Tim Weeks is a women’s health, fitness and lifestyle consultant and personal trainer. He has an extensive knowledge of the field as he has spent most of his life involved with high performance sport. When his Olympic level triathlon career came to an end after a very serious bike accident in preparation for the Athens Olympics, Tim moved into performance coaching working with some of the best coaches and athletes in the world including Chrissie Wellington (MBE, Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year 2009). He now takes his Olympic training methods and philosophies, and applies them to transform the lives of ‘real’ women who are looking to get fit and healthy.
What makes you such a unique trainer?
No one has really ever taken the core elements of performance sports coaching to ‘real people’ before. Not in terms of intensity or complexity, but the fundamental building blocks of how to create a world champion. I did it by accident one day and changed a woman’s life. It was the most rewarding experience ever.
As a coach you look after an athlete. You are at their side and you are a team. The physical contact time you have together is a window where you can maximise the individuals strengths and improve any weaknesses. The path evolves as you work together to reach your dream goal and there are always hurdles in the way (things like injury and family commitments etc). As a duo, it makes it a lot easier to find solutions to get round or over those hurdles. As the relationship grows between me and a client I know exactly what makes them tick. Alot of the session time together is based on intuition and feel.
So yes I am ‘personal’ and i am a ‘trainer’ but i am also part physiologist, psychologist, strength and conditioning specialist, nutritionist, biomechanist, sports doctor and life coach. And that makes me very unique.
Describe your 360 approach that you implement to the women’s lives you train?
I have to understand a client’s life and how they want it to work. Exercise, health and wellbeing is just a part of their life. My job is to try and work with women to get a better balance to facilitate long term change, not just training someone for 60minutes. It isn’t just about perfect training sessions and a perfect balanced diet. That has very little impact on the bigger picture.I work around my clients lives. Kids, work, social lives, exercise, ‘me pampering time’, shopping etc… all these components need to be fitted in. I work very closely with my clients to piece the complex puzzle together. I also encourage women to build a portfolio of exercise options, that can be anything from Yoga to Zumba.
You don’t believe in strict diets, which I’m very happy to hear! Have you got a general eating plan that you recommend to women or does it vary hugely from person to person?
Diets don’t work as they tend to have a start point and an end point. It’s the bit after the end where the problems arise. Diets are also very attractive to women who have had some form of ‘eating issue’ growing up as diets appear as this golden ticket to a perfect solution to cure the past or present. They lure you in and actually tap into those potential obsessive characteristics that women often have (due to ever increasing pressures in society on women to look skinny).
You also find yourself sucked in very quickly. So as for a general eating plan, I encourage women to eat three times a day (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and to eat the right foods at the right times. If you do this, you can actually get between meals very happily without the need to even snack. I recommend ‘breakfast foods’, ‘lunch foods’ and ‘dinner foods’ and discourage snacking because women need silly self discipline levels to be able to have ‘a handful of nuts’.If you open a healthy snack, the likelihood is you eat the whole packet and have suddenly added extra calories to your dietary intake you didn’t need. I also encourage women to not remove chocloate, wine, crisps, cheese and coffee from their diets. These five key items are likely to be needed at some point during the monthly roller coaster ride that a woman goes through!
How long on average do you have to spend with someone to start seeing results?
Physiologically it takes six weeks to make changes to someone’s body (training 3-4 times a week) and obviously longer if you only have time to fit in a couple of sessions a week. But that tends to be the easy bit. The hard part is developing systems to build the exercise into someones lifestyle, where it literally becomes part of their life. That’s the complex part and that can take time.
As a part of your training package, you offer a 24/7 on call service. Have you ever had anyone contacting you in the middle of the night?
I have amazing relationships with all my clients, which I know I’m very lucky to have. There are no night time calls, but I often get texts at all hours asking for advice. The most popular text question I get is “do you think i should rest?”… of which I tend to reply ‘yes’ as this is a sign they are listening to their bodies rather than following some military regime. Life is to be enjoyed.
What would you tell women who are struggling to fit exercise into their busy lives?
All women are very busy. And this is actually ‘busy’ rather the male interpretation of the word… But there is always a way to squeeze in exercise somewhere. It happens with every client I start working with. The hard part is opening those gaps. It takes patience and a bit of trial and error, which is where I can help. If, for example, you find an activity that you adore and are massively passionate about, it is a lot easier to make time for that rather than something you hate. So the key is finding forms of exercise that you fall in love with. And when this happens, the gaps suddenly appear.
Can you please settle the old ‘muscle weighs more than fat’ statement to the women who are reading this?
It’s a little more complicated than that. Also think of it in a slightly different way. The stronger and more efficient a muscle is, the greater its capacity to burn calories. You therefore increase the overall efficiency of your body when every individual muscle is strong and does what it is supposed to do. A strong muscle does not have to be big and bulky. Not many women wants that. So think more along the lines of you need muscular strength (beautiful toned muscles in the right places) to burn fat efficiently.
What has been your biggest challenge in terms of training somebody?
Fertility is a really big challenge. Society encourages ‘super skinny’ and the associated obsessive characteristics that go hand in hand together. These are the single worst things to facilitate pregnancy as the body needs hormonal balance. So working with women to find that balance is always a challenge. Eating disorders, big drinkers and recreational drug users are always really interesting to work with. But I love a challenge. The harder the challenge, the more determined it makes me.
What has been your career highlight?
This may sound cheesy, but I am a big family man. I had a three day Wedding in September 2011 in the Cotswolds and it was the highlight of my life so far. Yasmine is Indian so we had an English and Indian wedding! It was mindblowing. Yasmine is the best wife in the world and we are an amazing team. She is a doctor and she often helps with clients personal medical questions if they have any. I am the luckiest man in the world.