Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training
Hello everyone! I am Marc Mullen, a sprightly 38 years young, I currently live in London but I am originally from Manchester.
I spent a large portion of my adult life living all around the world, Sydney, Miami, Sao Paulo, Mexico City, Istanbul, Hamburg, Milan, Shanghai and Bangkok to name about half of the places I lived and worked.
As well as been a personal trainer, I have had a relatively successful and long career as a fashion model. This is the job that enabled me to spend around 10 years travelling and working. I am still represented by agencies and I am lucky enough to be still working on a regular basis.
I have been married to a wonderful woman for the last two years. I have been with Andressa who is Brazilian for over five years, she is also a fashion model and has a devotion for health and fitness, we often train together and if time allows I invite her to train at my studio in central London. When I train her for that hour, we are not husband and wife, we are client and trainer.
Unfortunately, we are unable to have any children of our own as shortly after getting married Andressa was diagnosed with cervical cancer. For many people this would have been a disastrous time, but we are both mentally & physically strong and saw this as a challenge and faced all the challenges head on, we continued to live our life’s as normally as possible.
The good news is that within six months and several surgeries she was given the all clear. When the time is right, and I am more established as a PT we will certainly adopt children.
I started off as a very talented football player, I reached a relatively good level in my youth and started playing in Men’s teams at the age of 16, my athletic ability was a huge factor in me reaching the level I did, I was very fast, fit and strong on the field for a slim player. I have always taken an interest in participating in different sports for fun, from tennis to climbing.
Around 21 years old, I made the switch from football to track and field and quickly found out that I was no longer the fastest or fittest in comparison to athletes.
I ran the 400m, which is a brutal event to partake in, it’s all about the lactic acid threshold so you went through hell in most sessions.
We had to do speed work, hills, some endurance, strength and conditioning and HIIT. I competed for over 10 years for my University Leeds Met and a club in Manchester – Trafford AC.
I learnt a lot of valuable skills from fellow athletes and coaches that transcend into other sports and I utilize many of these skills and techniques when I train my own clients, who include a few marathon runners. Sports and physical activity have always been a huge part of my life and I guess its ingrained in my DNA!
Away from the world of fitness, I am very social, my apartment is always full of friends as me and my wife love to host. I am a huge Manchester City supporter and I still attend a several games a season.
I am also a huge lover of the great outdoors, I plan several trips a year with friends to stay on remote farms, hike and really escape the noise of everyday life.
What engages me most in the world of fitness is the sense of well-being and achievement after a good run, tough workout or learning new physical skills.
Challenging yourself physically means you are challenging yourself mentally as the physical and mental work in symmetry, both are essential to living a healthier lifestyle.
Describe a typical day of training
In terms of training, I take a very varied approach to my own sessions, I like to incorporate heavy lifting especially on my legs, injury prevention is key at my age! I use a mixture of dynamic and functional workouts with kettlebells, gymnastic rings, animal flow and running.
Finding balance in exercise is key and I always look at the long-term benefits of exercise. I strongly believe in moving away from the ordinary and mundane as intrinsic motivation is difficult too keep up. Variation is key.
As I have aged, I am now way more cautions of my body, so injury prevention is paramount of I wish to push myself through walls. I usually train once every 48 hours and in-between do what is called, a regen session, stretches, foam roller and prehab exercises.
I always prefer to exercise earlier in the day as I feel my performance will be at its best. A session will start with something to increase my heart rate, skipping and plank walkouts are a couple of my favourites.
I follow this up with 10 minutes of mobility exercise that actually tests your cardiovascular system, flexibility and strength (all bodyweight). Yoga poses, leg swings, running drills and resistance bans are used.
The ‘meat’ of my session will be around 30 minutes, and this is the intense part of my training, I keep the standard high in relation to technique. In essence, I train for around 50 minutes, as personal trainer I should be able to train efficiently and effectively as possible.
I love plyometric training, for the lower and upper body, and in recent times I have been practicing animal flow, I’m still a novice but improving my skill set all the time.
Animal flow is a form of ground based primal movements where you move your body as some animals do, it’s a great all round body workout that engages your core, works your co-ordination, flexibility and improves your strength.
As a former track runner, running is my meditation and usually some form of fartlek or intervals is incorporated. I can run a pretty decent 5 and 10k with PB’s of 17:24 & 37:32.
Since becoming a PT, I do have less time and on occasion less energy for my own training, however, I always find time to do enough exercise. I practice what I preach to my clients, I push to train and motivate them so the very least I can do is the same for myself.
How do you keep going and push harder?
For someone who has competed in sports most of my life, exercise has become as essential as eating for me, not only do I love to exercise I understand many benefits associated with exercise, this is a concept I try to instill into my clients as I look to make long term sustainable changes.
