Richi wasn’t always a personal trainer – or even a sports enthusiast. It took him years to get excited about incorporating sports and exercise into his everyday life. Once convinced of the positive effects of regular exercise, there was no turning back; on the contrary, this aspect of his life took up more and more space and eventually became a new career. With RH Personal Training, he now helps sports enthusiasts and exercise bums alike to lead a healthier lifestyle while having fun.
This makes Richi the ideal person to talk to about the benefits of exercise; but also what to do when you’re struggling to get going.
Dear Richi, as a personal trainer you live by the motto “Movement is Medicine”. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about why movement is so important?
Hi Doro, all the things that we do in everyday life – movement is what enables us to do these things in the first place. From an evolutionary point of view, that had already been the case when humans had to run away from an imminent danger. Those who did not move died.
Currently, a lack of movement threatens us with other dangers that can affect our physical and mental health. Those who move frequently can do themselves a great favor in terms of health.
In what way?
When we exercise, we get sick less. The likelihood of catching an infection decreases; the risk of suffering from lifestyle diseases such as high blood pressure is reduced. In addition, Harvard researchers have found that we get a better handle on our emotions and thoughts when we move regularly. We develop the ability to “get over” negative feelings better. The reason for this could be that we fall into brooding less.
As recently as October 2022, the WHO published a study showing that millions of people around the world don’t move enough. What do you think might be the reason for that?
In my opinion, the reasons for a lack of exercise are complex. From an early age, we start sitting for long periods of time when we start school and get used to it. This usually continues in old age when we subsequently pursue our professional obligations, for example through an office job. Add to this the sedentary time spent commuting to work, as well as time spent on the couch in front of the TV, and it’s not surprising that we don’t move enough in our daily lives.
Unfortunately, the balance to the job and stressful everyday life is often not compensated by exercise, but by an unbalanced diet and media consumption.
Do you find it easy to exercise regularly or do you sometimes have to force yourself to do so?
Most of the time, I don’t have any problems with exercising regularly. It gives me a balance in my everyday life and helps me clear my head. The feeling of having done something for your body and feeling pleasantly exhausted is great.
How do you motivate yourself when you don’t feel like it?
The emerging feeling after a training session of having done something and that I am doing something for my health is the best motivation for me.
Did you consciously integrate balancing exercise into your everyday life before or was it a gradual process?
For me, it was definitely a gradual process. When I was in school, I was lazy and had to push myself to incorporate exercise into my daily routine. My parents put me in different sports clubs, but it was always exhausting for me. Fun was not something I associated with sports at that time.
When did that change?
Only from the beginning of my education, when I started going to the gym. Shortly after that, I got back into team sports for a few years and played soccer. After moving from Rheinbach to Bonn, I focused exclusively on strength training. Gradually, I became more interested in sports in connection with healthy nutrition, so that both are now an integral part of my everyday life.
What kind of exercise do you personally like the most?
Strength training and short high-intensity interval training, called HIIT. For fun, I also like to participate in obstacle races.
What excites you most about that?
Definitely the emerging thrill of tackling and overcoming the obstacles. Each obstacle presents you with different challenges, requiring not only strength but also technique. This also requires endurance and coordination.
Especially the variety in an obstacle course makes it so appealing to me. Body and mind are strongly challenged.
How do you prepare for such a race?
I divide my preparation into strength and endurance. Specifically, I focus on exercises that resemble the possible obstacles. These are essentially pulling exercises in which you have to pull yourself up a wall or shimmy along a bar. For endurance, I incorporate short intense sprints in addition to my distance runs.
How did you end up becoming a personal trainer?
The idea developed during my sabbatical year. Originally, I wanted to go to Japan for a year. Unfortunately, this had to be cancelled due to the pandemic at the time. Accordingly, I had a lot of time to think about what I could do alternatively. And that’s when the idea came to me to continue my education elsewhere, ideally in an area that I enjoy. And so it came about that I started to complete an online training course to become a B-license fitness trainer. The education led to the fact that I wanted to educate myself even further and more intensively and I started to look into being a personal trainer. I was so excited about it and started training as a personal trainer after completing my B license.
