Richard Tidmarsh is a professional Strength & Conditioning Coach and the owner of @ReachFitnessGym London. His gym has been rated as the best gym in London for group training by Sport Magazine. How did he build his business and what got him interested in working out?
How did you start Reach?
I started Reach, the brand 12 years ago, so straight out of Loughborough Uni. I was involved in high level sport and started doing strength and conditioning coaching and group training. After moving to London in 2010 from the Midlands I set up an outdoor training business which was really popular and successful. Though it was successful in the summer the English weather does not lend itself well to an all year-round business. I was offloading kettlebells and ropes in the mud and rain, it was brutal.
I had to find premises to suit a year round business and after a year of looking I found the first unit and the rest is history. We’ve gone from 1000 to 5000 square feet, now have 10 staff now and we look after about 400 members.
How did you get into health and fitness and working out?
I’ve never not been into it. My family is a big rugby family. My dad was the club captain of a rugby club. I started playing mini Rugby when I was 6 & then throughout School played at divisional level and was involved in the England U16 & U18 set up before heading to Loughborough University. So that’s why what we do here at Reach is team based.
I’ve always done extra, even when I was say 12, and my friends would be playing computer games on a Tuesday night, I would go to the local park and run 400m sprints as quickly as I could. There was an element in my psyche that I wanted to be fitter or stronger than other people.
What type of training do you prefer?
I want to be a well rounded athlete. And for me that means a mixture of pure strength and power alongside mobility, flexibility and one hell of a gas tank. Bodybuilding is nice for the beach but does not make you a functional athlete and it tends to slow you down and even make you worse at your sport. What I do now is the big movements, those movements that give you value for your time and effort. Things like deadlift is key, those are the hardest moves to get right but they are valuable.
How does your training program look like?
I’m 34 now where as most members are say 28. I try to be able to beat everyone at something. If I can average it out and be the last one standing in a workout at Reach in most things I’m pretty happy. So I try to do a couple of big strength sessions per week.
I focus on deadlifts and front squats, big compound movements that give a lot of value for your effort. Probably one or two conditioning sessions per week by myself. And one where I jump in with the team and take part.
Since 2013 I’ve also taken my yoga quite seriously. I’ve just hit 500 hours of practice in this area. When running a business it’s good for me to turn off my phone and disappear into a hot room where nobody talks to me for an hour. I have also seen the benefits in terms of injury prevention. I recovered from a couple of injuries through yoga from doing years of rugby.
I try to balance it out during the weekends, I have fun with friends but then on a Sunday morning I go out with a skipping rope and a kettlebell.
How do you make eating convenient, do you do meal preps?
I don’t do much batch cooking but I recommend it to my clients.
Personally, I tend to eat single ingredient foods and just have a good mixture. It is important to always have good things in your fridge and in your cupboard. You got your tubs of whey protein and oats, cans of red kidney beans, lentils, peanut butter and spices. Also things like chicken, tuna steak, as much broccoli as you can get your hands on, and things like quark and cottage cheese. Those are key.
How do you balance your macros and protein?
I’m looking to have 5-6 feeds a day. I want the protein to be high in each meal. Weighing 100kgs, for me to hit my macros for protein per day, I’m looking for 180grams of protein. That’s hard work!
What’s your favourite food?
I don’t crave foods or enjoy junk food. I know junk food is not doing me any good. But I love a high-quality burger. If you can get an amazing thick burger from the butcher and flash barbeque that, and add tomato, loads of mustard and mayo and some sweet potato fries, you can’t go wrong with that.
What would your tip be for someone who has never exercised?
If you’ve been out of exercise for a long time or never exercised, keep things simple. But simple doesn’t mean easy.
Unfortunately when people get themselves out of exercise they get scared of going to the gym. Then often instead of going to the gym they’ll go ‘I’m just going for a run’. Actually when you are unconditioned and haven’t stretched in 10 years, running is not going to be enjoyable and you’re probably going to injure yourself. If someone has been out of exercise for a long period of time, they really should initially find a good coach who can give some good advice . It is money well spent, otherwise your journey in fitness is going to be difficult.
What would be a good workout regime for a total beginner?
If you are unfit you are going to feel it. But use your time effectively. Get to understand the simplest piece of kit like a rowing machine. Get yourself on there and row for 1 minute at your 7/10 perceived difficulty, rest for 2 minutes and repeat that 10 times. Soon you realize you’ve actually been there for half an hour. So how far did you cover in each interval, how did you feel, by the end of it are you still in 1 piece? It’s repeatable and a total beginner can go to the gym and repeat that 3 days later and get a little bit of feeling of familiarity with it and build up the intensity.
Top tips really, don’t think of doing anything with weights until you feel like you can control your own bodyweight. You can’t go from A to D, so you have to put the building blocks in place.
See the Reach Gym website here.
Photo credits: Richard Tidmarsh - @richtidmarsh