How to Choose a New Gym

Ten year ago if you wanted to find a new gym or trainer, you’d pop up google and do a we search or flick open the yellow pages. For younger readers, thats a big floppy book – ah… a book is a collection of paper containing information, bound together for convenience… sigh!

Getting back on topic, if you wanted to find a gym years ago you searched for it but these days with social media holding such a powerful networking capacity, you have only got to ask however!

A couple of observations:

  1. People are asking for specific solutions from an audience they don’t know, yet somewhat trust.
  2. Those who answer rarely read the full question and reply with their personal preference, often totally missing the actual question details

Quick example I see often is: ‘Hi, I am looking for personal trainer to work with at their studio’. And what do the most replies suggest? Try _____ bootcamp, or buy this App, or my powerlifting club is great. I am sure all of these are great but just not what the person asking was looking for.

An Idea

The following is something of a checklist I like to share for people when they start to consider personal training or group exercise etc.

My intention is not to sell my business because indeed, what I do and what my clients do may not actually be what everyone is looking for.

That’s actually where you should start – know what it is you want to achieve and what you have to give to achieve it.

Consider the following:

  1. What’s your exercise history? Are you experienced, a beginner?
  2. How much time per day/week/month can you allocate to your exercise?
  3. What’s your $$$ budget per week or month?
  4. Know your goals and ask yourself why they are your goals to fully understand your reasoning when it comes to aligning with a prospective trainer or gym.
  5. Make a point to contact the head trainer of each and every gym you look at to check off how their clients train to see if it matches what you are prepared to do. If high intensity interval training isn’t your thing, don’t join a HIIT gym. If you need to get stronger, try a strength focused gym. See below.
  6. How hard or intense is the gyms training system? It does vary. Some gyms focus on high intensity interval training while others train at sustainable strength efforts or focus on ‘core training’, or cardio… know what you like to do. Does the gym even have a system or is it random???
  7. Don’t weigh up the gyms superhero members and their results as it may not reflect your path and or background or the vast majority of that gyms or trainers clientele.
  8. Ask yourself if you actually need to hire a trainer – can you train at home following an online program for a fraction of the cost of a gym or trainer?
  9. As you measure up different gyms and PTs, don’t weigh up or value in price alone.
  10. The gist of this is this: know what you want and really know what the trainers and gyms do with their clients and did I say really know what you want vs what others tell you is awesome for them. Be you. Got it?

I’m just trying to help you think about your decisions yourself rather than relying on the deluge of individual responses on social media.

If you have any questions about this or other matters please do ask.


Even the fiercest beast starts out as a baby

We all started out laid out on the floor as babies and with prolific contact between our our hands and feet with the floor we learned about our environment very quickly.

This of course led to us progressing to more upright endeavours until we all started to sit (slouch) more.

Maybe it’s a good idea to get back to floor to rekindle all those neuro-physical benefits of ground contact. As a quick remark, I’ve found that many clients squat and deadlift better after some practice of crawling….

Baby Crawl to Beast Crawl

No one ever gets to floor, crawls a while and stands up with smile proclaiming, “wow, that was easy!”

Crawling is tough as your body ties together and links your upper body and lower body together. Crawling also activates cross bracing on the trunk, tying together your opposite shoulders and hips together, you know, natural gait like when you walk, jog, run and climb.

So here’s a great sequence for you to practice.

Start in the simplest of crawls, the baby crawl on all fours (or sixes if you count the feet dragging on the ground). Take a few steps before continuing on your feet and hands in what you can call the Beast crawl.

The rules: you must maintain nasal breathing. If you have to suck in wind through the mouth, your set is done. Rest a bit then repeat.

As the body gets stronger and breathing nasally becomes more prolonged, spend less time on the baby crawl and more in beast.


Oh, you want more…. try the above with reverse crawling, going backwards 🙂

Simplest hack to boost your gym results

What’s the best hack to getting results Jamie?

I get frequent and some very awesome questions from both in-person personal training and online clients. One common query surrounds hacks. A shortcut to good ol fashioned time, patience oh, and putting in the hard yards.

I get asked about oils, shakes, best carbs, food timing, supplements, exercise routines, recovery methods for enhanced performance and recovery … all except one extraordinarily simple thing we do every day. This one thing for the most part, we don’t do very well but once improved, really can be a powerful performance enhancer in all aspects of our life.

Drum Roll… Sleep more.

We’ve all experienced those foggy days after waking up prematurely perhaps, or maybe after a late night or an interrupted nights slumber owing to a feisty family of possums who have been practicing their Irish dancing on your roof! This latter fits the description of my last 4 nights … sigh, yawn!

