By Charis Webster.
Tins of chocolates, mince pies and any excuse for a mulled wine or two, are inevitable signs of a fast-approaching Christmas. Come the New Year, gym memberships will spike and our guilt will go into overtime at all the eating we did do and all the exercise we didn’t.
It’s widely recognised that having your very own Mr Motivator is key to the success of losing weight and keeping in shape. Not only are they there to watch, support and advise on your every sporty move, they’re there to assist with the equally important psychological aspect of keeping fit.
But, have you ever thought about the person behind the lean, mean, fitness machine that is the Personal Trainer? While they’re training you how to look and feel good, someone somewhere, had to train them.
Training providers are the fitness machines of all fitness machines. Somewhere along that long chain of hope is a team of teachers who are teaching your teacher how to teach you. (Or something like that.)
Based in Poole, with academies in Winchester and Portsmouth, the Academy of Exercise Studies (AES) are bringing their business to the borough after signing up with national Gym, DW Sports Fitness. AES say they have a different approach to being a training provider. Working alongside national charity Catch 22, in Portsmouth, the company have already shown their softer side, as they help change the lives of disadvantaged young people in the area by running apprenticeships in health and fitness.
“We plan to repeat that here too”, says AES co-director, Helen Wilson. “The charity chose us over at least five others because they knew we have that personal touch, and we really care about our projects.”
With a degree in Psychology and experience in social care, as well as a life-long passion for fitness and health, Helen, 32, combined her passions to create the business with her business partner Liam Johnson, 33.
Helen said: “We met working for a national training provider. We both didn’t like the way the industry was going so we set one up ourselves.” The pair had seen a decrease in quality of training throughout their careers as personal training teachers. “We were teaching short, six-week courses with 24 people each. That’s an awful lot to try and practically teach, and it’s a lot to do in short time.
“There were points when I found it really difficult to give each learner the level of information I wanted in the time available, you absolutely don’t want to feel like you are setting someone up to fail!”
With this in mind, the duo set up their own training academy, and they vow to give that personal touch they say so many national chains lack. “Courses have become an awful lot shorter, and learners have been churned out thinking they know everything but then realising quite soon they need to learn more.” As part of Helen’s ambition to do more, she is in the process of developing a website called mytrainer, which will be an extension of their current site, exercisestudies.co.uk.
Helen commented: “We don’t want to churn out people that are going to fail, so we try and bridge that gap. “It’s also to keep people learning, give them a forum to ask questions, and to give gyms a place to have their say too. It helps us keep interactive with our clients and constantly improve.”
With a promise of no more than twelve learners per course and a ratio of one lecturer to six learners, Helen says the difference is obvious. “We really care about our learners. We want them to become something and our approach proves that.”
With a history in physio therapy and gym management, Helen’s business partner, Liam, brings the “applied knowledge” aspect to the fitness business. Helen continued, “You’ve got to know about bones and muscles, about how the body works and how to apply things properly.
It’s all very well having a great personality and being fighting fit but if you don’t know you’re stuff you’re not going to do the clients lasting good.”
Meanwhile, Helen, brings the personal touch, the communication skills, which she says are as important as the science behind it.
“It’s about motivation, it’s about goal setting, and it’s about how to get into someone’s head space. The psychological aspect is massive, simply because that’s what gets people through the gym doors and gets them to stick it out.
“Our message is that we offer the whole package, applied knowledge and consultation skills. Bring the two together and you should be amazing!”
AES is holding open evenings in Poole on 5th December and 9th January. They’ll be answering questions on what they do and showing learners the environment in which they’ll learn. Visit their website for more info like them on Facebook.