Meet Calum Taylor, a personal trainer, a good friend of mine and a total fitness superstar. When I was training for the first big bike ride that I did from Paris to London, which turned out to be 420 miles, Calum not only taught me how to ride a bike 3 weeks before we set off but somehow managed to get me fit enough to not only complete but also enjoy the ride. I credit him totally with kick-starting my fitness and since then there hasn’t been a single question that I’ve had that has gone unanswered, he is a total fitness genius.

And so, I’m so incredibly grateful and excited to announce that Calum has agreed to be the Pretty Normal Me fitness expert. With any luck, he’s going to help us establish not only WHAT we should be doing, but HOW to get it done and I’m so excited. Let’s get to know the man behind Taylor Made Training…

1) First things first, will you tell us how you got into fitness and then personal training?

After I left school, the plan was to become a professional cricketer but unfortunately, my body couldn’t hold up and I had two dislocating shoulders. I had 3 shoulder operations to try and get myself fit again but unfortunately I couldn’t get back to the same level, so I decided I wanted to find out more about fitness and rehabilitation so I enrolled on several courses to understand more about it. I got so hooked on learning about the body that I suddenly realized that I had a passion I wanted to follow. So here 13 years after those initial courses and I’m still at it, loving it more and more with every year that passes.

2) It’s getting to that time in January when our New Year’s Resolutions start to slip, have you got any advice for us on how to stay motivated?

Friends. I have found that when anyone trains with another person, they feel that it’s harder to say ‘no I’m not going to go to the gym or train because I will let someone down’ rather than if they are training on their own, people find it very easy to come up with an excuse of why they shouldn’t go to the gym. In the same way, booking yourself in with a personal trainer will give you an appointment that will make it feel official and again you won’t want to break that appointment so you end up going.

Make sure you have your goals written down somewhere you can see them every day to remind you why you started training in the first place. I find that if your goal is, for instance, to lose body fat; then a picture that you don’t like stuck on the fridge is a really good motivator and it might stop you from opening it to indulge in something that you know won’t help you to achieve your goals.

3) With the first snow-fall last week it’s bloody freezing outside, have you got any tips for us that might help us stay fit when it’s just too cold to go outside?

There’s a saying ‘abs aren’t made in the gym, but in the kitchen’ so if you’re struggling to get outside, then make sure you are brilliant with your food. High protein, low carbs and because you won’t be exercising as much, make sure the calorie intake is lower.

From an exercise point of view, there are a million things you can do that don’t include gym equipment: press ups, burpees, squats, lunges, sit ups and planks are just a few.

20-minute workout:

Pick 5 exercises; ones which target the area you want to strengthen. For instance, if you want to torch a load of calories and have no knee issues, then how about using Tabata? A training method that in this instance, uses a ratio of 20 seconds hard work, followed by 10 seconds rest or lighter, for 4 minutes:


Squats to strengthen your legs.

Press Ups to target your chest and Triceps (dinner lady arms)

Burpees (works pretty much everything)

Sit Ups for the first 20 secs (then rest for 10 secs) and plank for second 20 secs (then rest for 10 secs) then repeat for 4mins.

4) Is there a specific time of day that is best for us to be working out?

Supposedly, according to studies, 4pm is the best time to workout but I feel that the best time is when you can fit it into your daily schedule. The most important thing is to make sure you are consistent. If you miss one day don’t worry but don’t make it a habit, try and make up for that missed session at another time in the week.

5) Food wise, is there anything that we should try to be eating pre or post workouts?

The rule is; the closer you are to your workout, your body will be less able to process high fiber foods like brown rice and brown pasta etc. So if you are within a couple of hours of going to the gym for example, try and make sure you have a yellow not green banana handy, as the greener the banana takes more digestion and may make you feel a little queasy if you have it too close to the workout.

Post exercise you are trying to replace some of the carbs that you have lost during the session. The carbs you eat within the 20 minutes of your session (which is called the golden window, just after you’ve put that last dumbbell down) will not be turned into fat. Your protein intake is x3 more effective straight after your workout so make sure you have your shake ready. 

The ratio you need to work with is 2:1 protein to carbohydrates, so if you weigh 150lbs and are looking to tone up, then you need 37.5g of protein and 19g of carbohydrates.

6) What can I do if I only have a small amount of time to workout?

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is very useful for this, like Tabata, that I mentioned before, it causes a huge after burn. 20 minutes of what we talked about earlier will be much more beneficial than a steady state 1 hour run.

7) Really, if we’re focusing on calories, is there a target that we should try and be meeting?

The more muscle you have, the more calories you can have to stay the same amount, which is why men can have more calories a day than women. Please don’t listen to the cereal packet which says men should have 2500 calories and women 2000 calories, because it doesn’t take into account how tall you are, what age you are, how much muscle you have etc. A 5ft 3 lady cannot have the same as a 6ft lady, if they do, they will end up putting on weight. The best way is to use bio impedance scales but if you don’t have those, then there is a really good calculator on the internet

8) If I had to invest in one piece of equipment, what would it be and why?

A pair of dumbbells because the only limitation is your imagination.

9) Realistically, because I’m very busy don’t you know, how many days a week should I be exercising if I’m trying to tone up or lose weight?

I like to think that we should be doing something every day, but this doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym every day for 2 hours, it could be little things like getting off the bus stop too soon and walking the rest? Can you walk the dog for longer? Can you go for a bike ride with your friends rather than going to the pub? Make it into a daily life thing, rather than something that has to be a forced action.

By making exercise a part of your life and making sure you are eating less than your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate - how many calories you can have to stay the same - then you will lose weight pretty quickly).

Remember there are 3500 calories in 1lb, so if your BMR is 1500 calories and if you eat 1000 every day, this should give a 1lb loss every week before any exercise that you do to speed it up. 500 calories could be burnt in 30-40mins of intense exercise so that could mean a 2lb loss per week which is a stone every 7 weeks!

Please don’t be massively worried about weight loss, fine if that’s your goal, but it is possible to weigh not very much and look ‘fat’ because your body fat percentage is high. To look better, it’s about lowering your body fat percentage and upping your muscle weight to give you that toned look.

10) So obviously you’ve got to stay super fit and healthy, but if you can, please make us feel a little bit better about ourselves, do you ever “sin”?

Yesss I have one day off a week which is a Thursday, when my wife and I will go out for lunch, maybe go to the cinema and eat popcorn etc.

I also love cycling and the great thing about doing that for long periods of time is that you need energy which means you can eat high glycemic foods (high sugar), which is an excuse to eat jelly beans that give me an instant hit of sugar, so I can pedal that little bit faster without bonking (hitting the wall/being totally knackered)