Thank you so much for taking the time to ‘talk’ with me. I do wish it was over an oat milk latte by the fire at Soho Farmhouse like last time but we have to find new ways of ‘connecting’ at the moment so we’re really grateful for this moment.
You’ve been a ‘health and fitness professional’ for over 15 years, we do hear this term being flippantly thrown around in the industry but I know you’ve worked and do work with some very high profile clients which you obviously can’t say for confidentiality reasons and owned your own gym. What are the significant steps you’ve taken to get you to the top of the Health Coaching ladder?
I entered into the world of fitness as a very young naive fitness trainer in the early 2000’s after graduating with a sports science degree before completing a diploma in personal training. I guess my passion for sport during my childhood naturally provided me the direction and allowed me to follow this career path. My fascination with what makes the body work and perform was inspiring to me and I had a desire to support people in achieving their goals towards being fitter and healthier and the fact that most gyms are a poor reflection of high standards and the industry is littered with low standard people, this made the sector opportunity obvious to me at a young age.
Coming into the industry when it was on the upward trajectory was good timing as it allowed me to grow into it as awareness of health and wellness was increasing. I have always had the attitude of hard work pays off and you create your own opportunities in life. A combination of gaining experience, continuous learning and having the ambition to succeed has certainly supported me in achieving a privileged career in fitness. I feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to work with some very interesting and high profile clients in music, professional sport and even a member of the royal family, many of which I still look after personally today and have done for over 10 years. I have also had experience of owning a fitness club up until 2017 before changing direction to concentrate on the service to my clients and to develop a fitness studio at the prestigious Daylesford Farm in the Cotswolds. In my opinion, to have a long established career in fitness, your passion for supporting people can shine through and create a job for life with the right people. My advice to any young person starting the journey in fitness is to keep learning and enjoy the journey as you never know where it may take you.
As you say, you’ve seen so many health fads, techniques and diets come and go over the years. What’s the core of your philosophy when working with new clients?
Putting yourself into the clients shoes is key for me and understanding their individual needs is vital if you are to have a positive impact on someone’s life. There really isn’t a one size fits approach when it comes to lifestyle, nutrition and training. We can certainly align ourselves with simple guidelines i.e. get the basics right but in terms of a lifestyle plan/training programme which can service everyone doesn’t exist. We are all different and often so are our goals. As a fitness trainer, creating a specific approach is my job. I typically use the science of DNA gene testing to understand my client so I can learn what I need. DNA testing and a detailed lifestyle review is often the first steps before we even start a physical training programme. Goal setting is good but not always essential it really depends on the client. A good fitness trainer should be able to work out the right approach to be successful and become a key part of the clients life. Everything has to be realistic and achievable first and foremost.
Nutrition is a huge part of your programme, can you tell us your perspective on nutrition generally?
If you ask five nutritionists the same question you may end up with five slightly different answers. Nutrition can be the downfall for so many of us and understanding what the body needs can be over complicated at times. Straight answer, Eat real food, ensure the right nutrients and antioxidants are regularly consumed to support an efficient body. I also believe in creating some simple guidelines to support making better decisions towards nutrition more often than not. Control the naughty options and try to play the 80% good and 20% outside of the boundaries. In my opinion, this offers good practice to maintain an efficient healthy body but at the same time fulfilling the devil in you. Simple!
As an expert, what are your thoughts on pre and post workout nutrition?
Food plays a big role in maximising the impact from your workouts. It is essential to apply some discipline to your nutrition if you want effective results from your training regime. Something light is ideal pre workout – a banana or rice cake are good options. Personally, I find nothing worse than training with a full bloated stomach. After your training session, it is essential to have a well-balanced and nutritious meal to refuel the body, ideally around 30 minutes post workout. This should include good carbs, proteins and vegetables. Not forgetting plenty of fluids for rehydration!
You personally use Supernova Life Powder, MAN 02, can you tell me your experience and how you feel using it?
Training and staying in shape is a passion of mine and what goes into my body is important to me. Having been in this game for many of years, I have experienced a range of different products. Firstly, any supplement I use to support me in staying healthy must supplement what I need with no added additives and fillers. It also important that it must taste good and the Raw Cocoa Man 02 hits the spot for me. I have experienced so many powders that taste absolutely terrible but since switching to the Supernova Man 02, I have been so impressed and genuinely feel less fatigue on my body which is exactly what I want from a supplement. Try one scoop with porridge, chopped up strawberries and blueberries in the morning to kick start your day.
At Supernova our ethos is focused around balance, I know you’re a father of four. What techniques do you use to maintain this life balance of work and family man?
