“Trainer Of The Month” aims to introduce inspiring trainers on Pummel.Fit community and tell their story from the ground up. Digging on: What makes them move? How they help customers succeed with their fitness goals. The tips and tricks that can make one a better trainer. What does the future of fitness hold for them? This and much more specially curated from trainer to trainer and trainer to trainee.
Meet Coach Michael – a Melbourne based functional trainer. Michael focuses on developing body mobility and strength by using principles from gymnastics and Olympic lifting, combining them with conditioning and full body workouts.
After trying a “no pain, no gain” mindset, he found out his body was literally giving up on him. As such he has taken a fresh approach to his training. He now brings his customers on a different fitness journey, focusing on building stronger and more flexible bodies with solid foundations and movement skills.
What is your background in sports?
I was a very active child growing up, taking interest in anything physical, but my first and only love was always playing Football (soccer). Being born in the north of England where, as a male, your social standing was determined by your football ability coupled with my father’s identical obsession for the game made it my main pursuit. After moving to New Zealand as a 12 year old, I flourished in the outdoor lifestyle (compared to the English cold weather/indoor life) and always played regional representative football competing at national youth tournaments throughout my junior career.
After a few years in various amateur club level senior teams, in New Zealand and later moving to Melbourne, I had adopted a mental attitude to training that it was ‘no pain no gain’ and ‘more is more’ I would pound my body in the weight room and on the running track in pursuit of higher athletic performance. This led to my body into almost complete breakdown, my joint mobility was terrible and I began to experience injury after injury which culminated in ending up on the under the knife, undergoing hip surgery in my early 20’s.
It was time for a new outlook on life/training and this incident was really the beginning of my Movement Journey.
What is the type of training you do today?
I use training as a vehicle to help people break down mental barriers they have placed on themselves through social conditioning and their background. Specifically self confidence and self-belief.
I do this by using tools from 3 disciplines: Gymnastics Strength Training, Advanced Mobility and Barbell Strength & Power.
Gymnastic Strength Training is using tools from gymnastics and using them specifically to develop strength and skill with clients. I find this is the best way to develop upper body strength and increase muscle mass with clients. Gymnastic Strength can include learning to Handstand, Basic/Advanced Exercises on the Olympic Rings, utilizing the low bar parralletes through exercises like the L-Sit and Ring/Bar Muscle ups to name a few.
Advanced mobility is developing length & strength throughout the full range muscles and joints. I have found it useful to fix posture and relieve alignments like lower back pain/sciatica with clients. I always place a primary emphasis on developing length in clients through exercises like the Jefferson Curl and Back Bridge.
Barbell strength and power is utilising the barbell to increase overall strength, add lean muscle mass and create a body which burns fat more efficiently. The main exercises I like to develop in the beginning is the Back Squat, Deadlift and Bench Press, then when the client is more advanced to move onto the olympic lifts and other variations of the barbell movements.
What have been the biggest personal gains with this type of training? What are the hardest things to overcome?
The Gymnastic Strength Training really helps you develop confidence and belief that you can do more than you thought you were capable of. Learning to Handstand was a big one for me personally. I decided to really give it a good crack at the back end of 2016 and after a lot of frustrating set backs, when I nailed my first one it was a great feeling. Currently I am sitting at a 43 second free-standing handstand & looking to hit 60secs before the end of October!
The hardest thing to overcome is actually putting faith in yourself that you can actually accomplish what you are setting out to do. This can be overcome by persistent action, doing something daily towards your goal, and patience to know that the result will come if you just keep going!
What are your tips for people who just cannot find the motivation to come and train?
Your training needs to be connected to your life purpose! Sounds deep, but it really is! You hit the gym most days and live a balanced lifestyle and you will have a better relationship with your family (increased energy and positive mood through training). You will perform better in your profession by having a better place to live in (your body) and you will be able to keep doing the things you love like playing sport or keeping up with your kids at the local park for longer!
If you place those thoughts in your mind every time you think of skipping training then you will have a hard time not making it to your session!
How did you start your PT and coaching business. What was the hardest?
I started back in New Zealand, I had a close friend who was doing a PT course and it got me interested. I decided I would give it a crack and I haven’t really turned back since!
I started out as a gym instructor, then an employed personal trainer and then I decided I needed to give it a real crack and started renting my own space at a studio in Melbourne CBD.
The hardest part is understanding that it is not just the training that holds your value as a trainer. You need an understanding of all aspects of business and most of all you need to understand that your ability to build rapport with a vast array of personalities is your key to success. Nobody wants to hang out with someone they do not like for 3 sessions a week!
How much do you use social media and online marketing. What are your best tips on getting noticed on these channels.
Since I started renting space I began using social media a lot more! Mainly Instagram and Facebook at the moment. At the moment, you look around the streets, everyone is staring at their phones! This is where all the attention is at the moment so it is good to have a presence there.
I have had success with delivering a consistent message that is an authentic look of how you train and, to a lesser extent, live your life. I try to post daily to IG and FB. I am a little slack with the IG story but try to show people how I train clients through there every other day!
Basically, I believe that if you deliver a message that is authentic on a consistent basis, then it is an easy exercise that can showcase what you do to the world.
What do you see as the future of PT and coaching?
With the mass movement to online, I see there being a bigger market for online training programs. But I believe you cannot replace the experience of coming to see a trainer face to face on a regular basis so I do not think we will be replaced by robots any time soon!
What has been your biggest AHHAA moment with managing your clients and what was the biggest mistake you learned from?
AHHAA moment was something super simple I learnt early on! I began sending reminder messages to clients the night before the session with a personalised message of what to expect the next day! This not only reminded the client about the session but also put them in the right mind frame for the session the next day. I also found I barely ever got a ‘no-show’ since I started doing this.
The mistake I learned was that, no matter how experienced you are, you must have a plan for your sessions. There was a time (earlier in my career) that I thought I could just rely on my experience to give a great service. But I found I had no way of showing the clients their progress or what they had achieved during their training! Now I use a Software Application called FitBot to track all the data on my clients like PB’s, measurements, goals and also to track all the exercises they do in their sessions with me.
Where can people find you and how can they get in contact.
I am pretty active on Instagram and Facebook at the moment so if you want to get in touch just shoot me a message on Pummel.Fit, or email!
Download the Pummel App and search for me by my top tags #CALISTHENICS #GYMNASTICS #SPORTSPECIFIC