For the last 7 weeks our editor Annika Allen has been attending work out sessions with health and fitness provider STONEiMAGE run by personal trainer Erron Dussard. The 27-year-old Londoner has been getting her fit and ready to take part in Tough Mudder – a 12 mile long muddy obstacle courses designed to test strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie. STONEiMAGE makes training both enjoyable and challenging to make sure his clients fulfil their potential. Erron managed to find time in his packed schedule for a chat and to provided excellent advice and tips.

At what age did you first become interested in health and fitness?
What initiated your interest? Coming from a sporting family I’ve always had an interest in health & fitness, way before I knew a career in it was possible. My main background is in football where I played at Schoolboy and Academy level, keeping healthy was a simple requirement.

How did you get started?
I was working in the banking industry for over 4 years and hit a cross roads, it was either 20 years plus working in the bank like some of my colleagues or go find something else to that I was more passionate about. I walked away from my job in the bank and then booked myself onto, 1st the Fitness Instructor Level 2 qualification and then the Advanced Fitness Trainer Level 3. Straight after qualifying as a level 3 trainer STONEiMAGE was born.

What bad habits should men avoid for piling up the pounds?
The beer belly isn’t called that for no reason, men tend to carry their weight around the stomach area and huge consumptions of alcohol, which is high in sugar, should be avoided.

What bad habits should women avoid for piling up the pounds?
It’s been said that women like their chocolate and other sweet stuff, now while during particular times of the month chocolate is good for a woman’s system due to the magnesium content but too much will add on the pounds fast.

What are some tips you have for people looking to get into shape?
Clean up their eating, one thing you can’t do is out work a bad diet. Body transformation is 70% nutrition and 30% exercise so the 1st key point I’d say is to look at your diet. I’m not a supporter of fad diets that can’t be maintained long-term, I’m a strong advocate for eating a healthy balanced diet, a little bit of everything that swims in the sea, grows and walks in/on the ground.

What kind of exercises have you been doing with Annika to get her ready for Tough Mudder?
The Tough Mudder is a course mixed of obstacles and running, so we have been replicating that. I have Annika working on all the major muscle groups mixing in spurts of cardio in between sets. I keep the muscles guessing by changing up the workouts, no 2 sessions are the same; variety is the key to challenging the body. We’ve used Kettlebells, TRX suspension straps and Dumbbells as well as improving her running stamina on the treadmill.

Erron Dussard

Any tips for staying focused?
It’s so easy to get side tracked with meals and the “winter blues.” It’s simple, how bad do you want it? Set yourself a goal, a focused mind is a productive mind. Without definite goals it’s easy to get side tracked.

I’ve read that so-called “muscle confusion” is important to prevent the body from getting used to a particular task. What do you recommend people should do to get the most out of their work-out?
I’m a strong believer in the muscle-confusion; the body will adapt to a workout very quickly and plateau. To get the most out of workouts vary what you do, lift weights and do high intensity interval cardio training.

How long does it take to see results if you’re working with a personal trainer?
6-8 weeks is a guideline of when the transformation begins to take shape and become visible to the eye. Prior to that internal changes begin, feeling better, happier, fitter, stronger etc. Around the 12week mark is when body transformation begins to become more set in stone.

What are some mistakes people make when working out?
Giving up too early….. Most of those who started brand new health and fitness new years resolutions will have already stopped because results may not have come as soon as they hoped. The truth of the matter is you can’t expect to undo years of unhealthy living in just 1 month. Stick at it and work hard, you get out what you put in.

Are there any fun exercises people can do at home?
Yes lots of bodyweight exercises can be done at home without the need for equipment. I’ve designed a home workout called TEMPO with loads of fun exercises, which can be found on Flavour’s lifestyle page. Click here to see.

What is the difference between working with a personal trainer compared to exercising alone?
No matter who you’re with their are going to be days when you feel less than 100% and may take it easy in the gym or even worse not go at all. A Personal Trainer gives you that external motivation as well as a sense of accountability. A Personal Trainer will get you to where you want to be a lot quicker than you doing it alone. I always say to a potential client, you can either go to the USA by boat or by plane, one may be a little more expensive but you’re guaranteed to get their quicker.

What are the basic benefits of having a personal trainer then?
Expertise and motivation.

Lots of female celebrities look skinny on TV, does that mean that they are healthy?
No! A lot of them follow unsustainable diets for a short space of time just to drop the weight. Anything that cannot be sustained long-term surely can’t be good for you.

What do you listen to when you work out?
I like to listen to hip-hop while training, especially hyped, up-tempo music; my artists of choice in the gym are Ace Hood & Rick Ross.

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