Tips & Advice



The 5:2 diet appears to be everywhere these days. Celebrities ranging from Australian super-model Miranda Kerr to Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osbourne have claimed that the regime of fasting for two days out of every seven has helped them lose weight. But what are the fitness ramifications of eating fewer than 600 calories twice a week and what role does exercise have to play when doing a ‘Fast Diet’?

It was only in late 2012 that the 5:2 diet began to come to prominence and so there is relatively little scientific research into what positive or negative effects the diet might have on your overall fitness. However, the general consensus is that it will help you lose weight; one study found that it was as successful as calorie-controlled diets in reducing the weight of overweight young women. Yet the lack of empirical research leads us to look at anecdotal evidence: Max Anderton at Men’s Fitness found that as a result of doing the diet he went on carb binges on the days that he didn’t fast, which lead to his weight actually increasing by almost a kilo. Binging like that is not recommended, even though some claim on non-fast days you can eat whatever you like.

What is recommended is combining the diet with exercise. But whilst exercise on the ‘normal’ days is relatively straightforward, questions arise about whether or not to exercise on the ‘fast’ days. The NHS warns that the fasting ‘may affect your ability to exercise which is an important part of maintaining a healthy weight’. However, Michael Mosley – the 5:2 diet guru – suggests that those who exercise on days when they are fasting ‘burn more fat’, before warning that it’s best not to undertake endurance training on a fast day. The general consensus when it comes to exercising on fast days is if you ever feel uncomfortable stop. Also it’s worth noting that if you do chose to exercise on a fast day that does not mean that you can eat more calories, as is the way with some calorie-controlled diets.

The 5:2 diet isn’t for everyone. Some people cannot cope with the hunger of the fast days and prefer other forms of dieting. The decision to lose weight – and what method works for you – is always down to the individual. Here at Fitness Matters we can help to create a nutrition and fitness plan that suits your body. But whatever you decide, exercise is always essential when it comes to living healthily.



The key to becoming fit and healthy is to eat the right things and in the right way, and to avoid neglecting your diet. The quantity and type of food you consume has a major impact on your weight, and shedding the pounds can, more often than not, be achieved by making small changes to your diet. Changing your eating habits will not only revitalise your fitness and health, but it will also encourage you to live a happy, more nourishing life. The best bit is that all this can be achieved by taking relatively small steps.

Healthy Living Key Shows Health Diet And Fitness
Here are a few key tips to help on your way to finding the perfect healthy, sustainable diet:

  • Eat little and often. Blood sugar levels should be constant and not spiking all the time.
  • You can’t out-train a bad diet, so remember that no matter how much exercise you are cramming in, you need to change your eating routine before you can expect to lose weight.
  • The Paleo diet is a good place to start. By consuming more protein and fibre, and cutting down on the processed carbohydrates, you’ll be well on your way to revitalising your health.

It has been proven that eating less calories has a direct link with longer life expectancy, whilst generally eating healthier leaves you feeling more revitalised and happy, and of course contributes to weight loss. We at Fitness Matters offer training schemes and schedules that suit you. We’ll give you the training you need to lose those pounds, and provide the nutritional and lifestyle advice to ensure you are following a healthy and sustainable diet.

Call us on 01392 829 713 to make your first appointment.


Why settle only for a beach body, when you can have a great body for life?

Why settle only for a beach body, when you can have a great body for life?

It’s that time of year again and summer is upon us. But you know what that means… going to the beach. And you know that means… having that perfect summer body! But while many people may be thinking about getting that perfect ‘beach’ body, why not aim higher and aim for that perfect ‘life’ body?

But how can you achieve this?


See ‘getting fit’ as a lifestyle change rather than as a quick fad to get in shape for the summer. Although you can get sidetracked, remember that keeping a diverse array of activities and sustaining an exercise routine is the best route to continued fitness, even during busy or hectic periods. If you adapt you can maintain sustainable fitness.


Take small positive steps, little and often towards your end goal. Change doesn’t happen overnight. And giving yourself a deadline and cramming exercise in may help in the short term, but focus and consistency is important. After all, change doesn’t happen overnight. Remember: eat smaller portions, little and often. Exercise little and often to keep your metabolism going.

