Understand the Science Behind Fitness with Hayden-William Courtland, PhD
|Personal Trainer Showcase|
|Name: Hayden-William Courtland, PhD|
|Stats: 6’3” / 190 lbs|
|Location: New York City, USA|
What inspired you to become a personal trainer?
It began with my wanting to get stronger and have better cardiovascular fitness so that life activities (e.g., moving, playing soccer, etc.) would be easier. I did a lot of research (beyond what I had done for my B.A., M.Sc, and Ph.D. degrees) and garnered very good results. My friends started noticing and asked me for help. It didn’t take long for them to suggest I get a website up and start connecting with a larger audience.
What is your training philosophy?
Determine what the individual’s training goals are and personalize the program for them. Everything – the type of training used, the exercises used, the nutrition plan developed and so on – must be tailored to the individual in order to optimize the results.
What are your own personal fitness goals?
I am still not quite as strong as I would like to be, so my focus (once the summer ends) will be on getting stronger. In particular, increasing my upper body pressing and pushing strength. Concurrent with this I will be continuing to focus on improving my shoulder and upper (thoracic) back flexibility.
What do you feel experience has taught you about fitness that education never could?
Just how significantly we all can improve our health by becoming more active and by eating properly. I’ve spent many years in academia involved with high-end medical research and the picture that is painted is one that is very bleak – numerous chronic conditions that scientists are trying to improve, prevent, and cure with drugs. But I’ve seen firsthand how virtually all chronic conditions can be improved, prevented, and/or cured with the right physical activity and nutrition. This has impressed upon me the need to better educate society on the importance and efficacy of exercise and nutrition.
Do you have a training discipline that you prefer? Why?
I see value in many different disciples, but if I am forced to narrow it down, I would choose three: 1) Gymnastics as it develops body awareness and control side-by-side with flexibility, 2) Strength Training using the Starting Strength method as it is based on science, and 3) High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) as developed by CrossFit because I’ve seen nothing quite as effective for conditioning and fat loss.
What are your top three exercises for strength? Why?
1) Low-bar squat with a barbell, 2) Press (overhead) with a barbell, and 3) Deadlift (conventional) with a barbell. The reason is the same for all of them, they each enable you to lift the most amount of weight with the most amount of muscle mass through a fairly large (if not the largest) range of motion. There is nothing better for packing on muscle size and strength that will carry over to life activity and/or sports.
What do you get asked most often as a trainer?
It’s split between “why am I not losing fat?” and “is this exercise safe?”
What tips do you have for people training for the first time?
You must remember that training history matters a LOT. Beginners respond to almost anything with good results. Therefore, there are optimal ways to get fitter as a beginner that more advanced trainees can’t use anymore. Don’t just buy into a program because someone else is doing it. You need to know what is right for you which is where a good coach/trainer becomes invaluable.
How do you keep your clients motivated?
It all comes down to the individual client. You need to find out what their goals are and what things make them more likely to lose interest. You have to be creative and work around those issues. It can be as simple as tracking progress (body weight changes, weight lifted, times on workouts, etc.). It can also mean being more interactive; sometimes I will train with my clients 1-on-1 and sometimes I’ll take a group fitness class with them. You just have to experiment and figure out what works. If you show them you care, that will go a very long way.
And, how do you keep yourself motivated?
As long as I’m interested in something, I tend to be very easily motivated. So that’s key. I’ve settled into fields that I love (e.g., fitness, health, education, etc.). On a weekly and monthly basis, though, I keep my goals written down and track my progress. I keep a notebook and plan my training more than a week out. Expectations are then set which help keep me on track. I also surround myself with like-minded individuals and even train with them when possible.
Finally, what’s your favorite cheat day food?
Pizza. I could eat it every day, but I suspect my love for it would wane if I did. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, so having it every now and then is magical.