Damian Duff Personal Trainer Copyright © 2012 GoActive Fitness Contact:damianduff1@live.co.uk Tel: 01892231508  Mob: 07552082295 Personal Training Tunbridge Wells

Email: damianduff1@live.co.uk



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Damian Duff Personal Trainer

10 tips to stick to your new year fitness goals

Most people have good intentions of starting their new fitness goals in the New year. This is all good and well but many tend not to stick to these goals and before you know it your back into those bad eating habits and non existant exercise routines! Here's a few tips to hopefully help you stick to and reach your fitness goals for the new year.


Set yourself goals to keep yourself on track.


Don't go to mad and set yourself goals that are unrealistic and impossible to achieve.


Don't go straight for the main goal and end up failing as it's just to challenging to complete. Break your main goal down into smaller more achievable chunks. e.g You want to run the next half marathon - Don't dive in head first and try and run the whole half in one go, break  it down and aim to run 2km the first week then maybe 5k the next week until you eventually reach your target distance.


Don't set an unreasonable time limit for your goals, take your time as your more likely to stick to your goals if you don't push yourself beyond your limits to soon. e.g loose a stone in weight - don't starve yourself and hope to exercise efficiently every day as your body won't thank you for it. Aim to loose 1lb to 2lb a week max until you reach your target weight, take it slow and you'll reach your goal and feel better for it.


Make sure you do activities you enjoy to reach your goal. Exercise isn't all about Gyms and running miles. Choose activities you find fun and you'll soon be dropping those extra calories without realising it. You are also more likely to stick to your goals if you are doing things you enjoy.


Diets are ok for a quick fix but you won't stick to it and you may even end up putting on more pounds than when you started. Change your lifestyle by doing food swaps and introducing healthy foods into your diet. Starving yourself isn't the best way to reach and stick to a fitness goal, you'll be hungry again before you know it!


Bringing a friend along with similar fitness goal interests will help you stick to your fitness plan. Fitness can be more fun with a friend and you will be both there to help motivate and encourage each other during your journey towards your final goals.


Make sure you don't over do things and get plenty of rest. The body needs rest to recover and build itself back stronger after vigorous exercise. If you over do things you'll burn yourself out and end up giving up before you reach your goal. e.g Adopt a day on day off approach to let your body recover after each workout day.


Reward yourself once you’ve achieved part of your goal. You are more likely to stick to your goals if you treat yourself once a week to something naughty as it gives you something to look forward to after all that hard work you’ve put in. Just don't let the naughty days spiral out of control!


Don't feel deflated if you go off track of your goals. We all have times where we are unable to train or end up having a night out which goes against our healthy eating plan. Don't beat yourself up about it, we all do it - Just make sure you find focus and get back on track toward your goals, the sooner the better!




As of late through work or socialising I’ve come across many people who are clearly over training. Over training is not good and can lead to slower results and possible injury. The body needs to rest, especially after exercise. In simple terms when we exercise we put our bodies under a lot of stress. Our bodies tell us this by sending signals such as tiredness, fatigue and pain. The aches and pains we get the following day after exercise are caused by very small tears in the muscles which happen during training when we push ourselves hard enough, it is also known as DOMS( Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). During this time the body needs to rest so the muscles can repair themselves. This is key as during the repair process the muscles come back stronger and bigger depending on the intensity of the exercise session. But for this to happen we must rest and let the healing process do its thing, the pain is a signal telling our bodies to rest. If we ignore this we could cause more harm than good in the form of injuries or illness through over training. You will also see slower results in increased fitness levels as you are not allowing the muscles to recover properly or grow stronger.

If you must train 5 plus days a week then consider split training. Train different muscle groups each day e.g Monday Legs, Tuesday Chest and Triceps, Wednesday Back and Biceps, Thursday Cardio, Friday Shoulders etc. This way the previous muscles groups we have trained get the maximum rest while we train others, this also means we can train each muscle group more intensely for maximum results. So train smart and make sure you rest!

