Tag Archives: gym

Southamton Personal Trainer Gen Preece Boot Camp

Don’t be a Plank…

Make your planks functional: Five variations for you to try

I could go on for pages about why and how a standard plank will not give you a flat stomach. Holding your abdominal muscles isometrically for as long as you can is not functional, nor something I would do with any personal training client!

Exercises for a flat stomach from Southampton Personal Trainer Gen Levrant

Exercises for a flat stomach from Southampton Personal Trainer Gen Levrant

Fortunately, there are ways to tweak the plank to make it functional. For a muscle to produce a powerful contraction, it first needs to lengthen. This does not happen in the plank, so here are five variations to ensure it does.

(Please consult with a fitness professional if you are pregnant, new to exercise or unsure of proper and safe technique. And as always, seek medical clearance from you doctor prior to beginning any exercises.)

1. Knee to chest: start in a standard plank position: elbows bent, forearms resting on the floor and abdominal muscles braced. Use your abs to pull one knee towards your chest, bending it at a right angle and exhaling. Repeat with other knee for 10-20 reps.

2. Tilting hips: start in a press up position. Keeping your feet together, tilt your right hip to the side as if trying to point it to the ceiling. The same side elbow will bend a little. Go back to the start and repeat with the other hip for a total of 10-20 reps

3. Reverse plank: start on all fours facing the ceiling with your elbows straight, knees bent and bottom off floor. Reach to  the ceiling with one hand, raising your pelvis to the ceiling and engaging your gluts. Dip your elbow and repeat for 10-15 reps before switching arms.

4. Up & under: start in a press up position, open one arm up as far as it goes. Bring it down under the body, reaching as far as you can before replacing it back at the start. Repeat with the other arm for 20 reps (10 each arm.)

5. Foot crossovers: start in standard plank. Cross one foot over the other to touch the floor outside of it, and bring back to the start. Repeat for 30 secs before switching legs.

These will hit your abdominals in three planes of motion, which is how we are designed to move. They can be added on to one of your existing workout routines or performed alone. Happy training and have fun!

Here’s a video demonstrating each plank variation

Nourish with Aimie: Southampton Personal Trainer Gen Preece

A Nourishing Time had by All!

Nourish at Faster Personal Training Southampton: and so we did!

Nourish at Faster Personal Training Southampton

Nourish at Faster Personal Training Southampton

On Sunday February 2nd we were honoured to give our personal training clients, boot camp attendees, their friends and families a boost in body and mind at our special New Year Event Nourish!

And boy did we!

We were lucky enough to be joined by fabulous Nutritional expert Aimie Smith-Dodson and Pyschologist Dr Sally Pears, an expert in health behavioural change specialising in the cognitive and emotional processes of food cravings.

Aimie shared her own inspiring story of how changing poor nutrition habits led to her curing a host of debilitating health problems that had plagued her life from childhood, as well as allowing her to lose five stone in weight.

Aimie Smith Personal trainer Southampton

Aimie Smith at Nourish!

Her fabulous live demos included the now infamous green smoothie, raw cous cous made from cauliflower, salads that are NOT boring as well as some incredible raw chocolate desserts.

Dr Sally’s workshop, titled ‘Below the Surface: examining the thoughts and beliefs that limit progress’ allowed everyone who attended to take a look at their own personal beliefs. As these govern our attitude and there is so very much to discuss with regards to this, I cannot believe how quick the hour flew by!

I recall the beliefs I had when I was overweight, unhealthy and unhappy. I believed being slim would make me happy, popular, get me a boyfriend and solve all my problems. And what did I find? I was EXACTLY the same person on the inside, even though I was four dress sizes smaller on the outside: the only difference was that I was now attracting the attention of superficial people!

Dr Sally Pears at Nourish

Dr Sally Pears at Nourish

I was fortunate enough to have a couple of people to point me in the right direction and I ended up meeting a wonderful lady that helped me become the person I am today. She taught me to relax, to believe in myself and finally let go of the guilt (my default position) that I had been carrying since childhood.

I am truly blessed to live the life I do today. It has not been easy and I believe we are all on a journey in which we never stop learning. And as for everybody else who came to Nourish?

“I could have talked to them both for hours”

“I am so glad I came, I think I’ve turned a corner!”

“Really wonderful morning, both presentations were fantastic!”

