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Southampton Personal trainer Gen Preece Boot camp

Sleep Yourself Slim

The Laziest Weight-Loss Secret

Thought I’d write about a handy fat-burning trick that has become one of my favourite pastimes 🙂

Having never slept well as a child or teenager, it wasn’t until I’d sorted myself out emotionally and physically, that I really began to reap the tremendous benefits of proper sleep.

Sleep yourself Slim: PT Gen Personal Trainer Southampton

Sleep yourself slim

We produce most of our growth hormone when we sleep. Growth hormone (GH) plays a fundamental role in fat-loss, increases our calcium retention (to help maintain bone mass), reduces fat storage, supports our immune system, and keeps our organs operating smoothly.

Essentially, as so many aspects of our health depend on optimal levels of GH, these are all dependent upon sleep.

While sleeping, the body balances two hunger-controlling hormones – ghrelin and leptin. As hunger-management is a fundamental part of weight loss, sleep is paramount. If you have a full nights sleep, you’ll wake up not hungry.

Several research studies have shown a strong correlation between limited sleep, high levels of the hunger hormone Ghrelin, low levels of the satiety hormone Leptin, and obesity. In a nutshell (and from personal experience!) lack of sleep can make you fat.

How much sleep should I get?

Like nutrition, sleep needs are unique to the individual and their lifestyle. My optimum time is 8-9 hours. Any less and I feel terrible, any more and feel lethargic. Sleep also mitigates aging, helps reinforce lessons in the brain, and informs our natural circadian rhythms (our 24 hour inner processes).

How can I sleep better?

If you feel you are not getting enough sleep, or perhaps don’t feel tired at night, here are some things to think about:

Your sleep environment. 

It should be dark, quiet and free of electronic devices. Avoid watching TV at least an hour before bed and using iPads to read with (we still have books and magazines!) If your phone needs to be kept on for an alarm, try not to have it charging in your room and make sure you turn the wifi off.

Your bedtime routine.

Our bodies love repetition. Avoid caffeine after noon and alcohol in general (you’ll see the difference for yourself!) Reading something light before lights out is a great way to wind down and prepare your body for sleep. Going to bed and getting up at the same time will set your inner alarm clock, balancing your circadian rhythm and enhancing sleep quality.

I hope that helps and wish you sweet healthy dreams!

Southampton Personal trainer Gen Preece Boot camp

What Can Functional Training do for You?

Functional training is, essentially training for your function: whatever it is you want to achieve with your Personal Trainer.

That might be getting through each day without back pain stopping you, performing your best at football or losing stubborn body fat and wearing the clothes that flatter you. Everyone’s individual goal is personal to them.

Before any of us discovered Functional training, I personally felt frustrated at only being able to get certain clients so far. Long term pains/niggles would temporarily disappear following a training session, but often return a few days later.

I wanted to give them their money’s worth and didn’t feel satisfied that I was making a permanent difference. Losing impressive amounts of body fat and increasing fitness levels was one thing, but my qualifications as a personal trainer and sports massage therapist only served to get so far in terms of actually eliminating long-term pain permanently.

When you train your body for your function, something wonderful begins to happen. My training methods now involve treating individuals as unique WHOLE beings, rather than parts or pieces of the person. My first functional training diploma enabled me to determine the cause of the pain and eliminate it through movement, rather than just treating the symptoms.

To have my clients tell me they can now get out of bed without worrying about their backs ‘going’, lift shopping bags and grandchildren pain-free and essentially live the lives they want to, is the ultimate achievement for me as a trainer.

We believe everyone has the right to a healthy and happy quality of life. One fabulous gentleman came to me six years ago, believing he would eventually need a knee replacement. Now he can’t actually remember which knee it was!

His wonderful wife had suffered hereditary high blood pressure for over forty years, following childbirth. It is now the lowest it has ever been, so much so her doctor thought the monitor had broken. Both of them are fitter and in better shape than they were ten years ago.

Southampton Personal Trainer Gen Levrant

Functional Training: suitable for any age!

We work with a variety of individuals that come to our studio for personal training and more. Some may have had little success with other health practitioners and are subsequently looking to take a different approach.

We measure our success from our clients not having to keep returning for the same problem. From working with indisputable scientific fact (gravity, ground reaction and momentum) the results speak for themselves.

Southampton Personal trainer Gen Preece Boot camp

Three Tricks to get Beach Body Ready

It’s (almost) that time of year again. For me and my team of Personal Trainers, the next few weeks get as busy as the post-Christmas rush.

We get a small taster of sunshine, the clothes come off…and perhaps back on again when we realise how much work needs to be done.

Fortunately, this can be avoided. The key to being beach body ready is to get there in advance. How? By starting NOW!