Cheers D

Finding Time to Exercise

Hi, A quick blog post today about the time old excuse ---> 'I don't have time to exercise'.  Not an excuse in my book, if your truly keen to start getting fit, shed those pounds or get that beach bod you’ve always been after then one must find time! If you can't find the time then it's not going to happen. I've listed some ways below to help you find that elusive missing time to exercise. :)

1) Wake up earlier in the mornings! Set that alarm clock earlier and get your exercise done before anything else in the day, you'll feel better for it and keep calories burning for the rest of the day.

2) Exercise at home. Going to and from the gym can waste precious time and then you can't get on the equipment you want to use upon arrival as someone is hogging that bench or treadmill, not good. So...Workout at home instead . Most exercises can be performed in the privacy and comfort of your own home with little or no equipment, you can train pretty much every body using only your own bodyweight.  All you need is a clutter free space and a bit of exercise knowledge. You'll also save a pretty penny on gym fees. Bonus!

3) Kids leave me no time to exercise. Again not an excuse. I myself have an 18 month old boy, I had jiggle things around a bit but now still find time to exercise. I tend to Exercise during his nap time or you could do it when there at nursery or school. You can even get them involved in your exercise routine. There’s plenty of information out there about exercising with your bundle of joy (safety in mind of course). There’s also specific parent toddler classes you can attend. I’ve seen many a mother racing around Dunorlan park at 100mph pushing a rather bemused looking child with wind swept hair. So find a way, they will probably enjoy it as much as you and it's a great early introduction to exercise for them.

4) Work gets in the way. Not an excuse. As above, wake up earlier or exercise after work. Find time or you will never reach those goals you are aiming for. The same goes for any other excuses, it's down to you at the end of the day so find time and crack on with it .Trust me, you will feeel better for doing it rather than not.

Damian :)



Healthy diets and food substitutes

As a Personal Trainer I get asked a lot of questions about diets and what we should and should not be eating. My opinion and answer to this is try to eat a varied diet and everything in moderation. We should be looking at the bigger picture and trying make healthy eating part of a lifestyle change and something that's going to last the long term. Fad diets don't generally work in the long term, the majority of people will stick to a diet for a short period then begin to slip into old habits and in turn some end up putting the same or more weight back on again. This then becomes a cycle of diet after diet which is not good for the body and its metabolism. Diets may be good if for example you need to lose weight in 6 weeks to fit into a wedding dress or get leaner for a sports event but I think most people want to lose weight and keep the weight off for the long term. With Personal Training clients I find the best way is to get them started is for them to fill in a food diary which I can analyse and then suggest healthier alternatives for them a little at a time. The slower introduction of  these healthier foods will make it easier in the long term for them to get used to a healthier way of eating and hopefully keep them at it for the long term rather than going the whole hog instantly, changing all the foods there used to eating in one go and then being left feeling hungry, grumpy and craving all the foods they were used to eating in the past. I also think you shouldn't cut out the foods you love for good, you should treat yourself once in a while. Even myself as a Personal Trainer am partial to the odd pizza here or there, I just don't make a habit of it and generally try to eat a varied and healthy diet. So by making healthier changes in your diet and starting a good exercise routine your onto a winner and the weight should start to slowly drop off for the long term.

I’ve listed a few foods/recipes below which I substitute in my diet but there is plenty more out there for you to experiment with. Good luck and happy healthy eating!


Firstly if you are using any oil with your foods, use sparingly and swap fatty cooking oils such as Sunflower oil for a healthier options like Extra Virgin Olive or Coconut oil.

Potatoes swapped for Sweet potatoes - These taste better in my opinion and are great baked, mashed or cut into wedges and baked in the oven.

Mash potatoes swapped for a Butter bean mash - Throw the beans in a pan with a bit of garlic, Olive oil and seasoning, Crush up with a fork whilst cooking and you’ve got a mash that’s tasty, lower in carbs and high in protein. Winner!

Red processed meats swapped for leaner white meats like Chicken or Turkey - These are lower in fat and high in protein which makes you feel fuller for longer and helps build and repair muscle particularly after exercise. Chicken is king!

Beef Burgers swapped for Homemade Turkey burgers - Use lean Turkey mince and a bit of seasoning  for a lower fat and scrummy tasting low fat burger.

White Bread swapped for brown breads - Lower in Sugars and higher in fibre. Fibre is healthier makes you feel fuller for longer.