We all know we probably should sleep more, shooting for those recommended 7 to 8 hours a night. Yeah, I know, you’ve probably claimed at some time to do just fine on 5 hours a night like Elon Musk or Donald Trump who claims to sleep 4-5 hours a night and maybe you are one of those rare individuals who claim the same. However, the vast majority of people need 7 to 8 hours of clean sleep per night to recover and rejuvenate.

Contrary to what some say about getting used to reduced sleep periods, the body still needs the 7 to 8 hours+ to sequence a series of bodily processes to recover from the previous day and especially if you exercise frequently and expect to see results.

Board-certified sleep medicine doctor and neurologist W. Christopher Winter, M.D., of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine, and author of the upcoming book, The Sleep Solution, says if it takes you about 10 to 15 minutes to conk out, you only get up once or twice at night, and you wake up before your alarm, you’re sleeping at the right level of efficiency – especially if you feel well-rested throughout the day. “You’re really looking for that happy medium.”

As for conditioning yourself to reduced sleep, If you’re falling asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow or while relaxing in front of the TV in the evening, chances are you’re not getting enough sleep though. It is a fine balance.

So, yes, getting those 7 to 8 hours is a balance you get to experiment with but happens during sleep that’s so important for all you exercisers?

stages of sleep

A brief look at the stages of sleep


  • Between being awake and falling asleep
  • Light sleep


  • Onset of sleep
  • Becoming disengaged from surroundings
  • Breathing and heart rate are regular
  • Body temperature drops (so sleeping in a cool room is helpful)


  • Deepest and most restorative sleep
  • Blood pressure drops
  • Breathing becomes slower
  • Muscles are relaxed
  • Blood supply to muscles increases
  • Tissue growth and repair occurs
  • Energy is restored
  • Hormones are released, such as: Growth hormone, essential for growth and development, including muscle development
  • Provides energy to brain and body
  • Supports daytime performance

You can see the list of benefits of stage 3 and do you think we’re helping ourselves by missing out on these? Can we really recover from our training and work if we’re missing out on essential snooze time?


Maybe keep track of your sleep over the next few nights, note what time you go to bed at assuming you’re not drifting off on the sofa and of course note what time you wake at. If you’re feeling under par during the and getting less than 7 hours sleep, perhaps it’s time to address what time you go to bed at.

On that note, I’ll stop here so you can plan your bed time – oh, and maybe investigate turning off blue light devices and changing your smart devices night mode to the orange back light.


Night night


Good any thoughts? Drop me a note if you’d like.

Men Wanted … for Thrivival!

Survival vs Thrivival!

Wow, now that’s a mouthful. Hopefully it got your attention whilst everything else on the internet vies for your attention too. 

Right now there is a growing population of men entering into their 40s and heading towards their 50s, me included. We’re faced with a couple of issues in this age category. There are some of us who have been physically active since leaving school who may have picked up a few tweaks along the way. Of course, there are some too who have been either lucky or strategic (whether intentional or not) to have avoided any injuries, aches and pains. 

There are also those of us who got side-tracked after school or college and now wonder what happened to that 30″ waist and the last 20 years.

At this point, as a 44 year man, father and husband and full time trainer, I’m looking at my daughter growing up and wondering about chasing grand children around and still being able to contribute in another 20 years time. I don’t want to be like so many other 60+ men who have fallen from physical grace, struggling to achieve even the most basic of day to day physical tasks. 

But, I am man who prides himself in being able to move well without pain, who can still throw around the weights albeit with sense and planning and I still want to and plan to do just that for another 20, 30 maybe 40 years. If I can age like the late and great Jack LaLanne, still active and leading by example in my 90s, then I will.

I won’t get there by chasing arbitrary numbers in the gym, beating myself up along the way like so many other gym rats in pursuit of a random goal. I will succeed by practicing the skills of strength and mobility pertaining to what I enjoy, what I need and want to focus on. In fact, this is exactly what I have been doing for the past few years along with most of my keen and eager gym members and friends, practicing the skill of strength. Members have progressed to be able to exercise without pain, regained confidence, lowered stress and have been able to get fitter and stronger than their 10 year younger selves. 

No pain, know gain.

Thrivival (just the word I’ve coined for this piece) is about thriving in our own lives so we can live, long and happy, pain free and able to contribute to the lives of our family, community and circle of friends. 

