‘Food is for fuel, not comfort’
For as long as she can remember, sport and exercise have been key to Rosemarie Uzomba’s life.
Now she is trying to make them similarly important for others too, as having just completed a Sports Science degree, the 23-year-old from Hackney is carving out a career as a personal trainer.
“Trainers need to ensure they stand out from the crowd to gain clients”
“Sport has always played a large part in my life,” she told me. “Some of my fondest memories involve physical activity such as swimming lessons with my father as a toddler, or playing football in the local park with my sisters – one of whom now plays for Leyton FC.”
When it came to her choice of study and subsequent career path, the science aspect was just as important as the sport.
“I believe sport/exercise science is the health degree of the future because across the whole world, obesity is an ongoing and rising issue,” she explained.
“The USA tops the rankings with 30.6% of its population suffering from obesity, but we’re not far behind – the UK has the third highest level, with 23% affected.”
With the personal fitness market in the UK growing rapidly, trainers need to ensure they stand out from the crowd to gain clients. Rosemarie says you need to plan ahead before launching yourself.
“It’s fiercely competitive, especially if you’re a freelancer, so you need to learn how to network to get more clients,” she explained. “You also need knowledge, time, dedication, and to be personable, so people will come to you, rather than someone else.”
“The skills for personal training are also transferable to teaching – motivation, hard work and consistency”
Pricing and knowing your target audience are also key to success – as is building a good personal rapport, to retain clients once you have them.
“An hourly rate that may be reasonable for some customers could be outrageous to others,” she said. “I don’t change ridiculous prices in order for people to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.
“I try help people change their lives around and listen to their stories whilst transforming physically. Being a PT means you’ve got face to face interaction with people all the time, so you have to learn how to deal with different personalities. Being cheerful and outgoing goes a very long way.”
The expertise Rose has acquired in her work as a PT, together with the interpersonal skills she uses every day, help her in another part of her career – working in primary schools.
“Once you turn to food for comfort, that’s when bad eating habits evolve”
“As a PT, I’m teaching and assisting a workout and I’m educating about also nutrition, so it’s a similar task in schools,” she explains. “The skills for personal training are also transferable to teaching – motivation, hard work and consistency.”
A report in the Guardian newspaper found that, according to the Active People Survey, nearly 80% of the UK population fails to hit key national government targets for fitness – performing moderate exercise for 30 minutes at least 12 times a month.
It found that just over 8% of adults capable of walking had not – with the exception of shopping – walked continuously for five minutes within the previous four weeks, while 46% had not walked for leisure for 30 minutes continuously over the same period.
Almost nine out of 10 had not swum and a similar proportion had not used a gym.
The link between exercise and health is obvious – and this is where Rosemarie’s scientific background and knowledge of nutrition come into play. “We need to have a healthier and happier lifestyle,” she explained.
“Exercise regularly and eat food for fuel not for comfort. Once you turn to food for comfort, that’s when bad eating habits evolve.”
Another fact highlighted by the results of the survey is that women are less likely to take part in sport than men. But despite being sports-mad herself, Rosemarie does not think everyone should be made to follow in her active footsteps.
“Sport shouldn’t be forced on people,” she said. “That would devalue the purpose and enjoyment factor sport provides. But with obesity rates for women in the US and UK increasing, the question is – what can be done to make women more interested in working out?”
Photo of Rosemarie Uzomba (right) with Team GB’s Perri Shakes-Drayton courtesy of Rosemarie Uzomba