Photo credit: Ciaran Hanway
1. When did you first become interested in fitness training?
I hated sports at school, but when I was 16, I tried a Jane Fonda exercise video and loved it! I exercised fairly regularly after that with various at-home programs and then later in gyms. My passion for fitness gradually snowballed over the years until it became inevitable that I would dedicate my career to it.
2. Why did you decide to offer online fitness programs, and what do you think are the benefits of the online format?
I’ve been offering a 12 week fat loss fitness program online since October 2012 and am currently coaching the third group to do it. The internet allows me to share my passion for fitness and to help people all over the world get the bodies they want. It means I can reach them in their own homes (and anywhere they have internet access) and be available to them whenever they need me. For many people this works much better than only seeing their training for a few hours per week: it's a lot more affordable, and more convenient for people who can't get to gyms. Plus I can give them more detail on what I'm asking them to and why than you might be able to get with in-person PT sessions. I'm able to constantly support and encourage and remind them of what they need to do to reach their goals.
3. What has the response been to your programs from participants and from the media?
Oh gosh, it's hard to know where to start with this one. I don't want to sound boastful, but my program has transformed lots of people's bodies and lives and that's something I'm very proud of. Every single person who has completed my 12 week fat loss fitness program finished with fantastic reductions in excess body fat, outstanding levels of fitness, and heaps of healthy habits and training know-how that will help them continue to make progress with their fat loss and/or fitness training. I've been in tears many times while reading their "thank you" messages. It is immensely rewarding.
The program has received some excellent coverage in the media, locally, nationally, and internationally. Probably the article that got the most attention was this piece on the Daily Mail website.
4. How did your online programs and your fitness blog lead you to write a book?
I'd actually got the contract to write the book before I started offering the online program. I'd been researching and recommending the techniques and type of training for a long time, but it was getting the book deal that spurred me to create a structured program aimed specifically at people wanting to shed fat. The first online program I ran was a pilot project so I could test out and refine the regime based on the feedback and results of real people, but it was so successful that I've carried on offering it as an online course. The online program offers a rather different experience to what readers of the book will get because they have regular contact with me and I'm able to personalize the exercise a little more to suit their needs. Plus there's group support and they keep a journal on their training and diet which I check regularly, so there's that sense of "accountability" to keep them on track, too. But readers will be able to follow the same fitness program from the book, and obviously, it will be a much cheaper option for those that are not able to invest in personal coaching.
5. What would be your top three suggestions to someone who would like to burn more fat on a regular basis?
Lift heavy weights. A lot of people think that the best way to shed fat is by doing lots of steady cardio. You can lose fat that way, but it's not the optimal type of training for fat loss. By adding muscle to your body you will burn more fat all of the time as well as improving your shape.
Keep processed carbohydrates to a minimum. Sugary foods are the worst type of foods you can eat when fat loss is your aim. They are not only fattening, but also addictive and energy-sapping. Most people know that, but a lot don't realize how things like bread and pasta can inhibit fat loss. They are just "meal-bulkers" which offer very little in the way of nutrition (or taste) and act in a very similar way to sugar in the body. I recommend replacing them with lots of vegetables.
Exercise because you love your body, not because you hate it. Some people try to find motivation by beating themselves up about the condition of their bodies. This is usually actually demotivating and only makes them feel like crap! Once people get past this and start to feel good about the positive steps they're making towards their goals, they start getting fantastic results. The better they feel about their bodies, the more they want to train and the better eating choices they make. The more they train and the better eating choices they make, the better they feel about their bodies. And so it goes on. It's a wonderful thing!
Note: Julia also dispenses daily tips and advice on Twitter, follow her at: www.twitter.com/Julia_B.