Twelve months ago, one of my gym buddies invited me to a very important business launch following the filming of her motivational fitness video.
Like most business soirees, there were drinks, food, a presentation and networking. But, unlike most business launches, the drinks were “fit-friendly”, the food was “clean”, the presentation was a beautifully shot motivational video (which made you want to sprint straight out of the bar for an invigorating run) and the networking was anything but forced.
Almost a year later, Victoria and I arranged to meet at the very same bar. When I walk in, Victoria has already set up at a table, mug of green tea to her right, bowl of nuts to her left, notepad out and pen poised ready for action. This lady means business!
When the waitress takes my order, I panic and order a camomile tea instead of my usual latte and, for some reason, I even say “no” when the waitress asks if I’d like sugar. This is the unavoidable influence of Victoria Hall PT, the “Queen of Clean and Lean” – spend any amount of time with this dedicated lady and her unfaltering, Jedi-like focus on nutrition begins to rub off on you after a while!
As we started throwing around website ideas for VH Fitness, I decided to whip out my old dictaphone and record this impromptu Q&A. We chatted about Victoria’s successes over the last 12 months, what her diet actually looks like and what she’s got planned for the future (spoiler: it’s going to be epic!)…
First off, what have been your biggest client successes in your first year as a personal trainer?
Oh, I’ve had so many amazing clients. One of my ladies lost 4 stone in 5 months, which has to go down as one of my biggest weight loss successes. She did absolutely amazing and changed her whole outlook on food and exercise. But it’s not always about losing weight. Some of my biggest success stories come from simply helping people to create a more healthy lifestyle.
Society these days is programmed to reach for tablets and drugs but food and exercise affects lots of different chemicals and hormones in the body, so it can be medicinal too – I had one client suffering from terrible migraines which have now stopped since she changed her lifestyle.
Another client had a bad back due to posture, so we worked on regular stretches and remedial exercises – now, she no longer slouches in the supermarket queue and her back pain has disappeared! Her actual words to me were “you’ve changed my life!”
I have another guy who suffers from quite severe social anxiety. Training is giving him a massive boost to his confidence and helping him overcome his agoraphobia.
And one of my clients explained she never had the confidence to wear a bikini and wore one for the first time – fitness goals mean many different things for everyone!
Wow! I think I know the answer to this one before I ask it, but tell me what you love most about being a personal trainer?
My clients. I know it sounds really cheesy but honestly, they inspire me every day. The fact that they are getting up at 6am to get in their session before work, they’re getting it done – changing their lives, getting results – that is such an inspiring journey to be part of.
Not cheesy at all! Has it been a steep learning curve over the last 12 months and what lessons have you learnt?
One thing I wasn’t quite prepared for was how emotive personal training would be. A lot of the time I’m taking the role of counsellor to my clients as well as trainer.
I’ve really tried to develop that side of my skill set over the past year, particularly when it comes to nutrition. Food habits are so often rooted in emotions so it’s impossible to coach someone on exercise and nutrition without really understanding where they are emotionally. All of my clients complete a “barriers and motivation” questionnaire and full consultation before I even begin to create a plan for them.
I really have to get to the bottom of what motivates individuals and what is currently preventing them from reaching their goals – without taking that into account, I could write the best programme in the world for them but they won’t stick to it! As far as I’m aware, I’m the only personal trainer in Halifax who takes such an individual, consultative approach to training.
My clients become my friends and I enjoy going on the journey with them to a healthier lifestyle.
You’re busy inspiring so many people to live a fit and healthy lifestyle, but who is it that inspires you?
Ally and Victoria at Total Warrior earlier this year.
Oh, that’s tough to answer – so many people inspire me! One of the biggest influencers in my career has to be Ally [Alison Farrell, local fitness instructor]. I used to go to her aerobics classes years ago, I looked up to her so much. Her energy and motivation was infectious. I’ve always wished that I could help to motivate people in the same way. We’re great friends now and she is still a massive source of inspiration for me.
What’s your favourite exercise?
Tough question! If I had to pick just one, for me it would have to be the burpee. Done correctly, it has everything – cardio, strength… a full body workout! But it’s not for everyone. Most people hate them but everyone is different. When people ask me “what’s the best exercise for fat loss?” or “what’s the best exercise for improving my stamina?” etc, I always answer the same – the best exercise is the one you enjoy doing. If you don’t enjoy your training, you won’t stick to it, simple as that.
We all know you love a good motivational fitness meme. What’s your favourite?
Haha. I saw a funny one recently that said something which I’m always saying to my clients: “do not reward yourself with food. You are not a dog!”. Probably not one of the more motivational examples I’ve seen, but the sentiment behind it is so true. People unnecessarily attach emotions to food and it’s a link that I try to break my clients from.
What does your typical day look like?
My first client is usually around 6am so my day usually starts at 5am. I ALWAYS make time for breakfast no matter what!
On most days, I have a couple more clients before office hours start at 9am. I usually do my own training during the day, which may be anything from weights, interval or even Pilates. Then between my day time clients, I’ll work on planning, prep, research and updating client notes before seeing my evening clients.
When I can, I do like to go to an evening class as I love the buzz of group training and seeing my gym buddies.
Do you ever find that such long days training clients at such awkward hours affects your own training or food prep?
