I visited one of London’s most exclusive personal trainers – here’s what I learnt

Young woman lifting dumbbell, against tiled wall, close-up

I visited one of London’s most exclusive personal trainers – here’s what I learnt (Image: Getty)

I’ve always been naturally slim – which is lucky because I absolutely hate working out and eating well.

Forever envious of my friends who gleefully bounce off to their exercise classes and whip up nutritious meals for fun, I have never been able to get excited about working out or healthy eating.

So when I was given the opportunity to visit Matt Hodges, a personal trainer to the world’s elite – many of his clients are top secret, I did ask and he wouldn’t tell me – I was admittedly nervous.

The perception I’d always had of personal trainers was that they are very intimidating and strict.

But while Matt did work me very hard in the gym and completely changed my cooking habits, he wasn’t scary at all and actually made my personal training experience enjoyable which exceeded any expectations I had.

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Every time I stepped into the Fitzrovia fitness hub a stone’s throw away from Great Portland Street Underground Station, I felt totally at ease.

One thing that immediately stood out to me about Matt was that his methods were completely bespoke. In our first session, he took me through a Functional Body Analysis, which involved taking my measurements and testing me on different exercises to assess my movement, strength and posture. He then provided me with an eight week exercise plan to help me improve in these three areas.

From the start Matt emphasised to me that my goal should be to become stronger and more confident in the gym rather than lose weight, as I had started off at a healthy size anyway. Matt’s overall stance on fitness is very refreshing – it’s all about feeling empowered, not matching the unrealistic standards often set by this industry.

The workouts were divided into upper body push and lower body pull (Monday and Thursday) and upper body pull and lower body push (Tuesday and Friday), with each week getting progressively harder.

Before Matt sent me on my way with the complex regime, I had a few crucial sessions where he took me through the exercises, ensuring I understood each move and that my form was correct.

As I was pretty much new to exercise, I found some parts of these sessions extremely difficult. But any time I wanted to give up on an exercise Matt would distract me with one of his jaw-dropping anecdotes from his new book Behind Gym Doors, a hilarious read about the weird and wonderful world of fitness. From famous footballers to billionaires to real life gangsters, Matt Hodges has seen it all in his line of work.

What each of my workouts had in common was the “fundamental four” exercises Matt would randomly make me recite during our sessions. The Stomach vacuum, Birddog, Dead Bug and Static Bear were all incredibly important moves that formed the basis of my training.

Doing these exercises four times a week – alongside the many others – made me feel so much stronger and I felt a true sense of accomplishment when I was able to push myself further than the week before, especially on the days I wanted to be anywhere other than on the exercise mat.

But it wasn’t just my exercise regime I had to totally revamp in order to make progress – it was my diet too. Despite being slim, my eating habits are appalling, which Matt soon found out and got to work changing immediately.

Days where I skipped breakfast, enjoyed a sharing bag of chocolate for lunch and a takeaway for dinner were common, but I was soon educated on proper nutrition.

After analysing my eating habits using the app MyFitnessPal, he gave me a strict but satisfying meal plan with sufficient proteins, fats and carbohydrates to keep me going throughout the day and fuel my workouts.

The fitness guru calculated my Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) which told me how many calories I needed to consume in a day to stay exactly the same size, and my meal suggestions were created accordingly.

Matt’s diet plan was definitely doable and I stuck to it perfectly at breakfast and lunch times. However, being a social butterfly I am often out for dinners or drinks which made following the plan much trickier.

If I had ditched dinner dates and declined cocktail invites over the eight weeks I think I would have seen much more physical progress. It’s a plan that guarantees results if you do it properly, putting long term gains above short term gratification.

Changing my exercise and eating habits meant I did look noticeably more toned by the end of the eight weeks, not to mention felt much stronger. However, I am most proud of my mental transformation.

I started off the programme doing all Matt’s exercises at home but gradually ventured into the gym more and more as the weeks went on. His non-judgemental style of training will make even the biggest gym repellent confident in their ability to train. I also went from clueless in the kitchen to savvy when it comes to building a healthy plate.

What I ate in an average day on the programme:

Meal one (8am-9am): Smoothie made from two scoops of SunWarrior Protein blend, 10g of peanut butter, one quarter of a small avocado, 20g of blueberries and half a banana

Meal two (12pm-1pm): Grenade Carb Killa Protein bar and one large banana

Meal three (2pm-3pm): 120g chicken salad with 60g of quinoa, lettuce, tomatoes, snap peas and three to four olives, finished off with either half an avocado or a drizzle of olive oil

Meal four (8pm): 200g beef mince, fried and garnished, served inside a Sainsbury’s Plain Gluten Free Tortilla and topped with tomatoes and half a small avocado

If I was having a takeaway instead of Meal four, I needed to calculate how many calories this would be and subtract these calories from my allowed daily intake. In accordance with my BMR, this meant that if I had a takeaway that was 1,400 calories, I only had 50 calories left for the rest of the day.

source: express.co.uk