Make sure that you seek sustainable fitness, rather than a fad diet this summer!



And what better way to do that, than with us?

We offer training schemes and schedules that suit you; whatever day of the week, whatever time of day. We’ll be there to help you get a body that you’ll want to show not only on the beach but in the office as well! We give you the training you need (and want) to lose those pounds and provide the nutritional and lifestyle advice to ensure that the body you’ve worked so hard to get, stays.

Call us on 01392 829 713 to make your first appointment. Don’t worry, it’s a no-obligation consultation (but we’re sure that once you’ve talked to us, you won’t want to look anywhere else).




Tomorrow, Sam and Shane of Fitness Matters will be attempting to break a rowing world record challenge; 1,000,000 metres in less than 3 and half days! It’s all in aid of Sport Relief, a fantastic nationwide fundraising event that helps those in poverty in the UK and across the world.

Sam and Shane’s attempt follows a spate of rowing challenges organised by the pair already this year and will build on their success so far. In January, Sam and Shane kicked off with “Janurow” – a new annual event that raised money to help children in the UK and in the Philippines. Last month, Sam entered the English Indoor Rowing Championships in Manchester and beat his personal target of 2000 metres in 6 minutes which earned him a Silver medal.

“I have always kept myself fit, strong and healthy, and rowing has been a part of my overall training programme,” says Sam, “this year it has had a bigger presence than before as my goals have become more specific to rowing. The other aspects of my fitness have definitely not suffered! Rowing is a great physique builder.”

As a personal trainer and founder of Fitness Matters, Sam describes better than anyone some of the brilliant fitness benefits you can get from rowing. One of the great plus points is that rowing gives you a full body work out without any impact on your joints, which means you can go for longer without too much fear of damaging your body. Workouts can be so varied depending on your individual goals and it is suitable for all shapes, sizes, ages and fitness levels.

From the outside, it looks like Sam and Shane are becoming rowing fanatics! “I like the fact that it is you against the machine and there are no excuses. I have always been into indoor rowing as it was a great training tool throughout my rugby career and have now found it a great personal focus for me.”

So tomorrow at 7 am, Sam and Shane will be starting their next rowing adventure – based at Sainsbury’s Pinhoe. If you want to learn more about this fantastic form of exercise, and support the guys and the Sport Relief charity – why not come down and visit? The big question is are THEY ready? “Can you ever be ready for that?” says Sam. “It is not really something you can do very specific training for but I feel I am in a good place to give it a shot. I am certainly looking forward to it. We will be giving everything to beat the previous record and I believe the mind is going to be the most important thing.”

At Fitness Matter’s private gym in Exeter, we have a range of workout options, including the “Concept 2” rowing machine so if you really want to improve your fitness and health, why not think about getting in touch?



After the “one million metres” Janurow challenge, we thought we’d have a bit of a debrief. Sam gave us an honest interview about his hectic start to the year…

How did you find Janurow? Did you enjoy it?

That’s a funny question to answer… I enjoyed finishing and knowing I had helped others. It was satisfying personally but more so to see so many others achieve so many metres and enjoy rowing. It was a good focus but who would choose to row over a million metres for fun….. Oh yeah – I did!

How hard was it?

‘Hard’ is all relative. People have far harder lives than I do. But for 31 days (excluding the pre event organisation) there was definitely a different pressure and focus in my life. Everything else remained, but there was always this nagging in my head to be rowing as it had to be done.

I also chose to make it hard on myself by demanding a fast pace every session. It was relentless. And at times throughout it was mentally, physically, emotionally and logistically hard.

But when something is over it never seems so bad as you move on. You even miss it. Would I choose to do it next month though… Hmmm!

What was your top tip to stay motivated throughout the challenge?

The things we take for granted in our lives would be the answers to these children’s prayers. I was motivated throughout as it had to be done – so I just got on and did it 2 or 3 times per day.

Definitely some days were harder than others, but the children we were doing this for have suffering each and every day of their lives. Forever. Our pain was short-lived.

What are your hopes for the Janurow charity event next year?

