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DIAL – A Day In the Life – Rob Solly – Fitness Educator/Trainer

DIAL – A Day In the Life – Rob Solly – Fitness Educator/Trainer

Day In A Life

Rob is a fitness educator and trainer he was the first person in the UK to be certified by DBC  in biomechanics and human movements. He is an EXOS Performance Specialist and has helped to transform a wide range of people from pop stars and mums to weekend warriors and athletes.

His training is underpinned by education to enable clients to fully understand what, why and how they train. His system blends power and energy with agility. He works with notable clients including Olly Murs, Paloma Faith and Emma Willis.

Rob was also lead singer of rock band Johnny Panic. Here he talks to us about the importance of educating clients and improving skills, why he hates cheat days, his love of smoothies, eating dirt and blowing shit up on his iPad.

TLDR

  • Mobility exercises (yoga, movement) in the morning to lubricate your joints
  • Advocates growing skills over strength and lifting weights
  • Take Fulvic Acid/Minerals as a supplement
  • Utilise your commute either listening to podcast or reading
  • Don’t complicate nutrition or diets. He uses 80/20 principle. 80% healthy foods and 20% of whatever you like.
  • Avoid your tablet/phone late at night
Q. What does your perfect day look like if we are looking at a normal week day.

Well you know it’s pretty easy, I was recently in Miami doing a DBC course in Biomechanics and I would often go to bed at 10.30pm to get a good start to my day.

I was getting up and the sunshine was beautiful. If the sun can greet you in the morning, then it’s a really invigorating thing.

I’d get up have some water and straight in the pool, I’d swim up and down and would mobilise and stretch. Do this for about 10-15 minutes. If there is sun then let that pour over you, it’s incredible.

Then I’d go to the gym and train and I just felt lubricated. If I don’t do a Yoga Flow in the morning my body hates me for it.

Back story. Before I became a trainer, years of MMA (mixed martial arts) abuse and not training correctly has taken its toll. I used to train twice a day every day but we’d go at it hammer and tongs. Sometimes I would go back to back classes. I’ve always been quite stiff, even though I did Tae Kwon Do for years I never mobilised, just stretched reluctantly, and I’ve come to realise that my parents are like that.

Going back to that perfect day, I think starting mobile, fluid and warmed is a beautiful thing and something that I am trying to recapture from my time in Miami. It’s something I am working on right now.

I would then go in the shower then after that deal with emails and do a little bit of admin. Then go for breakfast.

When I was in Miami and doing this, breakfast felt like a reward and I also felt inspired to eat healthily. I’d have a cinnamon porridge, have some blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and a couple of raspberries. If I am having a heavy training session then I’ll maybe have some eggs in a bagel.

Q. And your next steps after breakfast?

You know I love meeting people who are inspiring. If we’re going to sit down and have a chat then I love to chat to somebody who will teach you something and open your eyes to think in other ways. It sounds like a real cliché but I get super excited about those things because I feel that they hep me to raise my game. They inspire me to go read up and learn new things. I’m a person whose glass is half empty rather than half full. So I worry about what I don’t know rather than what I do know.

When I have a perfect day I want to gain something both intellectual and spiritually.

In between all that if I’m driving I’m listening to podcasts. It could be Joe Rogan or Dr Rhonda Patrick. Although Rhonda is quite hard (to follow). She’s a science geek and it can be quite hard to follow if you don’t have that baseline knowledge. But wow her ability to recall things are pretty phenomenal.  One of my other favourite podcasts is called Heavy Hands, it’s an MMA podcast and I love it because their knowledge of the game is phenomenal. They see things that you perhaps don’t see but then I go back and rewatch a fight.

On a train commute I love to read. I like music biographies. Over the last year Bruce Springsteens autobiography has stood out. I’m reading Matthew Walkers book on sleep however I’m a work in progress when it comes to sleep at the moment. Matthew Walker does an excellent job in keeping things simple and entertaining. The same inspirational quality I like in people I also like in books and podcasts.

Q. What would your next movements be after being inspired? For me at the minute I’m so lucky to be training some great people and really nice people that trust and believe in me. But the crux is that I travel a lot both in a car and on a train. My ideal day would be to have my own place where people can come to me to train and feel inspired because I created the environment. EXOS the company that I have trained under, they always say “The trainer doesn’t create the environment, you’ve got to create the environment for people to feel inspired.” I want people to walk in and feel inspired by the place. I’m currently working on this.
I love training people, it’s like a real opportunity to do some good. It was kind of what I wanted to do with music but now I can do it at an individual level.

