Calories in: having lunch in the garden

No Upper Age Limit

Mike Gascoigne

Personal Training and Exercise Referrals

Calories out: London Marathon 2010, crossing Tower Bridge.


London Marathon

Health Problems

Fitness Past 50

Registered Instructor



GP Exercise Referrals

Free Advice



REPs Level 2:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Gym Instructor

REPs Level 3:

  • Personal Trainer and Advanced Instructor
  • Nutrition and Weight Management
  • GP Exercise Referrals

Continuing Professional Development:

  • Torso Training and Core Stability
  • Circuit Training
  • Psychology of Behaviour Change
  • Nutrition for Sport and Exercise

First-aid and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.

REPs Stamp

Mike Gascoigne is a member of the Register of Exercise Professionals

Why use a REPs instructor?

Fitness Past 50

I can work with people of any age, including young people under 18 accompanied by their parents, but I am particularly interested in the older age groups from 50 upwards. I have found that age is not necessarily an impediment to fitness, and there are some very fit people who are well over 50.

Contact Mike Gascoigne

Personal Trainers: The Lifestyle Coaches of the Health and Fitness Industry

Forget what you have seen on TV, films and advertising. Personal training is not about pumping iron and building huge muscles. It's about getting the results that YOU want in a way that fits in with all the positive aspects of YOUR lifestyle, and that's why it's called PERSONAL training. People go to personal trainers with all sorts of objectives, for example losing weight, improving their race results, or getting back to their previous form after recovering from an illness or injury. For some, the objective might be just to get started with a safe and effective exercise programme after years of inactivity and over-indulgence.

So, you are living a busy life, preoccupied with work, family and various other interests. But you are putting on weight and you know it's not good for your health, and you need to do some exercise, but how do you find time for it? I know how to help, and I've had to make changes to my own lifestyle, so why not contact me?

Getting fit is a rewarding experience. It helps you to look good and feel good, increases your self-confidence, and gives you the energy to go about your daily activities with greater ease and efficiency. It also improves your general health and well-being and makes you less susceptible to obesity-related illnesses such as high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes and diabetes.

The process of getting fit is also rewarding, although it's hard work. After each exercise session you feel relaxed and it's a way of getting rid of the stresses of a busy life. You also get a release of endorphins, the hormones that make you feel good, and I like to call it the "good, tired feeling".

However, it can be a tough old game, getting motivated into exercise and persevering with it when there are so many other things you have to do. The key factors in a successful exercise programme are:

  1. Find something that you enjoy, so that you will stick with it over the long term.
  2. Find something that fits into your lifestyle without causing too much disruption to essential activities.
  3. Be careful about your diet. It's possible to gradually lose weight without making yourself feel hungry, and without abandoning all the foods that you enjoy.

How Much Exercise Is Enough?

I get quite a lot of people telling me about their exercise programmes and saying that they go out for a walk a few times each week, or their job involves some activity such as occasionally lifting and carrying things. In many cases I find that they are not doing enough to achieve any useful results, and their exercise programmes do not include all the essential components which should be:

  • Aerobic exercise, involving repetitive movements of the large muscle groups, for example walking, running, cycling and swimming. This is the most useful type of exercise for improving cardiac fitness.

  • Resistance exercises. Lifting weights to strengthen specific muscle groups. This is useful for maintaining muscle tone and improving posture and balance. It also resolves a variety of problems with joints, for example the muscles around the spine hold the vertebrae together and may need to be strengthened to prevent back pain.

  • Flexibility exercises, to lengthen the muscles that have been contracted during other exercises, and reduce the risk of injury.

Having defined the type of exercise, the quantity is defined according to frequency, duration and intensity as follows:

  • Frequency is the number of exercise sessions per week.

  • Duration is the time spent exercising in each session.

  • Intensity is a measure of how hard you are exercising, and obviously it depends on the type. For resistance exercises, it's the amount of weight you are lifting, although it is affected by the number of repetitions as the muscles become tired and need to rest. For flexibility exercises there are techniques for safe stretching. You get into a position where you can feel a stretch but don't do it too hard. The intensity of aerobic exercise can be measured in a number of ways. A simple method is the "talk test". Try to talk while you are exercising and if you can speak more than five words without having to stop for a breath, you are not exercising very hard. If you can't manage three words you are going much harder. Alternatively you can measure intensity on the basis of how you feel. Does the exercise feel easy, moderately hard, or very hard? A more scientific method is based on heart rate measurement, and I've dealt with it in the Appendix, but to keep it simple it's as follows:

Imagine an exercise intensity-ometer where the bottom of the scale is your resting heart rate when you are sitting around doing nothing, and the top of the scale is your maximum heart rate when you are exercising at the maximum possible intensity. The difference between the two is known as the Heart Rate Reserve (HRR) and a point on the scale, from 0 to 100, is known as the Percentage of Heart Rate Reserve. It's possible to work out your heart rate, corresponding to any value from 0 to 100% HRR but I've left that for the Appendix.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) 1 gives recommendations for the frequency, duration and intensity of aerobic exercise for people with varying levels of fitness.