White Rice or Past Swapped for Brown Rice or Wholemeal Pasta - Again Higher in fibre and better for you.

Sweet processed puddings and stuff! - Swap for fruit and natural yoghurts, lower in fat, higher in fibre and contain natural sugars. All good!

Also bulk out on Vegetables to keep you fuller, roast in the oven with a splash of Olive oil, sea salt and black pepper for a great alternative to chips. Lush!

Those were just a few examples, experiment with your healthy options and don't be afraid to try new foods.

Damian :)




A common question I get asked is "How do I know I am getting fitter?"

There are many fitness tests out there so here are a few simple ones you can perform yourself to test and challenge your own fitness levels.

1) Press Up Test 

To measure upper body strength and endurance.

Perform as many full press ups as possible in 60 seconds.

Lie prone on floor with hands slightly wider than shoulder width, raise body of the floor by extending your arms and keeping body straight(shoulders, hips, knees, ankles in a straight line), lower your body to the floor by bending arms/elbows then push back up until arms are extended to start position.

Test begins in down position.

How did you do?

Excellent = 40+
Good = 30-40
Average = 20-30
Poor = 20 or below

2) Squat Test

To measure lower body muscular strength and endurance

Perform as many squats as possible until you can do no more.

Start standing with feet around shoulder width, squat down by pushing and bending hips back and allowing knees to bend forward(imagine you sitting down in a chair). Keep back straight, knees same direction as feet (try keep knees behind toes). Lower down until thighs are parallel to the floor,push back up through your heels whilst extending knees and hips until legs are straight and back in the start position.

How did you do?

Excellent = 30+
Good = 20-30
Average = 10-20
Poor = <10

3) Plank Test

To measure your core strength and stability (muscles that make up your torso)

From a press up position, drop down to your elbows and forearms making sure your ankles, knees, hips and shoulders are in a straight line.

Hold this position as long as possible.

How did you do?

Excellent = 3 mins+
Good = 2 mins+
Average = 1 min+
Poor = less than 1 min

4) 1 mile Run (1.6 km)

To test your Cardiovascular fitness or Stamina (How efficiently your heart and lungs use oxygen).

Run 1 mile as quick as possible.

How did you do?

Excellent =
Good = 6-8mins
Average = 8-10 mins
Poor = 10 mins+


Outdoor Training Mini Guide

A lot of people/clients I speak to say to me they dislike gyms due to one reason or another. I tend to agree with them to some extent and know from personal experience that you can have just as an effective workout with a little imagination, by looking at the environment around you and then using it to your advantage. No need for all these funky looking machines you find in gyms these days. You also get to breathe fresh air, get a free sun tan (if the sun's out) and there's no gym fees so it won't cost you a penny which a bonus :) I’ve listed a few items/objects for you which if you come across during your travels you could stop at and perform a few exercises on which will hopefully make your workouts more fun, varied and effective.

Benches - These can be used for a full body workout by doing exercises such as step ups, press ups, tricep dips and abdominal exercises (just make sure there's no one sitting on the said bench before you start performing somersaults, handstand press ups and box jumps all over it!)

Railings - Again depending on height of railing etc you can perform press ups, inverted rows, and even a bit of balance work if that what floats your boat.

Steps - Great for running, jumping, hopping and lunging on. Also good for lots of other funky stuff such as plank walking and press up variants due to their various levels and heights.

Hills - Don't forget or avoid these as they are great for improving your cardiovascular workouts. Start to Jog or sprint up them and I guarantee after doing it for long enough it will boost you cardiovascular fitness and help you to run longer distances without running out of gas.

These are just a few examples of how to make your workout more fun and varied by using the environment around you. There's a lot more out there and I'm sure you'll come across many weird and wonderful objects on your travels. I hope this short blog article gives you a few ideas to get you started. Happy training all :)



My top 5 Personal Training/Running spots in and around Tunbridge Wells

Firstly, Hello and welcome to my new blog page. My first blog reveals some of my personal favourite outdoor running/training locations which I use for myself and clients in and around the Tunbridge Wells area. When first moving to the area around 2 years ago I could find little information regards running hot spots or local spots to take clients so after some time seeking out and finding suitable locations I thought I'd share them on my first blog. So here goes...


