Interview With Mark Grice

Checkfit met with Mark Grice to interview him about his career as a personal trainer. we wanted to know how his career started in fitness industry and also what he is like as a personal trainer. Mark also told us about how he trains himself, the diet he follows and also what it's like to compete in men's physique and fitness competitions.

mark girce qanda.jpg

Why Did You Become A Personal Trainer?

I kind of fell into it, but it was always a hobby of mine. I had always been into my fitness; I played every sport in school. I got a degree in surveying, but I always trained. I was the one who my friends would come to ask about training. I started thinking about where I wanted to go when I was about 24, at the time my sister’s boyfriend was a PT and loved his job, so I thought I’d do a course and see where it goes form there. I done the course, got a few clients in and then naturally changed from the job I’d been doing, I left that and became a pt.

How Important Is Social Media For Personal Trainers?

I have found that it is probably one of the most important things, you can get flyers made, you can put adverts in the paper, but everybody uses social media. So I’ve had flyers and business cards but I probably get 95% of my clients through social media or word of mouth.

How Would You Describe Your Style Of Training?

I’m quite adaptive; I wouldn’t say I’ve got a particular style. I’m not the military boot camp style. And a lot of my clients are females or overweight, so that wouldn’t work with them. You take an approach where you learn about the client a bit first and what’s going to work for them. Some people do need a bit of a telling off and need to be pushed that little bit harder, because no one really wants to work that hard but you kind of know what their limits are. To summarise it, I don’t really know.

Did You Have An Idol When You Were Training?

I’d say in the fitness world I’ve always had a good physique myself, and when I became a PT I started to see other people in the spotlight who I thought, their body is unbelievable, I’d love to get like that, back then people like kirk miller, he’s still in the game, I thought his physique was fantastic he was on the front cover of loads of magazines, and that was the kind of thing I wanted. I wanted a physique that got me on the front of a magazine. Since then, everyone seems to be getting that physique now; it’s not as far-fetched as it used to be.

How Do You Keep Your Clients On Track When You’re Not With Them?

I’m always on their case, some clients you know that they’re going to do what they want. Some people, it takes a little bit more nurturing. You need to keep on checking in on them, I’ll text or phone them. Even on weekends, I don’t work weekends but I know that’s when people tend to have a little slip, so certain clients I’ll text them on a Saturday morning saying make sure you have got your food ready. Whereas if they have got up in a hurry, they haven’t thought about anything, they will go out and haven’t got any food with them, just by me texting them in the morning it will remind them to grab it before they go.

Do You Focus A Lot On Nutrition With Your Clients?

I try to make it an education process instead of just giving them a diet plan and say follow that. If someone has been given a diet plan to stick to, and they don’t prepare and haven’t got their plan with them, then they won’t know what to do because they’re have just been reading the plan. Whereas I say to them you need roughly this amount of calories, it’s like a learning process because I want them to understand what they’re eating. So to start off with I won’t put them on a plan, I’ll say write down what they eat, because once they know what they eat and so do I, I’ll then give them a couple of tips like takes these things out and add this in. Some people can come in and I’ll ask them to eat chicken rice and broccoli ten times a day and they’ll do it. Whereas most people wont and it’s unrealistic, so you want them to learn their food and if they do go out on a Friday night then they have food ready on a Saturday that's healthy instead of hang over binge food. Again, if I’ve told them to eat chicken broccoli and rice and they go out and get drunk then Saturday morning they’re definitely not eating that. But if they’re more aware of making the right choices, which may take a month or two, then they won’t really have to ask me about nutrition.

mark girce qanda 2.png

Do You Have A Specific Type Of Client You’re Looking For?

Some people like the idea of having a Pt, and if someone hasn’t got specific goals that are going to change them for the better then it’s not really for me, because my satisfaction is seeing someone improve their lifestyle and wellbeing. So if someone comes in who is fit and well and just wants to train, then for me it’s not really worth it because I can’t really see a change and I can’t monitor their progress.  I want to deal with people who have definitive goals. I had a client who had three slipped discs in her back who could barely walk a year ago where now she is doing dead lifts so I've seen a massive difference in her. I had a client who was 32st and now down to 14st, he lost close to two thirds of his body weight. Its things like that where I get my satisfaction.

