Personal trainer Ed Conway is championing a return to old fashioned one-on-one personal training whilst opening up London's delights with his first series of architectural running tours.
We are big fans of simplicity, could you tell us a bit more about your approach to a ‘back to basics’ PT?
My approach has always been about getting and feeling fit to promote better physical and mental health, with aesthetics being a nice by-product bonus.
Many people, including myself find the muscley-fixed-resistance-machine-type-gym too unnatural and monotonous, so I do my own thing, outside. I love promoting using own body weight and various basic free-weights such as kettlebells as you hopefully remove the daunting learning prospects and emotional barriers to entry for many people to get fit. With this more simplistic approach to fitness there's no elitism or exclusiveness as the barrier to entry is only really yourself - anyone is capable of achieving their fitness goals using very basic cheap approaches.
In recent years (pre-2020) this has changed and there is (was) a new breed of gym that solely do free-weights and natural movements classes, which is great!
I feel the same way about food - the best and most healthy food is the most basic and should be the cheapest. Although that's a conversation for another day...
How did you come up with the idea of linking exercise to architectural tours of London? Would you consider extending it to other cities?
Deep down I wanted to re-train as an Architect when I changed careers from fashion eyewear but realised my interest came more from admiring architecture's aesthetics and history as opposed to a desire to design something myself. As a hobby I've always researched and explored London's mid-century modernist buildings and noticed that the cadre of architects operating in London during this 20th century period intertwined and cross-pollinated influences and ideas so led to some great stories. I thought that if I could create routes between them it would make for some great running tours!
I have a very long list of cities I would love to curate architectural runs in, quixotically, Mexico City is top. Milan is probably the next most conceivable one so it's fun researching that now
Exercising outdoors and in nature benefits both physical and mental health, but how do you motivate your clients to brave the unpredictable British weather?
It's definitely a different type of motivation. On those colder darker days, something more cardio based and energetic to keep consistent movement up always helps take the mind off any horrible weather and keep warm! A live Zoom class is the norm now so it's a very welcome backup to offer - no excuses now!
New gym regulations forced everyone to quickly adapt to a new way of training, has the digital approach opened up new opportunities for you, or is the competition fierce for online attention?
Opportunity arose from my daily Instagram Live sessions throughout lockdown as they evolved into daily Zoom classes. Before that, I solely did private PT sessions but had started to offer businesses lunchtime group sessions. The latter has now moved to online Zoom classes and are really good for morale and mental health amongst businesses with staff working from home amongst this uncertainty. There is indeed strong competition but it's also an industry where word-of-mouth is still a strong tool.
Can you feel an improvement in air quality since lockdown started and less cars drive through the city?
I've probably noticed the dramatic drop in noise pollution more - not hearing as many planes flying and hearing more birds is definitely having a more calming affect whilst outdoors. My morning park classes are quite blissful now.
Have your clients adapted easily to zoom classes and what would you say are the limitations vs benefits?
It's definitely more suited to fitness practices based on own body-weight as checking form with free-weights can have it's limits but I've had no barriers so far other than 4G blackspots!
We know you recently became a father, what advice would you give to young parents that want to keep up their fitness routine?
Exercise doesn't always have to be 45mins of pure HIIT cardio. I steal 5mins here and there when our daughter's asleep and get some press-ups done. Ensure the fridge is full of healthy snacks so when you have no time, you don't eat badly. Also, I'm offering anytime-classes and programmes from next month so all you need is 20 minutes and a mat.
Also check out his Architectural Running Tours here.