I get to speak to a lot of famous trainers via my job, but while I pick their brains on the phone, I never really get to meet them – so, when I was offered the chance to not just meet A-list trainer Dalton Wong but train with him, I said yes (about a million times).
Dalton is probably best known as the British trainer to Jennifer Lawrence – yes, he’s the man that made Katniss (bows down wearing my Mockingjay pin) – however, in my world he’s also the man that once explained one of the oddest things about my body – why I get a fatter stomach when I run marathons. It’s not just because I eat all the carbs, it’s also that my body finds long distance running stressful and therefore actually packs on fat round my middle when I do it. Great – thanks for that genetics – still it explained a lot and I now know that when I do train for distance I have to be quite careful about how I do it. I also know that if I want to shred fat, I should stop running distance and just hit the gym and do intervals.
However right now, what I need to get back is my motivation to hit that gym. Two huge back-to-back work projects for the last six months means I’m out of routine, out of fitness and just can’t quite seem to get back into things. I was therefore intrigued as to what Dalton would do if I came to him with this problem. The answer was one of THE most amazing training sessions I’ve ever had. I learned more about my body in the 45 minutes we worked together than trainers I’ve paid for months have told me. I also got a super easy routine that, if the amount I ached the next day was anything to go by, works muscles I didn’t even know I had….the best bit. It takes me 20 minutes! I’ll spill the beans on that in a minute so you can try it too, but here’s some of the things I learned during my session…
1) Form is essential – yes, we’re always told it, but I didn’t realise quite how bad mine was. The first part of our session was literally spent watching how I move and how this might be affecting my workout and reducing my results. For example, I had to do little walks across the room with a resistance band around my ankles. It was easy – until Dalton pointed out what my left foot was doing – turning inwards every time I moved which was also effectively turning off any toning effect this might be having on my butt. By making me focus on not moving that foot, the move became waaaay harder.
2) Resistance bands tied round your ankle are EVIL- they look so soft and wimpy, but seriously, I went up and down a studio the length of the average house hallway three times – and my legs were killing me afterwards. That’s a move I could add to even the busiest day and I’m already googling to try and find the right size bands.
3) I need to set challenges outside of just running races: This was Dalton’s prescription to me to get my mojo back. If I have an event to train for, I’ll run so it doesn’t hurt – but when I don’t have that, I have nothing to motivate me. Travel issues mean I can’t enter endless events, so, I need to find a different way to challenge myself in between. Normally the word challenge to me means ‘how fast can I do that and can I do it faster’ – but then if I fail, I immediately sulk and give up. Dalton therefore suggested I try different types of challenge, even things as specific as working on the muscle in my thigh that’s super weak and stopping me getting a bubble butt. My first one though is to simply get back to the gym three times a week and build up a routine again.
4) Sandbells (neoprene bags full of sand that you lift/throw and swing) are fun and allow you to throw stuff without anyone yelling at you – although apparently I wasn’t throwing things hard enough and need to let out my inner bitch when slamming this thing down and pretend I’m squashing someone I don’t like….I tried to explain that I was too nice for that, but it seems being nice is not going to get me abs! I’m collating a long list of enemies as I type.
Because I get bored at the gym, but I need to go as it’s where I push myself, Dalton’s answer was, ‘go harder and go shorter’. He says 20-25 minutes in the gym should be my limit and he then created a mini routine for me that would take around that time…and here it is. My plan is to run to the gym (17 minutes), so I’m warmed up when I arrive – and then I’d do the following…
1) Get a sandbell – do 30 seconds of squats holding the bag by your chin, do 30 seconds of squat presses with the bag, spend 30 seconds slamming said bag to the floor.
2) Hop on the Versaclimber for one minute – aiming to keep it over 100 steps (the Versaclimber is also evil!)
3) Rest for 30 seconds, then repeat this sequence twice more.
4) Grab battle ropes – remembering to keep my back straight and my shoulders back. Do 30 seconds of quick waves, followed by 30 seconds of squats; change to big waves with the rope and 30 seconds of lunges; then do 30 seconds of rope slams followed by 30 seconds of squats with legs together.
By this point I was knackered from using muscles that don’t get used when running from A-B – and the amount I ached for the next two days confirmed I’d definitely worked my body differently than normal. If you’ve ever run a marathon, you know that moment of trepidation you have when you realise you need the loo, but bending your legs to sit on the loo hurts so you then start to weigh up how much you actually need the loo….I had that!!!! When I went for my run on day two, my inner thighs were actually crying for the first 2-3 minutes (they were fine once they loosened up and I’m writing this the day after and nothing aches which is nice).
I’d had a conversation with The Boyfriend the other day about trainers and what separates a normal trainer from a great one – my theory was that a great trainer didn’t just work your body, they also got inside your head. Dalton only met me once, and with some careful questioning, have me some really good pointers to help me overcome my mental block. After all, it’s not my body stopping me working out (I ran for 30 minutes yesterday and could have kept going if I’d had time), I’m still fit however much I think I’m slacking off, but what needs a sort out is my head. I’ll keep you posted.
Dalton Wong’s gym Twenty Two training is in London’s Gloucester Road. His book The Feelgood Diet comes out in January next year.