I’ve had a newly injected passion for engaging the people I see in the power of an improved body composition. The scale often gives an unclear picture of progress made and leaves us deflated and frustrated. We need to focus on changes to body shape and the corresponding change to muscle mass and strength that can be achieved through a combination of activity and eating right. Gone are the days of dieting and exercise – hello eating and training.

I can do the eating bit (both in advice and consumption) but for the training bit I will be handing over to the experts. For the first in this series of fitness info, I pass over to my good friend Sarah Durrant.

Sarah is a personal trainer based in Bath. You can access her in person if you live there or via her Instagram feed which is very inspirational – never has a kitchen and playroom been so versatile and it shows that we really can break down some of the barriers we build up around exercise, especially when we’re busy people.

Sarah you’re a Mum to 3 for whom training has not always been a part of life. What’s changed and how do you fit it in?

Picking a time that suits you best is key. I don’t train well after 4pm. I don’t put pressure on myself and I don’t beat myself up if I don’t do it. But I know now that 15 minutes as often as you can, can make a big difference.

(I like this advice as it fits in nicely with research to show that it takes 66 days to form a habit so we need to be kinder to ourselves when trying to make new habits stick).

It took me 3 – 4 months to get into something I liked. Don’t give up before you’ve given something a chance. For me it lead to me pursuing qualifications in personal training but don’t feel pressure to take it this far!

What does training do for you?

I’m a much nicer person when I’ve done exercise! I feel it’s helped my confidence and my kids now see activity as a normal part of life. I’m not as keen on them joining in with me but I’ve seen this work well for some mums and dads, especially if the child’s body weight adds to the resistance!

What sort of people do you train and why?

Many of the people I see in groups and on a one to one basis are not keen on the gym – they don’t want to hang out with beef cakes or be trained by a man. I’m not saying this is what the gym is like, but that’s how they feel! My groups tend to contain like- minded people supporting each other. My services appeal to people because it’s a flexible informal environment. If they need to bring the kids they can. It’s friendly and not intimidating. But they like the fact there is some accountability.

Would you recommend personal training?

Financially it can be prohibitive for some but even a couple of sessions could prove really useful. A good PT will help you with technique, understanding your own body and what it can do, as well as help you to work out what parts of training you enjoy. If it’s boxing, there may be classes you can then tap into for that for example.

Quite often it’s just a confidence thing, and once you’ve got to grips with what your own body can do, you’ll feel braver to enter into more group exercises.

Sometimes engaging in training can feel like the bottom of a very big mountain – where’s a good place to start?

If you lack confidence and don’t know where to start, don’t do it on your own. Talk to friends and start with a power walk! I’ve noticed, particularly for women that support is really important as is convenience. If you see people in the community walking around in their active wear, don’t be afraid to ask them what they do – this a great way to identify local classes.

(Note to self: don’t go to Sainsbury in my active wear because I’ll get found out).

Ok Sarah, you’re very inspiring. I’ve got 2 minutes while I’m reheating leftovers for lunch – what should I do?

Anything that gets your body moving in a positive way which doesn’t involve reaching for a hobnob!

(I don’t have hobnobs and surely custard creams are not the same?)

Remember strengthening the big muscles has lots of positives so squats and lunges are ideal and they’ll also get your heart rate up a little.

But Sarah what if we’ve no gear and no idea?!

If the idea of doing something at home with a dvd or youtube video is most appealing, start with a mat!

And remember you can do a lot and achieve a lot with your own body weight as resistance. When you’ve mastered this, I’m also a big fan of steel kettle bells. They’re easy to store and really versatile. A kettle bell can work the whole body. Or resistance bands – a set of 4 different resistances can be bought off Amazon quite cheaply. But start small and build up…


I like this advice, some people make it look easy but the key is finding what will work for you. Strengthening muscles benefits body composition and this is not the same as bulking out. There are also so many benefits above and beyond changes you’ll see on the outside. The days of sweating buckets and burning off a kitkat are over. Hooray!