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Congratulations Rob on being our Bodybuilding.com Personal Trainer Of The Month! Rob was awarded the Bodybuilding.com Personal Trainer of the Month for his successful transformation of hundreds of bodies, and his endeavoring commitment towards the sport that we here at Bodybuilding.com all love so much.
We met up with Rob at his Private Santa Monica studio to let our users get to know who Rob Riches the personal trainer, fitness model, and champion competitor is all about!
Name: Rob Riches
Education/Certification: NASM-CPT, YMCA, REPs
Location: Santa Monica, CA
Contact Info: Info@robriches.com
Rates: Consultations and training packages available on application
[ Q ] When and why did you become a trainer?
[ A ] Even before I was in high-school, I knew that fitness was going to be an integral part of my life. I was very intrigued in developing the type of body that I saw in the
magazines, and so set out to learn everything I could about how to do it.
Like with many fitness enthusiasts, I have an addictive personality, and so as soon as I could see my body was changing, I wanted to take it to the next level, and so stepping on stage to compete seemed the next logical step.
It was a real test of self-commitment and discipline, and one that I found to really enjoy. I documented everything I did to understand what it took to be able to replicate the same results time and time again. It was my formula.
As I was training for my first competition, I was being asked by many people at my gym to help train them. I passed all my exams to be a trainer without really studying for them, as my own contest preparation had meant I had to learn about the body and how it all worked (something I am still doing to this day).
The prospect about being a trainer and helping others achieve what I had first set out to do myself, was an exciting challenge for me - to see if I could replicate similar results in others as I did myself, and in a style that was easy for them to understand and follow. After all, I think it was Einstein that said 'If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough'. That was what I wanted to do in fitness for others.
[ Q ] What is your training style & what methods do you use?
[ A ] Whilst each client's circumstances will differ from person to person, my approach remains pretty much the same for everyone. We establish a date for us to achieve their desired
goal, with markers along the way to help encourage and
motivate them. I then set a base-line for their daily food requirements that will allow them to kick-start their
metabolism, or as I like to call it - their fat-burning-furnace, into overdrive.
I do this by starting with their current eating trends and habits, and instead of forcing a new routine on them, I subtly change it over a period of weeks. I believe strongly in coaxing the body, not forcing it, and so with this method, my clients form new habits over time that they are far more likely to be able to stick with, greatly increasing their chances of success.
As for training, all of my clients go through a progressive cycle, by which they regularly rotate each body part, through a light, moderate, and heavy workout, with each session having a set guidelines to the type of exercises performed, rep-range, intensity, and rest periods given.
It's based on allowing greater
recovery from the heavier workouts, whilst still benefiting from training the muscles during the other workout styles. I've trained like this myself now for a number of years, and I'm finding I'm still making gains to this day. It keeps each workout fresh, with set goals to reach every week.
[ Q ] Do you have examples of success stories from clients using your methods? Any celebrity clients?
[ A ] I've found myself to be on the same journey as many of my clients, being with them along every step of the way. My clients know that they can call me whenever they want, to ask questions, or to even check on which entrée they should choose when eating out.
From doing this, and being much more a part of their lives as 'just a trainer', I've witnessed some truly magnificent transformations, and not just in their physiques. I've seen people become so confident as they become more comfortable with their bodies that they have started going out, and dating, whereas before they were lacking confidence.
Recently, a client of mine who I worked closely with for a number of years, contacted me to tell me that the guy I had introduced to her was now her husband and that they were expecting their first child. That really did make my day, to know that I had a part to play in bringing these two people together.
I have worked with a number of actors, musicians, comedians, and celebrities alike over the years, in fact, when I used to work in London, I worked in a very private and exclusive studio, that it was almost only celebrities who I was training.
I find these kind of people to be extremely motivated, and passionate about what they do, and so they typically respond better to my training methods and see greater results faster. One actor and comedian in particular - Ron Lester - who I have recently started training, and who as a truly inspiring story, said to me - "I'm the actor. I can act, but I can't write the script. You write me a script and I'll act it." I thought that brilliantly described the relationship we had together.
One of perhaps the most inspiring success stories I can recall from one of my clients, is a young man who had pretty bad sciatica, and was limited in nearly all levels of activity. He was becoming depressed and deeply unhappy at the prospect that he faced for the rest of his life.
