How to become a health magnet

Here at Personal Trainers London we like to interview successful health and fitness professionals to find out what they're offering their clients that's interesting and maybe not so common, and what they've picked up along their own journey that we can also learn from.

Our guest today, Cj Swaby, has a diverse skill set that makes him a tough guy to summarise. He's currently a coach, strength & conditioning trainer, nutritional therapist and public speaker, who follows a plant-based diet.

We wanted to get some insights into how to get strong, healthy, and help others do the same.

Personal Trainers London: Cj, you're a successful personal trainer. But there's so many other labels one could use: writer, nutritionist, speaker, coach, educator, athlete... the list goes on. How do you self-identify?

Cj: In short? A Health Magnet. The other labels and qualifications are simply tools that I've picked up along the way (Nutritional Therapist, Personal Trainer, Strength Coach, Life Coach, NLP Practitioner and so on). They all fit into the bigger picture and my 360 degree approach to wellness and what I call The 5 Pillars of Health, which are: Mindset, Nutrition, Physical Activity, Recovery and Emotional Mastery.

Cj's 5 Pillars of Health
PTL: You've branched out, from your first training in barbells, to boxing, into martial arts, kettlebells and many other things besides. Why is it important to you to learn and teach so many different things?

Cj: I am no different to some of you reading this right now. I believe that we are all on our own personal journey. As I grow and evolve over time and gain new experiences so too does my body, my interests, and my lifestyle.

Continued professional development and education is important to me. But it has to be quality and practically applicable that can help myself or the multitude of people I coach or connect with. For me, The 5 Pillars of Health leads me into different adventures where I explore the most potent methods and tools for greater health and performance.

Plus learning is great fun! Picking up a new skill, connecting with new and like minded people – you learn so much.

PTL: "I was fascinated by one of your athletic exploits – strongman training. How do you train for something like that?"

Cj: I no longer actively compete in Strong Man competitions, but I do coach strength athletes from novice to world-class level. How strongman changed my training – aside from the obvious event training such as logs, farmers walk, car deadlifts, atlas stones, etc – was my attention to recovery.

Strongman training is brutal. People forget that training is trauma, and if you haven't got all the essential recovery strategies in place then you will not recover effectively, and this will impact your training, your performance at competitions, and ultimately your health. So I am big on that.

With strength athletes you still need a strong aerobic base, to aid recovery and performance. So for me sprint intervals and met con (metabolic conditioning) sessions were still integral to my Strongman training – as they are today. Utilising a periodised programme so that you get the right training adaptations without compromising others is key – and something that I employ in my own training and with my clients, whether they want to run a 10K or compete at a powerlifting competition.

Here's an example of Cj doing some brutal stuff:

PTL: "You've been a coach now for 20 years. Yet we know that the rate of people dropping out of the PT industry is very high. What does it take to have longevity as a personal trainer?"

Cj: What does it take? Hard work, dedication, a willingness to grow as a person and a very pragmatic approach.

PTL: "Those qualities will probably always be useful. How has the industry itself changed over the last 20 years?"

Cj: With the advent of technology, online training services and apps have popped up. Some see this as a bad thing, as it makes it less personal and customised. Others think it's great. I'm in the latter camp. If an online training programme includes training logs, customised programmes, progress charts, and customised training and nutrition plans, it can be just as personalised as face-to-face sessions, and it can enable people to train with you who otherwise wouldn't have that possibility just due to geography.

PTL: "What personal quality that you developed would you say has helped you most in your career?"

Cj: A sincere mind, a grateful mind, a humble mind, liberally sprinkled with discipline.

PTL: "Speaking of discipline, what do many trainers make their clients do that's just not necessary, or even harmful to their goals?"

Cj: Set goals that do not come from the client but are trainer-led, just to have a goal in place. If a goal is not client-led or not in alignment with the client's highest values (or challenges one of them), you have a strong probability that that the client will fall off the wagon many times, not comply with the program or just stop completely.

PTL: "What's one thing that you believe that most people would find counter-intuitive?"

Cj: You don't need as much protein as you probably think.

PTL: "I think you're living proof of that. Now, you emphasise Mindset as one of your Five Pillars. How important is the mental game for someone who wants to coach others?"

Cj: I don't subscribe to the mind/body dichotomy. Mental and emotional mastery are integral to health and coaching. Each thought and emotion has a biological response which can effect your body for better or for worse. You only have to look at the research on the stress response, or mood and the parasympathetic nervous system to appreciate what I am talking about.

So when coaching others, your own emotional intelligence is paramount. This will determine how effective you can be in a coaching situation. Once you have that clarity, then you can begin to see what's truly there for your client, not just the skewed perception through your own filters. Then you will want to have the right strategies, communication tools and methods to be a powerful agent for change.

PTL: "Thanks, Cj. There's some hard-won wisdom there that can benefit our audience. Last question. If someone only remembers one thing from this interview, what would you like it to be?"

Cj: Remember, It's your body, your mind, your rules. Train smart, eat smart and live well.

If you want to get in touch with Cj, hit him up at Quote PTLONDON for 20% off Online Coaching.