5 Tips to stay healthy and slightly more wealthy.

We all want be financially successful right? And when you think about that success, I’m pretty sure the vision of lots of clients and classes immediately spring to mind.

But it’s more than just that … and I’m afraid it’s the boring bit too – finances.

We all hate paperwork and dealing with financial records. But ignoring the rules and thresholds demanded by HMRC is a big mistake and can get you a hefty and completely unnecessary fine.

Here are five tips that will help keep you on the right track:

  1. Get an accountant: Trying to save money by not using an accountant will almost certainly be a false economy. They will prepare your annual accounts and advise you on what you can put against tax, from equipment, such as mats or weights, to the car mileage rate you can claim. They will also offer tax planning to help you decide when to set up as a limited company or register for VAT.
  1. Keep good records: The last thing you need is to get to the end of the tax year and find that you don’t have the information you need to file your accounts and then spend hours scrambling around and perhaps not claiming what you are entitled to claim. Always ask for receipts and keep a regularly updated record of earnings, possibly using an online accounting system, so all your income and outgoings are in one place.
  1. Set money aside: As a freelance fitness professional, you MUST put money aside as you earn it, otherwise you could be faced with a tax bill you can’t pay. Every year, there is a set amount you can earn before paying tax and this changes almost every year. Consult your accountant or check the HMRC website for updates.
  1. Sole trader or a limited company: As discussed in a previous Blog, many fitness instructors are sole traders. However, if you are earning over a certain amount, or if you want to present a more professional face, your accountant will be able to advise you whether it’s worth switching from sole trader status to setting up your own fitness training company.
  1. File accounts on time? You’re unlikely to win an argument with HMRC, so make sure you stick to their timings and avoid a fine. If you are a self-employed fitness instructor registered as a sole trader, your tax year will run from 6 April to 5 April of the next year. You will need to file your accounts by the following 31 October if you’re filing a paper form or by 31 January if you’re filing online. If you set up a limited fitness training company, your tax year will run from the month that you set it up to the same month the following year. Your accountant will be able to advise on when you need to prepare your accounts by and when you have to pay your tax and NI bills.

Prepare for your Fitness Classes like a Pro

So you’ve taken up fitness classes and you’re looking forward to all the brilliant benefits of exercising, but what should you be doing before you exercise? Here is our ultimate guide to preparing for your fitness class.

Eat Right Before Your Fitness Classes

First up, you need to make sure you’re fuelling your workout. Unless you’re doing a fasted workout, you need to make sure your body has the food it needs to work properly.

Ideally, you should aim to eat a small meal or snack that includes both carbohydrates and protein. The carbs will give you the energy you need during your workout, whereas the protein will help keep you full and will also help with building muscle. Ideal snacks include yoghurt with a bit of honey, bananas with a teaspoon of peanut butter or a protein bar.

If you decide to use a personal trainer, they should also work with you to ensure that you are eating to complement your fitness programme.

Hydrate like an athlete

In order to be hydrated during exercise, you need to be drinking water throughout the day, not just knocking back a few litres in the hour or so before you exercise.

Hydration is really important, whether you’re doing cardio classes, such as Zumba, or weight training, as water regulates your body temperature and lubricates your joints. It also helps transport nutrients to give you energy and keep you healthy.

Training the mind

One of the best ways to help you exercise well is to make sure you are in the right frame of mind and don’t see it as a chore. Ensuring you are doing something you enjoy, that you are well rested and that you are also wearing something you feel good in (as well as being comfortable for exercise) are all important things to master before you step foot in your fitness classes.

Some people may even find breathing exercises, positive visualisation or mindfulness techniques useful.

Stretch like a champion

If you want to maximise the effectiveness of your workout and reduce your chance of injury then you need to make sure you stretch properly. Having a set stretching routine of at least five to 10 minutes is essential for making sure that your muscles are well-prepared for the task at hand.

You should stretch every area that you are planning to work on and hold each stretch for at least 10 seconds. However, don’t stretch to the point of pain.

The most important thing is finding an activity that you enjoy and will stick at. Working out with a group of people can help you stay focused, so why not book an exercise class such as Zumba, yoga or Pilates? If you feel like you’d benefit from one-to-one sessions, we can help you find a great personal trainer in London.

Find a Personal Trainer that’s Right for You

If you live in the capital, to find a personal trainer in London might be one of your immediate goals in 2016. After many of us enjoy the eating and drinking that comes with Christmas, January is the traditional time to buckle down and improve our fitness with the new year upon us. There are many different types of personal trainers, and they can all help you in different ways – so where’s the best place to start?

Where can I find a personal trainer?

Looking in your local gym or fitness centre is a good way to begin, or there is the increasingly popular option of checking online for a personal trainer that meets your needs. My Fitness Times is a portal for personal trainers to advertise their services, and by checking the profiles of the various fitness specialists you can see what they offer. For more information, take a look at our personal trainers now.

Ask questions

Depending on your fitness objectives, you should have a stack of questions for your personal trainer. Do you want to bulk up and gain muscle? In that case, you should make sure the personal trainer you choose is knowledgeable in the area of weight training. Do you want to lose weight? If so, cardio activities, such as running and swimming, should be high up on the agenda in terms of what your personal trainer should offer.

Look for some rapport

It is important that you get on well with your personal trainer, to a degree. While you will be working hard a lot of the time, it is good to have a fun relationship with the person you will be spending a lot of time with. You can assess whether you will get on well with a personal trainer by talking to them on the phone or meeting them first.