Sciatica is a set of symptoms including pain that may be caused by general compression and/or irritation of one of five nerve roots that give rise to the sciatic nerve, or by compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve itself.
The pain is felt in the lower back, buttock, and/or various parts of the leg and foot.
I started working with him in London, shortly before moving to California, in the hope that I could at least help him find a way to become more positive in his life. I worked with him on every aspect of his health and fitness, in many ways, to a greater degree than I had done for myself when I was competing. I really wanted him to understand everything that we were doing, and could see the benefits of each step.
After only a few months or working together, I came to the States, and had hoped that the months we had worked together had been enough to encourage him that he had the power himself to change his life. I remained in constant communication through emails with him, although as time passed, I heard less and less from him.
I was saddened to believe that he had given up on the program, but within less than a year of first meeting him, I heard back from him with this amazing story of how when I left, he become so committed to the program that he followed every step without failure, and ultimately, as his health improved, so did his outlook on life.
He obviously aimed high, as the last time we spoke, he was modeling in fitness magazines, and had even landed several roles on local TV shows.
If this isn't a success story of the grandest scale, then I really don't know what is. Hearing that news from him just reinforced my beliefs that you should never give up, and no matter how bad things may seem, its only going to be a better view once you overcome your obstacle(s).
[ Q ] What are the most common mistakes newbie's make?
[ A ] They seem to throw themselves into it too quickly, believing that by 'doing as I do' for a few weeks will give them the kind of results that they want. They then become disheartened when they don't see the results they expect, and often give up. The hardest thing I have with my clients is leading them down the gentle slope of success, when they want to jump off the cliff of self-destruction.
One thing that I've found to be a common mistake made by many is them giving everything up that's bad for them straight away. Whilst these things, many of which may have contributed to their ill health, are not going to be beneficial towards their long-term success, cutting them all out at once from their everyday life is going to do more harm than good.
By drastically changing their day-to-day eating habits, they really start to crave the foods that they've cut out, but also their bodies are basically going into shock from the rapid change, which often results in a drop in calories, and drastic reduction of sugars and fats. This leaves them tired and often lacking the energy to even exercise. They quickly return to their old, destructive ways, giving in to their bodies needs.
The way that I work with my clients is by substituting bad foods for beneficial foods one or two items at a time. This way it is a far more gradual change, allowing both their lifestyles and bodies to adapt to the changes. It also allows for a gradual reduction in calories over time, meaning greater fat loss over muscle wastage, as the body doesn't try to hold on to all its fat for fear of starvation from a severe drop in calories over a short period of time.
By working with them on a gradual, step-by-step basis, my clients are far more likely to succeed in their goals than to give up along the way. It's a trustful relationship between trainer and client in that we both need to commit to each other, and trust the program.
[ Q ] How do you keep your clients motivated?
[ A ] I find my clients are motivated when they see results. They want to know that what they are doing is taking them in the right direction. The problem is that everyone seems to want everything now, meaning the magnitude of their desires need to be bought down to size in order for them to be
motivated by the changes they are seeing, and the goals that we set for them each week.
By setting small targets each week, they are able to achieve something new each week, gradually building up to something much bigger.
Through building trustful relationships with my clients, I am able to set personal goals for them that will motivate them each individually. Whilst I've found that the bullying tactic, and the in-your-face approach works for a few, it is the encouraging and supportive approach that seems to definitely work the best for the majority!
After all, why would you want to get prodded by a stick, when you can get led by a carrot!
The goals and targets I set for my clients differ from client to client. It's whatever I feel what motivates them as a person. I always try to be positive, and give them something to work towards instead of going away from.
It's a far more positive outlook, but sometimes certain circumstances force me to use that method whereby if they don't do something about their health and lifestyle, they will soon start to suffer from irreversible illness's.
On a few occasions I've found that no matter how supportive I try to be, certain clients just seem to lack the self-motivation that I try to bring out in them.
The only thing I've found to work with them is then by painting them a dark picture of how their loved ones will suffer once it's too late, or how their inability of lack of commitment is affecting those around them. It's not a nice thing to have to do, but at times I need to be firm as their trainer, and tell it to them how it is.
I'm a no BS guy. I will get a job done by what ever means possible, I just always try and do it in the best way.. I don't give up on my clients. I just look at it as though It's a bigger challenge to overcome the obstacle that's blocking us from progressing together.
