Q & A with personal trainer - Sam Millne-Ellison
By: Elemental Fitness Q&A, PT, kickboxing
What made you want to do one to one training?
Training and fitness have always been an important part of my lifestyle. From the age of three I have trained in martial arts and understand its benefits in day to day life. It is essential for maintaining general wellbeing, good mental health and attaining physical goals. During my training in Taekwondo and Kickboxing I understood and utilised one to one sessions with several different masters in order to advance my skill in martial arts. This kind of close attention to techniques and fitness helps you to advance through the martial arts system and is still important for those experienced in the sport as there is always room for improvement.
What’s your fitness speciality?
My fitness speciality is Taekwondo and kickboxing – I love kicking things and I’ve got quite good at it!
Coming from a taekwondo background I have learnt to perfect each kick and understand how and why everything is done in a specific way. The focus on constant improvement really grabbed my attention as a child and I quickly developed a passion to hone my techniques and skills as much as I possibly could. My interest spiked as I got more into sparring because of the complexity in how you approach a fight and how that can dictate who the champion will be e.g. footwork, choice of techniques and most importantly tactics.
What’s your training background?
Black belt 4th dan in Taekwondo, Black belt 1st dan in Kickboxing
My father was a Taekwondo instructor and so I and no choice but to start Taekwondo as soon as I could walk! I have also trained under some of the most famous masters of Taekwondo such as Master Shin, Master Lennox, and Master McKenzie, the latter being involved with the British Olympic Taekwondo squad. After training in this style for almost 15 years I then broadened my interest and understanding of martial arts by commencing my training in kickboxing at Leeds university, loving the style so much that I never stopped!
I have competed in both Taekwondo and kickboxing, winning trophies in both styles and most recently achieving runner up in the national student kickboxing championships in 2018 in the advanced middleweight category. Ever eager to improve my fighting style I have dedicated a large portion of my sporting focus on sparring and fitness.
How do you assess new clients?
New clients can be assessed in a variety of ways, each person tending to focus on one particular aspect of training and fitness in which they want to improve. Clients at Elemental Fitness have measurements taken regularly which is one form of assessment. However, there are many other ways to assess fitness progress; one example is assessing flexibility. There are various exercises which demonstrate an aptitude for flexibility or lack of, e.g. squats, leg raises, pistol squats, holding horse stance position etc. These are also useful for highlighting progress as when a client can last ten seconds longer in horse stance position or do ten more squats than usual then this could demonstrate an increase in leg strength.
Other areas of assessment are: core, arm strength, improvement in kickboxing technique, developing an understanding of how the martial art works and physical goals such as gaining or losing weight.
How do you track fitness goals?
This varies depending on the specific goal. Common examples of how I track fitness goals would be: weight loss, muscle gain (which can be easily measured with equipment we have at the gym) assessing grip strength, measuring circumferences of arms, chest, thighs, and so on.
If the goal is martial arts based then this would be tracked through technique improvement; sharpening up kicks, blocks and punches and increasing their power and speed. Another goal tends to be improvement of movement and tactics when it comes to sparring or simply increasing leg strength in order to achieve stronger kicks.
Sometimes clients will ask about a particular exercise they find difficult and set themselves the goal - completing one pull up or press up for example, or 30 sit-ups compared to their previous goal of 25. This way of goal setting is very easy to track and extremely rewarding when completed successfully!
What’s your preferred style of encouragement?
I enjoy helping people push themselves to achieve their personal goals and frequently provide positive reinforcement in order to try and eliminate lack of motivation and to push themselves that little bit further, which helps to get more out of the sessions. When improvements are clear, I also like to highlight these within a session as I find it helps keep people on the right path to being and feeling much healthier.
I also teach the kids kickboxing classes at the EKA (www.elemental-kickboxingleeds.com) and have found many useful tips and tricks to help kids learn martial arts which come in handy in both these lessons and one-to-one sessions. One particular trick I like to use is to break everything down into simple steps or to turn each exercise into a game - has a great success rate!
My favourite exercises are generally body weighted core exercises such as push planks or pull ups; my favourite famously being the inverse plank or 6 inch exercise which is both incredibly effective and willpower-testing at the same time!
What do you like to do away from the gym?
When not at the gym I continue my own training in Taekwondo and Kickboxing. Another commitment of mine is attempting to learn ancient Greek for my master’s degree in Classics at Leeds University! My free time is taken up mostly with study, playing guitar or watching Netflix.
If you would like to book a training session with Sam or learn more about our one-to-one classes, get in touch.