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Matt Hodges What Goes On Behind Gym Doors Doesn’t Necessarily Stay Behind Closed Gym Doors

For those out there who haven’t seen your fantastic Linkedin and Instagram posts can you tell them a little bit about yourself?

I’ve been a personal trainer now for 15 awesome years. It’s been a rollercoaster of ups and downs. I’ve opened numerous studios in that space of time, and I’ve also been close to going under many times.

Matt hodges on cover of sustain health magazine

I now own my own studio in central London that is completely exclusive and have done since the start of Covid (worst timing in the world!). 

My business – The MPH Method (The Whole-Body Practice) – is a one-stop shop for everything you need from personal training to nutrition, hormone testing to metabolic testing, meal servicing and private cheffing, osteo, physio and massage.

I pitch to the higher end of the market and give the regular joe’s the same service that I do when I built my business within the tv and film circuit.

You have a fantastic new book out called ‘Behind Gym Doors’ What made you decide to write it?

For years clients and friends have been telling me I should write my experiences down with regard to training the type of clientele I have – the celebrities, the millionaires and billionaires, and the professional sportsmen and women.

I’ve been party to some incredibly interesting, eye-opening and sometimes awful situations, but I’d always palmed it off because I didn’t really think my life (or experiences) with these kinds of clients were out of the ordinary or anything special.

It turns out, since writing the book, that many seem to think I have this secret life, which always makes me laugh. I always thought of myself as a secret agent, but alas, I have to make do with clients eating their own placentas or sticking coffee enemas up their rear end. 

Anyway, it wasn’t until Adam Kay’s ‘This Is Going To Hurt’ came out, that I really thought I should do something with all these stories and situations I’d been in.

I wrote a few chapters and managed to get it in front of Adam’s editor, who then referred me onto Pan McMillan who saw value in the book.

That was enough of a motivation to get it written, and then suddenly we were all plunged into 2 years of not being able to leave the house, which served as the perfect time to get my head down and write it.

Have you got a favourite and least favourite exercise?

I’m currently very much into barbell Hack Squats or differing loads on the quads or hamstrings without loading the spine.

The reason is mainly that for the past 12 years I’ve suffered terribly with herniated discs in my lower back and neck, so things like Romanian deadlifting or barbell squatting have always been an issue.

I’m 6 foot two and my levers would give Stretch Armstrong a run for his money so lifting has never come naturally. Now given I have a glass spine I’d say for me my least favourite exercise is probably the barbell deadlift. Ironically pre-injury it used to be my strongest lift.

In terms of god-awful exercises for clients and the average person, I’d have to say anything standing on a balance ball whilst doing some single leg bicep curl to shoulder press squat on your head ab hell crunch. 

You get the idea. 

You have had a host of celebrities to train but does training a celebrity differs a lot from that of Joe public?

In terms of physicality absolutely not. In terms of their attitude – yes. Back in the day many management agents or production companies used to pay for their actors or singers to get in shape.

This meant that there was little accountability for the ‘celeb’ to turn up on time or turn up at all. It often led to a lot of missed sessions and poor results. That said, there were/are some that take it very seriously and get incredible results.

The whole thought process behind the formulation of The MPH Method was to give Joe public the same service that these high-enders get. The only difference between the two is the motivation to stick to a plan.

I recently had some of the stunt team for the new Mission Impossible film come through my gym, and they left because the production company had actually built the crew a gym on set. This is happening more than it used to.

If a client is not so nice is there an exercise you make them do that makes you smile inside? 

Matt hodges

Hands down it’s got to be burpees, bear crawls, assault bike or sled pushes. Ones that no matter how fit you are, will always end up with the client thinking I’m Satan and wondering why they are paying me to put them through Dante’s inferno.

You became a well-known figure in the fitness modelling industry, how did that all come about?

So, originally, I studied fine art at Chelsea Art college and then went on to study Industrial Design at Loughborough University, which is famed for its engineering and, more importantly, its sport.

When I arrived at Luff, I was a 10.5 stone skinny kid who looked like ‘Where’s Wally’ against the burly rugby players and super broad-shouldered swimmers.

It didn’t take me long to pick up the workout vibe and I trained relentlessly for years. After leaving Uni I spent some time at a design consultancy and got picked up by a photographer who did a shoot that catapulted me away from design and into what they now call ‘fitness modelling’.

These were the days of the ‘attainable physique’ and not what it is now, so I did pretty well. There weren’t many of us back then and we cornered the market.

Nowadays everyone’s a model. Mad really. Take away Instagram and boom they’re back working a 9 to 5 at Morrisons. Jokes aside, the likes of Men’s Health tend not to have any ‘normals’ on their covers and it somewhat seems like most of the physiques now would bleed synthetic oil.

How often do you train yourself and how long is each session?

I only do two resistance sessions a week now and they can be anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes. It’s mostly just to maintain what I’ve built. I’ve somewhat lost the love of traditional gym work, and it’s quite hard to motivate yourself when you work alone.

My studio is completely exclusive so I don’t have any other trainers working in there with me which can be hard for my own training AND keeping up with the latest research. 

