Trainers: It’s time to get away from quick fixes and focus on permanent change

Chris Walton leads the personal training team at Embody Fitness, London’s luxury, elite performance gym. Over the past 15 years Chris has trained professional athletes and high profile celebrities, as well as being a published author and accomplished speaker.

We met Chris to learn about how the market is shifting from one of quick results to sustainable change, and how gyms of all kinds can apply this to their member experience.

The Fitness Network:

How is the market changing?


It was about fast results but now it’s about sustainable change. I think it’s a paradigm shift in the market as the health aspect of fitness becomes recognised, rightly, as so much more important than it has been in the past. As an industry we have been guilty of exploiting people. Trainers dehydrate the client and manipulate the photo so they have a great before and after shot but it’s not healthy and the change won’t last. Soon enough the client is back to square one.

Trainers need to start focusing more on permanent lifestyle change, even if it’s at the expense of short term aesthetic results.

“As an industry we have been guilty of exploiting people.”

The Fitness Network:

How do you ensure this change is permanent?


If we want sustainable change then we need to begin with addressing long term problems, so they start by seeing a sports therapist who screens them for postural and mobility issues as well as previous injuries. This report is then passed to the trainer who creates a program that starts by addressing these specific issues, and then moves onto more general strength and conditioning with an amount of cardiovascular activity. Meanwhile the client has a clear food plan tailored to their preferences and lifestyle.

The key is to ensure everything we design for the client is realistic; let’s define the new normal. How many cheat meals, how many visits to the gym each week, etc… By the end of the package they’re usually eating a lot more than they ever have before but still losing weight – that’s the key!

“Let’s define the new normal”

The Fitness Network:

But what about those people who can’t afford this level of service? Huge numbers of people are moving into the budget end of the market which doesn’t really seem compatible with this level of customisation and attention to detail.


The budget gym sector is still growing in the UK, but in other countries where the market is more mature many people are actually leaving budget gyms as they’re just not getting results. That kind of self reliant training works for 25% of people, but the other 75% lack the motivation and education to really achieve the results they desire.

Most people want to be interacted with, which is why we’re seeing now such a growth in the group and community fitness space. That said, I do believe it’s possible for gyms, even in the budget sector, to achieve both by holding regular gym floor classes. This allows them the opportunity to interact with the members, giving them the information they need around exercise and nutrition to develop a sustainable lifestyle change. However, given the ridiculously short training courses most PT’s are now completing, whether or not they’ll have the education themselves is an entirely different question!

“Most people want to be interacted with, which is why we’re seeing now such a growth in the group and community fitness space”


Posted in Interviews, Personal Trainers, The Fitness Network.