  • Habitually inactive, extremely unfit people should exercise 3-5 times/week for 20-30 mins at 30-45% HRR with a light to moderate perception of effort.

  • Occasionally active people with average fitness should exercise 3-5 times/week for 30-90 mins at 55-70% HRR with a moderate to hard perception of effort.

  • Habitually active people who are very fit should exercise 3-5 times/week for 30-90 mins at 70-85% HRR with a somewhat hard to definitely hard perception of effort.

People who are unaccustomed to exercise should start at a low intensity and low duration, and increase it gradually to avoid the risk of injury.

Where does this put the person with average fitness who goes for a walk every day, for example the habitual dog-walker? It's good for the dog, because he goes off running into the fields and comes back puffing and panting, but it doesn't do much for the person. To achieve any benefit, you need to speed up a bit and start walking at a brisk pace or even start running. You need to raise your heart rate to 55-70% HRR which will make you feel warm and out of breath (leave your coat at home and put on your shorts and vest instead).

When do I Need a Personal Trainer?

You are likely to need a personal trainer in the following circumstances:

  • You have specific aims that you want to achieve, for example you might want to run a 10K in a certain time, or you might want to lose a specific amount of weight so that you can look good on an important date, for example a wedding.

  • You have problems with muscles and joints and you want to reduce the risk of injury while progressing from moderate to higher levels of exercise intensity.

  • You have problems with motivation. Perhaps you have already embarked on an exercise programme and kept it up for a while, then got distracted with other issues or simply got out of bed one day and didn't feel like doing it. In those circumstances it will definitely help to have a personal trainer coming regularly, because then you know you have to get your kit on and get ready for your exercise session, and when it's all over you can look back on it with satisfaction, knowing that it was worth it.

If you think any of this applies to you, and you live in my local area (Camberley in south east England, west of London), you can contact me for a free consultation.

What happens when I go to a Personal Trainer, and what can you do for me? Why can't I do it just by myself?

Normally, when you start an exercise programme and do something new, such as running, cycling, swimming or going to a gym, you will experience some immediate benefits. You will feel better, and in the early stages you are likely to lose some weight because the energy balance has changed. You are burning off more calories while consuming the same number of calories in your diet, so you lose weight. However, after a while you find you can't lose any more weight, simply by continuing the same exercise routine, because the energy balance has settled at a new level. You are burning off calories during exercise, but you are burning fewer calories during your daily activities because you are carrying around less weight. To continue achieving results, you need to focus on fat loss intead of weight loss. This will involve building muscle, while at the same time losing fat, so you need to focus on specific muscle groups depending on the goals you want to achieve.

As you continue an exercise programme, the body adapts to the activity, and then you can change the programme and adapt to a new activity. After a series of adaptations, you gradually progress toward a result that you want, a process called "periodisation". A common method of periodisation is to start with a number of different activities, each lasting for a short time to achieve all-round fitness, then phase out some of them and spend more time on just a few activities, achieving exercise durations that would not be possible at the beginning of the programme.

Exercise is time-consuming and hard work, and to make the most of it you need follow a scientific, structured programme. Whether you are a complete beginner, or you have been working at it for some time and you want to take it further, you will be better off with a professionally designed programme that is updated regularly as new adaptations occur. Most importantly, as you increase the intensity and duration of an exercise, the risk of injury increases, so you will need advice about how to stay within safe limits and how to maintain sufficient variety to keep all the muscles and joints working correctly.

A personal training programme always begins with a medical questionnaire, to try and identify any issues that might affect your ability to exercise. This is necessary, even if you are exercising already, because it might influence any changes that are made to your programme. In particular, I will need to know about any cardio-vascular problems, and a blood pressure measurement will be taken. I will also need to know about any problems with muscles and joints that might affect mobility. Everything that you tell me will be in strictest confidence, just the same as if you are visiting your GP. In some circumstances, it might be necessary for me to ask you to get a doctor's note, to confirm that you can do vigorous exercise.