Maintaining a healthy body certainly helps to manage a busy lifestyle. If you are a CEO of a large corporation or someone like me that has young children and has a demanding physical job, then keeping yourself fit and healthy is essential component to happiness. In recent years, I have managed to create a routine which allows me time to train, have sufficient time dedicated to my work commitments and enjoy family time as much as possible to enjoy the beauty of seeing my children growing up. I am very routine orientated person and like to think I am quite organised. I am an early riser and will typically get my training done first thing to put it to bed so I can get on with my day. Being a natural early bird, I am also early to bed to ensure that my sleep is at least 7 hours every night, especially since reading the book ‘Why we Sleep’ by Matthew Walker. I tend to plan my food in advance and will even set up my breakfast in the morning which means going to the lengths of having the bowl and spoon ready next to the hob in preparation for my post workout breakfast which is often a high quality rolled oat with a scoop of Supernova. I have also created a routine of making a variation of protein ball snacks on a Sunday to support my snacking requirements in the week when on the go. Sunday is also a sacred family day and we have a ritual of making pancakes every Sunday morning and an afternoon country walk. Moving to the Cotswolds in 2017 has been revolutionary for this part of my life. In addition, I am fortunate to have a very supportive wife who is also a real foodie and is passionate about living healthy. We do allow ourselves a bottle of wine on a Friday on two days per month and a date night to enjoy ourselves at least once every month. Find what works for you and live it.
In such an uncertain time for most businesses, everyone has to adapt and evolve their business to survive. We can’t go on the phone without seeing a new ‘at home’ workout, from every influencer, yoga teacher and personal trainer in the country! What are your views on these and training at home on your own?
I believe training at home is such a good approach for many of us regardless of the situation as it can make your time more efficient especially when life is super hectic. We are great at providing excuses and not finding a solution to make time. Peloton has really revolutionised the training from home market and they have created technology which is highly engaging and inspiring. Like anything there is lots of good home workouts and lots of seriously dodgy ones. I guess it is how do you distinguish what is good and what is not. In terms of finding a solution, I have always encouraged people to do what they enjoy when it comes to exercise as why would you want to do anything you don’t.
I do have a real love hate relationship with social. I love the power of it and the ability to connect us but I do also find it polluted with a lot of rubbish. Personally I haven’t gone into the virtual training market probably more for the reason that I am not the young fresh faced trainer I once was. I always say to people, please don’t think if someone has 20k plus followers this does not mean that they are necessarily good at what they do and have the best solution for you. If someone is being paid to hold a protein bar and say how wonderful it is or is using a piece of equipment because it made them leaner, fitter and stronger. Just think about why they are saying it and is it just because they are being paid to promote it.
Don’t get sucked in and ensure you qualify the experience and track record before you take their word for it. Don’t believe everything you read and see.
What is your advice for people who want and need to exercise at the moment but are finding it difficult being out of their usual exercise routine?
Work within the situation and apply yourself to what you can. Remember, sometimes all you need is movement to activate muscles and to increase the heart rate. This is the time to create some bodyweight routines which you can carry around with you as all you need is space. You can often achieve results in the same way as pounding that treadmill or pumping the cross trainer by using the movement of the body to obtain what you need. I will be releasing some body weight hit workouts on the Bamford IGTV very soon.
Do you have any basic exercises we can do at home to raise energy and stay in shape?
Firstly, I would definitely recommend planning your workout before you start and ensure you have a great playlist lined up which can keep you motivated. Sometimes it is worth keeping it simple. Putting in a 30 minute HIIT of maximum effort is a good approach to support your cardiovascular system and ensure you obtain a good calorie output from fat and sugar. Use your bodyweight to move in way to elevate your heart rate to 70-80% effort and then recover before repeating. Example 30 seconds of jump squats or spot sprints before slowing your movement down to allow your heart rate to lower. Applying yourself to a 30 minute series of intervals will serve you well when training from home.
The whole world is going through a difficult time at the moment, have you been through any difficult experiences personally and what is the best advise you have learnt from these?
Life can throw some real challenges our way when we least expect and as you mention, we are experiencing a very strange time where we have had our freedom taken away from us here in the UK. However, I always draw positives from situations which you can’t control and I do believe that this time will provide us all an opportunity to recalibrate and reboot the system. It is good for us to be challenged and tested unexpectedly once in a while to see how you rise above it. As you say, I was diagnosed with a Melanoma skin cancer at the age of 26 which was spreading quite quickly and required urgent surgery which nearly took my life when I was essentially at my peak fitness. I take the view, what doesn’t break you, makes you stronger and throw any negativity in the bin in order to move on.
For more information on James Golden see is Instagram page @aka_thefitnesspro