Staying Fit with Adam Atkinson

Adam A.

Today is the last day of August, which marks the end of summer holidays and the beginning of the pre-Christmas race. In less than four months, our inboxes will be filled with invitations to countless Christmas lunches / dinners / parties… – all super fun, yet, pretty unhealthy time.

It seems fit to think about keeping our Summer fitness levels up and preparing for the end of the year festivities. I have recently caught up with a London based fitness guru Adam Atkinson, for a quick interview – all super useful information (thanks Adam!).

How long have you been a personal trainer Adam and what is your story so far?

I’ve been fascinated in the nutrition and fitness world along with training (or more so offering my opinion and advice to people) for over ten years. However, technically labeled a personal trainer with a certificate – less than a year. I only gained the qualification to give me a focus to expand my studying, skill set and for some additional reading. Obviously it’s important to have but I don’t think you can beat experience along with trial and error.

How would you describe your philosophy about being fit and healthy?

Flex your brain before your brawn. Understand your body and what you put into it first, then what you can get out of it.

Working out at the gym, group classes, exercising from home, personal trainer – which option is the best and how to stick to your routine?

This is entirely individual, each offer positive and negatives but I believe 99% of us can train anywhere with the correct understanding. Realistically it all depends on your lifestyle, young mums with babies need to train at home, but young single lads love to train in a gym. Just because they train at different places though doesn’t mean achieving their goals is any different or one is better than the other. After all you don’t get stronger or better in the gym, you improve outside the gym, training is just the stimulus. Have a plan- it’s the best way to stick to a routine, having something tangible that you can hold, write on and refer to will help you focus and measure results rather than going in flippantly.

Exercise before or after work, which one is better?

Before work. Along with aiding in your fitness and nutrition better, it stimulates your mind specifically your creative thinking and sets you for work more alert and full of energy.

Three, five or six days a week – how often should we be exercising?

Entirely individual, based on your goals and lifestyle. But as a general rule of thumb if you can fit in 3 -4 hour sessions a week, eat properly and clean (the majority of the time) your body will take care of the rest and you’ll be doing just fine.

What are some of the most common misconceptions about exercising and getting in shape?

There’s lots but these are your top three biggest bull sh** ones. If you’d like to know why and how to fix the misconception just drop me a message… 

  • I have to take lots of expensive supplements to get big muscles and in shape.
  • I have to count every calorie and stick to a consistent diet.
  • Not eating carbs will make me slim.

Motivation is a big thing when working on transforming your life, what keeps you going and how do you inspire your clients?

This is why I train and why I keep going back (the benefits from training such as the aesthetics, strength, fitness etc are just an added bonus)…

It resets my mind, it gives me confidence, it connects my mind and body, I find I push myself more in life (career, socially etc), it destroys anxiety and depression, it keeps my body in a strong fighting state against illness, it removes ‘fear’ the ‘what if’ questions (this is linked to confidence), it gives me strength both physically and mentally when others may need to lean on me for some, it enhances my creativity and most of all it makes me feel alive. That’s my motivation to keep returning.

Everyone has their own motivational reasons and it’s finding what those are for each person to then be able to address it psychologically. The best is common sense – write down all your results as you train and even in a few weeks you will see big progression in the numbers, once you see that it’s like a drug, you’ll want to keep those numbers heading in that positive direction.

Socialising is a big thing for many people, especially for those working within the creative sector, with alcohol being a massive player there. What is your view on drinking and on getting on / off the drinking wagon?

The number one thing to cut out of your life is alcohol. However, there’s a time and a place and we’re only human…

I drink maybe 3 or 4 times a week, one of them will be heavy. Personally I love to sweat out the night before, just get up and get on with it. The exception is the big night out – that’s a couch and pizza day. If I know I’m drinking, I’ll balance out my calorie intake and include the drinks as part of the intake, not on top of. This aids a little in weight management, i.e. one pint is 200 calories so I may have slightly less fats with my lunch.

You may think that sounds crazy but I believe everyone can lead the life they want, within reason of course, once you understand what you are putting into your body and what you want out of it. If you are looking to take on something serious or want fast, big results, then yes – you need to limit your alcohol. Ultimately though I say JUST EARN IT.

You are what you eat – we all know it, but some of us (if not all) are finding hard saying no to an office cake. Can you stay healthy and naughty at the same time?

