple it is to maximise your time and effort in the gym.
The passion that started us upon our present path is stronger now than ever as we are becoming more and more frustrated at the incessant deluge of rubbish and useless information perpetuated in the popular media regarding quick-fix, celebrity-endorsed diets and exercise plans. We also get annoyed with so called 'personal trainers' who look like they've never been in a gym. It's pure hypocrisy to tell people how to develop a shape that you don't have yourself. When I tell a client how to get his 'six-pack' on display, it's not just theory; I can take my shirt off and show him that it can be done.
Ours is a practical job; you can't just read a book or do-a-weekend-course in it. You've got to lift that weight, do that abdominal crunch and run that mile. Every single exercise that we teach our clients to do will be one that we've already done ourselves, more than likely hundreds, possibly thousands of times over, fine tuning it each time in order to find the right way to produce the maximum return for the minimum effort, in other words, how to "Train Smarter, Not Harder". We apply the same logic to our nutritional work; reducing dietary advice to its simplest form. 'Dump the Diets' is our shout against the storm and people are beginning to listen.
Even though we are now in our fifties, most people assume that because we still have well defined physiques with low body fat levels, we must live like saints on salads and spend all our time in the gym and jumping on the weighing scales every five minutes to see if gained an ounce! Sorry to disappoint - you will only see us training two or three times per week for about 45 minutes per workout. You will find pizzas and wine in the fridge; alongside salads and healthy option products and you will usually find us in a pub on Saturday night. Monday to Friday we are strict about our training, eating and drinking habits, then we have the weekend off. It's all about balance and quality of life.
We've finally found ours; hopefully, this book will help you find yours.
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