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Journal Meets: Coach Tom McClelland

This week we meet the very impressive Tom McClelland whose career journey has included being a coach, manager, gym owner and mentor across the world. 

With over 20 years in the fitness industry, we love his refreshing view on what fitness can do for us and his approach -  showing his clients how to be the strongest human they have ever been, mentally and physically.


How did you get into coaching?

The short version is, I was young and always in the gym, so it seemed like a fun way to make money. The longer version is, I think I always knew that I wanted to follow a career that involved helping people. As soon as I saw my first few clients changing their lives for the better, I knew I had found my calling.


How did you choose your area of expertise?

It was always boxing, because that’s the sport I grew up with; and eventually started coaching. But as I developed as a trainer and owned my own boxing gym in the U.S, I studied athlete performance and strength & conditioning, which allowed me to develop into a much more well rounded coach. Now, my main coaching style is Strength and Conditioning and Functional Training, but boxing still features heavily too.


Have you been inspired by anyone in the industry in particular?

My biggest inspiration actually came from a client by the name of Brett Kilroe. I was working at a gym in New York City. At 41 Brett joined the gym for the first time in his life a few months after he was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. He joined simply because he wanted to do something that made himself feel better. Nothing aesthetic, just mindset. Brett sadly passed away back in 2016 at the age of 45, he trained with me for 3 years and It was my time with him as my client and friend, that taught me the most about my training ethos today; and what I ultimately wanted to achieve in the fitness industry. I faced my own battle with cancer in 2018 which threw my life off track, being a part of his journey and knowing how he handled it, was what got me through mine.


Do you train at home? what’s your routine?

I do, I have my amazing Technogym Bench which is extremely versatile with dumbbells, bands and weighted knuckles. I also have a pair of heavy dumbbells and a kettlebell. I’ve always said that if you can get a couple of heavy dumbbells (relative to you of course), then that is the best investment you’ll make so you never miss a workout, they will give you endless options. I usually do a 10-20 minute amrap or emom of 3-5 exercises and then call it a day, it’s more than enough!


What are the hallmarks of your coaching?

At the moment I am primarily online coaching, but I am a talent trainer for Technogym and my sessions feature on their newly released app! My goal with my client’s is the same as mine, I want to train hard and do it for a long time. SO, all my classes are high energy with clear and comprehensive coaching, so you sweat, but also learn how to train correctly and avoid injury.


What is the one piece of advice you would offer to those taking your class for the first time?

Listen, don’t do anything that you feel uncomfortable or unsafe doing, take your time and have fun. Fun being the operative word.


What is the one mistake you see most often in your class?

If someone makes a mistake in class, it is either because they have been taught incorrectly in the past, or they don’t know what they are doing. So, I don’t really see it as a mistake, more an opportunity for me to coach them to do it correctly. Unless they are late all the time, that’s on them… haha


What should everyone do as part of their warm-up/class prep?

In my opinion, every good class should have a warm-up relevant to the type of training you are doing. If I am teaching a strength class with Deadlifts, then I always run through mobility and activation specific to deadlifts. If your class doesn’t run you through a warm-up sequence, then try squeeze in some light general movement pre-class that covers your full body. One thing that EVERYBODY should be doing if you spend a lot of time sitting down (or not), Is deep squat holds and thoracic mobility. Both, you should be able to perform with full range, without pain and feel comfortable doing. If not, address the issues with your coach!


Top Workout Tracks?

This is far too hard to answer. My playlists vary so much depending on the workout. From Grime to Old School Garage, to Metallica to Old School Hip Hop. If I really want to get a class pumped though, DMX - Where the Hood At, always seems to do the trick!


One tip for daily fitness you can do from anywhere?

Simple. WALK. As often and as much as you can. If you have the time to walk instead of drive/public transport, then walk. Getting your daily N.E.A.T up (worth a google if you’re not familiar), will make all the difference when it comes to fitness levels.


One lesson you have learnt in your fitness journey?

If you are only focused on an aesthetic goal from training, like a six pack, the feeling you get when you reach that goal will be short lived; and more often than not, the process to get there will leave you feeling pretty miserable. Exercise for your mental health and because it feels good; find movement you enjoy, everything else that comes your way will be a healthy by-product of the journey overall.


Favourite Quote/Mantra?

Whatever lifts the corners of your mouth, trust that - Rumi


Follow Tom on Instagram for updates @tomxmcclelland, or check out training camps and coaching here.

As a talent trainer for Technogym, Tom can also be found on their brand new App.