After the medical questionnare, we go through a lifestyle questionnare to identify the goals that you want to achieve, both in the short-term and long-term, and see how an appropriate exercise programme can fit in with your existing activities (job, family, social life, etc.) Would you be better off exercising at home, or in a local park, or at a gym, or at a sports club? Obviously you will know more than anyone else about your own lifestyle, and you might have already struggled with issues about how to find time for exercise, but you might not know about all the options available, and talking it over with a personal trainer might be useful.

When the questionnaires are all finished, we start a fitness testing programme to find out how fit you are already. This involves the following:

  • Height and weight measurement, to calculate body mass index. This determines whether you are overweight, normal or underweight, but it doesn't differentiate between fat and muscle.

  • Circumference and/or skinfold measurements to determine the relative proportions of fat and muscle.

  • Flexibility tests, to determine the range of movement of the joints.

  • Cardiorespiratory tests that involve walking, running or stepping, and measuring the resulting change in pulse rate to calculate aerobic fitness in terms of the volume of oxygen you are capable of consuming.

The fitness tests are repeated at intervals during the exercise programme so that you know if you are achieving any results, and you will be able to compare them with your own perceived level of progress.

Obviously the success of any fitness programme depends on motivation, which means actually doing the exercise and not just thinking about it. There are many things that can motivate people, for example you might want to look good and feel good, you might want to impress a significant other person, you might have experienced the benefits of fitness already and you want to take it further, or you might want to recover from a health crisis.

Working with a Personal Trainer is a partnership. It's not like going to a barber's shop where you go in, pay some money and come out looking different. Fitness training is hard work and you've got to have your own reasons for doing it, but I am here to help. If you have any questions, please contact me and I hope to see you soon.

Mike Gascoigne

Appendix: Heart Rates Corresponding to Percentage Heart Rate Reserve

The Heart Rate (HR) corresponding to a Percentage Heart Rate Reserve (%HRR), is calculated from the Karvonen formula as follows:

      HR =  %HRR*(MHR-RHR)/100 + RHR
MHR is the Maximum Heart Rate. As a rough approximation, it is 220-age, so that for someone aged 50 it will be 170 beats/minute.
RHR is the Resting Heart Rate, and is achieved during complete relaxation, normally first thing in the morning before you get out of bed.
For example, someone aged 50 wishing to work at 70% Heart Rate Reserve, with a Resting Heart Rate of 60bpm, would calculate their working heart rate as follows:
      HR =  70*(170-60)/100 + 60
=  137 bpm


  1. ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, 8th Edition, 2010, pp. 166-167, Wolters Kluwer / Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, ISBN-13:978-0-7817-6902-0.

Local Area:

South East England, West of London:
Camberley, Farnborough, Aldershot, Wokingham, Bracknell and the surrounding area.


I am a member of a running club called Sandhurst Joggers. It's a very friendly and sociable club and encourages people to do their best regardless of their ability.

I joined them in 2007 after recovering from a health problem and have successfully completed the following races:

Feb. 2008. Wokingham Half Marathon
March 2008. Reading Half Marathon
March 2008. Fleet Half Marathon
April 2008. Frimley Park 10K
June 2008. Yateley 10K
Oct. 2008. Clarendon Marathon, Salisbury to Winchester
Oct. 2008. Beachy Head Marathon, Eastbourne
Aug. 2009. Yateley 10K
Oct. 2009. Clarendon Half Marathon
Feb. 2010. Wokingham Half Marathon
April 2010. London Marathon
June, July, August 2010. Yateley 10K
Oct. 2010. Clarendon Half Marathon
Oct. 2010. Beachy Head Marathon, 5:09
Feb. 2011. Wokingham Half Marathon, 1:52
March 2011. The Grizzly, 4:46
May 2011. Edinburgh Marathon, 4:22
Oct. 2011. Beachy Head Marathon, 5:21
Feb. 2012. Wokingham Half Marathon, 1:58
March 2012. The Grizzly, 4:27
April 2012. London Marathon, 4:34
Sep. 2012. Farnham Pilgrim Marathon, 5:22
Oct. 2012. Clarendon Marathon, Salisbury to Winchester, 5:21
Feb. 2013. Wokingham Half Marathon, 1:57
Feb. 2013. Bramley 20, 3:09
March 2013. The Grizzly, 4:46
April 2013. Rotary Shakespeare Marathon, Stratford-upon-Avon, 4:40
Sep. 2013. The Beast, 2:35
Feb. 2014. Bramley 20, 3:29
Feb. 2015. Wokingham Half Marathon, 2:04
March 2015. The Grizzly, 5:17
March 2015. Fleet Half Marathon, 2:05
April 2015. London Marathon, 4:56

In addition to these, I have participated in numerous cross-country runs organised by the Thames Valley Cross-Country League, and have organised and helped with regular training runs for the Sandhurst Joggers.

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