Within reason you can. Calories are calories no matter what form they come in. It’s just some forms are more damaging while others more beneficial. Presuming you eat well most of the time, when you have that cake in the afternoon, then try to remove that cakes calorie count in the evening e.g. have half a cup of rice instead of a full one. There’s no need to count numbers unless you want to, just think – the cake was mostly carbs so I’ll just have a few less carbs for dinner. Balance.

More so keep it simple and think scientifically. Daily, if you eat more calories than your body burns you will gain weight. If you eat less calories than your body burns – your body will turn to storage and you will loose weight. Most of us don’t have time to calorie count so just keep a reasonably consistent diet for a few weeks (including cake). If you gain weight, slightly reduce the intake in areas and try again. Nothing beats trial and error.

The better we eat, the greater the results. I have read somewhere that 70% of your body appearance depends on a good diet, and 30% of exercise. Is that right?

Yes it is. Remember you don’t get stronger or better in the gym. You improve outside the gym. Think…

I’m sending my body a message, and I would like it to respond to that message by strengthening and growing. All the growing (growing can mean getting leaner/slimmer, fitter, bigger, more aesthetic) is done in the rest of your day, so guard your gates carefully.

Do you have any tips or tricks for healthy eating and what’s your weekly dietary programme?

Mine varies a lot depending on if I’m doing a triathlon or if I’m trying to increase my power in a deadlift weight for example, I’m never really on the same diet, I’ve learnt to know my body and what works for it based on what I fancy doing. But generally:

  • Have a plan.
  • Don’t starve yourself of carbs, ever.
  • Eat highly nutritious food with high GI carbs (white sugar) straight after training – spike your insulin, rush the nutrient into your cells
  • Eat low GI carbs (brown rice) throughout the day.
  • 3 clean healthy meals a day with two snacks in between is great, your body loves consistency. Simple.
  • If it sounds complicated it probably won’t work. Keep things simple and scientific.
  • Drink lots and lots of water and don’t be scared of salts if you train a lot, they are vital.

Is there are link between healthy living, lean physique and greater results at the workplace?

We’re all creative in our own right and we all need to be to live an interesting life, advance in a career, stop the kids from crying or find a solution. Exercise and the endorphins release and stimulate creativity, and set you to take on a task. People who exercise in the morning are normally more alert and ready for the day’s challenges, and so approach those challenges in a prepared state, which can lead to finding new angles or new ideas faster and more efficiently. Good nutrition is the vital building blocks to it all.

How could you motivate a skeptic or someone who is scared of exercising to make the leap forward?

It’s the word exercise that scares people. I have a friend who hates exercise so I said to her ”we’re going to the park to kickbox, you’re going to kick the crap out of me on the pads”. Now she’s the one telling me ”we’re going to the park”. Another example is a male friend who thinks the gym is boring so I took him powerlifting focusing on setting PB’s every session in Olympic and compound lifting – who doesn’t find beating their own personal records over and over interesting? It’s about finding what works for you.

How are you different from all the other personal trainers out there? What can your clients expect from working with you?

I believe we’re all fat.

Well, more specifically fat, water, proteins, carbohydrates, gasses, and free radicals. And that’s how we’re meant to be. So why do we become so focused on fat? On burning it, losing it, and letting it rule our lives.

I believe it’s more about understanding what you put into your body (including fat) and what you can get out of it – be it muscles, tone, weight loss, flexibility, or just better health in general.

So if you’re keen to see beyond the big fat misconceptions and change areas of your fitness, understand all aspects of nutrition, work on a programme that’s realistic, manageable and attainable – or quite simply just looking to get some exercise motivation or advice – I’d love to help. 

The next ten years, where do you see the wellness industry going?

Unfortunately, into more chemically produced supplements and modified foods. It seems to be getting harder and harder to find real organic produce any more. Sadly people seem to rely more on advertised supplements and quick wins rather than an understanding in good nutrition and the benefits of organic produce. 

And what are your ambitions for the next few years?

To simply help people understand more about themselves and how vital real nutrition is to achieve your goals and live a better life.



Adam Atkinson – personal trainer, nutrition advocate, bakewell tart lover (in moderation) and Northern soul – flexing brain before brawn in nutrition and fitness. More about Adam on Your First Wealth Is Health // hello@yourfirstwealthishealth