Our YMCA Q&A this month is with Hamit Buhara - Fitness Manager at YMCA. Hamit’s journey began when he enrolled onto the Personal Trainer YMCA programme almost 9 years ago. His passion for the job is clear immediately with his open, charismatic personality and an obvious commitment to fitness.
“I have always loved this club. This is a place full of community spirit, catering to the health needs of those who wouldn’t normally use a gym. Aesthetically pleasing, the body beautiful tends to be the selling point for other clubs – our primary focus is community.”
Hamit worked hard to get to where he is now: “I just fell in love with the club,” he confesses. “We’re much more caring about our members. We want to reach as many people as we can.”
Nudging Hamit to fess up his daily routine as a personal trainer wasn’t much of a struggle: “I consume all of my nutrients in one healthy blast. It takes me 30 to 45 minutes to get ready; I’m usually out of the door with a freshly prepared smoothie to hand. My working day is geared to the morning”.
Hamit’s focus returns to the people he really thinks about – club members. “Members come to a gym because they want to live better lives. Our membership packages are adaptable to anyone and everyone”.
Government guidelines suggest that we push ourselves with 150 minutes of moderate and/or 70 minutes of high intensity exercise. Hamit questions these guidelines. “We need to be moving every day. It’s about variety. Turning up to the gym and wrestling with 25 mins of high intensity training is not enough for health. What we need to think about is moving freely - doing big movements that adapt to the body, avoiding repetitive movements. It’s about transferring the skills that we learn from inside the gym to the outside world.”
Being mobile throughout the day is just as important as any gym session then, according to Hamit. That 30 minute walk to work or even those countless hours assembling a flat pack book shelf seem to be just as important as lifting a barbell or climbing an internal wall.
“Fitness is a lot more dimensional than just going for a run. It’s about balance, endurance, and posture - we need to incorporate all of these dimensions into our weekly and monthly sessions.”
“There needs to be a more holistic approach when it comes to training your body. From my experience of working with people who only really enjoy one thing - the treadmill being one such example; people often suffer from repetitive strain injuries. Some include poor activation from the hips, knee pain and ankle pain, or poor upper body and neck posture.”
When discussing nutrition before and after workout routines, Hamit has some interesting answers. “Fat is important as it uptakes a lot of nutrients. Fat soluble nutritional vitamins include A, D, E and K. Omega 3 fats are essential - we need to obtain them from foods like eggs (yolk), oily fish (mackerel, sardines, salmon, walnuts, flaxseeds and rapeseed oil). Omega three fats act to balance out inflammation within our cells.”
Post exercise gymisms include a steady diet of wholesome carbohydrates - whole-wheat bran, porridge oats, lentils and quinoa are just a few examples of these. Not forgetting fruit and veg; Hamit advises 10 to 12 pieces per-day - “nutrient dense foods are the key” a mix of both fresh and frozen are ample.
The processing of foods is something Hamit feels strongly about. Processed foods are stripped of nutrients - that £3 meal deal is a deadly deal. Good marketing sells these commodities as the healthy choice.
“Sometimes we are hungry due to nutrient depleted foods. It’s all about education. I will hold my hands up and say that I used to be that kid with a pack of biscuits watching TV before breakfast. We didn’t really know what we were doing – we weren’t thinking about food. As individuals, we need to be aware of what we eat.”
Changing this mindset and breaking traditions is just as important to Hamit. Finding a selection of biscuit munching enthusiasts and pushing them to the treadmill seems to be the way forward.
When the subject turns to technology, Hamit expresses the need of scrutiny – particularly where fitness apps are involved.
“I like where the industry is going when it comes to using fitness technology. But I don’t believe how accurate many of these readings really are. We need to be careful of what information is provided to us. Apps can’t read on a metabolic level. App data is based on algorithms; there has yet to be a device that can penetrate the skin and get down into the cell and work out how this is metabolising.We should be focusing on how hard the activity was, the length of the activity and what specific activity was carried out.”
Hamit uses Myzone when it comes his cardio sessions. “If you pick a fitness device, stick with it. Fitness readings vary from one app to another so people will tend to stay with what they know and what they want to see.”
A more holistic approach to fitness is where Hamit places himself and the YMCA. “I really enjoy being with people. Watching them develop, understanding and getting to know them really inspires me.”
Hamit is anxious to get going – he has an 11am training session to attend. In one final burst of energy, he lets me in on his true opinion of training: “If exercise was a pill, it would be the best pill in the world, nothing would compare to it”.