I believe that the human skeleton was designed to last 110 years so what we do with it counts. My training is really blended with education, I’ll often reinforce certain things and ask clients to go off and do a particular task in their own time to understand it. I don’t want to just rep count and get people big. And that is a problem because people want to look great instantly. I think looking great should be a by-product of your training and not the focus. I think skills should be the focus. We’re obsessed by looking great. Instagram makes us obsessed by it.

Transformations are a funny one. Whenever you see a transformation they never seem to keep it or somewhere along the line they/their body may have paid a price.

I’ve been approached by several people who lost a lot of weight by doing running and by the point where they want to be, their body has already broken down. They’ve done the hard work but they aren’t aware of mobilisation, their technique, their running gait, or how the knee lifts, where the foot strikes and how the foot strikes etc. That to me is so sad because they’ve done the hard work. One thing we’re taught at Exos is always weighing up the intensity of the session versus risk of injury.

I would personally love to raise the standard of PT’s with an actual understanding of not just lifting weights but the benefits of improving your skills. If you went to the gym in 1978 and went to some of the ones I go to now. There isn’t much difference.

I believe fitness should be accessible to everybody and don’t believe fitness should be worth what some people charge. What do they really know that’s valuable?

You have to have a love for what you are doing. The session I did before this was for Mind (charity). I believe exercise’s effect is as big psychologically as it is physiologically but as it’s manifested through physical exertion we tend to only see that side of it.

I look at my failures and one of the reasons why I might not sleep so well is because if I wake up and go for a pee, those little things come back at me. There’s a couple of things I got wrong recently. For example, I didn’t get their characters right and sometimes you should turn people away because you are not the right trainer for them.

I feel like it’s a duty now to pass the knowledge on because there are lots of people I see not educating. For example, not explaining why they are doing a particular drill and how it fits into your overall training and improving your skill level.

I’m not a big fan of HIIT for this reason. If you’re going to do 20 seconds of burpees and 10 seconds off and you’ll be doing it in 10 years time, then where’s the progress? It’s just a constant calorie count, the very thing many of those advocating it are saying we shouldn’t be doing, that guilty thing. I don’t see the progress, I don’t see people learning and growing because if their technique is flawed then their technique will still be flawed 10 years later. Plus, physiologically, you haven’t given your body the time to adapt.

Getting back to my perfect day, so I’ve done a couple of sessions, got my heart rate up as well by doing drills with them and I love a good shake. They’re stupid money but I do like some of Joe and the Juices shakes. Although how did shakes end up costing 10 quid (£10) how did this happen? (laughs)

Q. What kind of shakes would they be?

It could be anything, protein shakes are good. One of my good friends Matt whose wife (TV presenter Emma Willis) I train makes some of the best shakes I’ve had. I’ve tried to copy him but whatever I do I can’t replicate it. They’re thick and flavoursome. He buys some good quality supplements and often when I’m there I ask him “Can you make me a shake?”

I often put broccoli sprouts in my shakes (for the Sulforaphne). I grow it myself, it’s great for your brain, reduces the risk of cancer, improve your immune system and a whole host of other benefits.

One supplement I do recommend is fulvic acid. It’s a real-life changer. There are many benefits to this. I have the Onnit Fulvic Mineral but took it before and had tests done on my testosterone levels which came out positive. When I had it as a pure supplement I added it to my water. Fulvic minerals is essentially found in dirt in the ground. I buy mine from Onnit because if you put it in shakes (in pure form) or anything like that it can really taint the flavour. Unfortunately it hasn’t really sold as I don’t think we are quite there yet in terms of understanding the benefits and the research.

Q. Next on the agenda? I’ve done my teaching, I’ve met some people and so now it comes to Rob time! I allow myself one coffee a day and I go and get it. I get super excited, it’s ridiculous. They look at me going into the café like tigger bouncing in. Sleep is my Achilles heel, it always has been and is something I’m genuinely taking steps towards improving because I need to. Coffee is like an elixir and then I’m off, with a coffee bounce, off to train. I like to do a combination of training by myself, so I can work on things where I’m accountable to myself and under pressure. And I do like training with other people to make me raise my game, to work that bit harder and I quite like them to train me. I’m not adverse to being told what to do.
Next, I love going to the cinema and sometimes I like going early in order for me to go home and watch an episode of a box set. I’m a massive fan of Line of Duty (BBC Drama) so sometimes I guess that doesn’t give me enough time to get a good nights sleep.

Q. Where would meals come into play in all of this? What kind of things do you eat?

I like to go for dinner but I would prefer to spend my time doing all the things I’ve talked about and just eat. I always found nutrition to be quite simple and go by an 80:20 principle. It also happens to be something that EXOS advocate.

