When we asked ‘Coach Clem’ if Clem was his real name he came back to us with this: Sir Thomas Alexander Cleminson The Third…
We think that goes some way to explaining his fun-loving nature, which, if you follow him on Instagram @coach_clem, you’ll get a pretty good idea of…
We had a tip off from a friend of CPress that Clem has pretty strong views on all things health and fitness, so we were excited to go and meet him at the gym he’s a trainer at, Core Collective.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background, how you got into training and where your interest in nutrition came from and why you despise calories?
When I first got into training I was very much of the Fitness Model ilk, big muscles, low body fat, calorie counting and tracking EVERYTHING. I then fell down a slippery slope with all of the obsessing over how many calories I was consuming and I developed bulimia, lost a lot of weight and it took me about a year to let go of that mind set and let my hormones rebalance.
It really knocked me, and that’s when I started getting really interested in nutrition and how what I eat affects my body. As a consequence of the turmoil I’d put myself through I developed eczema and so started educating myself more and more as to how what I eat can control those symptoms. Now, I try to help my clients to find a sustainable way to support a healthy lifestyle and their body goals at the same time.
Do you find though that people come to you just wanting to lose weight, and that actually that means that really healing foods like healthy fats and oils are off the table?
Like I said, it’s all about finding something that’s sustainable for each individual person. I can still manage weight loss whilst suggesting a healthy diet, but yes, generally everyones aim is to lose a few pounds!
Do you ever recommend intermittent fasting for weight loss?
I think it’s quite circumstantial but it’s not something I recommend to my clients. For some people it works fantastically well and for others they just do it naturally if they aren’t really a breakfast person. I do have an issue with people using it to control their calorie deficit though; skipping breakfast doesn’t mean you can eat a Mars bar later on in the day. Yes, you might still be in a calorie deficit but it’s certainly not a healthy way of eating. I think a fast every now again is really good as a reset, but not every day.
Alright, so what does a typical day of eating look like for you then?
I change it up quite a lot depending on what my goal is, but some things always stay the same. I don’t like eating more than 3 meals in a day, I’m a massive advocate of breakfast and typically speaking I like to follow a high fat, high protein, moderated carb diet. That seems to work really well for me in terms of my energy levels.
A typical breakfast at the moment could be anything from 3 free range, high welfare eggs with some organic / free range chicken, dose up with some sauerkraut, spinach – greenery thrown left right and centre! Lunch tends to be more fish, salmon and a nice big salad. If I’ve trained however I’ll be dosing it up to the nines with carbs – at the moment I’m doing a lot of Olympic lifting and after a session I am completely racked out, so I’ll do an immediate dose of quick releasing carbs like white rice and then maybe later in the day have some more slow release carbs. Then dinner tends to be lower carbs, higher fat and protein.
How do you feel about protein shakesI find them unnecessary for 90% of people, and also if your goal is fat loss why drink your calories when you could have them in a more satisfying meal? They can be a really beneficial addition to those that are wanting to increase muscle mass or who struggle to get sufficient protein through diet, and it's important to always use a really high quality protein supplement as well.
What are 5 things that you might suggest, in general terms, as good things to aid weight loss?
I would never recommend counting calories but it does depend because I work with people very closely over a specific period of time, and if it really needs to come down to it then calories in vs calories out is a sure fire way to achieve weight loss. If I was going to suggest things to action if you wanted to start losing weight I’d say stop drinking your calories, all the flat whites and sodas very quickly add up. Next I would say aim to increase vegetable intake, at least half of your plate should be veggies and that way you’re full but haven’t over indulged.
What’s your opinion on organic food?
Love it. Whenever I can I try and buy organic, unfortunately it’s much more expensive and so sadly isn’t available to everybody but I really believe that quality of food is so important. I care about optimal health as well as fitness and fat loss.
How does that stand then when you consider calorie free and sugar free drinks then?
They aren’t healthy and they aren’t the way to optimum nutrition. However, it’s a step in the right direction.
What do you mean by that? How can it ever be a step in the right direction to consume drinks laden with aspartame and other artificial sweeteners that wreak havoc with gut bacteria and are extremely toxic?
Well if you’ve got someone that’s drinking 5 cans of Coke a day, they’re overweight and they need to do something about it, then swapping to coke zero can only be a good thing. It’s a step in the right direction; that type of person is going to find it really hard to just swap suddenly to plain water with lemon. They would be much less likely to stick with the programme, I’m much more interested in being able to sustainably get a person to a place where they are comfortable and capable of not eating sh*t.
For someone that’s keen to get into strength work but has no idea where to start, what do you recommend?
Start with as much support as you can and then fade it out. So start with a PT but do your research, search on Instagram, read reviews, see how they train and if you think they are going to be right for you.
Is Instagram really a sensible place to be doing that?
