“I make sure I get the best out of everyone”

Thomas McDonnell laughing in his YMCA Club teeshirt

Former YMCA apprentice, 23 year-old Thomas McDonnell, is our youngest Personal Trainer and one of the Club’s Health and Fitness Advisors. His passion for fitness blossomed at 15. Today, he loves helping people smash their fitness goals, whatever their background…

How long have you been a Personal Trainer for?

I qualified as a PT at the age of 20 with YMCAfit. I’ve been at the YMCA Club for 5 years. I started out as an apprentice and worked my way up.  I’ve learnt from the best at the Club.

What type of PT are you?  Do you specialise in any type of training?

Boxing, Strength and Conditioning and Sports Specific Training. I use a lot of pad-work and boxing techniques to engage people physically and mentally. I'm a strong believer in strength training, whether it's body weight, using a 'Vipr' (tube like training tool) or with traditional equipment like barbells and dumbbells.

I’m quite passionate about helping people – I always have been. It gives me pleasure seeing them achieve their goals. I’ve always been like that from a young age.

Why do I need a Personal Trainer? Can’t I just achieve my goals by myself?

If you’re going to the gym on your own and doing your own thing, you’re more likely to cause yourself an injury. If you’re a gym novice, you might not know where to start.

Alternatively, you might be working out safely and have more experience, but it might not be the most effective way of achieving your goals if you do it by yourself.

PTs have the knowledge to help you achieve your goals. We give you exercises and nutritional advice and try to make it fun. The more enjoyable it is, the more likely you will carry on with it.

How often should I work out with a PT and how long should my sessions be?

If you’re new to PT, don’t go head-on into it too quickly. I’ve seen some people sign up for seven PT sessions per week, but you must ease your way in. Perhaps start with twice a week and gradually build up to three PT sessions per week. When you become more confident, your PT can also advise you how to train on your own (in addition to the PT supervised sessions).

I usually do one hour sessions, but I do half hour ones too. It’s whatever the client wants - everyone is different. In the half hour sessions, where we haven’t got much time, we can do more circuit-based stuff. If it’s an hour session, we can take more time with certain techniques. Each session is effective in its own way.

How quickly will I see the results?

It depends on your goal and where you’re at. If you want to lose 15K, work out with me two to three times per week with my diet plan, and you’ll start seeing results in around 3 months.

If it’s a specific goal like toning up for your wedding, you will usually see an improvement after the first month or so.

What are the benefits of working out with a PT at the YMCA Club in particular?

The YMCA Club is one of London’s largest health clubs. We have everything you need for every goal. We have functional equipment to help you move in every-day life, resistance machines, big floor space, HIIT training, a free weights room, studios and boxing-based stuff. We’ve got all the equipment to cater for your goals.

How important is the relationship between a PT and their client?

It’s very important - you don’t want an awkward hour! A good working relationship helps you get on with each other and talk to each other. I always ask how the client is feeling and get loads of feedback. If you’re doing an exercise and you’ve got a twinge in your back, it’s important to say it.

My teaching style is very energetic. I make sure I get the best out of everyone, no matter what fitness level they are. I adapt the exercises to suit their level. 

Busting myths – don’t PTs just work with elite athletes and gym junkies? 

Just pop into the Club and have a look around. There are all types of people here – every sort of person you can imagine.

How much do you charge and why are you worth the money?

I charge £50 an hour and I do block bookings of 12 for £500.

Yes! I make my sessions fun and enjoyable, but they’re effective too. We get down to business, but we have fun while we do it. I’ve got quite a good sense of humour.

How have you changed a client’s life?

One of my clients had never exercised before, but now he’s fitter, healthier and has more energy. Another was in an accident and was out of the gym for a year and a half. Together, we built up their strength and they lost a bit of weight. They are a lot better for it.

People who’ve been in bad relationships come and do a bit of boxing with me too to take out their frustration. It’s good for them, but not great on my elbows!

Special ‘PT Six-Pack’ offer in August

If you refer a friend to the YMCA Club in August, you qualify for a FREE half hour personal training session with one of our friendly, professional PTs. You’ll also be entered into our FREE prize draw where you could win a further six hours-worth of PT sessions absolutely FREE.

To take advantage of this great offer, email the details of you and your friend to club.reception@ymca.co.uk or pop into Club Reception in person. This offer applies to core members only (Annual Full, Annual Monthly Direct Debit, Rolling Monthly, 6 Month Membership for both corporates and individuals). This offer excludes concessions and students and is not valid with any other offer.

Free half hour PT sessions are valid for eight weeks from date of referring a friend. Only one free half hour PT session per referral, per member.

‘PT Six-Pack’ winners will be informed by email following the prize draw. The ‘PT Six-Pack’ is valid for three months from when the winners are informed.

This offer is not transferable and no cash equivalent or refund will be available.



Claire.Gilderson | 30 July 2019