Allison Harding…Zig Zag Personal Training
My school life was quite disruptive due to my parents building their business. We moved house every couple of years as my dad opened new premises. During my senior school years I felt like I was always the “New Girl”…a title I hated..particularly being quite a shy type. I did enjoy school, particularly the sport..it was my release.
I went to Bangor University North Wales. I had wanted to go to Loughborough to read Business Studies & French. However…I got a D in my French A level and this was no longer an option. My dad didn’t like the idea of me having a year out, so I “quickly” went through Clearing and was accepted on a BA Hons degree to read History!!!!!!!
The day I turned up at Uni, I realised I had made a HUGE mistake! I was not going to last 3 years reading history…I could hardly stand a 1 hour lecture! My saving grace was the fact the in year 1 at Bangor you had to read 2 other subjects…I chose Psychology and Sports Science. I passed all 3 exams in the first year and was offered a place on the Sports Science Course for my honours degree…thank goodness!! I loved every minute of it!
Once I graduated I went out to Portugal on holiday and stayed for 15 years…I initially got a job in a health club as a gym and group exercise instructor…I had never taught an aerobics class in my life!…I learnt fast! I worked up in Lisbon with the Reebok team , launching “Step Reebok”, I found myself organising 3 membership drives each year which we called “Commit to get Fit”, I ran children’s holiday clubs, helped organise the Portuguese Squash Open, and hosted various Professional sports teams who came out to train for the winter months…My biggest claims to fame are leading Step classes for the England Cricket Team, Manchester United, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa…not bad for someone who 2 years previously had never attended an aerobics class let alone taught one!
After 3 years I set up my own Personal Training business. It was a very new concept in those days. I ran weight loss clinics and set up my own GP referral scheme with local doctors..this led to lots of interesting work with clients who had various special needs to consider including obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes….
Two or three times a year I would come back to the Uk to train or attend Industry Conventions. This was extremly important as the Industry was constantly evolving and I needed to keep ahead of the game.
I left Portugal 7 years ago, returning to England with a lovely husband and 3 children. I took 5 years out from work , mostly so I could bring up my children.
However I began to feel like I was missing something. My passion for the Fitness Industry and working with truely inspirational clients who are all on their own health and fitness journey.
Since I had been out of the Industry for a few years I decided to retrain! I wanted to find a way that I could truly facilitate a change in my clients and help them form new sustainable healthy habits. The courses I did were in nutrition and lifestyle coaching. For the last 6 months I have been running a variety of programs from my small studio at home. My solutions are achieving truly remarkable results and helping people to make healthier choices and get control of their weight for the rest of their lives…exciting stuff !
A typical day:
Presently I see approximately 6 clients a day. Some days my first client is at 6 am and my last is at 8 pm. Be prepared to work when others are not!
Most of my clients have weight loss goals. I spend time doing consultations where I am analysing food diaries, educating clients on nutrition and exercise techniques and coaching them on lifestyle issues….asking the questions that will get them to move forwards into taking action themselves. I can not change my clients…only they can do this…I can only ask the right questions which will then move them forwards. This is the most rewarding part of my job.
Some days I am doing supermarket tours with clients. Educating them on healthy options which will make a difference not just to what they see in the mirror but how they feel.
Of course, a large part of my day is spent encouraging clients in the gym. This can be a lot of fun and challenging. You have to be very adaptable and be able to read people’s moods. Know when to push and when to back off.
I give talks to local groups such as the WI and local GPS.This is something I used to hate doing. Public speaking was just not my thing..I was a very shy child. However, I realised I had to get over this, and just kept practising! Persistence is important!
I also have plenty of paperwork to see to. Invoices, accounts, program writing and keeping in touch with clients in between sessions. Often I will work in the evening doing the paper work.
To be a personal trainer, you must be passionate about helping people. You need to be a people person, non judgmental and caring. You need to be happy to keep learning….the Industry is constantly evolving. We have a huge obesity and Type 2 diabetes epidemic all over the world. People are getting sicker due to diet and lifestyle imbalances. The problem is getting bigger and we need to find solutions.
In January 2015, I launched a small group women only program. Forever Kick Start Challenge. The mission is to provide ladies with honest , accessible nutrition and exercise education along with fitness lifestyle coaching. This unique approach enables ladies to leave the fad diets and celebrity exercise regimes behind, stop depriving themselves and start enjoying “happy health” in the body they deserve.”
If I was to give my 16 year old self some advice it would be this…”Do not listen to anyone elses limiting beliefs, believe in what you are passionate about. Do something scary every day…this is the only way we grow…Dream BIG and take action!…don’t wait for doors to open for you….get out there and break them down…become the best version of you…NEVER compare yourself to others!”
Please note, Allison has recently launched a new fitness 8 week programme, watch the video to learn more.