Why Are Personal Trainers Important For People & Their Goals?

Normally because they’ve got to a position they’re in for one reason or another, they need someone there who is going to keep them in check and someone who is accountable for them, the client who was 32st didn’t realise he was getting to that weight, so when he came to me it was one of them situations where I was able to set goals and show him where he’ll end up. They need someone there to lean on and be supportive, they need someone to have that appointment every time, they are less likely to cancel if they’re going to see a person, if they’re going to a class they might be like ‘oh I’ll just go next time’ whereas I’ll text my clients an hour before saying make sure to bring your protein and food etc. That kind of consistency is what they need, they need someone to see every couple of days to check in with and if they have had a slip then to help them to prevent it in the future.

Do You Advise Your Clients To Use Protein Supplements?

I always say food is the most beneficial thing, but the type of food we have these days I think is inadequate. Food being more mass produced has fewer nutrients. Realistically people don’t make the best choices, even if they eat chicken broccoli and rice, the chicken isn’t what it used to be like ten years ago. It’s forced fed, full of steroids and full of water, so what you’re getting in your 200g chicken breast is probably the equivalent of 50g really. So you can eat the right amount of food but you’re not getting the right amount of nutrients out of it. A lot of people under eat now even people who are trying to lose weight sometimes they eat too little which means their body isn’t getting the nutrients it needs to lose the weight. So that’s where supplements come into it, a protein shake is 10 seconds and then it’s done, its handy, you can take it with you. Also vitamins and minerals for people who aren’t getting the right amount of food in. A few things are essential like vitamin C, fish oil and vitamin D3 because there’s hardly any sunlight in England. Things like that where you’re going to pretty much have a lack of it due to the lifestyle we have these days then supplement it.

What Would A Typical Session Consist Of?

I’d say if I go for a client who is trying to lose a considerable amount of weight and they’re coming in three times a week to see me, I’ll do similar sessions each time. I’ll focus on technique a lot to start with, I want them to be able to perform each movement with the correct technique, and that itself would be quite difficult. If you are overweight then certain movements you won’t be able to do, so if we work on stretching and the technique that will take a lot of energy anyway. I want to do things where I work the whole body, if I just work on legs, that won’t be very beneficial because that person may be struggling to walk for a few days, and then that person is back in a few days later. So I normally keep it, I wouldn’t call it circuit based but where I do three or four exercises on the body and do a few sets, so they are never really sore but are a bit aching.

What Does Your Diet Consist Of?

Right now, I’m considering competing again in October, so I have been weighing my food again. So this week I have had a protein shake first thing in the morning because I am up at five and in work for six. I have a snack of two boiled eggs; I have two meals of rice and turkey mince and bits of veg, or salmon and rice. I have rice a lot because I have a rice cooker at home so it makes it a lot easier to make loads. I try and have three meals of decent size. I try and vary it each day. I have a protein moose when I get home, it’s my healthy treat.

Can You Tell Us what It’s Like To Compete?

First of all, if you’re going to do it, don’t worry about what anyone else is doing. You’ve got to focus on yourself and expect to spend a lot of time in the gym, spend a lot of time at home thinking about the gym, and you’re going to be tired. Sometimes you deal with mood swings, being honest it’s not the best in the run up to the competition because of how hard you diet and train, but afterwards you feel great. Stepping on stage I thought I’d be really nervous but I wasn’t, you sort of think I’ve put all this effort in here and you just go with it. I’ve done about five or six now, I’ve placed but never won, but it hasn’t discouraged me it’s made me try harder. And that’s why I’m not being set in stone I want to do one yet, I’m putting the effort in but I don’t see myself in the right position to win yet.

mark girce qanda 3.png

What Are Your Plans For The Future?

I think I want to be a brand person; I want to be recognised for what I do. I’m never going to be like a scientific expert in the field. For me it’s about me helping as many people as possible. So that client who lost 14st he was part of a show on channel 4 and I was the PT hired by the production company, they found me based on my credentials, on the back of that I’ve had a lot more obese clients come to me, which is good because some of them I train online and check in with them once a week and they’re losing lots of weight in the first couple of months. Personal training in the gym for me is better for time but training people online I get to help more people which I’d rather do, I want people to come to me and say I need to lose 10st for my health and I can then help them.