“I’ve got loads of ideas now, thank you so much for today!”

“I never knew cauliflower could be so exciting!”

As for us? We’re just glad we prepared enough food for leftovers!

Raw chocolate orange slabs!

Raw chocolate orange slabs!

Cold cure smoothie: Southampton Personal Trainer Gen Preece

Still fighting a cold? Try this Kick-Ass remedy!

NEWSFLASH: Southampton Personal Trainer cures the common cold!

Well…almost 🙂

If you’re still fighting a pre-Christmas cold or have one threatening to take over your life, you MUST try this!

I put it together at the end of last year, when a cold decided to pleasantly surprise me one weekend. Thankfully, I didn’t have any Personal Training clients that needed rearranging (and even more thankfully, I only see my clients Monday-Friday!) so I took it upon myself to be better by Monday.

I looked over my nutrition notes and considered what would work best in terms of immune-boosting, soothing and re-energising. I then came up with this little beauty:


1 x whole fresh pineapple

1 x apple

1 x lemon

1 x thumb size piece of ginger

As much cayenne pepper as you can handle!

I think nipping it in the bud is the answer when it comes to colds. There may not be an actual ‘cure’ but this is certainly the closest I’ve ever come to it. I immediately felt better after finishing my juice (despite nose and eyes streaming from the cayenne pepper!) and by the evening, my throat soreness had ceased.

I made another the following day just to make sure, and was right as rain by Sunday evening. I can be certain eating a nutritionally-dense diet and taking care of yourself play a huge role in the number of colds you may suffer, and how quickly you get over them.

Like anyone running there own business, I do not have the ability to take ‘sick days’! And being so fortunate to do a job I immensely love every day, having to sacrifice Personal Training sessions and Boot Camps for the fear of making my clients ill is an absolute no-go!

I’m a huge fan of natural, rather than chemical remedies wherever possible. Try it and let me know how you get on. You’ve nothing to lose…except the sniffles!

PT Gen Personal Trainer Southampton Cold Remedy

PT Gen’s cold cure!

Good luck and good health! 🙂

Green Smoothie: Southampton Personal Trainer Gen Preece

Enjoying a tall glass of awesome

Green Smoothies in the Southampton Sun

Today was a bright beautiful sunny day in Southampton, our first proper one of the New Year!

After a very pleasant long walk with my fiance, I felt an alkalising green smoothie was the perfect compliment for a stunning day like today.

I try and put them together whenever I can and really feel the benefits; or more accurately, notice the difference in my energy levels when I don’t have one!

If I’ve got a long day ahead of Personal Training clients, I sometimes even blend one up in the morning and take it in to sip between sessions!

Being gluten-intolerant and previously suffering a lifetime of unpleasant symptoms I’d learned to live with (bloating, stomach discomfort, lethargy, difficulty concentrating to name but a few) I feel very fortunate to have and blessed to have learned about such a vast world of nourishing possibilities, all so simple. And cheap!

All you need is a blender…and some raw veg!

Green Smoothie: Personal Trainer Southampton

Green Smoothie: a tall glass of awesome

Today’s Alkalising Green Smoothie:

1 x large ripe banana

160g spinach

5 x celery sticks

1 x lemon

1 x thumb size piece of ginger

500ml filtered water

It kept me going for a good couple of hours and is such a great energy booster. The lemon and ginger aid digestion, so if you suffer from bloating or digestive discomfort as I used to, it truly makes a difference. More importantly, you will not get a blood sugar spike and be craving another sugary fix twenty minutes after the “high” has faded!

Try taking one into work for a mid-morning energy boost. It also makes a fantastic alternative to the ever-available sugar and gluten-laden snacks that often appear the only available option. If you prepare and plan, I can assure you there is always another choice 🙂


Southampton Personal Trainer Gen Preece with BBC Radio Solent's Katie Martin

Back at the BBC talking Gymtimidation!

I was so excited to be invited back on to BBC Radio Solent to talk Gymtimidation with the lovely Katie Martin!

Having began my career as a personal trainer working in public gyms, I feel I could have talked for HOURS about the endless array of problems that I used to see everyday! The biggest one being just how intimidating and daunting January newcomers used to find the environment and atmosphere. Just where did all these people come from?!