Southampton Personal Trainer Gen Levrant

Get Beach Body Ready!

These safe and effective tricks you can employ straight away will help you avoid crash-dieting and quick-fix fads.

1. Go Raw

The cold winter months leave us wanting to warm up from the inside. Less raw veg therefore gets consumed, often leading to us overeating starchy carbs like potatoes. Too much can lead to weight gain, when not burned off.
Start by incorporating as much raw veg as possible into your diet.

Sides of leafy green salad, sliced carrots, peppers and cucumber as snacks, even green smoothies (recipe available on ptgen.co.uk) for breakfast will give your body the fibre it needs, leaving you feeling less bloated and sluggish. Start today and watch your energy levels soar.

2. Hydrate

Like fibre, water often ends up taking a back seat in the winter; replaced with tea/coffee. Too much caffeine and not enough water may actually end up making you fat.

How? One function of your liver is to help your body burn fat. When we are dehydrated, the liver pauses fat-burning in order to help out the kidneys. Fat-loss therefore slows right down.

Getting into the habit of hydrating by the time summer arrives will only do your body good. Replacing your morning tea with hot water and a slice of lemon puts your body in fat-burning mode for the day. Keeping a bottle or glass of water to hand also acts as a reminder to sip constantly. If you feel thirsty, your body is already dehydrated!

3. Move

If your life currently contains no physical activity, there’s no better time to start. The days are longer; lighter evenings creating even more opportunities for outdoor exercise.

Think about how much you physically move each day. How this can increase? We’re not designed to sit staring at a computer for eight hours a day! Even just running up and down the stairs a few times, is a great way to get out of breath. Our Boot Camp attendees get their fitness fixes by attending twice a week. The real results start to show when they try to move as much as they can throughout the rest of the week.

Summer bodies are made in the winter. Get ready to say hello to yours!

Katie Martin Southampto Personal Trainer Gen Preece

Well done to Katie!

BBC Radio Solent’s Katie Martin loses 4.2 inches in just five weeks!

A huge congrats to the lovely bride-to-be Katie Martin of BBC Radio Solent, who has been training hard in the lead up to her big day – this Saturday!

Through functional training and clean nutrition, Katie has lost a fantastic total of 4.2 inches off her body in just five weeks!

“I can’t praise Gen enough for her efforts in getting me fit and toned, she’s been an absolute star and made every session loads of fun and really worthwhile. You might think personal training is expensive, but it’s huge value for money and what I got from just a few one to ones with Gen far exceeds what I could achieve at a gym on my own. Katie Martin BBC Radio Solent training with PT GenThe approach Gen takes is completely bespoke, and even the absolute killers like mountain climbers, jumping squats and that press up with the vipr (torture) exercise was achievable with her encouragement and motivational comments. You really feel like you’ve got Gen’s total attention and that she’s thought about what you’ll enjoy in advance so your session is fresh, new and never ever boring. Everyone is motivated in different ways and by different things, and Gen is really good at reading signals and giving you “well dones!” and “come ons!” depending on how you’re doing. Gen’s also great at showing you how to do things properly so you don’t hurt yourself and is mindful of any injuries you might have when devising your session. I found myself doing full pressups in the tens and teens without even really realising I was doing it – you don’t get chance to psych yourself out or think “I can’t do that” when you’re working out with Gen. I have never laughed so much during exercise as I have at the PT sessions with Gen, she is great fun and takes the time to get to know you, and doesn’t let you forget your goal whilst you’re exercising. With six weeks to go until my wedding my goal was to tone up, to have more energy and strength, and to feel fitter. I’ve been able to achieve all that and more, and I will definitely carry on with the training after my honeymoon. This is a long review, but it doesn’t really even scratch the surface, I can’t believe how much I’ve changed in 5 weeks – thank you Gen, so much!”

Well done Katie, I am so proud of you and cannot wait to see the wedding photos 🙂

Looking forward to resuming the training after your fabulous honeymoon!

Southampton Personal Trainer Gen Preece Boot Camp

Three Foods to Avoid for Successful Weight Loss

My Top Three Suprising Foods to Avoid for Weight Loss

I first decided to change my unhealthy lifestyle, and lose the weight I’d accumulated from years of eating rubbish and avoiding exercise, at age seventeen.

My first step was swapping my food choices to low-fat whatever I could find, the white pasta and baguettes to brown and skimmed milk instead of semi, in my low-fat cereal.