I don’t want to go into a lengthy, explanatory article here, but I want to invite other men like me, to discover how to still train for strength, to move better without creaking and find a way of exercising that isn’t threatening, but empowering. 

Nuf said!

To recap, I’m looking for a small bunch of men aged between 40-50 (maybe older, why not) who are looking to improve their health, strength and fitness but, without getting busted up along the way. 

Men who want to:

  1. Move without aches or pains
  2. Leave a training session feeling better than when they came in
  3. Rediscover how to use your own body to get stronger and tougher

Spots are limited and I’m looking for men who want to start now between early morning sessions and mid morning sessions at least twice a week.

If this is you, please fill out the form below.



Just a very, very small glance of some moves we practice.
The list of options for YOU is huge.

Top 10 Things To Do For a Great Training Session

There are many things you could do to make your next training session good, or better or even the best session ever. Here are the first 10 things that pop into my mind which are based on some of my experiences after 20 years working in personal training.

1. Wake up: there nothing quite as sabotaging as arriving at the gym having only woken up 10 minutes earlier. Get up early, drink some water, coffee if you’re a coffee person, a bite to eat if you’re a pre-trainer eater, move around a bit, brush your teeth and spray on your damn deodorant and then head off to the gym with some pumping music to really wake you up.

2. Turn Up: funny how some people don’t improve in the gym when they don’t turn up very often! Now, if you’re contagious, stay away of course. The most successful people in anything turn up. What happens after that is dependant on … next point.

3. Mobilise: you can’t expect to perform optimally if you’re as tight as a lamppost, so spend 5 to 10 minutes loosening up with a mobility routine. There are plenty of resources available from Original Strength, Ground Force Movement, the work of Eric Cressey and Michael Boyle Strength Conditioning. Find one system or combination of all of them that you like and just do it.

4. Have a Plan B: sometimes our plan calls for doing ABC but, we all get those days when our good ol body tells us that it’s not going to do ABC so well. So, what do you do? Go home? Maybe! Fight your way through it? Maybe not a great idea! How about just ease up on the intensity or use alternative movements. This is why doing a Mobility routine as part of warming up is vital. It can tell you what’s feeling off, what’s just not loosening up and it may help direct what happens next. Listen to your body.

5. Stop rushing it: I often get the impression that personal training clients think they’re paying to squeeze as much into per session. Seriously, you don’t have to be doing something vigorous every minute. Take it easy between sets, they are rest breaks – so rest. If you really want something to do, throw in a mobility drill for an upcoming movement.

6. Put your phone away: seriously, unless you’re waiting on a very important call from your boss, wife, hubby or that hot chick you met in the line at ‘Doughnut Time’, put your bloody phone away. Between your irritating message alert and your hunched over posture as you bang away on your smartphone, you’re not doing your training session any good.

7. Leave the ego at home: I’m sure we’ve all born witness to the guy or gal in the gym who loses the plot over a missed rep or forgetting their hand panties, sorry, I mean workout gloves. Being honest, I was once one of those gym rats who took it all too seriously and got way too stressed. It may take a while, but learning to accept that our body knows best and often want’s us to slow up or leave a rep in the tank, is a lesson worth paying attention to.

8. Cover the essentials: for those who want to go pump arms and chest 5 days a week, well done; you’ll be making new friends soon with a physiotherapist, chiropractor, orthopaedic surgeon etal. Your training plan (you do have a plan don’t you?) may have a particular focus at a particular time, but always get in some Squatting, Lifting things off the floor, pulling and pushing, working your midsection and probably do some stuff that gets you out of breath too.

9. Keep records: how do you know you’re stronger now than 20 weeks ago? How do know how you got stronger? Why haven’t you gotten as strong as you anticipated? For a start, if you’re not measuring it you’re not managing it. Keep notes along with your plan. Note the weights, reps and sets or how you deviated from the written plan. By doing this every session for a few seconds will give you a wealth of information for future reference. Case in point: I have records going back to 1989 when I was a young up and coming cyclist.

10. Find solace in gratitude: maybe not something you’d expect on a gym to-do list but, we all get those training sessions where we could let the ego take over and go all Hulk-like or, we can learn to stand back, take a breath or two and think of something less unpleasant and realistic. We all have things that happen each and every day which we are thankful for. The smile of our child, the awesome coffee at breakfast, the blue sky, or that hot chick in the line of Doughnut Time. While seemingly inconsequential, making a habit of acknowledging the little good things holds just enough meaning to put a smile on one’s dial.

Created by Jamie Hunter

FitStrong Personal Training