Ed Brandt, Certified Personal Trainer • 07411 787 085 ed@edbrandt.com

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Ed Brandt, personal trainer, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Beginning exerciser? Start here!

I had the pleasure of teaching fitness courses at the University of Alaska Anchorage for eight years. Here are a few of my lessons from the course. Ignore any references to specific gyms, quizzes or class-related information, and what's left is a good series of basic information I believe every exerciser needs. Note: These are written in American English, and we like the letter "z," ounces, pounds and stuff like that. There are 2.2 pounds per kilogram and our nutritional information is calculated a bit differently, but I believe you still find these useful.

SMART goal setting: Every single workout program should begin here. Identifying your goals before you hit the gym will help determine the proper path forward. All of my clients are asked to do this exercies before we begin. smart.pdf

Basics for beginners: It's always hard to try something new, so it helps to have a guideline that makes you look like you know what you're doing when you walk in the door of your new gym. beginners.pdf

(Very) basic nutrition: I get a lot of questions about nutrition, so I put together this basic guide. To be ultra clear: I am not a nutritionist by trade, but do have a solid nutritional background via courses at UAA and other workshops. My beginner's guide should be enough to get you going. nutrition.pdf

Principles of strength training: Here's where the rubber meets the road. This basic guide covers program design, principles of fitness and exercise guidelines. principles.pdf

Flexibility and cardio: A very, very basic discussion of these two in-depth subjects. flex-cardio.pdf

Links and stuff

If you want up-to-date fitness information, I highly recommend the American Council on Exercise (ACE), acefitness.org, one of my certifying organizations. There is a beginning exercise library and some guides on the proper use of stability balls, strength bands and other equipment.

My favorite part is the Ace Fit Facts, flyers that explain fitness concepts, dispel fitness myths and help you with your journey toward health. Check out the list of topics here.


Just to be clear, I don't get kickbacks for any of these suggestions (though if the authors want to kick in some scratch, I wouldn't say no). As a fitness professional, I see a lot of bad books (not to mention crappy gimmicks, particularly for flat, rock hard abs). Here are a few books I've read lately that I highly recommend:

Ultimate Fitness: The Quest for Truth about Health and Exercise by Gina Kolata
Kolata is the Science Editor for the New York Times, and this book does a great job of debunking some of the most pervasive myths in fitness. She explores the "220-age" myth, the question of whether mass amounts of protein lead to increased muscle mass (it doesn't) and more.

Muscle Mechanics by Everett Aaberg
Even though almost no one bought it, this was the required book for my Advanced Weight Training class at UAA. After reading literally dozens of bad books, I was thrilled to find this one. It has some high-level scientific discussions about muscle function, but don't be afraid. Skip that part (I did) and get to the illustrated exercises, with superimposed muscle drawings and excellent descriptions of safe, functional exercises. Totally worth the $20.

Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook by Nancy Clark
Clear and concise, yet very detailed, Clark's book is well-known as the bible of sports nutrition. "Regular" people (we're all athletes, after all) can benefit from reading this book as well. I always recommend this book to my thinner clients who want to gain weight safely. I'm also a huge fan of Clark's discussion on protein.

Full-Body Flexibility by Jay Blahnik
Blahnik is a well-known fitness guru and researcher who has written a fully-illustrated book that any fitness enthusiast can use. Blahnik is the first guy I recall who recommends stretching after your workout instead of before, and he explains clearly why that's important.

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"Thank you so much, Ed! I just love my new body!" —Susan C.

"I would highly recommend Ed Brandt to anyone looking for a personal trainer. In addition to his knowledge in the area of fitness, his terrific personality and his genuine enjoyment of being a fitness trainer, Ed is just an all around nice guy. " — Kim L.