Fit Futures Academy sat down with personal trainer and business owner Lee Mou to look at how you can get the best out of your clients and yourself, in and out of the gym.

“You can have anything you want if you are willing to give up the belief that you can’t have it.”

  • Dr Anthony Brown  

Many of us hit the gym, the running trails or the yoga mat for that post-workout rush of endorphins that leave us glowing and on a cloud-nine high. Studies have shown that physical activity can help ease depression and anxiety, while boosting mental clarity and energy levels. We know that the body and mind is connected and intertwined; and that any trainer worth their salt should be looking at health in a holistic fashion. Our mental flexibility, strength and resilience is just as important as our muscular structure, bone density and connective tissue malleability. So, how do we get the most out of training sessions and squeeze the juicy pulp out of our days, so we are primed mentally and physically to take on life’s ebbs and flows? As the old sayinggoes, train smarter, not harder – and take time to regularly reflect on the journey so far.

What the professionals say

Fit Futures Academy tutor and personal trainer Lee Mouknows all too well how important a few key changes can be to optimise your workout and your life. The personal trainer owns Pure Athletics Sports Performance,where he conducts strength and conditioning consultations for teams and individuals, as well as working as a trainer for Snap Fitness and as a tutor for Fit Futures Academy. Born and bred in Christchurch, Lee has lived all over the world, calling the United Kingdom and the Middle East home at various stages of his life. Growing up as an active, sports-loving kid, he was still a teenager when his life path in physical education and development was set.

“I was 15-years-old when one of the sports teams I was in had a fitness programme that we had to do in our own time. I remember looking over it and trying to figure out why these certain drills and exercises were in there, and how they would benefit me,” Lee said. 

Taking a love for sport to the next level

“This was my first taste of a structured fitness regime and I gave it a good crack, but I knew I needed more so I convinced my parents to sign me up to a gym to get into weight training. From there it was just a natural progression. I loved sport, working out and always wanted to know how to make my own performance better. This later on developed into how to make performance, health and fitness goals achievable for others.”

Pouring his passion into fitness training, it’s his clients that propels Lee out of bed every morning,well before the first crack of dawn. “I love working with people and being part of the process that helps someone to achieve their greatest goals and smash their expectations,” he said. “I also get a big rush out of seeing those I’ve worked with who’ve asked a lot of questions, soaked up the knowledge and are able to apply it further; whether they take up some extra study within the industry or have just taken their own training to a higher level.”

The mind body connection

The integration between the mind and body is paramount in Lee’s work. He’s a big fan of guided meditation and making the most of his downtime.

“Using apps like headspace and 1 Giant Mind can be a great way to decrease stress and rebalance yourself,” he said.

“And it’s so important to do something that’s not exercise related. I love movies, so the simple act of going to the cinema definitely chills me out.”The trainer says he sees the greatest and most sustainable physical change in his clients when they figure out what’s going to work for them; tailoring their programs to fit in their lifestyle.

Understanding your limits

“You need to be realistic with the amount of exercise you can fit into your week with all your other commitments. I’ve seen people overcommit themselves many times with fitness, and just grind themselves into the ground,” he said.

“Find something you enjoy – the more you enjoy it, the more likely you’ll stick to it. And always seek advice from a fitness professional. Source advice from someone in the industry that has proven results. From there, book in a consultation and they will help you map out a plan of action realistic to your time and commitments.”

What’s real, and what’s not?

While social media is swimming with inspiration, connectivity and a sense of community, Lee is careful to warn others of its darker underbelly.

“Social media is such a great platform for promoting health, fitness, mind-set and business, but it’s also a platform that can pump out a lot of misleading information,” hesaid.

“Unfortunately, many consumers can get sucked in by people with no relevant qualifications.  The other negative is there are people in this industry who are just in it for the money and not for the well-being of others; which is what it is truly about.”

Lee’s top tips for taking your wellbeing to the next level.

Lee leads an active and health-conscious lifestyle and is well placed to model health and wellbeing to others. Up at 5am, he eats a breakfast comprising of protein and fats like steak and nuts, increasing his neurotransmitter acetyl choline and dopamine which promotes mental cognition. From 6am he’s training his private clients, and will usually stop at around 8.30 for a coffee and a protein shake while he goes over his admin and emails for the day. From 9am he’s back into his personal training, before enjoying a protein-rich lunch of mince, kumara and vegetables at noon. The afternoon carries on much like his morning, where he alternates PT sessions with Strength and Conditioning for sports teams or tutoring students at Fit Futures Academy. With such a busy day behind him, Lee knows all too well the importance of training smarter, not harder, to get the most out of his hours.

Set your goals

“Start with your why,” Lee advised. “Write down your goals and you create an action plan from there.  It’s what I do with all my clients and athletes before we even step into a gym or talk about training.  You need to know your reason and why you want this, to be successful.”

Sleep your way to peak condition

“Sleep hygiene is so important. To get a great physical change, you need to have your sleep on point and it’s an area I’ll focus on first,” Lee said.

“Poor sleep has a myriad of effects, including a drop-in recovery, a downregulation of growth hormone and a lower training drive in the gym, just to name a few.”

Balance is key

“I like the Pareto principle (80/20 rule) as this gives you more flexibility within your lifestyle, such as going out for dinner at a restaurant on the weekend and not feeling guilty about it. You know you’ve eaten clean and trained well for 80% of your week, so enjoying a night out at a restaurant is not going to unwind your hard work,” Lee said.

“I find adherence is the key and having guidelines such as the 80/20 rule lets you enjoy the process and implement sustainable change.”

Train with purpose

“There’s no point in going to the gym just to tick the box,” he said. “The ones who I’ve seen do the best and gain the greatest physical change train hard and train smart. They’re not in there resting between their sets or sitting on their phone; nor are they in there for longer than 45 minutes. Get a good training plan, stick to it, train hard and trust the process.”

Recovery

“You can only perform as well as you recover,” Lee said. “Get a good night’s sleep, eat well, and listen to your body. If it feels banged up, look at doing a mobility or pool session, rather than training in an under-recovered state.” Become a Personal Trainer with the Fit Futures Academy Certificate in Personal Training. If you want to be part of an industry with endless opportunities, and enter it in the most flexible and supported way, get in contact now through [email protected]or 0800 99 88