Personal Trainer Steve Berry On Fixing Postural Problems And Nutrition Basics
We had a chat with London-based personal trainer Steve Berry to get the lowdown on his health and fitness philosophy
Steve Berry is a London-based personal trainer with a particular focus on boxing-based exercises.
We had a chat with Steve to discuss some of the key building blocks of his 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?
I’ve always been an active person. I participated in a variety of sports from my early to adult years including football, basketball and boxing.
My passion for exercise motivated me to study various sports-related courses at college and university. After graduating, I decided to become a personal trainer because I wanted to use my passion to help motivate others. There’s no better feeling than helping someone change their life through exercise.
Over the past 10 years, I’ve helped hundreds of people reach their physical and mental goals. My drive for helping people gave me the motivation to start my own business as a freelance trainer.
I now offer one-to-one and group personal training at homes and in parks across London. I also run bootcamp classes (HIIT the Pads) which combine boxing and HIIT training. No gym, no problem!
When you start working with a new client, what are some of the first things you focus on?
It’s important to establish their main goals first. Once this is established, I run a series of tests to determine any areas of weakness or any postural abnormalities. This is very important to ensure the client is doing the right exercises that won’t negatively impact their posture or cause any injuries.
A lot of trainers I’ve worked with don’t do this – and actually make their client’s posture worse. For example, many trainers get people doing squats – the king of all exercises. However, if someone works in front of a computer all day and has really tight hip flexors, then squats can actually cause more harm than good.
Once I have this information, I will write out a plan that targets the weaker muscles first. This includes home workouts with videos.
Once there is a good balance, we can then go onto exercises that are more focused on specific goals.
For someone who is looking to improve their nutrition for optimal performance, where’s a good place to start?
The saying ‘you are what you eat’ couldn’t be a more accurate statement. In order to boost optimal performance, you need to supply your body with optimal fuel.
Carbohydrates provide a quick supply of energy. They are stored in the muscle and liver cells in the form of glycogen and are readily accessible for a quick release of energy for when your muscles need it. Vegetables, fruits, legumes and wholegrains are the best carbs in my opinion.
Fats contain nine calories per gram and carbohydrates contain four calories per gram. A calorie is a unit of energy, so therefore fats contain more energy than carbs.
Although fats are more energy-dense than carbs, they are a slower source of energy and are therefore not ideal for high intensity workouts. They are better for long-endurance type workouts and for bulking. Oily fish, nuts, seeds, olive oils, eggs and avocados are great sources of fat.
Protein is required to repair and grow the muscle tissue that is broken down during exercise. It boosts glycogen storage, reduces muscle soreness and promotes muscle healing. Fish, chicken, lean beef, nuts, beans and eggs are good sources of protein.
Vitamins and minerals are also essential for optimal performance. Micronutrients such as Iron and B12 are important for supplying the muscles with oxygen and energy.
Last but certainly not least is water. Up to to 80 per cent of muscle mass is water. Drinking water regularly and keeping hydrated will enable your muscles to perform for longer periods of time, working harder before they get tired.
How important is tracking health data in your opinion? For example, tracking calories in and out / macros etc.
I think tracking calories and macros isn’t really necessary and can actually cause a great deal of stress.
It’s better to think about eating the right types of food rather than counting the calories. Imagine having to type something into an app every single time a piece of food or drink enters your mouth. It’s a waste of time and it takes the enjoyment out of eating.
Instead, eat balanced meals that contain a mixture of healthy carbohydrates (quinoa, lentils, brown rice) lean proteins, (fish, turkey, beans) and healthy fats (avocado, oils, nuts, salmon).
Eat smaller meals more frequently to avoid sharp rises in blood sugar levels – which could lead to hunger and snacking. It also places less of a load on your digestive system and can keep your energy levels more stable.
How do supplements fit into your nutritional philosophy?
I find getting a balance of all the essential vitamins and minerals can be quite challenging, even if you eat large portions of fruits and vegetables daily.
Many micronutrients are important for exercise performance and recovery. I tend to take B12, Iron, Zinc, Magnesium, Calcium, Omega-3s and Vitamin D (depending on the season).
I tend to avoid protein shakes because I find that a diet high in natural lean protein is sufficient enough. A lot of supplement companies make you think you need a protein shake before or after a workout, however this is not entirely accurate if you have a diet rich in protein from food sources.
I also avoid pre workouts because the cocktail of bad ingredients give me side effects such as insomnia (due to the high levels of caffeine), dehydration, headaches and irritability.
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?
If I could turn back time to when I was 18, I would tell myself that recovery is just as important as training.
Muscles become short and tight during exercise because they are constantly contracting and developing tension.
Post workout recovery – such as stretching, cooling down and regular massage is very important. It will improve your performance, decrease the likelihood of injury and speed up the repair process.
I used to avoid any of this, resulting in stiff muscles and numerous injuries that still haunt me today.