The first few weeks of January within a public gym can be like nothing; even the regular users, have ever seen before. A great friend of mine sent me this poster a few weeks ago which made me laugh a lot 🙂

Gen Levrant Personal Trainer SouthamptonAs a Personal Trainer, in January I would struggle to get on the equipment I needed for my client’s session, I would set up circuits to find someone had swiped the dumbbells I had laid out if my back was turned, and had trouble finding a sufficient bit of space to train my client in safely!

So all in all, not a great environment for members OR personal trainers (and one of the main reasons I now train my clients out of a private studio!)

The main points I felt I needed to stress while I was talking to Katie were if you don’t think the gym is right for you, then please don’t join one thinking you will change your mind, especially if you decide to join in January!

If you have never joined a gym before, it is not the be all and end all if your New Years Resolution is to be more active. Instead, think about what you WOULD enjoy. Try a few different things: if you enjoy being around nature, look into what nature walks are in your local area.

If you enjoy swimming, find a pool and go for a swim. If you like the idea of a class but are worried about lacking co-ordination, have a look for a class for beginners or all abilities. This is why we created our 6 Week Boot Camp class, so EVERYBODY could join in, regardless of age, fitness level and ability and have a great time all getting fit together.

And if you DO want to join a gym, my advice would be to get an induction with as many instructors as possible. The instructor can very much dictate your entire experience of the gym and it is their responsibility to make you feel safe, valued and comfortable. And, as a paying customer, you are entitled to nothing less!

If you are considering hiring a personal trainer, again speak to a few different ones and you will then know whether or not they are the right person for you.

You can listen to my interview with the lovely Katie here.

Until next time, I wish you all a very happy and healthy 2014 free from gymtimidation!

Chocolate Pancakes Southampton Personal Trainer Gen Preece Boot Camp

Pimp your Pancake Day with this Chocolate Pancake Tower!

Pancakes that are dairy-free, gluten-free and delicious!

Forget lemon and sugar, pimp your pancakes with this pancake day treat that’s easy, gluten-free, dairy-free and actually HEALTHY!

Yes really 🙂

If like me, you’re gluten-free or lactose intolerant, then pancake day may be yet another challenge or event to be omitted. But no longer!

Many personal trainers I’m friends with, are big fans of pancakes made with protein powder. Yes these can be fantastic, but as so many of us (myself included) have trouble digesting the whey, (stomach aches, bloating, excess gas…) they may not necessarily always be the best alternative. And as it’s not always easy buying protein powder in small quantities, what should one do with all that waste?!

So here’s my Pancake Day alternative for all the family, even those that are gluten, lactose and dairy intolerant that I hope you all enjoy!

You will need:

130g coconut flour

PT Gen Personal Trainer Southampton Pancakes

PT Gen’s Pancake Ingredients

140ml almond milk

1 egg

1 tsp baking powder

2 tsp coconut oil (1 for batter, one for the pan)

2 tbspn raw cacao

1 tsp lucuma powder

1 small mashed avocado + 1 tsp raw cacao mixed  or blended together

Make the chocolate cream using the avocado and cacao first.

Melt the coconut oil in a non-stick pan, transferring about half of it into a mixing bowl. Chuck in everything else (apart from the avocado) into a mixing bowl and mix until the batter is thick and not too runny. Feel free to add more milk if it looks too thick.

Drop onto the pan 1 tbspn at a time, flipping them over when the sides start to bubble.Chocolate Pancakes

Transfer on to a plate, spreading the avocado cream between each pancake.

Sprinkle over the lucuma powder for a lovely caramel taste.


Southampton Personal Trainer Gen Preece BBC Solent Boot Camp

My second radio appearance in a fortnight: now the BBC!

Southampton Personal Trainer now on the BBC!

I must say, I’m loving this radio business – I was so excited to be invited on to BBC Radio Solent as a Saturday Morning News panel guest yesterday!

The lovely Katie Martin (standing in for the equally lovely Sasha Twining) and I, together with Roger Walker and Rob Drake-Knight had a great time discussing the morning headlines.

Gen with BBC Radio Solent Katie Martin

Gen with BBC Radio Solent Katie Martin

As someone known for usually only taking an interest in the positive and uplifting stories (which are a rarity!) I never knew the news could be so much fun!

I cannot actually remember the last time I read a newspaper so leafing through them and managing to find stories that were not all doom and gloom was pretty refreshing.