Nutrition counts

Does your personal trainer know about nutrition? They should do. Every effective fitness programme needs to have a big focus on nutrition. Do you need more protein and less carbs? Are you taking in enough vitamin C? Your personal trainer should be able to guide you on the right kind of things to eat, and what not to eat.

Motivation matters

What kind of character will motivate you? Will they push you to do more or push you away? These are the kind of questions you should be asking yourself before you decide on your personal trainer. The success of your fitness programme, like many things in life, will be determined not by your personal trainer, but by the amount of work you are prepared to put in. With this in mind, which kind of personal trainer is most likely to get that extra 10% out of you?

Achieving your fitness goals: Classical versus modern Pilates

Pilates is one of the most popular ways for people to achieve their fitness goals. However, it is an approach that has several different variations, which can make it confusing for beginners when choosing a Pilates class. This article is an overview of the different types of Pilates to help you choose the best approach.

The essential difference between classical and modern Pilates is that classical instructors seek to teach the method exactly as its originator intended, whereas modern instructors take into account developments in medical science to improve upon the original exercises. Even more complexity is added by the fact that what counts as a classical approach is disputed.

Joseph Pilates developed his exercise method in the late 19th century. For decades after he began teaching people how to use the Pilates method, the only ways for people to learn the approach that he advocated were to learn from either Pilates himself or from one of his students. As a result of this word of mouth dissemination, there is some variation in what is considered to be a classical approach to the Pilates method.

Classical Pilates is also known as the Romana method after Joseph Pilates’ first pupil. There was a clear change in the method that he taught and the methods taught by other pupils of Pilates and those that were subsequently taught by these pupils. The disputes arise in what is considered a pure/Romana classical method and what is considered a subset classical method. There have been several attempts down the years to codify the pure classical Pilates method and prevent people who dissent from it from describing their teachings as Pilates. Thus far, these attempts have been unsuccessful.

Romana or classical Pilates instructors tend to advocate a flattened spine in all supine exercises. They also teach that buttocks should be squeezed at all times and that the exercises should be conducted with a ballet style flow of movement. Classical subset instructors tend to modify all of these aspects in order to allow for a more natural style of exercise. They can point to statements from Joseph Pilates himself to the effect that dancers “ruined” his method as evidence that they are adhering to his real intentions.

Modern or contemporary Pilates instructors worry less about strict adherence to the original method and instead construct their own interpretations of Pilates that incorporate developments in medical science. As justification for these modifications, contemporary instructors point to the fact that Joseph Pilates was an innovator who would have incorporated new knowledge as it became available.

The routines taught by contemporary instructors tend to include many of the original exercises that Joseph Pilates advocated, but also add in extra exercises derived from physical therapy and other sources. Modern Pilates also allows for the use of many more machines than Pilates or his early pupils envisaged.

For students who are interested in a Pilates style work out, the approach that they take is entirely up to them and their fitness goals. Anyone who is recovering from an injury might find a more modern approach more beneficial. However, if you are able to physically undertake the original exercises, then a more pure Pilates approach still offers an excellent way to build strength and flexibility. For Pilates classes near you.

Starting out as a PT – Sole Trader or Limited Company?

One of the first questions any new personal trainer must ask is whether to work as a sole trader or trade through their own limited company. Whatever route works best for you, failing to follow the rules and deadlines set out by Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) can be an expensive mistake. So make sure you really understand what your responsibilities are.

Everyone’s situation is different and what’s right for one person might not be right for another and there are many other factors that might influence your decision:

  1. What you’re expected turnover is and how much profit you make,
  2. Your future plans to grow the business and in particular employ people,
  3. What level of commercial risk you will be exposed to,
  4. Reducing your tax bill against the extra time working on administration.


What about the Pros and Cons?

As with all major business decisions, there are advantages and disadvantages to each option:

Sole trader / self employed – an easy way to start in business

  1. Simple and straightforward to set up, with no initial costs,
  2. Less paperwork with no annual accounts, company tax or corporation tax,
  3. Lower ongoing costs,
  4. Less government departments to liaise with – a single tax return once a year,
  5. The usual route most people take when just starting out,
  6. Higher personal risk – you will be personally responsible for the company’s debts, so your personal assets can be at risk,
  7. Less opportunities for effective and efficient tax planning.

Limited company – a bit more complicated, but essential for some.

  1. More costly starting up as you will have to pay to form a Limited Company,
  2. You have to file your accounts at Companies House each year, which will be on public record,
  3. You also have to file accounts, company tax and corporation tax calculations with HM Revenue and Customs every year,
  4. Accountancy fees are generally more expensive,
  5. Some larger corporate clients, may only work with other limited companies,
  6. You are separate from the company, so your personal possessions may not be at risk, unlike if you’re self employed,
  7. You may appear to be a little more professional to potential clients,
  8. Better tax planning opportunities and hence potential for greater profit.


So, which one is best?

Whilst there are a whole bunch of financial benefits to going ‘Limited’, many small businesses, particularly start ups, choose the sole trader option. This is primarily because although going limited might be more financially rewarding, with lower taxes and more tax planning opportunities, there will be far more administration and legal commitments by going limited.

If you are just starting out for the first time and need something simple and easy to start and operate, then the sole trader route would be good for you. Once your business grows, you can always incorporate it into a limited company down the line.

If on the other hand you have already established a brand and are now looking to expand the business further, then a Limited Company may be better. In some instances it may be beneficial to operate as a Limited Company from the start.

So, there are lots of things to think about, but most important of all is your own personal preference. You might want the simplicity of being a sole trader rather than a limited company, or you might prefer the security of having ‘limited liability’. In order to make that decision you must have all the information at your fingertips, so you should continue to do your homework and take the chance to speak to an expert.