There are certainly days when it’s more difficult to get up and train, I always think back to cold rainy nights in Manchester when I was on the track and how motivated I was, that’s another trait that becomes ingrained in your character the longer you have done exercise.
If I was to miss a session, I know the self-guilt will get to me, so it’s easier if I just get up and go even when I’m not feeling 100% committed.
I love to be constantly challenged, and I challenge myself most times I hit the gym, can I lift 5kg heavier? Can I last an extra 30 seconds on the battle ropes, and can I add advanced variations to exercise? With exercise, as in life you want to be always looking to grow, evolve and become the best version of yourself. That’s how I am able to push myself out of my comfort zone.
If set myself or a client a goal, and then create a clear plan to reach that goal, I break it down into days/weeks/time, etc. You are more likely to push harder if you can see that you are well on your way by setting small milestones — one step at time!
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
My training has changed in recent months due to the stresses I have put on my body over the years, thankfully by training smarter I am still able to push myself hard, a typical training week at present will look something like this:
- Monday- Weights 3X5 Heavy weights, Deadlifts, Squats, Lunges and core
- Tuesday Stretches, Mobility
- Wednesday- Calisthenics training
- Thursday- 5-8km run, followed by stretching
- Friday- Rest
- Saturday- Functional weight Training
- Sunday- Fartlek or a rest
My current training goals are to stay injury free and run a 17:30 5km! I am also looking to gain 1.5kg so I will readdress my training in the next few weeks and focus on hypotrophy.
As a PT, I feel my career is going from strength to strength over the last 18 months. I currently work out of two amazing studios in central London for freelance trainers, I have a lot of freedom to grow in these environments and am surrounded by some amazing well-experienced professionals who always give me solid advice and support.
I have developed a style of training clients that’s is having success, although I am continually looking to grow and evolve as a PT to benefit my current and future clients.
I have long term goals as a trainer, I want to have my own studio, and become more of a teacher/coach as I enjoy teaching new skills to clients.
In the short term, I want to either run or be a part of a team on wellness and fitness retreats. By working hard, staying professional and setting myself high standards I am more than confident I will be where I need to be in the future.
How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?
Injuries unfortunately are part and parcel of physical activity, all the exercises I prescribe to my clients are essentially for injury prevention. Why do we squat? To build muscle around your joints to support them, why do hold various planks? To increase balance, stability and prevent poor posture and weaker muscles.
I have learnt over the years that injuries are all about management and maintenance, I trained with pain and niggles, however you have to be aware of your body and learn how manage them.
I always tell my clients to listen to their bodies, complete rest, active recovery or a regen session can be more beneficial than training on occasion. Evaluating the situation by looking back at previous sessions, can help me build a better picture of what is required in the present.
Injuries can be mentally tough to recover from as you are unable to do what you love, I find been restricted physically frustrating however like reaching a set goal, I take it day by day and see each step in the rehab process as a small win.
How is your diet and what supplements do you use?
I personally feel that I eat what can be described as well-rounded and nutritional efficient diet, I don’t consume any processed, sugar, carbohydrates (anything white) or processes foods in general.
I eat a 100% plant-based diet, or we can say I am a vegan. I have been completely animal product-free for almost three years. I used to eat animal products on a daily basis for most of my life, I changed my diet over a period of time as I believe that all lifestyle changes should be for the long term and sustainable.
Going cold turkey (no pun intended) usually results in people reverting back to old habits. I changed my diet solely based on health reasons, the more research I undertook, and my own experiences from travelling and working around the world for over a decade shaped how I eat today.
I found the less animal products I consumed the better I felt, digestion was easier, and I had more sustained energy, these were all instrumental in me continuing with a vegan diet. My wife was a vegetarian so I already had experience of eating plant-based and still feeling nourished and consuming enough plant-based protein.
I feel since the changes in my diet that I am energetic, rarely get sick, and can recover from training sessions with a little more ease.
I never count my calories as not all calories are equal and it’s very dependent on the source of these calories and what nutritional value is attached to them. Do you get your calories from avocados or a bag of sweets? I make sure I eat high calorific, high nutritional foods that will help support my lifestyle, work and exercise regime.
I now consume way more fiber than I previously did and cover my bases in terms of vitamins and minerals, I tend to eat seasonal fruits and vegetables.
I start my day with a homemade green juice each morning its essential to blend the fruits and veggies and you keep more of the fibers (juicing can eliminate most of them), so I can safely say that I consume more portions of fruits and veggies in one juice than the majority of the population do in a whole day or even in some cases a week.
The question I get asked most often is ‘How do you get protein’? Again, due to education, trial and error, I consume more than enough high-quality protein each day.
