Believe And Achieve: Ben Coleman
More and more people have been seeking the expertise of personal trainers in recent years. The fitness industry today has been changing at a breakneck pace. Some of the change has been for the better, as public parks have outdoor exercise equipment, group exercise options have increased, some gyms are now paying attention to the benefit of social support for exercise adherence, and the recent proliferation of barbells, lifting platforms, and free weights warms the heart of the generation of today. Personal trainer and a celebrity favourite, Ben Coleman offers group training, nutritional advice, and bootcamps to clients across England.
He is of the opinion that our bodies are the greatest tool for exercising and he is constantly fascinated and experimenting with how to use bodyweight in exercising. That is why he created the 4-Week-Fitness guide which focuses on bodyweight training. This fitness guide shows how you can achieve everything you want - and more, and all from the comfort of your own home. He specialises in helping clients stay in a fitter shape through better nutrition and a holistic lifestyle. He spoke with FHM India about getting fit through food.
How did you get involved in the business of health, wellness, and personal training? From where did you receive your education?
I developed a passion for health, fitness, and sports at an early age. Athletics, gymnastics, trampolining, basketball, you name it, I did it and I loved it. As I grew up, I knew I wanted to help others in their fitness journey, which is why I wanted to become a personal trainer. I studied my undergraduate degree in Fitness and Personal Training at Southampton Solent University. Nutrition in sport was an integral part of my degree.
Fitness is emerging as one of the fastest-growing segments in the healthcare sector. Do you think there is enough scope for fitness experts globally?
Over the past ten years, the fitness industry has exploded. Social media has played a huge part in this, when I started as a trainer, working with clients face-to-face was an essential part of the job. Nowadays, people are far more willing to use online trainers because they form personal relationships with their trainers via Facebook and Instagram. In my opinion, there is more than enough demand to go around - more people than ever are getting involved in fitness and lead more active lifestyles. As people become more aware of the importance of health and fitness, that demand will only increase further.
Why is it important for people to stay fit? And how can we overcome the procrastination and fear of working out on a regular basis?
An active lifestyle is essential for a fit and healthy body. The human body is an amazing thing, it’s our responsibility to stay active and look after it to the best of our ability. Being active isn’t just about physical fitness though. I’m also a big believer that it delivers significant mental health benefits. Next time you are feeling low, do some form of exercise. It can be anything from perhaps a walk, swim session, a yoga class, whatever you like; and I guarantee you’ll feel better.
What kind of workouts would you recommend for those who sit and work for long hours at a desk job?
If you’ve got a desk job, it’s crucial to stretch regularly. The unnatural position you sit in for long periods of time can cause aches, pains, stiffness, and postural problems. I always recommend yoga and pilates to my office-based clients as it helps realign and stretch their bodies. Cardio exercise and strength training will also help those sitting at desks all day. Being so sedentary keeps our heart rate artificially low and will, over time, decrease the muscle tissue. Ultimately, this reduces our strength and stamina, which is not a good combination for our bodies. If you’re short on time, I recommend HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) – it covers both cardio and strength training and sessions can be done in just 20 minutes.
Everyone is conscious about fitness these days and begins over-exercising. How can one be sure that they haven’t overtrained?
Unless you’re an elite athlete, you should not be training more than five times a week. You also need to make sure you’re eating properly to fuel any increased activity – if you’re not, you risk burning yourself out. All too often, people ignore what their body is telling them. If you’re feeling tired and training sessions aren’t going well, even when you’re doing them regularly, it’s possible you’ve overdone it. Take a week off and let your body recover. When you get back to training, you’re more likely to be quicker and stronger. Sometimes you need a break, rather than to push it further to improve your strength.
Are there any precautions that can be taken while doing strenuous workouts and to avoid muscle injury?
Always make sure you are fully warmed up before exercising. You need to mobilise the joints to warm up the synovial fluid between the joints and raise the heart rate gradually with some form of light cardio. If you plan to weight train, also warm up with lightweight before you begin lifting the heavyweight. Ensuring you have correct form is also a must to avoid injury - use mirrors in the gym or ask a fitness professional to check your form.
Do you have a specific approach for your clients who want to gain muscle mass as quickly as possible, or do you design each programme based on the individual’s personal requirements?
There are well-established theories and practices to achieve fitness goals, but these must be used in conjunction with the specific needs of the individual. For example, any injuries they may have (new or historic) or other medical conditions and genetics (body type). What’s going to work for one person won’t necessarily give the same results to another. Before I design a programme for a client, we go through their full medical history and lifestyle. I can then put the theories and practices into a bespoke programme that will work for them. Following a general programme will deliver some results, but that won’t compare to a tailored programme designed specifically for you.
Nowadays we see people following all kinds of diets- Keto, Mediterranean, Protein and several others. Are they healthy, in your opinion?
Fad diets are exactly that – a fad. Whilst some of them may deliver some short term ‘results’, such as weight loss, this is usually because they are removing whole food groups from your diet. The truth is: ultimately, if you only eat five biscuits a day you will lose weight because your calorie consumption is low. However, these biscuits will not provide the fuel your body needs to run efficiently. This is not a long-term solution for a healthy, balanced diet. The only sustainable, healthy way to lose weight is to reduce your overall calorie consumption – ideally by cutting down, or cutting out, foods that are high in trans and saturated fats and processed foods. A balanced diet, that is nutrient-rich, combined with regular physical activity is the key to a healthy body.
What is your approach to nutrition and what does your diet look like on a regular basis?
My philosophy is to eat small meals regularly, three main meals and 2-3 snacks per day. By reducing the portion size and eating more regularly, it’s easier to maintain blood sugar levels, which helps control weight gain and perform more efficiently. I eat a lean, varied diet filled with oats, fruit, lots of veggies, nuts, seeds, fish, chicken and lean red meat on occasion. I tend to only drink water rather than other soft drinks. However, I’m human too. The main thing to remember is to keep those treats to exactly that – a treat. Not a regular thing.
As an expert in the field of nutrition do you think that nutrition timing matters?
Absolutely. The timing of when and what we eat is crucial in fuelling our body correctly. We must first look at the activities and address the timings of food accordingly. For example, after a tough gym session, we should be replacing our glycogen stores within 15 minutes. Consuming carbohydrates within this time frame can help the body retain up to 50 per cent more glycogen. This will, in turn, benefit our performance for our next session.
How do you rate the Indian diet? Do we get enough protein? What would your recommendations be?
Indian food is delicious. Fresh fish, lentils, chickpea dishes are a great source of protein and fibre. However, on the other hand, excessive chapatis, white rice and ghee are not great for weight loss. I have many clients who struggle with their predominantly Indian diet. My recommendations would be to try to reduce the sugar and salt content when preparing food and replace certain foods for slower release carbohydrates such as brown rice rather than white rice.