Personal Trainer Keith McNiven – an an expert in fat loss and lean muscle gain – sets the record straight on those burning fitness questions: Are abs really made in the kitchen? Should your workouts be little and a couple of big sessions? Should we follow fitness trends? 

Are abs really made in the kitchen?
It certainly helps! Contrary to popular belief, having a great six-pack is more about sticking to a balanced healthy diet and managing to reduce your body-fat percentage to a low level than grinding out thousands of sit-ups or crunches every day. Just to be on the safe side, I make all my clients do both!

Do you buy into fitness ‘trends’?
We’re not about trends here at Right Path. We view fitness and health as a long-term, lifelong goal and aspiration and all our clients are encouraged to buy into a way of training and staying healthy that is sustainable for them in the long term, rather than a quick-fix.

Having said that, I encourage all my employees to be open-minded and receptive to all the latest developments within the industry. The key focus is always the same – results. If we try some new ‘trend’ with our clients and it gets results, then we’ll stick with it.

Would you say little and often is the best approach to fitness, or a couple of ‘big’ workouts a week?
The main thing is that you have to be consistent, and careful about overtraining, which is one of the most common and destructive mistakes that people make. Particularly when you start a new fitness regime, it’s best to take things slowly and not put too much pressure on the body and the immune system – you have to allow the body to adapt gradually through progressive overload and not hit it too hard, too fast.

I always recommend spreading your training over at least 3-4 sessions a week if you can – it’s amazing what you can do in only 30 minutes to an hour if you are focused. This is one of the key benefits of having a personal trainer – they make sure you use every minute of your time in the gym as productivity as possible.

The mental side of training is just as important as the physical side – often what’s going on in your head will hold you back more than anything physical

You used to be a national champion athlete, were there particular training sessions that you used to dread?
It has to be those sessions where you have to push yourself beyond your normal limitations, as part of some kind of assessment or progress test. I used to dread the ‘bleep-test’ because there’s nowhere to hide, not only is it about measuring fitness, it’s about how far you can push yourself mentally on that particular day, which is often the hardest thing for most people.

This is something I always drum into my clients – the mental side of training is just as important as the physical side – often what’s going on in your head will hold you back more than anything physical.

How long have you been in the fitness industry and what changes have you seen?
I’ve been in the fitness industry for more than 10 years now, and during that time the most dramatic change I’ve seen is the way training has become so much more scientific. There are also many more niche fitness techniques, styles and fashions, which is great as people can find the unique combination of exercise routines and programmes that work best for them and suit their lifestyle.

Right Path Fitness runs two specific training packages, a 12-week transformation and a 6-week transformation. What are the main differences between the two?
The main difference is the level of intensity and commitment. The 6-week programme is the ultimate transformation – you can truly achieve incredible results in the shortest time possible but it requires total dedication and a significant time commitment. Many Londoners have hectic lives outside of the gym and it’s simply unrealistic for them to sustain this level of commitment, which is why we also have the 12-week programme.

The principles of both programmes are the same though – you are entering a highly structured, goal-orientated programme that is broken down into mini goals to ensure you are focused and driven towards your end goal.

Once a highly accomplished freestyle wrestler, Keith McNiven is now a personal trainer with Right Path Fitness in Shoreditch. See