Never used a personal trainer? A session or two with a fitness coach will convert you in no time. Because, be honest, even if you’ve signed up for a high-end gym or bought a month's worth of classes at your local boutique studio, excuses to not go can come by easily. That’s where personal trainers come in. They get you motivated to roll out of bed, put in a solid sweat session and elevate your form to see results — even if you don't know a dumbbell from a door bell.
Chris Twerdun is a Leslieville-based health and fitness expert with the drive and tools to transform his client’s goals into attainable milestones. His background is as impressive as they come, combining years as a professional hockey player in the NHL with training and education — BKin, CEP, and CSCS — to give him more than 20 years of experience to draw from.
Whether you're prepping for a race or looking to rediscover long-lost muscles, Chris' training sessions reach far beyond the confines of the gym. We checked in with him to talk about fitness techniques, what makes his clients happy and how to make the most from one-one-one time with a fitness trainer.
HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN THE FITNESS INDUSTRY?
I’ve been a part of the fitness industry for as long as I can remember. It’s all I know. I’ve never held any other job. My entire focus was initially my fitness and performance as I worked towards becoming a professional hockey player. Now I have the good fortune to help others pursue healthy lifestyle goals, be they general health and fitness or something more performance driven. I genuinely enjoy helping others and take great satisfaction when my clients are able to reach whatever goal they have set for themselves.
WHAT'S YOUR PHILOSOPHY AND APPROACH TO TRAINING WITH CLIENTS?
My approach is never the same to my clients — they each bring with them different motivations and an array of ability levels. I work to create a welcoming environment where my clients can enjoy working towards their goals. I do a lot of listening, not so much talking. I try to collect the necessary information, which will help me develop an appropriate program for my clients; I actually feel that this is the key to my client’s success. I’m keeping track of their goals and successes and they oftentimes don’t realize it. It allows them to feel a part of the process; I’m not into gurus or the latest fitness trend — I’m into long-term health and learning.
WHAT SEPARATES THE PEOPLE WHO GET THE BEST RESULTS FROM THOSE WHO DON'T?
Commitment — it’s that simple. They take ownership of their health and fitness. There’s no one magic fix, it’s a series of small changes that add up. The clients who appreciate this and commit to it are those who see success. It’s not always easy but nothing worth having is. The other element of success is an understanding that you’re not going to get there overnight — patience and consistency are crucial.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE MOTIVATIONAL TIPS?
I ask my clients to first think long-term: How do you want to spend the rest of your life? What do you want to achieve? Once you have answered these questions, ask yourself: Are you fit enough to take them on? Some are motivated by a big race or a milestone competition and others are motivated to live life the fittest they can. Then I ask them to consider the small things: What are the small changes that don’t feel so insurmountable that you can do every day? Include those, and they soon build up to greater things.
DESPITE RUNNING YOUR FITNESS BUSINESS AND BEING A BUSY PARENT, YOU STAY IN GREAT SHAPE. WHAT TIPS CAN YOU SHARE FOR BUSY PEOPLE ON A TIGHT SCHEDULE?
Be efficient. It's not reasonable for most of us to spend two hours a day working out nor is it at all necessary. Have a plan for your day’s fitness and get it done; if you can get 45 minutes a day that’s great. As far as healthy eating it comes down to preparation. My wife and I plan our week’s meals on Saturday — five minutes over coffee is all it takes — and do one shop on Sunday. We also try to include our son so he can be a part of things. There’s nothing worse than trying to figure out what to eat when you are hungry. For us it’s important to keep healthy snacks available, or else she’s searching for sweet and me for salt. Get in the kitchen and experiment. And the No. 1 thing — a repertoire of 15-minute meals that are great and healthy. We all need those!
WHAT ARE YOUR GO-TO HEALTHY SNACKS?
Most of my go-to health snacks are homemade. Smoothies are a mainstay, and my wife and I bake a lot of lightly sweetened alternative snacks to meet our family’s sweet tooth. She keeps telling me I need to start sharing our recipes! We are not vegetarian but we include a lot of vegetarian and vegan cooking into our life.
SHOULD MEN AND WOMEN HAVE DIFFERENT FITNESS ROUTINES ASSUMING THE SAME GOALS OF GETTING LEANER AND STRONGER?
I think that we can all agree there are physiological differences between men and women. That said, no I don’t believe that you have to train them differently. Rep count and weight parameters are written in stone regardless. What gets in the way is what we perceive to be appealing for a man or a woman, or what we have been told. This plays a role in pushing the idea that men and women have to train differently. Regardless of if you are a man or a woman, I will build a program for my clients based on their goals and potential limitations — that never changes.
WHAT SHOULD SOMEONE CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING A PERSONAL TRAINER TO WORK WITH?
Education and experience are paramount. My minimum standard is a university degree or college specialization in health and fitness. My industry is unregulated and there are a lot of fitness trends out there at the moment I think are flat-out unsafe training on the proper technique. In many cases, that training is just not happening. If the client can become as qualified as their trainer in a weekend, that’s a problem, but I’m afraid that’s often the case. Look for substance over a solid sales pitch. Injuries will plague you for a long time.
SO THEN, WHAT CAN SOMEONE EXPECT TRAINING WITH YOU?
Someone who chooses to work out with me can plan on getting a tailored, energizing, goal-focused plan. Sometimes the work is and must be repetitive. I do my best to keep the sessions light and energetic but focused. My average client sees me twice a week and receives guidance on what to do for the rest of the week.
WHAT DOES YOUR CURRENT WORKOUT ROUTINE LOOK LIKE?
My ideal is a solid couple of hours on the bike. Before our son this was a lot easier! We keep a bike trainer in the shed for naptimes, and shoot for efficiency and frequency. I choose my priority — strength vs. fitness vs. mobility — for the day and focus on it. Forty-five minutes and I’m happy.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE STRENGTH TRAINING EXERCISES?
I like bang-for-your-buck exercises. I’m a little more old school so I enjoy squats, deadlifts, pullups and pushups.
WHAT ABOUT CARDIO?
My cardio workout of choice is a long ride. Second to that are battle ropes or a fast, full body circuit. This past winter you’d find me spinning at Torq on Queen.
WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY FOR PEOPLE WHO JUST DON'T LIKE EXERCISING?
It’s genuinely about finding something you like to do. It’s doesn’t have to be structured gym workout. There are plenty of studies out there that indicate that going for walks or gardening can have a major effect on improving one’s health. Keep in mind though that if you want to create substantial change, hard work needs to be put in. If you're simply looking to improve overall health just get up and move.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT LIVING IN TORONTO'S EAST END?
The community in the east end is like no other Toronto neighborhood that we’ve lived in. We know our neighbors, we have a go-to café, a brewery, great restaurants and bodegas. You really don’t need to leave the area to find whatever you need – and we see our neighbors in all those spots. As a business owner, I love getting to know other local business owners and supporting them.
DESCRIBE A PERFECT LOCAL DAY.
My perfect day in the east end starts with an early brunch with my wife and son at Edward’s. Greyson is still young, so we’re a bit tied to his naps, but somewhere in there we’ll either make our way to Leftfield for a beer or The Sidekick for a coffee.
Get in touch with Chris about your fitness goals and get a free, one-on-one assessment.