I want it to grow year on year. I had so much support, help and understanding this time around and those that entered achieved well beyond what they thought they could. I want it to be recognised everywhere so more can be raised for our fantastic charities. Everything will be bigger, better and smoother next time around as we have so much more time to prepare and will learn all the lessons from this year’s event.


If you want to get involved with Janurow, either by donating or helping us to plan for next year, please visit


January is always a month of renewed energy and enthusiasm. As the old year ends and a new one begins, we find ourselves wanting to be fitter, healthier and generally better in everything we choose to do. But as the month comes to a close, many of our early commitments begin to wane and our dedication can fail.


So how can you fight this loss of enthusiasm? You need inspiration! We recently posted on our Facebook page a ‘before and after’ shot of one of our clients. “Dr G” (we’ll call him for the purpose of confidentiality) worked very hard and in just 8 weeks he saw an amazing change in his body shape and fitness levels.

Just have a look at this photo:

If you’ve been working as hard as Dr G in January, then you only have another 4 weeks to go before you see these amazing results eh? If you haven’t been working hard enough – then maybe you need the Fitness Matters team to give you a kick. Don’t waste that New Year’s feeling, don’t give in to the routine of your previous lifestyle – make your January a change for life and keep going!

Make Sustainable Changes

Finally, it’s worth showing you the excellent progress our long-term clients enjoy. Richard (pictured below) has been with us for a few years now, and has stuck to his nutrition and fitness regime. Richard and Dr G show that if you make realistic sustainable changes you will see an upward curve in your fitness levels. Keep making small steps in the right direction, nothing radical, no fads – just good habits and hard work. Let these images be an inspiration to keep going and make those New Year’s resolutions last all year round!



It’s that time of year again – shorter days and bad weather make it difficult to maintain the motivation to get out there and exercise. We all know what normally wins the toss up between going running in the pouring rain or cozying up on the sofa… But with Christmas parties just around the corner, hibernation is not going to help you feel and look great so swap those slippers for trainers and beat those seasonal blues.

Follow these tips for safe exercise during the winter:


1. Wear Layered Clothing

While it may be tempting to wear just one or two thick layers in cold weather, it is better to dress in a few thinner layers which you can take off as you sweat and overheat. A good first layer would be of a synthetic material, such as polypropylene, as it draws sweat away from the body. A second layer of fleece with a waterproof on top is a good combination that you can peel away as your body heats up.


2. Stay Visible

Shorter days may mean your post work run may be plunged into darkness, so it is really important to stay visible when on the roads. A high visibility jacket is essential for any outdoor exercise in the dark.


3. Pre Exercise Prep

Stretching your muscles before and after exercise may seem obvious, but it is especially important when braving the cold. Aside from stretching, it is also beneficial to do some cardio for a few minutes before you go outside, in order to get your blood flowing and increase your heart rate. Good examples of this would be star jumps or even running up and down the stairs a few times.


4. Stay Hydrated

This is one many people forget, but it is just as important to stay hydrated in the winter as it is when exercising in warmer conditions.


5. Beware Of Ice

When running on icy or snowy paths, a good tip is to shorten your stride and keep your feet lower to the ground in order to minimize the risk of slipping. Try to run or cycle on well lit, well gritted routes if the ground is icy and be especially careful early in the morning.


6. Stay Connected

Due to the increased risk of injury in the winter months, it is sensible to bring your mobile phone with you when exercising out and about, or even better – go with a friend!


And Finally…

If braving the wind and rain just isn’t for you, Fitness Matters has a complete private gym with a great team of experienced and knowledgeable personal trainers to help you achieve your goals.



Protein is an essential nutrient to the human body and is the most important food for building muscle and losing weight. With myths flying around the gym, it’s hard to tell the true facts about protein. So here’s a bit of information on how to incorporate protein into your diet, in order to improve muscle strength and stay in shape.


How much protein should you eat?

The amount of protein needed each day varies for everyone, depending on activity levels, body weight, and dieting. The RDA for an inactive person is just 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. However, when you bring exercise into the equation this requirement nearly doubles. It is recommended that endurance athletes consume between 0.5 and 0.7 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day and for strength athletes it is 0.7- 0.8 grams.


Is there such thing as too much protein?

