Nurse, Author and Personal Trainer Fiona Leard Helps Her Clients Discover What It Is They Really Want In Their Life
Meet Fiona Leard, she studied nursing, took sports science, wrote a book and it doesn’t end there. Find out more about this superwoman in real life.
Who are you and what do you do?
I consider myself a wellness professional that enjoys guiding others on their path to health and wellbeing and fulfilling their life’s goals. I offer a personalised service and group sessions for a wide variety of clients including kids, corporates, everyday athletes and sports teams.
How & why did you get into the fitness industry?
I loved playing sport as a kid and have always been active. As a teenager, I used to go to the aerobics classes at the local squash centre, and one day decided I’d like to try teaching. So I completed my ACHPER Fitness Leader Certificate and become an aerobics instructor.
When I left school I went into nursing but knew it wasn’t a career I wanted to stay in the long term. I wanted to help people improve their quality of life so they wouldn’t end up in a hospital. So I decided to go back to university and study Sports Science. Whilst completing my degrees, I eventually traded part-time shifts at the hospital for part-time work in a gym. And upon graduating from my degree I had the opportunity to work in the sports science laboratory at NSWIS. I also worked in an exercise rehabilitation studio, ran corporate health programs, trained clients in a personal training studio and continued to work in the gym running health programs, teaching group fitness classes and working on the floor.
Eventually, I decided to start my own business offering my services as a contractor, and it’s now evolved into a blend of fitness, Pilates, yoga and education.
Take us through a typical day for you?
Most days begin at 6 am or 7 am training clients at their homes on the north shore of Sydney. Following morning training sessions I often teach a yoga or pilates class in a corporate setting or at a fitness centre, and then it’s time to sit down and have a good breakfast. I’m usually working on other projects such as workshops and courses in fitness and yoga, or writing books, so I like to keep a couple of hours free mid-morning to work on these.
In the early afternoon, I travel to the east side where I train my clients through a fitness centre, and my sessions can range from injury rehab, fitness, yoga, Pilates or AntiGravity suspension techniques. I like to finish by 7 pm, but it’s not always possible with clients rescheduling throughout the week. After that, it’s my time.
On the weekends I often work with athletes wanting to prepare for game day or recover after. Or if I’m teaching a workshop or training course, I can work all day Saturday and Sunday. My schedule is very busy at the moment!
What were some of the biggest mistakes you made when starting out y our business? And what should their focus be?
I think one of the biggest mistakes I made when starting out was trying to give my clients everything they needed to know from day one. Apart from exhausting me, it was information overload for them. I’ve realized now it’s much more effective to introduce small steps with lifestyle changes over a longer period of time. Keep it simple!
Another initial challenge I had was wanting my clients to achieve goals that I thought would be good for them, but they didn’t necessarily want for themselves. Different people have different reasons for participating in exercise programs and it’s not always to get fitter or stronger or to lose weight. Some people just enjoy exercising without having goals attached to the outcome. So let them be.
What are some of the reasons your clients fail to hit their fitness goals?
Some clients have unrealistic expectations about what they want to achieve, and the time frame they want to achieve it in. Although I will do everything possible to assist my clients to safely achieve their goals I believe it’s important to explain to them initially what they can realistically expect to happen.
Others think by engaging trainer results will automatically appear and expect you will do the hard work for them. I always point out to my clients that they are accountable for their own behaviour and blaming others is not the key to long-term success.
What are some of your favourite exercises to do with a client?
Anything that challenges balance, strengthens the stabilisers and requires the mind to focus and concentrate. Some of my favourites are:
FreeForm board 360-degree rotations
Crank it strap rotational pull
Any tips/suggestions for people looking to get into the fitness industry?
Completing your personal training certification is just the first step. Find the areas that interest you the most and continue to learn more and evolve as a trainer.
The mind is just as important as the body, so learn about the psychology of what motivates people. It will make your job a lot easier.
Keep a good work-life balance. Something I have always had difficulty achieving, but if you take time to nurture your own needs, it’s a lot easier to give back to others.
Look after your own body. Rest when you need to and take time off if you require it. Your clients may tell you they can’t survive without you, but they will.
What do you think makes a personal trainer succeed in the long term?
Building good rapport with clients. Understanding what they want from their sessions and giving it to them. They may not always tell you directly so read between the lines (actions speak louder than words).
Explain why you want them to do something. That way you’re educating them at the same time. With all the confusing information in the media these days I believe it’s important to give them the facts.
Recognise your client’s personality type and what makes them smile. If your sessions are enjoyable (even if they’re challenging) your client will come back for more.
Practice what you preach. If you're happy and healthy, people will want to hear your advice.
Go with the flow. Life happens, obstacles crop up, but always support and encourage your clients to start again when they fall off the wagon. It’s a life long journey.
Keep learning and developing your training skills on all levels. Variety keeps things interesting for you as much as it does for your clients.
Any useful resources, tools, or books you can recommend?
My training tool kit consists of kettlebells, FreeForm board, Crankit straps, MediBall, medicine balls, AntiGravity hammocks, skipping rope, foam roller and yoga mats.
Books I like:
Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future by David Wolfe
Anatomy Trains: Myofascial Meridians for Manual and Movement Therapists by Thomas Myers
And of course my books:
The Yoga Edge: Techniques to Maximize Your Soccer Game by Fiona Leard
40 Essential Soccer Stretches: Warm-Up and Cool-Down with Yoga by Fiona Leard
Where can people get in touch with you?
It’s best to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org