Dunorlan Park

My first discovery when moving to sunny Tunbridge Wells. Only a short walk from the town centre, this park is probably one of my favourite and definitely the most pleasing on the eye. It boasts a gorgeous  lake which is roughly 1km total around the perimeter, this is ideal  for the runner as it makes it easy to mentally record and remember your distance whilst smashing lap after lap around this bad boy! There are also some steep hills that link off from the lake path which are great for incorporating into your laps around the lake to make for a more challenging run or use them solely for hill sprints to really get the heart rate pumping. The fun doesn't stop there as there are also adjoining fields next to the lake which can create a longer distance run if you combine this with the lake and hills on the opposite side. There's a lot of km's to be had here at Dunorlan and your route can easily be altered slightly from lap to lap due to the various paths and trails which will eventually lead you back to a familiar spot so there's no worries about getting lost along the way! Add to this steps, benches, fallen tree trunks and friendly ducks you can't really go wrong here for a great outdoor workout. There's also a great little cafe where you can rehydrate yourself or grab that pre/post workout snack and various toilet facilities if you get caught short en-route as it were! All in all a great outdoor location for training and taking Personal training clients to.  Definitely recommend this one.

Bewl Water Reservoir

This is located on the Kent Sussex border or a 20 min drive from Tunbridge Wells and contains the South east’s largest lake. This circular running trail is a whopping 12.5 miles and follows pretty much the entire perimeter and more through country lanes, fields and wooded glades. This is not for the faint hearted though and has some very challenging terrain including some very long and steep hills. Make sure you bring plenty of water and snacks to keep you going for this one as theres only one refreshment stop en route which is at the main entrance area. This is a great location for marathon training as 2 laps of this monster works out at roughly 25 miles, just under a marathon distance. It's a varied and challenging route of mixed terrain which takes in some spectacular scenery on the way so there's no chance of getting bored on your run, time also seemed to go surprisingly quickly for me during this beast of a run which is also a bonus. If your not up for the running challenge you do have the option of walking, cycling or hiring one the boats to float your way around the reservoir! Another great run and much recommended if you have the time, stamina and a masseuse handy for afterwards to iron out those aching leg muscles!

Southborough Common

Head out of Tunbridge wells on the St Johns road and you will find Southborough Common on the left by the cricket pitch. There's a few small fielded areas near the pitch with benches which is where I sometimes train clients local to the Southborough area. You can also head off from here into Birch Wood and on towards Bidborough. This wood has numerous tight and twisty pathways which head off in various directions through this quaint little wooded area. The ground here is mostly uneven and you'll find your self hopping over numerous tree routes and dodging protruding branches from every angle. There are also some quite challenging and steep hills to be had here so this makes a good run for both the novice and more advanced runner. I also remember you can join onto the Weald Way somewhere in the wood, this is a public footpath running from Gravesend to Eastbourne. I have not had the chance to check out the Weald Way route via Birch Wood yet but I imagine there may be some more good running tracks to be had which head back towards Tunbridge Wells. All in all another good running route if your in the area . It's also a nice steady run of about 20-30 mins if you head out of Tunbridge Wells town centre along St Johns road and onto Southborough Common, this makes for a longer and more challenging run if that's more your cup of tea :)

Tunbridge Wells Common

Tunbridge Wells Common is located near the centre of Tunbridge Wells sandwiched between Eridge road v tend to head off towards Grosvenor Hilbert Park first and have few laps around the fields and pathways then head off up Camden road towards  Dunorlan park. Once reaching Dunorlan I head through the main Pembury road entrance and run around the lake or fields depending what mood I'm in that day. I then head up towards the entrance on Bayhall road and turn right onto Kingswood road past the Doctor's surgery and back onto Pembury road. After this it's a short run down Calverly park gardens and onto Calverly Park. Again once here, I run a few laps around the park and then head into town up the hill along Mt Pleasant Avenue, left onto Church road past the Trinity Theatre and eventually onto Tunbridge Wells common. After having a run around the common I slowly head back home along St John's road and eventually collapse after a long and tiring run! Again this run can be split in 2 or 3 parks only depending on your ability or time constraints that day. A good run to be had around Tunbridge Wells and you nearly always bump into local face or 2 somewhere along this route.