Awesome Top-Tips for Booking  your Perfect Personal Trainer

Welcome to the wedding supplier Q&A series where every Wednesday & Sunday afternoon we’ll be speaking to a London based wedding supplier and uncovering information to make planning your wedding easier. Each supplier has been hand picked because of their awesome personality, love they have for their couples and knowledge of their industry. I’ve also tried to find suppliers that are unique to give you a taste of what’s possible.

This week we’re speaking to Sarah O’Neill, a personal trainer that can often be witnessed with her clients on the band stand in the middle of Clapham Common. When I first drew up a list of suppliers I wanted to interview for this series, I admit that a  personal trainer was not among them. The fitness level of brides had never really entered my mind, being a big believer that all the brides I’ve worked with were beautiful regardless of the size of their dress. But after speaking to a lot of my friends who were planning their wedding I found this was indeed on their check lists.

After meeting Sarah (future brides make up over half of her clientele) I knew she was the right person to speak to. Like with many of my interviews I realised there was more to this industry than I first realised.

1. Tell us a bit about the story behind your business & why you do what you do?

I used to do the fitness stuff on the side while working in the city. At the time I never really thought I could do it as a career. Working in a business environment grew my confidence and I started to think that I could turn my passion into a viable business opportunity. So I went back and did another degree, this time in nutrition. At the same time I set up my personal trainer business and it’s just grown from there. I’ve been doing it about 6 years now.

I always wanted to combine both the training and nutrition element. Other trainers will offer nutrition, but having done a BSc degree gives me a more in-depth scientific knowledge to share with clients.

I’ve been lucky to be involved in several interesting projects over the years. These have included being on a League of Their Own, organising luxury fitness holidays in Marbella, Spain, being a resident nutritionist for the Runner’s World team and writing for quite a few bridal and fitness magazines.

Probably about 50% of my clients are soon to be brides. Often after the wedding they’ve got all this momentum and so need a new goal and so I tell them they need to run the marathon! I’ve had so many brides that have done wedding – marathon – ante natal. It’s lovely to be with them through that journey. I’ve built a lot of relationships going on 5 years now which is so nice because they think they want to just get in shape for their wedding but then realise that they love this and find it’s become an important part of their life.

Most of our sessions take place on Clapham Common. I’ve thought a lot over the years about getting a studio but all my clients love being outside so much that I haven’t seen the need. It’s a bit tough in the winter, but if you train through the winter, when you get to spring you feel this enormous sense of smugness. It’s so beautiful. Most of my clients work in the city in office jobs so they love having the opportunity of being outdoors. You get more vitamin D, more sunlight, and loads of fresh air.

Once a month we run a week long bootcamp with an intensive 6:30am start every morning. The team atmosphere and dynamic works really well. There’s a lot of chatting alongside the training. This adds a good social side, which really helps people enjoy their exercise. A lot of my clients I now count as really good friends; you just become such a big part of their lives.

Boxing, Sarah O'Neill, London Personal Trainer | Matt Badenoch Photography

2.  What makes you unique?

We offer a bridal boot camp day. You come in, do a bit about how to maximise your cardio, focusing on a lot of the areas you want to work on for your wedding or maybe bikini for the honeymoon. We’ll give ideas and inspiration that you can do at home and take a look at healthy wedding snacking. Because there’s a lot of other brides there you can all share ideas. Even in the boot camps there’s a lot of brides so there’s a lot of banter and idea sharing which is really nice.

We also like to use a mix of different trainers (all of them awesome) so you get a variety of styles to keep things interesting.

3. What would be your Top-Tips for a couple thinking about booking a personal trainer before their wedding?

  1. Don’t leave it too late. If you leave it until one month before your wedding, you can see results but you’re just going to be fraught and stressed. The risk is you’re going to over do it and look a bit gaunt, exhausted and generally not very well. If you give it a good run you’re going to look how you want to look and feel really good and confident by your wedding day. Most people I’d see at least 6 months ahead, but it does depend on what their goals are; for example how much weight they want to lose. One bride trained 10 months before and lost 2.5 stone gradually (gradually is so important; do it fast and it comes off your face). For weight maintenance you should be exercising at least 3 times a week and 5 times a week if you want to lose weight. It is hard work.
  2. Make sure you get a trainer that you actually like. You want it to be something that you really enjoy and enriches your engagement rather than something you’re forcing yourself to do, something that feels like a slog.
  3. Bring your fiancé (the fella’s) along for a session. It’s great for confidence as the guys are usually like ‘I had no idea you could do that’ and are pretty surprised/shocked. It’ll make you really proud of what you’ve achieved.

Clapham Common, Sarah O'Neill, London Personal Trainer | Matt Badenoch Photography

4. Tell us about some of your most favourite experiences with your clients.

It’s really hard to choose because everyone has a story….. It’s not just the physical side of training but the emotional bit as well. For example, sometimes people are a bit overworked and training provides a nice balance to their lives.

I’ve also had some phenomenal weight-loss examples. I’ve got one lady at the moment who’s lost 3 stone in the last 6 months. She’s just powering through. It’s so inspiring. Another client was really unconfident when we began training and absolutely hated running. But through the training her improvement was phenomenal and 6 months after the wedding she ran her first marathon. Later in the training she brought her finance along and she absolutely floored him and she was like ‘Yeah!’.

Skipping, Sarah O'Neill, London Personal Trainer | Matt Badenoch Photography

5. What has the future got in store for Sarah O’Neill?

It has been really nice growing the business to have other trainers as part of the team (I currently have 6 that work regularly with me). I’d quite like to grow the team a bit more.

Because I do so much bridal I’ve been wanting for a while now to create a bridal e-book or possibly a hardcopy book. Because I know brides like to have beautiful things I’d love to take what I do on a bridal day and put it into a beautiful book, with amazing images so it’s a keepsake too. I’ve also thought of maybe doing an ante-natal l version as well.

In the past I’ve volunteered with Hope HIV and this coming weekend I’ve organised the Hope in Heels event taking place in Battersea Park – a unique fundraiser that combines cheesy dance-moves, a 2.4km totter with entertainment, followed by an after-party packed with treatments and fizz. If you haven’t yet bought your tickets make sure you do!

5. I love quotes, do you have any favourites?

There’s one I really like for exercise.

“The hardest part of the workout is getting up and out the door.”

I strongly believe that, especially for those 6:30 boot camps. Ignore all those negative thoughts and excuses that run through your head and tell you not to do it. You’re never going to regret your workout.

Clapham Band Stand, Sarah O'Neill, London Personal Trainer | Matt Badenoch Photography

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