And the fact that we started at 7am and I managed to articulate my thoughts is something I am rather proud of!
So thank you to Katie and all at BBC Radio Solent for inviting me!

You can listen to the show on BBC iplayer here

Southampton Personal Trainer Gen Preece on Express FM

Video didn’t Kill THIS Radio Star

Southampton Personal Trainer Gen Preece Interviewed on Express FM!

Gen on 93.7 Express FM Portsmouth

Gen on 93.7 Express FM Portsmouth

Last week I was fortunate enough to be invited on to 93.7 Express FM’s Business Show, by the lovely Miles Henson, who wanted to know all about my philosophy and profession as a Personal Trainer.

I couldn’t believe how quick the hour went! We had a lovely chat about how I got started, why I do what I do, what actually happens at our Faster Southampton Bootcamp (I think it definitely sounds a lot scarier than it is!) and the kind of people I am so fortunate enough to train.

Gen Levrant with Express FM's Miles Henson

Gen with Express FM’s Miles Henson

I got to pick some chuuuuuuunes also which I hope everybody enjoyed (although the choice of Olivia Newton-John’s ‘Physical’ was down to Miles – not me!) and my awesome colleague Rob kindly looked after my Thursday Bootcamp class for me while I chatted away.

So thanks Miles for a great evening, I can’t wait to come back in January to talk more fitness, boot camp, functional training and FASTER!

Faster Personal Trainer Southampton Boot Camp

What’s Your Excuse?

Make yourself stronger than your excuses with The Personal Trainer’s Top 6 Most Popular Excuses of All Time

We all know just how easy it is to make excuses for why we haven’t done something or done it as well as we should have done. A lot of the time we’re so used to making them we don’t even realise we’re doing it!

When it comes to eating well and exercising however, the excuses for not doing so are endless. So I thought I’d share with you the Top 6 most common excuses that I’ve been hearing from when I first became a trainer to the present day – and provide you with my solutions to help you overcome them.

Excuse No1: “I’ve got no time to eat properly

Solution: use and utilise your days or hours off to get organised! Look at your diary for the week and put some time aside to think about what you’re likely to be able to eat depending on where you will be. One idea that works for a lot of people is to cook healthy meals in large quantities that can be divided up, frozen, defrosted and either taken to work or eaten when you get home.

It also helps to be prepared for the cravings you know you will have – when doing the weekly shop, make sure you buy a week’s worth of healthy snacks to keep at work, in your car and at home so you always have access to something healthy.
You can also help yourself out by not keeping unhealthy rubbish in the house in the first place – remember if it’s not there you’re a lot more likely to not be eating it!

Excuse No2: “I don’t think it’s healthy/right to deprive myself of anything

Solution: if this sounds familiar, then ask yourself how far this has got you to date. Nobody wants to feel deprived which is why having regular ‘treats’ may mean that you don’t – but at the same time, constantly ‘treating’ yourself won’t be doing you and your body any favours!
The easiest solution is to follow the 90% rule: eat healthily 90% of the time and things you wouldn’t normally eat in the other 10%. Being organised here will help you as you can plan for the week in advance and find other ways besides eating unhealthy food to ‘treat’ yourself.

Excuse No3: “I hate the gym”

Solution: you’re not alone! Exercise doesn’t have to be confined to the gym and this is one of my strongest philosophies.
However, if you find it difficult to motivate yourself to work out at home or on your own, and you think the gym will be the only means of ensuring that you do exercise, then you need to view it as a long term investment for your health the same way you would view having a Personal Trainer – think of the money you’ll be saving on potential medical costs in the future.

By exercising regularly and fueling your body correctly, you will also be saving the money you would normally have spent on either eating out or unhealthy food which will result in two positive things:
1) When you do eat out, it will be a much more special occasion
2) You’ll find buying healthier alternatives means you will actually be eating a greater amount of less calorie dense foods, but spending less throughout the day on quick hunger fixes such as chocolate or sugar loaded cereal bars.

Excuse No4: “I can’t eat healthy all the time as I eat out a lot/go to lots of parties etc”
Solution: if eating out is a big part of your life then of course this doesn’t have to stop. Just use your common sense when ordering off the menu, and remember that, as a customer, you are entitled to modify certain dishes in order to suit you.