What do you enjoy most about training people?
Seeing the person rise above and realize how many forces can be released that they never believed in before. It is like a gift to observe how exhausted, but also happy this person is after this session and to thank them for this hour. This kind of feedback is indescribable and motivates me even more to train people and make them healthier.
All the better if the motivation comes directly from the clients! What do you do when you notice that their motivation is waning a bit?
Then I take a playful approach and join in with the exercises and challenge my client to a duel. Who can plank longer or hold a 3 kg dumbbell longer with the arm stretched out to the side, things like that. Or tug of war with the battle rope, that’s fun and also gets the motivation back. Or I try to spur the person on a bit by saying in a casual tone of voice that he or she has managed more weight before. Usually, I don’t need to wait long for the counter-evidence!
Of course, you don’t get this incentive if you only train for yourself. What other advantages does personal training have over going to the gym?
With personal training, you have a person working with you individually on your health goals. In concrete terms, this means that during the training sessions the personal trainer ensures that you perform the exercises correctly, get the most out of yourself and go to your maximum in terms of daily form. Due to the intensive support, the training can be made much more effective and targeted.
It is important to mention that the support does not only refer to the training sessions, but also beyond. The personal trainer is available for all questions about fitness, health and nutrition and ensures that you achieve your health goals, for example, to lose weight, get stronger or simply look better. In short, the personal trainer takes care of you holistically, adapted to your life situation.
It is also possible to train specifically alone in the gym. However, this requires, among other things, that you train regularly and consistently, know your body, which exercises are suitable for your health goals and how to perform the exercises correctly. Unfortunately, this is not always the case because people don’t want to spend a lot of time on it or don’t have the time.
Have you ever used personal training yourself? What inspired you and what would you like to do better?
Actually, I haven’t used personal training yet. But I definitely find it interesting to take the opposite role. Who knows if I’ll take the opportunity to broaden my perspective in the near future.
What else do you emphasize in your training sessions?
The preparation and general flow within the training session is important to me. I tell my clients to warm up a bit before we start our training. I usually spend an hour with the client, which I like to use as effectively as possible. This means we start right in with the main exercises and don’t stress out at the end of the session when we start the cool-down and can do it at our leisure.
How does a training session with you go?
We usually start with our main exercises because the client is already warmed up. The main exercises are divided into so-called super sets, which means that we primarily work on one muscle group, for example lower body, and then switch to another exercise that primarily works the upper body without much of a break. Only then is there a short break before continuing with the other sets. This has the advantage that we can perform many sets and repetitions within a short time. This is recommended for people who are very busy due to their job and still want to do something for their body.
Describe your ideal clients. Who is most likely to benefit from your program?
For me, there is no one ideal client. Generally, my focus is on people who have a job that involves a lot of sitting at a desk, are very busy at work, and want to effectively do something for their health in their short free time – for example, reduce body fat, build muscle…. I also offer my personal training in the early morning as well as late evening hours, so that my clients can pursue their commitments throughout the day without stress.
Can I turn to you even if I am totally unathletic?
Absolutely. I don’t presuppose that someone has already done sports and has a certain level of training.
Finally, what advice do you have for anyone who knows they need to exercise more, but doesn’t have the courage or can’t get up the courage?
Start with small steps. It doesn’t have to be a 10km run. The important thing is to start moving in the first place, like skipping the elevator in the office building and walking up the stairs instead. Or even going for a short run during your lunch break. Gradually, you find it less difficult to take longer walks.
The important thing is to start and keep moving permanently, in whatever form. The best investment is the investment in your own health.
Thank you for your time, Richi!
If you would like to stay posted about what Richi is up to or even try a personal training session with him, connect with him on Instagram.