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Arron Collins-Thomas - Episode 1 - Introduction

Watch Episode 1 here


If you would prefer to read Arron's latest blog - check out the video transcript below

Amy Williams:

Hello, it's Amy Williams here. We are here on the U perform channel. And today we've got Arron, our fitness expert for U perform and founder of TONIQ gym in Bath. So Arron, fitness, PT, expert; you've got your own gym. Tell us how on earth that journey kind of started. Where did it begin?

Arron Collins-Thomas:

So, I think I was always good at sport. I always enjoyed it, but I was never quite good enough to make it to a professional level. So, what do you do with that? Well, obviously you want to stay in the fitness industry and do something with that.

I actually had a space at university to study sports science. But I knew that that probably wasn't for me, I was never the best at studying anyway. So, a friend of my family, he owned a company that trained personal trainers and he said, look, come give it a try, do the course. If you don't enjoy it, then you can go to university in September. So in the summer, about 15 years ago now, I did his course and I haven't looked back since. I met loads of people on the course who'd already been to university and then had to do a PT course to enable them to be able to teach that. That's how I kind of started my fitness journey about 15 years ago and loved it ever since. I haven't looked back.

Amy Williams:

So I guess from that, you now have this incredible gym in bath, which I have to say I've never stepped foot in, but I've seen it's very unique. It's different. It's for starters; it's dark, you have neon lights, it's a little bit like a nightclub. Why do that kind of different style?

Arron Collins-Thomas:

I've been to lots of different gyms over the years, I've seen lots of different trends, lots of things happening in the industry. And I spend a lot of time traveling, trying to learn what's going on in the world. And it seems that the trend is to find a nice dark space that people can work out in where they don't feel self-conscious, where they can kind of let loose a little bit, maybe with the fun music, the dark lights, it feels a bit like a nightclub.

You get a different energy and people really enjoy working out in that, in that environment. I think maybe they get a little bit more out of it as well. You know, we all like going into nightclubs. You're always having a good time. It's kind of bringing that energy of that into the daily life. Life is quite stressful as it is. People are quite busy, so it's a task just to let go, you know, people don't get to go out that much. You know, you've got child yourself, you don't get to go out anymore. So, you know, people coming to the gym in the daytime, they get to really kind of still get a little bit out vibe in the community and the social aspect of what we're doing.

Amy Williams:

Yeah. Community does seem to be a massive thing in your gym. What kind of clients then rock up every day to do it? And are you there one-on-one every single day with clients or how does that work day to day?

Arron Collins-Thomas:

So the gym is a class based gym. We do a bit PT out there, but it's mainly classes. And we have a huge mixture of people coming in at different times of the day. Some people before work, some people kind of in that mid-morning slot. And when we're working with them in a group at the moment with COVID-19 group of 12, but up to 20 in a class is what we normally run.

And then there's two instructors or personal trainers within that class. So we give them the quality of the sessions up and we're really focusing on results and what people are getting out of that. So I'm not there necessarily one to one with people, but working with a big group at a time. It's a bit more effective for me to be working with lots of people. And it's more enjoyable probably for people to be working out in a group. Maybe they can hide a little bit when they're not one-to-one and they're enjoying the space, hopefully.

Amy Williams:

So outside of the gym, what's your kind of life and do you work with...I mean, you're looking very tan right now, and I know you've been abroad, you say you've got clients in Ibiza. You know, have you got some secret people that you've been training hard for like movies or something.

Arron Collins-Thomas:

I won't speak about it all. I mean, I've been lucky enough to work with a huge range of clients over the years. I've worked with quite a few famous actors and actresses can't say the names. But I have helped them prepare for roles for films and things like that. So I've had clients who I've worked with intensively over maybe a two or three month period of really effective transformations of their body and there kind of fitness and strength to fit the roles they're in.

But then I've worked with people who are just trying to lose weight, people who are climbing mountains, people who are training, I've worked with a few athletes over the years as well. A huge range. It has been great to be able to see so many different people and test my abilities over the years. I've also learned a lot when you get a new client, you do a bit more research, you study stuff, so it keeps you challenged and keeps it exciting.

Amy Williams:

Yeah. Cause you've sort of gone down a little bit more of that holistic approach haven't you? That wholesome wellness and some different techniques. Tell us about that. It's very interesting.

Arron Collins-Thomas:

So I am very much into Eastern medicine. As a personal trainer, I think now going back 15 years ago, when you first get qualified you're pretty much told that you want to work people as hard as you can to achieve results with them. Right? So I take them from the gym, I give them a good butt kicking, and then they're going to get results?

It's kind of that calories in calories out thing, especially if they're looking for weight loss. So working with people like that, I was getting amazing results, but I wasn't always getting that last bit of belly fat gone, or people were starting to get a bit ill or they were getting colds or they're getting niggles. I realized that actually I was probably creating a bit of extra stress on their bodies. You know, people have got busy lives or families, they've got work, but don't necessarily eat the right foods. Don't sleep enough. Got a lot of stress.

Coming to the gym to see me. I was probably creating more stress on them. And actually that stress was probably building up throughout the day. They're probably at work thinking, Oh, I don't want to go to the gym tonight. I know it's going to hurt me. I was creating anxiety for people all day long. That's a big stressor. And then people were just not coming to see me; they would cancel last minute. And I thought, you know, that other things must be going on, but it was, it was just me actually. I was overworking them and doing the wrong thing. So once I learned more about Eastern medicine about breath work, about moving meditations about working with the internals of the body, improving digestion, improving sleep, promoting the body function. I was getting much better results with people. People enjoyed coming to the gym more and seeing me more.

