In a world of digital gratification (Instagram bods), instantaneous communication and miraculous results, have we lost sight of the value of old-school training and nutrition when it comes to our health and wellbeing? Abhijeet Bhardwaj, personal trainer from Oxford Performance Centre, believes that in order to achieve long-lasting results people should learn to love the process and develop healthy relationships with their body and nutrition. We asked Abhijeet to talk us through his career as a personal trainer and how he educates his clients towards a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.
1. Run me through your career up until this point.
Leaving school, I joined the Australian Defence Force as solider in the Australian Army. During the time I served in the military, I was fortunate enough to travel and also start my degree in Exercise and Sports science, which I did via correspondence. Due to a severe injury, I left the military at the tail end of 2011 and transferred to full time study into Bachelor of Physiotherapy at ACU. Along with studying, health and fitness has always been my passion so I started working as a Personal Trainer.
The experience I have received in the last 5 years of working in the health and fitness industry has come from being mentored by some of the best strength coaches in Australia. I had the opportunity to learn from one of the best weightlifting coaches in Australia, Martin Harlowe, Australian Junior weightlifting coach at my first internship. This work experience was a major milestone where I realised that I loved this industry and decided to pursue my career with intent.
2. Why did you choose to be a personal trainer?
Being a personal trainer allowed me to be the focal point of a client's health journey. As I am currently training to be a physiotherapist, I feel that other health practitioners simply don't see the client's enough to have an actual impact in their life (although perhaps I am little biased). Whether that's a nutritionist or a physiotherapist, a PT has a greater availability of time with a client allowing for the greatest change and as well as being a life partner for their health goals.
3. With early starts and late finishes, how do you manage to balance personal and work life?
Balance is difficult for me. With full time work, study and training at least 8 - 10 hours a week, there really isn't much room for much else. The key I have realised over time (something I learned in the military) is to be ruthless with my time and prioritise. I only spend time doing things that I know is going to be beneficial to me; that being said, I do love my down time but even then, I try not do things that will lead me astray. Things like meditation, surfing and playing a lot of sport with my close friends give me enough energy to get through my day.
4. What has been your greatest challenge and your greatest reward thus far?
The greatest challenge for me has been trying to complete my degree. I have almost given up on it, twice. Being only 6 months away is a great feeling. My greatest reward has been helping my father almost remove diabetes and blood pressure from his life. After 3 years of closely working with him, my dad has finally got control over his sugar and hypertension. Along with that, he is probably the best shape he has been in since his 30's. He just climbed up to the Advanced Base Camp at the age of 60!
5. What was your experience of your first ever session as a qualified personal trainer?
My first ever session as a PT, I remember being very nervous and afraid that I will do something wrong or say something that is perhaps incorrect. I remember finishing that session and realising that half the things I said, I probably didn't need to.
6. What are your core beliefs as a trainer and are there three things that you hope to instil in your clients from training with you?
For most people, training and nutrition is simply a "magic pill" that they feel that they must do, to look good naked or be the shape they want to be. There is nothing wrong with this but the reality is that until you develop a good relationship with your body, you probably won't have the body you desire. So in my opinion movement and eating healthy shouldn't be done as a chore. It should be done because we are meant to do that. Working with clients, it this habit that I try to instil:
- Creating a good relationship with food and eating - Nutrition is the foundation of health. Dieting and strict eating just limits people in the long term but on the same note, if you have body composition goals, you will need balance your energy. Having a good relationship with food will allow you to do so, quicker.
- Creating a good relationship with movement - People fear gyms because they feel like they should train in a gym. The reality is that it's just one outlet. Granted weight training is necessary in my opinion for most people, you don't have to train in a gym 6 days a week. Learn to play sports, run, learn to surf or rock climb. The more you challenge your body, the better it will become.
- Learn to love the process - In a goal orientated society where we are so focused on 28 day and 6 week challenges, we forget that life continues afterwards as well. If you don't fall in love with the process of becoming healthier, your journey will always be a roller coaster.
7. With such a saturation of information about nutrition and fitness methods, how do you believe clients can improve their understanding of fitness and nutrition?
I have some good news and some bad news. Bad news is that there really isn't any particular way that you can decipher through the information out there and figure out what works and what doesn't, except by trying it. Good news is that 70-80% of the information that is known to be correct about the health and fitness industry has been around for upwards of 30 years. Optimal training methods still involves running, lifting, sprinting and jumping, like it has for 50 years. Optimal eating still involves large variety of whole, real foods and replenishment of the personal energy balance. Not much has changed. My best advice is to read everything and take it with a pinch of salt. Problem arises when people believe everything they hear.
8. What is one advice you wish someone had told you before entering this profession?
Stop partying and sleep on time.
9. Any advice for people who want to become a personal trainer?
Best advice I can give to any new trainers are:
- Certificates and degrees won't get you anywhere. Find someone who is ridiculously smart and/or good at what they do and work under them (for free if you must). I have learned more things working under people in 6 weeks than I have in a 4-year degree.
- Practice what you preach: If you teach yoga, practice yoga. If you teach weightlifting, you should probably lift some weights. Not only will this help with your credibility but people will respect you more.
- Don't worry about INSTAGRAM - Produce content not selfies. If you want to be known, provide knowledge to people and they will stick around. If you are only known for your body parts, chances are those followers aren't loyal.
Similar to Abhijeet, First Class Wealth has the same methodology when it comes to personal finance - take the time to understand and develop a sustainable approach, start now as there is no right time to start and gain knowledge from the best in the industry.
To book a session with Abhijeet Bhardwaj, visit www.oxfordperformancecentre.com.au, or follow him on Instagram @rarehealthandfitness.