[ Q ] What is the average length of a client?
[ A ] By committing to help a client reach his or her goal, I need commitment from them as a client to stick to consultations and training times.
Whilst I do work with people as a one off, mostly to show them something new, to get them out of a training plateau, and to inspire them in taking the next step forward to taking control of their lives by starting with their body, I've found that even the most head strong people will somewhat lose their way unless I am with them throughout their journey.
This has more to do with the small adjustments in the programs, and helping to keep them motivated and push them to beyond more than they feel capable on their own, than it does to locking them into a financial agreement.
On one level though, by having them commit to my program, they have more incentive to at very least finish the sessions, to get their monies worth out of it. Without that commitment, it would be far easier to 'not feel like training today' or 'one chocolate chip muffin won't hurt me'. No one likes to waste money, so they are even more determined and committed to give it their everything.
[ Q ] How do you start a client on a new program or a nutrition program? Do you do some kind of assessment?
[ A ] Without knowing where to start from, it's near impossible to map their journey to get them to where they want to be. Therefore, with every client I work with, I spend several hours talking with them about everything from their medical history, their current eating habits, to their job and family.
I even have them keep a food diary for a week before we first meet, logging everything they eat and drink, including when they eat it, and how much of what they eat. This then allows me to analyze their current eating trends, plus have an understanding of how many calories and the ratios of macronutrients that make up their daily eating habits.
After discussing their current lifestyle, and the reasons why they feel they need to make that next step forward, I then do I full assessment on them, including measuring their body composition, their blood pressure, weight, measurements, and have them perform a basic strength and endurance test.
I also take several body shots that not only act as a reminder to them as to why their doing this, but to also act as anchor points that allow us to measure their success along key points within the program.
By establishing a final deadline as to when we expect them to have achieved their desired goal, we have a clear time-frame to work together on, and can map out a suitable strategy to achieve this. By having a set date, they appreciate much more the sessions together, knowing that they have a focal point to work towards.
[ Q ] Do you prefer to train male or female clients and why?
[ A ] I find there are benefits to training both. With males I find they seem to want to do as I do, which is easier for me as a trainer to emulate my routine into a suitable one for them. Plus from my years in competition, I've learned to become very in-tune with my body, and can understand the male body better then with working with females.
That said, I've found the females to be more focused and determined than many of my male clients. They listen to everything that I say, asking me to explain it again if they don't understand, whereas the men will typically just nod their heads and get on with it, even if they don't get it.
With my female clients, they want to learn about everything they are doing. They want to understand the reasons behind why they are doing something in a particular way, and when I change something for them, they want to know why again. They make for better students, and for that reason I really enjoy training females as I get to go more in-depth about the reasons behind why we are doing what we do.
[ Q ] Have you learned more during your schooling years for personal training or during the hands-on approach?
[ A ] Learning about physiology, kinesiology and anatomy on paper is very different to working with it outside the class room. I've definitely learned more during the hands-on approach, as I had begun learning about the body before I took my exams, during which I had already started competing.
That said, what I have learned in the classroom has been invaluable to me, if anything, just to act as a reference point and to show me areas that were unknown to me before, and which were of more interest to me, allowing me to learn about them more in depth.
I believe that the schooling is absolutely necessary to give you the understanding you need before then taking it further in the area that you choose to develop. After all, you can't be taught everything at school. It can only prepare you for the real world outside of the classroom.
[ Q ] Do you feel just as much like a psychologist as you do a personal trainer?
[ A ] There is a very real connection between psychology and
training. A good example of this is when you've gone to the gym and had a less-than-average workout, and then the next time you go, even though nothing different has changed, you break all records.
You're body hasn't changed, it's your mental positivity and that 'feel good factor' that we all feel from time-to-time after something good has happened to us.
Well what if you could feel like that during every workout? You'd soon achieve every goal that's set for you, in and out of the gym.
By talking with all of my clients, and spending time to get to know them before even stepping into the gym, I try and find out what really inspires them and gets them all fired up. I watch their body language closely, along with their expressions and tone of their voice.
I've found from personal experience that if I can recall on certain situations that made me feel really good, and lock in on that feeling, then when I'm in the gym I just feel so energized and capable of anything.
I try and motivate my clients in the same way, knowing what things they move towards and the things they want to move away from. Being with them in the gym is just a small part of working together with them.
