A Celebrity Trainer on His Most Tried & True Fitness Methods

Amongst his other celebrity clients, trainer Ash Bailey was personally brought onto the set of next summer’s Jurassic World sequel, Jurassic World: Dominion, by director Colin Trevorrow to train several of the likely-blockbuster’s cast members. Below, we asked Bailey—who doesn’t believe in gimmicks or fad diets— to break down his most tried and true methods to achieving your diet and fitness goals, maintaining them long-term, and why it’s not always about cutting carbs or ‘beasting’ in the gym.

LEO: What are some simple tips for men just starting on their fitness journey to get motivated?

ASH BAILEY: I think the most important thing to remember is that everyone was a beginner once and that you have to start somewhere. It might seem like everyone is judging you, but people are too busy concentrating on themselves. So the best thing you can do is just start and be consistent.

How do you get someone out of a lethargic fitness state to get them going?

Anyone can ‘beast’ someone in the gym and make them exhausted. But this can have them feel like there is an impossible mountain to climb, and it’s demotivating. By starting slowly, working on basics, and explaining the process about how they will improve over time by getting stronger, this will create a powerful response that will give incredible, long-term results.

What are the first things you tweak in a person’s workout?

It depends on what level my clients are starting from—be it a complete beginner or an advanced lifter—as to what specifically needs tweaking. But typically with everyone, we will strip lifts back completely to analyze form and go from there.

The next thing is usually volume—there is a tendency to think more is better: more days in the gym, more exercises in a workout, more cardio. But from experience, often taking away rather than adding gives people the progress they are looking for.

What are the first things you tweak in a person’s diet? 

I usually find the worst thing to do is completely turn someone’s diet upside down. The way I eat might not necessarily be the way someone else likes to eat and trying to force a square peg into a round hole will be unsustainable. 

First and foremost, it comes down to calories in, calories out. So it’s about—how do we take the client’s existing diet and work with it rather than against it, in order to have them eating in a way which will support their goals.

Are there certain foods you tell everyone to avoid or is it too variable person-to-person?

I would love to sit here and say that there was a specific food or type to avoid that would magically have everything fall into place. But like with above, it comes down to calories in, calories out. No ifs, ands, or buts. It’s not a sexy answer, but it’s what works.

When someone loses fat from cutting out carbs, for example, it isn’t the carbs that have caused that fat loss, more they have created a calorie deficit by doing so. The same is true of any diet or strategy, be it intermittent fasting or keto—to name a few examples. They all work by creating a calorie deficit.

Certain foods, usually the stuff we love to eat such as pizza, burgers, ice cream, etc. are harder to work into a diet due to them being very calorically dense, but that doesn’t mean they have to be avoided. You just have to make a plan for you to be able to eat them and still come in within your calories for the day.

How much do genetics, body type, and so on play a role when you are figuring out a client’s program?

Genetics and body type are always going to play a role in programming, in the same way that a long-distance runner would train differently than a 100m sprinter. But the first thing that body type will influence is the way certain movements are performed, such as a squat. Everyone’s squat will look slightly different due to leg and torso length, etc., and it’s about how to get the movement performed in the most efficient way for their body type.

What are the best tips for someone needing to make a slight but quick transformation for a particular scene or an event on a short turnaround?

You can absolutely dial things in very specifically which will make a huge difference for the day of a scene or photoshoot for example. But the more preparation and lead time you can have for something like that, the better the result is going to be because unless you are very lean, anything last-minute isn’t going to display on camera as much as you would think.

When clients have specific shirtless scenes or photoshoots, we will very specifically plan out the week leading up to it—even as far as what and when they will eat the night before and on the day of the shoot—to bring the absolute best version of themselves to the camera.

What are the best long-term, long-game changes a person can make?

Will power is a finite resource, and you only have so much of it. If health and fitness aren’t up there in your order of priorities then when life happens, it will slip down the pecking order. 

The best long-term change someone can make is by making your health and fitness a priority. I will always tell my clients: all you have to do is turn up. You won’t always want to; you won’t always feel motivated, but if you just turn up day-after-day, then massive, incredible changes will happen.

What’s the one workout equipment or product everyone should be using if any?

I’m very traditional and don’t subscribe to fads or gimmicks or the ‘latest fitness craze.’ Movements that have gotten people into incredible shape for decades still hold true today and aren’t going anywhere for a reason. Getting stronger over time by adding weight or reps on big barbell and dumbbell movements is what’s going to lead to the most successful transformations. 

Can you list one to five fitness game-changers?

  1. You don’t have to be perfect; no one is. You just have to be consistent.
  2. Calorie deficit (AKA calories in versus calories out).
  3. Find people you can trust and will guide and support you.
  4. Getting in shape isn’t easy, but it’s simple. Don’t overcomplicate things.
  5. Fall in love with the process, not the goal, and magical things will happen.