Balancing Fitness and Life: Don’t Overfill Your Glass


Being fit and healthy requires an investment of time and energy.

In an ideal world, we would all do something physically exhausting three to four times a week. It doesn’t have to be structured physical training, although there are great benefits to it, it just needs to be something that gets your heart rate up for 30-60 minutes (like five-a-side football, dance classes and cycling).

Tom Berry, founder of To Be Personal Training. Photo: Keith Hepell

Plus, we should all aim for a good amount of quality sleep. People’s sleep needs vary, but generally between seven and eight hours is recommended, and if you still subscribe to the idea that sleep is self-indulgent idleness, I encourage you to rethink that belief. Then there’s our diet: eating healthy requires meal planning, weekly shopping, and food preparation.

I have trained many people in the past who treated their days and weeks like a temporal TARDIS; when they decide to get in shape, they add their workouts and new diet task to their already busy schedules without taking anything else away. It doesn’t work because there are only 24 hours in a day, and seven to eight of them are spent sleeping (productively).

If something is added, something must be taken away. A common analogy involves a pint glass. If your pint glass is already full, adding more liquid will cause it to overflow, creating a soggy mess. So if you want to add more, get rid of some of the liquid that’s already there (bottom up!).

In real life this means prioritizing your health and fitness and sacrificing other time and energy consuming things. If you spend every Friday night at the pub with your friends, you may need to arrive later and drink less. If you enjoy watching your favorite TV series, maybe watch one episode, not three. If you usually answer your work emails on your days off, consider turning off your phone.

Tom Berry, founder of To Be Personal Training.  Photo: Keith Hepell
Tom Berry, founder of To Be Personal Training. Photo: Keith Hepell

As a personal trainer, it’s very important that I don’t help break someone’s pint glass. Part of the art of writing effective training programs is understanding what to leave out. When I started personal training and running coaching, I was over-complicating people’s training schedules. Individually, each component of a program was beneficial, but collectively there were too many and the programs became unworkable. So I learned to prioritize and simplify, and my clients got better results.

Rather than filling customers’ pint glasses to the brim, with a high risk of spillage, I now leave a safe space at the top of the glass. Specifically, I make programs simple and achievable, so clients feel like they’re succeeding, not failing. Also, if I have to add to a client’s training program, something else is sacrificed.

With that in mind, this column will be my last for the Cambridge Independent. My situation has changed and I no longer have the ability to write my monthly column. I am exceptionally grateful to the Cambridge Independent for letting me contribute to their journal – that’s something I absolutely loved.

If you enjoyed reading my column, you are welcome to connect with me on Twitter (@Tom_Berry_PT). Thank you for the time and energy, and I hope I didn’t spill your pint.

  • Tom Berry is the personal trainer behind To Be Personal Training –


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