Protein promotes the muscle-building process, called protein synthesis but you don’t need enormous amounts to do this. If you are working out hard, having more than 0.9 to 1.25 grams of protein per pound of body weight is a waste. Your body won’t be able to process those extra calories, and they will end up turning into fat.


Should I consider taking a protein supplement?

If your body’s not getting enough protein, you might want to consider taking a protein supplement. Taking both types of protein supplement, whey and casein, is proven to be better for building muscle. Casein provides a steadier stream of amino acids to the body, whereas whey gives an immediate boost. Combining both will have beneficial results. Depending on the protein drink, it is usually advised to drink a protein shake an hour before exercise to boost energy levels, and then again immediately after, to help repair muscle damage and to encourage new muscle growth.


What happens if you don’t get enough protein?

Many men believe that their muscles will shrink if they don’t meet their daily protein requirements. But if you normally eat the right amount of protein, an occasional low-protein day won’t affect muscle growth. Loosing muscle is usually due to injury, lack of use, or severe calorie restriction.


Fibre should be in every diet

Our third article in our mini-nutrition series discusses fibre. Look for any sensible diet advice and it will come as no surprise that a high amount of fibre is highly recommended. There are countless benefits to high fibre-intake, including (but by no means limited to) key weight-loss aid, helps control cholesterol levels and can reduce chance of heart disease. It’s basically a miracle worker!

So, what does fibre do?

High fibre foods take much longer to chew than other forms of food; this alone significantly slows down the rate at which we eat food, making you feel full sooner. It can take up to 20 seconds for the body to recognise it is full and high fibre foods provide this opportunity, preventing overeating and consequently avoiding excessive weight gain.

Once fibre reaches the stomach it mixes with other foods and minerals to slow down the process of nutrients being absorbed into the blood stream. It also aids in slowing down the absorption of sugar into the body.

Raspberries are one of the many items of food that contain a large amount of fibre, containing up to 8 grams of it! What makes fibre so important is that it clears through your digestion system, removing waste that could cause irritation.

Top five foods that contain high amounts of fibre are:

1.      Bran

2.      Nuts

3.      Dried herbs and spices

4.      Sun-dried tomatoes

5.      Passion fruit

Increasing your intake of fibre is known to aid digestions and encourage healthy weight loss as identified above, so why would you not want to stock your cupboards high with high fibre products? For many years, dieticians have advised that the population is not in taking enough fibre and increasing your intake can have profound positive effects.

At Fitness Matters we offer diet and nutrition advice on a one-to-one basis, offering you a tailor-made plan so that you can achieve what you want. Call 07894 115 699 to arrange your consultation, today!



Our latest article in our nutrition series looks at the science behind salt. There is often a lot of hate towards salt in the media, blaming mass-production for increasing salt levels in our diets. But what are the facts?

Many of us in the UK eat too much salt. According to the NHS, 75% of our salt intake is found in day-to-day foods such as bread, cereals and ready meals. Adding salt to our meals simply increases our already-high intake.

So, what are the figures?

– Our recommended daily salt intake should not exceed 6g.

– On food labels, more than 1.5g of salt per 100g would be classed as ‘high’, with anything below 0.3g per 100g being a ‘low’ salt content.

– Recent research by the National Institute for Heath and Care Excellence (NICE) proposes that by 2025, an adult’s maximum salt intake should be reduced from 6g to 3g.

What foods to avoid?

There are some key foods to avoid when trying to cut down on salt intake. Ready meals are an obvious culprit, along with bacon, cheese and smoked meat and fish. Some foods that can vary in salt levels include pasta sauces, sausages and cereals. It’s important that you take notice of the labels on food packaging.

The Health Risks

A diet which is high in salt often leads to a high blood pressure, consequently leading to a higher risk of developing heart disease. Cutting down on your salt intake dramatically reduces a person’s risk of developing this.

Our Diet

We promote the Paleo Diet which we believe is an optimal diet to which we have genetically adapted to. This diet stays away from dairy and processed foods and focuses on the inclusion of grass-produced meats and fresh veg in the diet.

At Fitness Matters, not only do we offer a private one-to-one personal training service, we also offer complete lifestyle coaching and nutritional advice too. Want to improve your diet and cut out the salt? Get in touch today for a chat.