Q. What is the 80:20 principle?

So the 80:20 principle is about having 80% good foods and 20% of whatever you fancy. I don’t believe in cheat days, I’m really quite anti. I think it’s something left over from bodybuilding/bro science which is just guys talking to each other but not about facts. Don’t get me wrong they are hench (muscly), so everybody says it must work but for many people it’s not sustainable.

I don’t like the concept of cheat days. I want to be able to cheat every day.  There are two main reasons I don’t recommend cheat days. The first is a physiological one. We want our body to be as close to homeostasis as possible. If you are eating healthily all week and you binge out on the weekend, spiking your insulin, then come Monday when you are looking to train, your body is dealing with massive inflammation and your white blood cells are having to combat this. It doesn’t create an optimal environment.

Secondly, psychologically we want to create good eating habits and relationship with food. If you allow yourself the opportunity to have a little something every day then the chances are you won’t feel the guilt and shame that leads to worse eating habits

I do admire the Body Coach and all the things he’s done but when he started making sweet potato brownies, I just thought, if I want a brownie I’m going to eat a bloody brownie!

I went to a festival recently where they had a talk and the woman made a cauliflower pizza. Who did she come to, to taste it? Me. And when she asked me what I thought, I said, it’s alright but it’s not a pizza is it? You haven’t got a patch on Papa Johns! And this is precisely my point I don’t want an imitation of something.

People have obviously made money out of the health food market. Sometimes they’ve got some great ideas and I love ideas and seeing where people take things. But to me it’s not rocket science. I’ve been doing it all my life and having some M&M’s or some ice cream at the end of the day is ok because during the day I put my work in and eat healthily. We all know about vegetables and I believe in eating a rainbow of fruit, vegetables and dense greens (kale, spinach, bok choi, broccoli et al) are really important.

I do enjoy going out and having dinner and get food envy. However in my perfect day it would be a social dinner and not about the food. It would be good food but the main thing would be the social environment of eating.

Q. And what would be your next movements after that?

Are we allowed to talk about sexiness?

I am quite hedonistic at the same time. If I had a vice I never really drank (alcohol), I’ve never taken any drugs, I never smoked but sex would be in there in my ideal day.

There’s a crazy element to my personality that is a risk taker, that I have to keep in check. And one thing I have always said to people is, if one day the world was about to explode I would go out and get some heroin. I want to know how come there is something in this world that people give up their children for. I do love to jump off things and push limits but I have seen and been around people long enough to never want to go there.

Thinking about it, all the things I’ve said, to a degree might seem quite boring but that is genuinely what makes me happy.

I want to wake up and feel my body move and feel alive, eating well throughout the day and meeting people to connect with and inspire me. The interaction as a trainer I get throughout the day is a big element of having a great day. If I haven’t trained with somebody for a couple of weeks I think to myself I’m looking forward to seeing them. Not beasting or hurting them but that’s where the quality of the training comes into it to pass on that knowledge.

Q.  We are then hitting the evening and bedtime is there a sequence that you like to do?

When it comes to bed time, as I’ve mentioned, it is a work in progress. Some people say I like to “blow some shit up” (which is playing the mobile game Clash of Clans) and I actually do just need to delete it. But I am going through Matthew Walkers book at the minute and need to put that into practice.

In an ideal day I’d like to be in bed by 10.30pm. If you go to bed earlier you know you are going to wake up better. I’m a reasonably anxious person, so if I’m awake at 12.30am I’m conscious that I have to be awake at such a time and it plays on my mind. I’d like to find a rhythm that works.

What I currently do is I take fulvic minerals, a fish oil and sometimes when I feel I haven’t had enough daylight sun I’ll take a vitamin D3. I’ll then brush my teeth and I can spend ages doing it and no idea why then I’ll just blow shit up on my iPad but I’m going to do something about this.

Q. Finally, if there was one type of exercise, drill or technique you’d recommend somebody to do what would it be?

It’s quite simple I really like power, explosiveness and plyometrics. I’m a big fan of the book supertraining but everything starts with the breathing. Techniques like the Wim Hof Method, XPT or Box Breathing are really good but it needs to be combined with some mobilisation making the body feel open and flow.

The best advice I can give anybody training is that you must challenge yourself. Do not keep repeating the same thing. It’s adaptation, we’ve got to grow, grow and grow. We go to the gym but the gym is the same thing as you are lifting weights. It may be heavier or you may do more reps but we don’t move in different ways when lifting.

So try something different but underpinned by breath.

Update: Rob has so far successfully ditched Clash of Clans and the iPad at night time!

You can check Rob out at www.robsolly.com

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