Just because the bread basket is there doesn’t mean you have to reach for it. And if you decide to have a dessert, make sure you make up for it the next day with a good workout and healthy meal choices as a means of balancing it out.

If you’re attending a party where you know there is likely to be a lot of unhealthy food, then just make sure you have eaten before you go so you don’t arrive hungry and make a beeline for it.

And if you really want to be prepared, then have something healthy, such as the leftovers from the meal you ate before you left ready to eat for when you get home if you are worried you may be hungry then.

Alcohol and its effects on your fat burning metabolism is also something that can be greatly underestimated and misunderstood. Without over-complicating things just remember this: whenever you drink, your body recognises it as a foreign chemical. It will therefore choose to oxidise the alcohol instead of your fat stores, therefore hindering your previous efforts quite a bit. Something to bear in mind when you reach for that glass of wine!

Excuse No5: “I’ve got no time to exercise

Solution: check out my youtube channel, or Fitness Newspaper’s ‘Alive in 5′ workouts for examples of intense 5 minute workouts that you can fit in either before work or in the evenings. Again, taking the time to get organised will mean you will always have time.

Many of my clients motivate themselves by thinking of the benefits of exercise and how great you feel afterwards before you do it. Little things like packing your gym bag the night before or keeping it in the car, and scheduling in solo exercise sessions (whether they are in the gym or at home) in your diary will mean you are far more likely to stick to them.

Excuse No6: “I’ve already tried everything and nothing works

Solution: ok then maybe try this – stop believing in the fads and quick fixes we are subject to every day on TV and in magazines – many are based on a loose theory and have no long term maintenance plan. Remember that any long term success plan is going to take time and requires patience but the results you experience will be well worth it!

Now you’re aware there is always a solution for every excuse, I hope this will help you to stay focused and motivated in your quest for achieving your ideal body.

Print and keep this article with you to read the next time you catch yourself making an excuse. You now know how to overcome it – and your body will thank you!

Good luck and happy training!


How Water Can Help You Burn Fat by Gen Preece (Personal Trainer)

As a Personal Trainer, one of the first things I ask my clients when they arrive at the studio is how much water they have been drinking. And I mean good ol’fashioned H2O, not squash, tea, coffee or sports drinks.

Whatever the weather in Southampton (or wherever it is you live) the importance of water is paramount throughout the year, not just in the summer months. This article is here to shed some light on just how paramount, as well as explain how it can actually help your body to burn unwanted fat – yes really!

If we think back to our biology lessons, we may recall learning how water is involved in absolutely every bodily function. The body therefore interprets dehydration pretty much as a state of shock.

This consequently doesn’t do our hearts any favours – they are put under unnecessary pressure when we are not hydrated as our cells draw water from our bloodstream. And if you bear in mind how hard your heart will be working during your personal training session…I guess you get the idea!

Being dehydrated also means three other negative things are likely to occur:

1.     The first is that we are more likely to retain water, which is the body’s way of attempting to re-hydrate us. This is never fun for anyone, especially when we are planning on actually fitting into our clothes or hoping to eventually have to buy those of a smaller size!

2.     The second is being dehydrated can actually hinder our fat burning efforts! And here’s how:

A key function of the liver is to metabolise fat for energy. When our kidneys are deprived of water, they rely on the liver to help them out. If the liver has to do this, it means it is therefore not working to its full potential – which ultimately leads to more fat storage!

3.     Sometimes we can even misinterpret thirst as hunger. This may result in us ending up eating more than we need to when all our body really needs is a glass of water!

Now if these are not reason enough to get on the H2O then I am at a loss to what is.

If you are not a fan of water for whatever reason, you can make it slightly more interesting by adding a slice of lemon or lime (both full of antioxidants) or a load of ice (which your body will actually burn calories having to warm up) or both! The best kind of water is filtered or bottled rather than tap, but tap water is still better than no water.

If you think you’re likely to forget to drink up during the day, then start carrying a refillable bottle wherever you go. When you get home, make sure you get yourself a glass and keep it close by (and at least half full!) at all times. You’ll find this will eventually become a new habit that you do automatically, and one your body (and personal trainer!) will thank you for!

If you have found this article useful please feel free to pass it on to anyone else you feel might benefit from it.

‘Til next time, keep hydrated and H2O happy!