[ Q ] You've been competing now for the past 4 years, and have built a name for yourself on the natural circuit. Do you feel that you get a certain type of clientele because of this?
[ A ] I definitely get a lot of interest from people wishing to step on stage, or from models who want to be in top condition for their
photo shoots, but I also get a number of clients who have no idea that I've done everything I have. I try and promote the sport I do in the best way possible, and want to see it gain much more exposure for which I feel it deserves.
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I've competed in both bodybuilding and fitness modeling, both of which require different approaches to training and nutrition to some degree. I enjoy both depending on the stage of my training. I've learned so much from both categories, knowing how to get my body looking to how I want it to for each given show.
This covers many of my clients goals, from wanting to build muscle and add size, to wanting to have that beach body with good tone and definition.
I've done both up to a pretty high level (Rob has a junior-lightweight world bodybuilding title to his name, as well as a Pro card in Fitness Modeling), and that installs belief in people that I can get the job done for them too. I'm a firm believer in practicing what you preach, and by consistently aiming to better myself, I inspire my clients, no matter what their goal may be.
[ Q ] Since coming to the States from the UK last year, you've started getting lots of exposure from magazines, TV interviews and websites. Has this helped your business grow since you've been over here?
[ A ] I certainly get more enquiries here in the States than I did when I was working in the UK, but only because I think there is greater market here for wanting to look good and be in shape. It's one of the things that really attracted me to moving to California.
The exposure is great for letting people know about me and what I do. I really do care about helping other people achieve their fitness goals. It gives me so much satisfaction to see how they change during the program, and not just in the gym. I have clients telling me how their social lives have improved, their jobs become more satisfying, some even tell me about how their love lives are going!
The idea of being featured in a
magazine, representing what many people view as the idea of fitness, is a very big thing for me. It's what really keeps me going in the gym, and to do what I do, when at times I don't feel like doing it. It's a very rewarding thing to be looked at upon like that.
[ Q ] When you compete and prepare for a show, how does it impact the time you spend training clients? Do you have to take time off from work when you enter a show?
[ A ] When I entered my first show 4 years ago, it was a new thing for me, and my body was going through changes that I had never experienced before. It was tough to be able to continue training clients when I needed to devote so much time and energy to myself.
After my first year of competing, I had developed a strategy in that when I would train to compete, I would plan certain times and days off from training depending how far out I was from the show. Everything was mapped out for me, and by having a plan to follow, I felt far more comfortable and relaxed when I would train clients. Even if I was only a week or two out from a show.
As long as I knew I had time to train myself, and eat when I needed to, it did not effect the time I spent working with my clients. If anything, I think it kept them motivated more, as they could see I was having to go through, and do everything (and more), than they were having to go do at the same time.
They could see it was working for me, which pushed them more without me needing to do anything different than when I wasn't preparing for a contest.
In fact, my clients saw greater results during times when I was competing. I think that's one of the reasons that I have very good relationships with each of my clients. They can see that I'm real, and am speaking from experience, with a 'do as I do' approach, and less of a 'do as I say' approach. Visual motivation works far better than spoken motivation.
[ Q ] What strategies make you a better trainer than other trainers?
[ A ] I really don't look at it as competition between myself and other trainers. I have actually competed on stage with a few other
personal trainers that I know - then it becomes personal [laughs]. We all have something different and unique to offer.
My strengths are in conditioning and competition/photo shoots preparation. If you wanted to come and see me to improve your running stride lets say, I would not be the best trainer for you, and would actually recommend another trainer who could give them what they wanted. That's how it works.
There is a real network within this industry that if one person can't do the job the best they feel the client deserves, they will recommend someone else who can. I've had clients referred to me from other trainers, physicians, and even from general stores where the people just know me as 'Rob the trainer'.
Any time I have a referral like that from someone, I'll always show my gratitude, and send them some flowers or treat them to a lunch out or something. It's nice to show that you appreciate them thinking of you, and of course I will return the favor if and when I get a chance to.
[ Q ] What do you think the future holds for you as a trainer and as an athlete?
[ A ] I really believe there is a shifting trend in the way that people view fitness, and that whilst there is a big problem looming over us in the health of the nation, I feel as though people are starting to take a step in the right direction, and I definitely see myself as playing a major role in that trend.