I also do two cardio sessions a week – normally HIIT for around 30 minutes. I also make sure I hit 10,000 steps a day.

What’s the most annoying thing someone at the gym could do whilst you’re there?

Well given that it’s only ever me and the client in my studio at one time, it’s more than likely them being rude, or demanding. I once trained a Danish Billionairess who always thought she could lay into me for no reason. Things like saying I looked old, or I was out of shape, or I ‘used to be better looking’. 

Let’s just say…she got sleds supersetted with burpees, on her head… on a Bosu ball.

Repeatedly.

What is your day-to-day routine and diet mostly like?

Matt hodges

I am aware of my Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), so I stick fairly close to it. I manage my macronutrient split of 40% protein, 30% carbs and fats.

It’s somewhat relaxed – If I want a few beers or a pizza I’ll have them. Gone are the days of boiling chicken and broccoli and worrying about what might be in a salad.

Being so busy how do you stick to the plan? Do you take prep meals with you, or do you already know what you’ll be doing for lunch?

Matt hodges

No, I don’t do any of the above. I literally just freestyle and factor in what I need. This takes some practice, so I tend to only go to the same places to eat when I’m at work.

I literally cannot be arsed to have a ‘prep day’ or cook meals on a late evening when I get back from clients. And these are the things I try and teach people.

You don’t need to be militant with your diet to get results unless you’re preparing to get on stage or prep for a shoot. Those physiques you see gracing the pages of Muscle & Fitness or the #bigbootygains you see on Instagram are 0.1% of what people should be focussing on.

Is there a particular piece of advice you always get asked for?

The most common questions I’m asked make me laugh and want to cry in equal measure. It’s always a variation on: ‘What one exercise can you do to lose the most fat?’, or ‘What superfood is best for your waistline?’, or ‘What top 5 tips would you give to someone who wants to lose a stone in under 60 seconds whilst being able to live a happy life?’.

It’s always the same stuff, even with clients. How can I get the best results in the quickest amount of time and with the least effort vibe.  What they should be asking me for is ‘What is the best way to manage people’s calories?’, or ‘What are the best ways to combat poor posture/lower back pain?’ Etc etc

Do you have any advice for those looking to begin their fitness journey?

If you’re someone who is looking to become a trainer, then you need to evaluate the following:

  1. Are you becoming a trainer because you’ve had great results yourself? If so, can you give other people the same results? The majority of people who think like this fail in the first year. You are you; your results are your own, no one else is like you. People are individual. Personal training is personal. You will find most people don’t have the same energy or motivation that you do, AND most people are suffering from some form of niggle or injury.
  2. Are you becoming a trainer because you think it’s easy money and will give you a better life balance? The hours are unsociable and lousy. You are on other people’s time frames. You will have a lot of deadtime. It also takes years to bring in a sustainable income if you’re working for yourself. Again, most people fail in their first year when they realise the reality.
  3. Do you genuinely like helping people? If you do, then you’re half-way to becoming a PT.

In terms of your own physical health, always, always, always go and find someone professional who can help you build a solid foundational program. I wish I did this.  I probably wouldn’t be so injured today If I had. Don’t be glass spine Matt.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

There have been so many in so many different facets of life. I think for their attitude and the way they run their business it has got to be Rob Dyrdek of DC Shoe fame. I love the ‘nothing is impossible’ attitude. It’s infectious. I wish I was more like that.

With regard to fitness, I have had mentors on the way to who I am extremely grateful to. Phil Learney, David McGettigan, David Sutton, Dave Vrettos to name a few. Maybe there’s something in the name David??

Have you got a favourite go-to tune for when you work out and have you got a Spotify playlist dedicated to your workout that you’d like to share with our readers that may inspire them?

I have to say I’m a bit of a Luddite when it comes to Spotify. I pretty much just use my own music downloaded onto my phone for personal use. That said I do have Spotify in the gym, and you’ll often hear me putting on some liquid drum n bass.

I generally let all clients choose their own music which is a nice little touch that makes them feel more at ease. For example – I currently have a young lad with acute Asperger’s who only comes to life when we have the most death metal, eat your head, eardrum busting, volume to the max music on. I feel like I’ve been assaulted after those sessions!

What’s next for Matt Hodges now the book has been released? Fitness movie perhaps???

In an ideal world, I’d like to think the Behind Gym Doors will reach the dizzy heights of Fifty Shades or This Is Going To Hurt. But I think I may have to re-evaluate that expectation. I do, however, want people to read it. It’s far more than a typical fitness book.

It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s eye-opening and it will get a lot of people talking. I have been as honest as anyone can be (which is rare in the fitness industry), and I really hope that it takes off. I’ve had some incredible feedback for it already, so I only hope it carries on.

This year will be an important year, as I do intend to try and pitch the idea for TV and Film AND get the second book written! Watch this space.

Behind Gym Doors is currently available online at Amazon or, if you want a signed copy of Matt’s book with a free gift, then head over to his author site www.matthodgesauthor.com

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