Ask The Expert

Kate Maxey On Fitness As A Lifestyle, Finding Motivation And Food Diaries

We had a chat with London-based personal trainer and group class instructor Kate Maxey to discuss her health and fitness philosophy

Kate Maxey
Kate Maxey is a Master Trainer at Third Space (Photo: @maxeyfitness)

Kate Maxey is a London-based group fitness instructor and personal trainer.

We had a chat with Kate, who is a Master Trainer at Third Space, to discuss some of the key building blocks of her overall health and fitness philosophy.

Could you tell us a little bit about your background story and how you got into your role as a personal trainer / group class instructor?

I grew up playing hockey. It was my entire life for some time and I was very fortunate to play international level until the end of university. The team environment was everything to me and it has definitely shaped who I am as a person today.

However, it wasn’t all fun and games. In the last few years I began to resent the game, the training and everything that surrounded it, and it was time to take a break.

I came out of university with a Sports Science degree from Loughborough and tried every job there is from property to events, to doing an executive assistant course but nothing was right for me.

After having some time away from the constant training, running and gym sessions, I began to miss it and that team environment that I had been surrounded with for so many years. And after realising that the office life was not for me, I wanted to get into fitness again.

This time, I wanted to pass on my passion and help others to create a healthy lifestyle that was not forced or so intense that it breaks you down, but that can create a love for fitness and all its benefits.

I began working in a big London gym and grafted for many years, starting at six in the morning and finishing at 10 doing 1-1 sessions. I loved it and wasn’t afraid to get stuck in and learn everything I could.

I was then introduced to classes and began taking a few gym floor classes. I was so inspired. The camaraderie of everyone in the class, the pre-class excitement, the group mentality that everyone was in it together was what I had been looking for.

Since then, I have been hooked. I want to be able to impact as many people as I can to help them to fall in love with fitness and make it part of their lifestyle.

What are some of the core concepts of your health and fitness philosophy and how have they changed over the years?

My mum always used to say ‘everything in moderation,’ and it really used to irritate me as I am not one for moderation – but as all mums are, she was right!

It isn’t about the fad diets and the six-week transformations eating dust. For me it is about creating a lifestyle – fitness should just be part of what you do, whether its playing a sport, running, walking or dancing – it’s all about moving your body to make you feel better, physically but also mentally.

I had years of being told how to train, how far to run, how fast to run, what weights to lift and coming out of that professional athlete career was hard at first.

I used to think, ‘what’s the point of doing this if I have no competition goal?’ – but I soon realised that there doesn’t always have to be a goal. Surely creating the best version of you is the goal, and that is a lifetime goal that we work on every day.

When you start working with a new client or class, what are some of the first things you focus on?

For me, 1-1 is about finding out what a client loves, what motivates them, what makes them smile (maybe a half-smile) during the session.

It’s creating a plan that they want to come back to and do again, even though it’s hard and hurts just a little.

I create workouts that people want to come back to, that they feel works for them and inspires them to come back.

With a class it’s the same – it’s about ensuring that I coach every single individual in the room and educate them about what this class is going to do for them. If we all know why we are doing something and the impact it can have, we can make that choice to go all in or find something else we love.

Making a new client or class-goer feel that they are just as able to complete the task in front of them, even next to someone who has done a 100 workouts, is key.

An Olympic athlete or a first-timer should be able to complete every workout that I create and walk out feeling like they have smashed that class.

For someone who is looking to improve their nutrition for optimal performance, where’s a good place to start?

In general, a lot of people overthink their nutrition and do not eat enough to fuel their workouts.

I am not one to count calories and macros as this can become extremely consuming over time and takes away some fun from life.

However, a rule of thumb that I use for my clients is to begin a food diary. Write down what you eat but also how you feel that day.

Are there certain foods that make you feel full of energy and others that make you need a nap? Keeping a diary allows you to really see and become aware of what you are eating and how this may affect you.

Ensure that you are having a balanced diet, do your meals contain: fats / carbohydrates / protein / veg – vitamins and minerals?

Do you have more energy by eating some carbs in your pre-workout meal or do they slow you down? If it’s the latter, you would be better suited to having carbs in your post-workout meal.

We are all different, no one is the same, so to begin with you need to understand how food affects you and how you can eat to perform and feel the best.

Once you are aware of this, you can then begin to plan better when to train and how to eat alongside your training.

Remember that food is fuel – we want to charge our body with food so that we can perform better and become healthier.

Kate Maxey

(Photo: @maxeyfitness)

How important is tracking health data in your opinion? For example, tracking calories in and out / macros etc.

As mentioned above, unless you have a very exact goal of hitting a certain weight / body-fat percentage to be able to compete or you are wanting to lose a large amount of weight, then I personally would not advise it.

However, we are all different and some people live by numbers and want to be able to do this. My argument is it can take over your life and every movement is governed by what an app is telling you.

Keeping a food diary will highlight whether you are over/under eating and if you are missing key macro-nutrients out of your diet. Educating my clients is a major part of my role so that they are able to eat and move intuitively rather then just do what an app tells them.

How do supplements fit into your nutritional philosophy?

My go-to is that you can get everything you need from the food that you eat, and the more aware we are of how we feel and how the food we eat makes us feel, then the better we can become at this.

It again is highly individual. If a client does not have time to eat post-workout, then I would recommend a recovery protein shake. Or if they were Vegan and not able to get enough protein in a day, then perhaps they would boost their recovery with a shake.

Sometimes a supplement is just a marketing tool from a very clever business making you feel that you must be taking all these things to get the body of your dreams.

However, if we can fuel ourselves on good nutritious food, we do not need to rely on taking an assortment of powder s/ tablets / shakes at specific times of the day.

What’s one piece of advice would you give to your 18-year-old self if you could go back knowing what you know now?

Back yourself! Coming into a new industry that has a huge amount of differing views and opinions can be a very daunting place to be you from that start.

I would say to myself, be you Kate, that is your USP (as I searched and searched for what made me different or what would make stand out compared to the other 30 PTs in the gym.)

Be confident, as it’s fine to not know all the answers. I couldn’t be further away from knowing all the answers now and I won’t ever know it all.

We often see others’ success and feel that we have to do that to also be successful, but we can’t achieve what others have in the same way as we are not them. You can only be successful by being you.

Quick-Fire Round

What’s your favourite type of burpee?

Surfer burpee (it’s then like you’re in the ocean not the gym…right?)

HIIT or Strength?

Oooo HIIT. It was a close call, I do love a deadlift, but there’s nothing quite like the sweat you get in HIIT session!

Rowing Erg or Ski Erg?

Ski Erg. It is just like you are flying!

Bear crawl or Crab reach?

Crab Reach. Bear crawls just kill me too much – crab reach is much kinder!

Dumbbells or Kettlebells?

Dumbbells. For me, they’re just that little bit more versatile – you can do everything with them.

Where’s the best place for people to learn more and in touch with you?

Hit me up over on my Instagram @maxeyfitness.

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