One of the reasons I put myself out there in magazines, TV and throughout the internet, is so that I have a voice to speak. Being a trainer in a small gym, and only working within that space, limits the amount you can change peoples eating habits, and views on keeping fit and active. But by getting yourself well-known, and at times, going above and beyond what you may feel is necessary with your clients, can mean the difference between invoking change on a mass scale or not.
I have a very specific training style, which has proven itself time and time again. I hope to develop this one step further, opening camps where people can come and be a part of something big. Less boot camp, and more like schooling, whereby people come a few times a week to a relaxed environment, and learn about different areas of health and fitness.
My program is very thorough, and covers nutrition, discipline and commitment, corrective exercises, positive thinking, goal setting, and much more. One of the keys to successfully achieving your goal is to understand not only what you have to do, but also how to do it.
FAME Pro Rob Riches!
Rob Is A Pro Muscle Model & Fitness Model!
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Week #121 - 7/15/2008
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By teaching people why they should do certain things, and how it all works, they become so much more self-aware, and less reliant on the trainer. This may not sound like a good business practice, but by helping to educate each of my clients, they can then go off having reached their goal, and learned how they did it, and can help others do the same. Even if it's something small like help a friend choose a healthier meal when out, or by encouraging someone else to do something well.
One person alone cannot change the world, but by spreading the word and causing a rippling effect, their words can be carried throughout the land.
[ Q ] Your business seems to be doing well. What are you doing outside of training your clients?
[ A ] Yes, I've worked hard over the years to build it up to where I want it to be. I prefer to work with just a few clients over a period of time, than many different clients for single sessions, or just for a short time. I enjoy building relationships, and seeing the changes that my clients make along the way. It's extremely rewarding to be part of their success.
Outside of the hours that I train people, I am keeping myself very busy. I still have photo shoots almost every month, and have just finished shooting my 2009 calendar, which was shot over several days throughout California and Las Vegas, and includes some of the top female fitness models.
That was a great experience, and offers something much more than just a calendar. It's more of an inspirational and motivational tool for which people can use as a daily reminder to always aim for the sky.
I've also just finished shooting my latest video called 'Turning Pro' that shows the final week of my preparation in the run-up to winning my Pro card in Fitness Modeling. It's like a documentary, showing everything that one needs to do if they want to step on stage in the best condition. I'm really proud of it, as like with everything I do, it all acts as a support tool to help raise the profile of fitness and bodybuilding.
I've also been working closely with my fitness sponsors back in the UK, in developing a new product called Norateen Hollywood Body, which is a herbal, anabolic growth supplementation. It uses my name and image on the label. It's a product that I really genuinely use and believe in, so I'm really proud to be able to put my name to it.
And if that wasn't enough, I'm also hosting my own Fitness Show in Beverly Hills, CA on October 25th, called the California State Championships. I've got booked one of the best theaters in LA, and with two floors of exhibitors and booths promoting products and services, it looks set to be a big success.
It may seem like I have a lot going on outside of work, and I do in respect to not having much free time, but everything I do, I passionately enjoy, and so it doesn't feel like work. It keeps me motivated, and in high spirits, which in turn has a positive impact on my clients.
[ Q ] You've been competing for the past 4 years now. What are some of the competition titles that you've won?
[ A ] Out of the 18 Bodybuilding and Fitness shows that I've competed in, I've won 8 of them, and placed 2nd in 6 of them. The rest I have never placed lower than 4th.
- British Natural Bodybuilding Federation (BNBF) Central Qualifier, Novice. 1st Place. 2005 (My first ever competition)
- British Natural Bodybuilding Federation (BNBF) Central Qualifier, Middleweight. 1st Place. 2006
- Natural Physiques Association (NPA) Heart of England Championships, Middleweight. 1st Place. 2006
- Musclemania, Fitness Britain. Junior Lightweight. 1st Place. 2006
- Musclemania World Finals, Junior Lightweight, 1st Place
- America's Fittest Model. Howard Flaks 'Best Body' award. 2008
- FAME East Championships, Montreal. Pro Fitness Model. 2008
- FAME East Championships, Montreal. Pro Muscle Model. 2008
- FAME World Championships, Toronto. 2nd in the World as Pro Muscle Model. 2008
The titles that I am most proud of are:
[ Q ] Thank you very much Rob and congratulations for being selected as the Bodybuilding.com Personal Trainer of the Month!
Check Out Rob Riches' Website: www.robriches.com