Fitness Advice From A Personal Trainer – Chontel Duncan

My Best Fitness Advice After 8 Years As A Personal Trainer

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My Best Fitness Advice After 8 Years As A Personal Trainer
Fitness Advice

When it comes to life learnings, we’ve all got bucketloads of anecdotes and wisdom to share. Even the ones we don’t often talk about have helped us to grow into better versions of ourselves. 

Throughout my health and fitness journey I have learned so much about myself, my capabilities, what fuels me and what doesn’t, and I draw on these learnings constantly. 

So I thought I’d share them with you. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts. 

My top 8 pieces of advice 

It was tough to narrow it down, but I’ve picked 8 pieces of advice I wish someone had told me when I was starting out with health and fitness. 

Stick your favourite ones onto your fridge, whack them up on your bathroom mirror, or write them into your diary — whatever you need to keep them top of mind. 

1. You don’t need to exercise, you want to

Realistically we don’t need to do anything; not even eat food or drink water. But we know the consequences of not doing those things are pretty dire, so we choose to do them to survive. Just like we don’t need to go to work, but if we want a roof over our heads, then we probably want to go to work so we can afford rent or a mortgage. 

For a long time my mind was fixated on this need to exercise to get fit or lose weight, which made it hard to stick to a routine because it felt like a chore. The minute I started saying I wanted to work out, because I wanted to feel good, the game changed. 

2. Motivation has nothing to do with forming healthy habits

If you’re waiting for a giant wave of motivation to kick you into a healthy routine, you’re going to be waiting a while. Being involved in sport as a kid, I was always pretty good at forming routines, but as an adult, life gets busy, your priorities change and it can be hard to get yourself into a structured regime. 

That’s why discipline is key. Put time in your diary to work out and stick to it. Get a food diary and monitor your diet. It’s okay to shift things as life gets busy, but unless you’re disciplined, your healthy habits won’t hang around.

3. Stop comparing yourself to others

This one is broken-record material, so why do so many of us keep forgetting it? Refraining from comparing ourselves to those around us — whether it is others at the gym, on social media, or even within our own friendship groups — can be difficult, but it’s so important to remember we are all different. 

Having someone to look up to is great, but remember we live different lives, have different circumstances and different goals. Just because someone looks like they have it all together doesn’t necessarily mean they do. And remember, perfect is not the goal. 

Chontel Duncan

4. The best time to train is when you don’t want to

You’re tired, cranky, busy, whatever — the last thing you feel like doing is hauling yourself to the gym. I get it. But when you’re in this state, it’s actually the best time to train. 

The hardest part will be getting yourself into your gym gear and out the door. When you’ve crushed a workout and are leaving feeling 100 times better, I guarantee you’ll thank yourself. Not only will you be flexing your physical muscles, but also your mental muscles, too — which is why conditioning yourself to get up and do it, even when you’re not feeling it, is so beneficial. 

Love yourself enough to not give up: you’ll have days where you really want to, but you’ve just got to beat that voice in your head.

5. Talk to an expert

Seeking guidance and advice from a health professional is incredibly valuable in helping you reach your goals. Whether it’s a nutritionist, personal trainer or exercise physiologist, finding an expert that’s right for you can make all the difference. 

Health and fitness professionals can help you figure out exactly what you want to achieve and put you on the path to get there. But don’t think they’re going to be there 24/7 to keep you accountable — that’s up to you. 

Work out how you’re going to keep yourself in check, for example, a diary where you log your workouts and food, or promote a friend to chief accountability officer! 

6. Quit chasing numbers

When I started working out, I fell into the trap of watching numbers far too closely. How much was I increasing my weights each week, how much body fat did I lose, how many calories was I burning? 

Yes, these are all important, especially for measuring goals like getting your first pull-up and hitting PBs, but they shouldn’t be the reason we train. We should train to feel good and be the best versions of ourselves. 

Scales won’t tell you how hard you’ve worked, how far you’ve come, your own self-worth, your strength or how happy you are. They’ll never define who you are, so don’t waste your time with them. Weight is not what’s important, it’s how you feel, so focus on that.

7. Balance is everything

Life is a constant juggle and it can be hard to keep all the balls in the air. Sometimes we have to decline an invitation or make sacrifices in order to find the right balance. 

Start by prioritising what actually matters. For me, that’s my family, health and friends. Now ditch anything not filling up your cup and focus on getting your required dose of the important things. Remember, you probably can’t do it all, all of the time, and it is okay to say no. 

8. Take time for you

When we’re busy, often the first thing we forget is ourselves, but taking time out for self-care — like getting a massage, reading a book or just vegging out with a movie — is incredibly important. 

Again it comes down to balance and ensuring you’re looking after yourself so you have the capacity to look after those around you, too. 

What words of wisdom do you live by?

As you continue on your own health and fitness journey, you’ll find yourself faced with challenges, triumphs, struggles and moments that make you proud. It’s about knowing which of these to learn from.

I’d love to hear what you’ve learned and pieces of advice that have made a difference in your life. Share in the comments section below! 


* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.

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