Terrible. Ha! But you can get a good idea of somebody and then take it from there. Classes are also a really nice entry into fitness at a gym where the classes are small and the trainers are good. Work towards a specific goal, don’t just “work out”. Give your PT this goal so that you can both be accountable.
Focus on your movement. If your goal is to squat heavy weights then start with body weight, make sure you’re moving properly first.
What do you do to counterbalance all of this explosive heavy lifting?
I do yoga all the time. Weight training is only a small fraction of what I do. Like I said, I used to care a LOT about my body image, getting that tape measure out to measure my biceps and all that. Yes, I had big muscles but I couldn’t touch my toes, and that’s not a balanced body. I also love gymnastics, iron crosses, anything on the rings, but in order to achieve that I need flexibility. So I do yoga for that, and for that all important zen, gymnastics for the body control and Olympic lifting for the power, strength and speed.
How do you feel about cardio? There’s quite a lot of hatred for it among the “Fit Fam” these days.
There’s hatred for everything on Instagram. Cardio is brilliant; I don’t see any reason why people wouldn’t do it. I’m not a massive fan of running, but I love rowing.
If you weren’t a PT, what would you be doing?
Initially I was going to go into the military, I wanted to be a Para in the Parachute regiment, jumping out of planes for a living would be fun. I got medically deferred though because of eczema.
Hold on, you weren’t allowed in because of eczema?
Well yeh, if you’re out in the jungle and you’ve got broken skin then infections could easily set in. So yeh, I got a two year deferral but decided to not wait around.
Do you manage your eczema through diet now?
Yep, no chemicals. I do find that if I don’t get enough sleep then it really flares up because I will absolutely NECK coffee.
How many coffees on a bad day?
Well if I’ve had 4 hours sleep, like for example yesterday I had 11 clients, which is 11 hours of personal training, and today I’ve had 2 coffees.
And do you feel like you need stimulants to be able to achieve on a certain level?
No. And I’ve read enough about it to know that you don’t need caffeine to perform well, the amount you’d need in your system to have any improvement on performance is just extraordinary. Mentally do I need it to perform? Yes. Will I go to the gym without having a coffee beforehand? No. It’s just become become a routine. I’m a really healthy person 90% of the time, so I don’t worry about it too much.
So what’s a kick-back day for you then, like at the weekend are you as strict with your eating habits?
I’m a massive foodie. My favourite place to eat in London is Black Lock in Soho, incredible steak. It’s super salty and you wake up the next day feeling a bit ropey but it’s totally worth it. Ha ha!
So if you’re a massive foodie, where do you do your food shopping?
Ironically at the moment I don’t. I get Fresh Fitness Food at the moment. And I know what you’re going to say so I’ll say it first…no, it’s not organic, it was probably cooked the day before, but for me it’s consistency. If I wasn’t getting FFF I’d be getting something from Waitrose, grabbing something on the go from Pret or wherever, and that for me is worse.
Breakfast, lunch or dinner?
Breakfast. All day, every day.
You must have to get up criminally early to cook your big brekkie?
Yep, this morning I was up at 4.30am. It’s tough in winter!
Favourite thing to do that’s not related to fitness?
So one thing I’ve started doing a lot of recently is working with underprivileged kids, kids from rough backgrounds. I’m taking a group of kids down to Snowdonia next week which will be fun, teaching them how to surf, build campfires and all that good stuff. It’s really rewarding…and I like smores.
What marks you out from the rest of the PTs out there?
That’s a hard question. I’m very brutally honest, if someone’s not doing a good enough job then I’ll let them know about it, but at the same time I will bend over backwards for my clients to make sure they get results. If they aren’t committed and don’t want to make it work then I’ll drop them quicker than a stone. What really gets under my skin is the fact that some people in the industry are willing to deceive and misinform people when they know that the message they are spreading is wrong – and I have literally no problem telling them.
Plan for the future? Your own studio?
I’m not interested in money, I make enough. I don’t want to open my own studio in London because London isn’t ready for the type of studio that I’d want to create; which is a performance based one. Everyone cares a lot about HIIT at the moment so if I were to open a performance-based studio incorporating the gymnastics techniques, flexibility and Olympic lifting that I know to be really effective, it wouldn’t do well because the market’s just not there. Now Bali on the other hand…
So WATCH THIS SPACE, we could be losing Clem to Bali very soon…but for the meantime follow him on his Instagram @coach_clem for all his London antics!
Our interview with Clem really hit home that not one size fits all. Last week we spoke to Caroline Deisler, passionate vegan, and yet Clem's favourite meal is an amazing quality steak. The one thing they have in common though, which we at CPress couldn't be more happy about, is they both LOVE veg and promote eating more organic plants in your diets, loads of greens in every meal! Rather than trying to find the perfect diet for you, keto, paleo or whatever it may be, put organic vegetables in the centre of your plate and you can't go wrong.