I now have a waiting list for clients who want to see me for that style of training that I do. If you've turned up to the gym some days and you’re really not up for it, there's no point in me making you do those squats because you actually likely to get an injury if you're not fully focused on that.

So my clients that come to me and they say, I'm just knackered today, I really can't do it. We'll spend 15 - 20 minutes doing something called Qi Gong - moving meditation, It's a bit like Tai Chi. That will just get them back into their body and start to re-energize them. They'll go, actually, I'm ready for squats now, I can do it. And I get a lot more out of clients that way.

Some days, if people are knackered, I don't want to push them hard. I maybe just want to do a Qi Gong sessions. So it's nurturing them and repairing and recovering their internals and making them feel better. So that then the next day they've got more energy and therefore they're going to be more active in their life. And that knock on effect.

So I've studied Eastern medicine for eight or nine years. When I first became a personal trainer, I also did a course in sports massage. I thought that was kind of really valuable. So you can keep clients coming to see me, like if I did injure them or if they injured themselves, I could then keep them coming to see me with a nice massage.

It kind of worked quite well, but I had a real connection to the body from doing that. And I studied something called Tui na - which is Chinese acupressure and massage. So instead of needling the acupuncture points, you just massage over them and do pressure point work like that. And that was amazingly effective. And on that course, they taught me this Qi Gong technique. So you do these movements and a bit of breath-work to boost your energy. So when you're healing someone you don't take on that negative energy, it helps to protect you. So you don't get ill from them effectively.

I've got these three or four moves. I've been a personal trainer for 10 years and I've learnt three or four moves that make me feel amazing really quickly. And it was that simple one. I'm like, okay, this, this may be something a little bit more in this.

I was in Thailand. I was in a Chinese medicine retreat in the North of Thailand. Every morning we did Qi Gong for about an hour and a half. And we did hikes up to this amazing Lake in the mountains. When I got home, I thought, okay, this has really got me now. So, I found an instructor and I started studying it.

I've been teaching now for eight years and it's transformed the way I look at my clients, but also my business, I now teach it online. I see a huge number of people each week. In lockdown, it's gone mad. I've seen probably in the last 12 weeks, about 350 people over Zoom classes. I think people need, and they have a want to do something that's a bit more internal, a bit more about them, rather than what they look like on the outside.

It's all about what they feel like on the inside. I think there's that kind of a bit more of an awakening in the world going on now. And so, yeah, my Eastern medicine really shining through at the moment. It's a bit of a niche which makes me quite appealing I think. So I'm working hard with that at the moment.

Amy Williams:

Are there any top three tips or top five tips that we could take away?

Arron Collins-Thomas:

Top tips for Qi Gong & Eastern medicine? I think breath-work is a massive thing, but we all know in all kinds of walks of life, yoga and different practices, we will look at the breath. Most people don't breathe well, we breathe ineffectively. We breath into the chest. So finding some breath work is really, really important.

Qi Gong is moving meditations. So you're breathing and you're moving. So you're doing the breath work and then you'll move in your body, just get up and move, do something that makes you feel good, move every joint of your body - daily. That's a really important part of the Qi Gong practice. And in fact, the warm-up for it is you literally go through every joint in your body and you warm it up and you take your focus internally.

Be kind to yourself. On certain days, you don't want to go to the gym and smash it. You know, some days you need that. But other days when you're feeling tired, you're feeling weakened, just take it easy on yourself and do some Qi Gong practice or just go for a walk and do some breathing. And then also fueling yourself with the right stuff to make sure your organs are working well, our internal bodies are reflected on the outside, right? So if we eat well, then we're going to be looking good on the outside. And we're going to be glowing a bit.

And sleep. I think I've got the five on the spot. Sleep is a massive thing. And through Qi Gong on the breath work we do. One of the biggest changes for a lot of my clients have been like, my sleep has become amazing. I'm sleeping so much better. And if you're sleeping better, you wake up the next day, feel refreshed your body's recovered & repaired. You want to move more and you want to eat the right foods. Because you're in that positive mindset and it's, it's that ripple effect. It just knocks on to everything in life. So I think that's a good five.

Amy Williams:

Okay. Well, I mean, I think it's all fascinating. You're here with U perform as their fitness expert. What have we got to look forward to in the next few weeks? Have you got any plans for us that we're going to be going through?

Arron Collins-Thomas:

With the blog each week, I'm just trying to give a bit of advice on stuff that regularly pops up in the gym, right? When you're in the gym, chat to people, often you go and ask the biggest guy in the gym, how to do this? Because I want to be massive. But he doesn't really know. He's not a qualified personal trainer. He just gives you a bit of advice and then you ask someone else and they'll give you opposite advice.

And it's like, okay, well, where do I actually go with this? And you go on the internet. You think there's just so much conflicting information out there. So I'm just trying to debunk a few myths, make it simple for people to make up their own mind about what they want to do. Most of the time it's down to personal preference and what you want to do and what your goal is. So speaking to someone who doesn't really know what they're on about might not be helping you because you might be looking at their goal rather than what yours is. So I'm hopefully simplifying a few things with people and putting some information out that people can actually understand.

Amy Williams:

Well, you know what? It sounds absolutely fascinating. So make sure you subscribe, hit the bell and tune into next week.


Make sure to tune in next Tuesday for Episode 2

See you then!

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