I NEVER let my clients impact my own training or food. I know that might sound a bit selfish but I have actively chosen to make my health and fitness a priority. I ask my clients to do the same, so I can’t tell them one thing and then do another myself. I have to practice what I preach!
Okay, here is what we really want to know –when it comes to food, are you really as strict as we all think you are?
I’m human, just like everyone, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the odd slice of cake and glass of vino. But in eating clean, I’ve found something that truly works for me. It’s a lifestyle, not a diet that I have to battle with every day. Most importantly, I’ve broken that unhealthy relationship with food that many of us struggle with so that when I do stray from my plan, I don’t feel “guilty” – I forgive myself, learn from it and move on.
I love nice wines and good food and what girl doesn’t love chocolate?! So I do allow myself a ‘cheat’ once a week. Maybe a piece of cake or some ice cream.
So what does a day of food actually look like for the Queen of Clean and Lean?
My day starts early and I drink water as soon as I wake up to rehydrate my body.
I enjoy a big bowl of porridge before I head to work for my first clients. I measure my oats (30-40g) and add my whey protein and some super greens powder with a teaspoon of pumpkins seeds (and a teaspoon of peanut butter sometimes as a treat).
My job is obviously very active so I’m very quickly hungry again by mid morning and by 9-10am I enjoy a snack. Sometimes this can be full fat cottage cheese on Ryvita, or some Greek or Icelandic yoghurt and a handful of nuts, or avocado on oat cakes.
I build in my time to eat during my day and nothing will get in the way of that – we need fuel in our body to function mentally and physically so when I’m functioning properly then I’m feeling good and then I’m in a good place for my clients, and even the people around me – my friends and family.
My lunch is always prepared the night before and will be fish or meat with lots of green veg! Depending on what training I am doing, I may add extra carbohydrates – rice or sweet potato (all prepped the night before – I make time to prepare my food, even if it’s midnight when I get home, as it’s important to fuel my body in the right way and so I’m not tempted by quick sugary snacks).
I don’t like to use a microwave which can kill the nutrients in food, so I usually eat cold – I see food as fuel and I want to ensure I eat it in the most efficient way to nourish my body.
I also make sure I grab a protein shake after training if I can’t eat straight away to support repair and recovery of my muscles – and again my BCAAs.
My dinner follows a similar pattern of foods, with more afternoon snacks built in beforehand. I eat a lot! Basically, I eat when I’m hungry and this can sometimes be 6 times a day!
I have been known to grab a takeaway turkey omelette for dinner (4 eggs, and I stipulate no added oils – I am not scared to ask how things are cooked and request certain things) or nip to grab something from the supermarket as there are so many options, there really are no excuses, we have so many food options on offer. I always just make sure I check the ingredients.
On a weekend, if I’m feeling like a real treat, I have Nandos chicken.
Mmmm. Nandos. Okay, what about drinks?
Apart from water, I drink lots of green tea and hot water with lemon throughout the day. And I enjoy a cup of camomile before bed. I may indulge in one ground black coffee sometimes too.
So you don’t track calories or macros (protein/fat/carbs)?
I have been known to track my foods and protein/fat/carbs split, which can help me stay focussed but my motto is that as long as I eat ‘clean’ and listen to my body and eat when I’m hungry and support my training then I feel great and full of energy.
It’s not something that comes natural to me – if I eat crap then I put weight on. I can’t argue with my genetics. But nothing tastes as good as being healthy feels so I see my food as fuel and nourishment for my body.
Last question – what’s next for Victoria Hall Personal Trainer?
I’ve got lots planned! This year is going to be very busy…
I’d love to work with Ally in the future and put our skills together, so maybe if I can sweet talk her into that then that will open many doors.
I had such an amazing response to my nutrition seminars so I’m running some more of those later in the year to educate people about food choices.
I also have a few child clients, and I would like to work with more children to educate them on the importance of fitness and nutrition.
I’m also really interested in the mental health aspects of exercise and nutrition, so that’s something I want to get more involved with in the future.
Another big plan is to work more with corporate organisations. Employee welfare has a very real and direct impact on the success of a business and there are so many benefits to employers in improving the health and fitness of their workforce – more productive workers, lower absenteeism… healthy employees are happy employees!
Oh, and I’m volunteering in October at a school in Kenya too, helping to teach sport to the children, which is going to be a huge personal challenge for me but something that I’m so excited and proud to be a part of.
So, yeah – so much still to come from VH Fitness!
And… breathe! This girl’s enthusiasm and dedication is seriously un-waning! I feel energised just having chatted to her for an hour. Instead of going home, getting my PJs on and loafing in front of the TV, I suddenly feel the urge to hit the gym. And I might even stop off on the way home for a Nandos – she said that’s allowed, right? 😉
If you’re looking for a personal trainer in Halifax, I seriously can’t recommend Victoria enough! She’s achieved so much already in just 12 months and I can guarantee there is much more to come from this inspirational trainer.
Contact Victoria through Facebook or here to find out about her nutrition seminars and personal training programmes. Oh, and if you’d like to donate to provide funding to the school in Kenya where Victoria is volunteering, visit her Just Giving page.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Neo is a freelance writer from Halifax, West Yorkshire. An ex-lawyer, she escaped the legal profession, qualified as a personal trainer and now spends her days writing about all things fitness.