‘The athlete’s desire is vital – they need to be 100% into it’
Fitness trainers are among sport’s unsung heroes. They are an intrinsic to those parts of athletes lives which we as spectators never see – the hard work, exhausting routines, strict diet plans and personal sacrifices which keep them in peak condition.
This is especially true for those who do not play in teams, Their personal trainers offer them not just fitness expertise but vital personal support in their darkest moments after losses or injuries or lack of motivation.
Andreu Marco Navarro is a fitness trainer who, since he finished studying sports science in 2016, has worked with riders in many elite motorcycling competitions including KTM, M3 riders, MotoGP Moto2.
As a young boy, he had an early introduction to sport. “My interest started from a very young age. Almost as soon as I started walking, my parents pointed me and my brother towards football, cycling and swimming.
“As I grew up, I focused more on football, then I decided to study the career of sports science and I saw that it could bring me many things, both personally and professionally.
“I then had the opportunity to work with a football team, and that opened up a new world for me. I learned things that you can only learn when you are practising and seeing them with your own eyes.”
The 26-year-old from Valencia soon had a very clear ideas on what he wanted to do with his life. “The idea of being a fitness trainer quickly emerged. In the fields of management, education and performance, my goal is to be one of the best trainers and to dedicate myself fully to this aim.”
Of course, many athletes at the highest levels in their sports are extremely well paid and can afford to invest in their fitness, but that doesn’t necessarily mean their trainers earn big money.
Navarro says: “I wish I could dedicate my whole life to being a physical trainer, but it is very difficult to live from it since it is not well paid. It is also very difficult to find high-level athletes who stay with you for many years.”
That is why he is currently doing for a second degree in education. “I work every day of the week and even on the weekends, but my afternoons are dedicated to work, while in the morning I go to university to study to be a teacher.
“I see it as something that, further into future, can be quite good since being a teacher is something that I also carry in my blood as my mother is also one. So, I love my job as a trainer, but in my spare time I study.”
Navarro often works with motorcycle racers when their personal trainers are not available, and has built up close relationships with several stars. “Even sometimes when they are on vacation they call me and ask for specific sessions or exercises. Thankfully, they know me and trust me.
“[MotoGP racer] Jorge Martin, for example, is close to me. I know more or less what’s best for him and what he likes, so I tailor my sessions especially for him.
“All you have to do is look at what the athlete needs and what suits them best. You also need to know if they want you to work on their strength, endurance, to prevent injury or if they are returning from having one.
“Every athlete needs a qualified person to plan their workouts, and I am totally against those ‘trainers’ who do this job without having any valid qualifications. You need more than a few hours of training or workshops to do it properly, so what those people are really doing is deceiving the athlete.
“Athletes need a good fitness trainer who is 100% with them, but most important is the desire of the athlete. When they put all their effort into the exercises you have planned, it will always end up being a good session. If the athlete is unwilling, it is better to finish the training and coming back the next day.”
Diet & Sleep
Navarro says that diet and sleep are two of the main factors in having productive training sessions, and for anyone to have a good lifestyle generally.
“Ask any fitness trainer and they will tell you that diet is one of the most important things, not only for athletes also for non-athletes, too. To have a healthy lifestyle and to be able to perform all your tasks in the best possible way is a philosophy that everyone should have.
“Obviously, though, I am a fitness trainer and not specialised in nutrition. Nutrition is a profession and career in its own right. I read a lot about it, but the first thing I always recommend to people is they go to a nutritionist so they can plan their own diet and stop searching the internet. Some online diets are very dangerous.”
Good diet goes hand in hand with plenty of rest after training and good-quality sleep. Navarro says: “If you do not rest, you cannot give 100%. For me, the most important thing is not how many hours of sleep, it is about its quality. The athlete feeling rested and not fatigued is where we want to be.
“I think it is not about sleeping for seven, eight, nine or 10 hours; it all depends on the individual and that each person feels like they are at 100% able to perform physical activity.
“I really ask the athletes to eat properly, whether it’s before workouts or games and competitions. Good diet also aids recovery, especially after high-intensity training sessions. They also need to stretch properly so their muscles are in perfect conditions for the next session. If their muscles are very tight, I recommend ice baths.
“Each athlete has different routines, so everyone knows what is best for them individually. But, for me, a good recovery plan is: rest, good food, a cold bath, stretching and a little bike exercise for the legs.”
Navarro adds that the best fitness trainers know their athletes and their priorities, and plan accordingly. Maybe his job is not appreciated by sports fans when their heroes are on the podium, but fitness trainers like him will have played a big part in helping to put them there.
Photos courtesy of Andreu Marco Navarro, who is on Instagram and Twitter