When my weight continued to pile on and I felt even worse (constant tiredness, bloating, lethargy, disrupted sleep…) as well as extremely frustrated, I thought surely there had to be another way?! PT Gen Levrant Personal Trainer Southampton

Luckily there is. And it doesn’t involve fads, pills or shakes. My results really started when I cut the following three out of my diet:

  1. Low fat/Light anything

I found out the hard way just how much these hindered weight loss – they had the exact opposite effect! These types of ‘foods’ have been tampered with, now containing additional sugar, chemicals and salt to make them palatable and often addictive. A good rule of thumb is if you spot any ingredient on a food label you cannot pronounce, it probably isn’t any good for you.

2. Dairy

Not only does dairy create excess mucus and slow down digestion, its acidity levels are so high, they actually encourage fat storage. Fat and disease cannot survive in an alkaline environment. Dairy therefore hinders weight loss quite spectacularly.

Plenty of non-dairy calcium sources exist, including almonds, tahini, kale and white beans.

3. Brown/wholegrain foods

Swapping to brown may be the lesser of the two evils, but bread and pasta are still processed foods. The long-term effects of regular wheat/gluten consumption have been found to contribute to a range of digestion problems; often labelled IBS.

Many of my Personal Training clients had previously believed they were ‘addicted’ to these kinds of carbs, from craving them constantly. In some ways, they were. This is because the more wheat consumed, the more the body expects it. Wheat consumption creates lethargy, which can make exercising an even bigger challenge!

For me, it wasn’t as simple as cutting these foods completely and never looking back. It took a while to realise their true effects on my health and size. I eventually linked the tale-tale signs of feeling drained, having a dodgy stomach and wanting to go to sleep after eating them.

These responses only confirmed how much my body was thriving without them. Try cutting them out for yourself and see how much yours can thrive too!

Southampton Personal Trainer Gen Preece

Back on 93.7 Express FM: fads, fitness…and Jason Donovan!

Health and fitness myths, and how to stay on track!

It was so great to be invited back on to 93.7 Express FM to chat once again to the awesome Miles Henson!

Gen back on 97.3 Express FM!

January 2014: Gen back on 97.3 Express FM!

As a recap, my top tips for not falling off the New Years Resolution wagon are:

– surround yourself with positive people: we are the amalgamation of the five people we spend the most time with. Make sure yours are radiators and not drains.

– be patient: take things one step at a time, one day at a time, one meal at a time. Results that are permanent are achieved over time, not instantaneously.

– be kind to yourself: focus on what you CAN do, not what you can’t do. And think about what you HAVE rather than what you want. Often this is all it takes to bring us back to the present moment and feel grateful. And when we have gratitude on our mind, it’s impossible to feel anything other than peace.

And finally: becoming buddies with Miles Henson clearly has advantages as I even managed to get Jason Donovan on the air! Thanks Miles once again for having me, and sacrificing your credibility in the process! 😉

Southampton Personal Trainer Gen Preece Boot Camp

Fit in five minutes whatever the weather!

Do not underestimate the power of fresh air!

Regardless of how miserable the weather may be, or even if we are blessed with a few moments of Southampton sunshine, the majority of the population spend their days cooped up indoors.

With so many of us up and out before sunrise, and home after it has set, is it any wonder stress levels, work-related absence and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) during the winter months are at their highest?

The solution?  GET OUTSIDE!

This post is by no means suggesting you risk yours or anyone else’s safety in the treacherous weather conditions we’ve had in Southampton and the majority of the country lately, but merely think how it can be used to your advantage.

Here are my top 3 ideas that my Personal Training clients have found work best for them:

Walk/Run for Function

It may sound cliché (or you’ve heard it before) but grabbing a brolly, getting out the office and briskly walking around the block even for 10-20 minutes can make even the baddest of days better.

Your mind will clear and re-focus from physically removing yourself from the environment, your mood lifted from the natural daylight and oxygen.

15 minute fat blast: Warm up by walking briskly for two minutes. Repeat the following x 4: 2 minute jog and 30 second sprint. Walk slowly to cool down, finishing with stretching.

Head for the Hills

Hill walks/sprints are a great interval training workout for the heart and lungs, allowing Get your family involved, exercising in Southamptonexertion and recovery at your own pace. Try your local park, woods or venture further, making a day of it at the beach or a national park. Vary the terrain: grass, gravel and sand all keep it interesting.

10 minute fat blast: run uphill (or up outdoor steps,) walk down and repeat. Record how many you do – and see if you can beat it next time to track your progress. Great fun for all the family so make a game of it!

DIY Boot Camp

As our Boot camp takes place outdoors and undercover, our attendees are fortunately always guaranteed fresh air whatever the weather!

Try making your own in your garden or local playground. Simple exercises like press ups and step-ups can be done on benches. Pull ups and mountain climbers can be done on climbing frame ladders.

PT Gen Levrant at Boot Camp Southampton!

PT Gen at Boot Camp Southampton!

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! 🙂