I consume various nuts, seeds, legumes, lentils, pea or hemp protein, chickpeas, spelt and tiff to name just a few sources of plant-based protein.
The second question I get asked (mainly from other fitness professionals) is ‘where do you get you essential amino acids from’- the building blocks of protein. If you a follow a well-rounded and balanced-diet you are very likely to consume enough amino acids, as they are found in many foods in smaller quantities.
In terms of supplements, I actually consume several daily, I also take certain supplements in cycles. My list is as follows: Bulk Powders Spirulina (Amino Acids, B12), Vitamin C, B12, D3 (I live in the UK), Bulk Powders BCCA, tribulus terrestris, hemp and flax seed oils.
I purchase 95% of my supplements from Bulk Powders because they make great quality products at a very good price and have many sales.
I am also a huge advocate of mushroom supplementation for varying health reasons, I also use turkey tail mushroom powder, lions mane mushroom extract. Most of these supplements are used for my general overall health, but they all include many physical and mental health benefits.
I feel that because of my well-rounded diet, I never have to be too concerned about having ‘cheat days’ (I don’t believe that term should exist) if you eat a well-balanced diet, a treat from time doesn’t do any harm and can actually keep you sane!
What has inspired and motivated you?
I find most of my motivation intrinsically, I first of all look at myself and see how I can improve myself physically and mentally each day. I see my physical health and mental well-being as my motivation so exercising well, eating well will only contribute towards this.
I often listen to Joe Rogan podcasts depending on his guests, he will have athletes, nutritionists and motivational humans on the show. I always come away with a more open mind and tend to do more research on what I have heard.
When I used to compete as an athlete, there was a book written by former Olympic Champion Michael Johnson called, Slaying the Dragon. This was incredibly motivating and inspirational to me and many other 400m sprinters.
In the book, he talks about his extreme training regime, mentality and how you can relate these to not only your chosen sport, but everything from relationships to education to your career path. I must have read the book 10 times, however now it is covered in dust, I should re-read it!
I am currently reading a book by Dave Asprey entitled, Super Human, his book talks about life hacks and how to slow down and even reverse the ageing process through diet, sleep, exercise, supplements, environment and technology.
It’s an incredibly interesting read full of references and studies to back up claims using up to date technologies and ideas. I have already started to adopt some small simple lifestyle changes from the ideas in the book.
I feel the best advice I have ever been given in life is relatively simple and I try to abide by this at all times in moments of success and failure: ‘STAY HUMBLE’.
Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?
I always to try to offer realistic advice to clients/friends who ask me where to start with exercise. I also give myself the same advice.
I love using kettlebells. In the beginning, I had to learn the basic skills and lift very light. Progression is key and set within certain parameters.
I would attend kettlebell classes to pick up technical skills from well-trained coaches and adapt them to my own strengths. There are so many great tutorials on YouTube so I was able to learn how to effectively use kettlebells over a long period of time.
Now I can complete complex kettlebell exercises such as a turkish get up, however I was patient, asked for advice and critiqued myself constantly. You can take all of these attributes and apply them to any level of training regardless of ability.
As a personal trainer, there are times when I am in my local gym and I have to look a way, there are a lot of bad practices out there, it’s partly my responsibility to help change that, however some people wouldn’t appreciate the advice and probably don’t want it. I have seen people get injured from lifting to heavy or incorrectly, if only everyone could have a PT!
For anyone who is involved in exercise, I can’t stress the importance of sleep in relation to physical recovery, been able to get quality sleep is essential for every aspect of mental and physical health.
I have a few little routines that help me get a good night’s sleep, I don’t look at screens for 15 minutes before bed, the light from them pays tricks with us and can keep us awake!
Are you taking on clients right now?
I am currently taking on new clients for January, I am always looking for the next challenge of helping clients reach their goals.
I have not taken on clients previously due to time constraints or been unable to commit due to current client’s needs as I have to be fair in all aspects of personal Training. I strongly believe in my own abilities and skills as a personal trainer, although I am constantly learning as it’s a never-ending journey of self-improvement for the benefit of my clients.
When you come to train with me, I become very involved of all aspects of your training, I send over sessions to complete without me, I also make videos for my clients explaining exercises so they can train when they are away! There is no escape!!
The most common question I get is how can I get abs?! There are a few simple factors, consistency in training, kitchen habits and some cardio-based exercise. They can require a lot of self-discipline and commitment or you can be just blessed with great genes!
Where can we learn more about you?
My website and Instagram accounts are my main avenues to connect with clients.
My website will be finally launched in the coming days marcmullenwellness.com
Check out my Instagram page @marcmullenw