It is time for another interview! We recently sat down and had a chat with a good friend and fellow gym-goer, Phil M Fit. Phil was once a bodybuilder but has recently moved into CrossFit/Functional Fitness. He also happens to train at the same gym as me. So we have been speaking for a while, I have also witnessed his transition to CrossFit. He has changed his training completely, along with it his Goals and Diet. We sat down and went through his journey and why he decided to change and what his plans are for the future. Let us dive straight into the interview and get going.
Q: What got you into fitness? Why did you first step into a gym?
The first time I stepped into a gym was in college, around 2016. I was playing football at the time and wasn’t looking at the gym to get bigger, was more strength and conditioning. Back then I didn’t realise that strength and conditioning for football and what I do now (which we will speak about later) is completely different. It was about 2016, on and off. I was never consistent. It was around twice or three times a week. The reason was mainly football.
Q: What made that turn into an actual hobby and made you start to take it more seriously?
So I was playing football, And at the end of college, you start to look for a men’s team. It gets more physical. When I was younger I hit puberty a lot younger than everyone else, so I was always the strongest in the class, had the most hair on my legs, then everyone started catching up with me and I just stayed at the same point.
So then as soon as men’s football came around I knew I needed to eat a bit more and start going to the gym. Went to a men’s teams and saw there were some blokes in there that were bigger than me. They said that they go to the gym and we do this kind of training (more bodybuilding). Even the footballers, when you play amateur or semi-pro, they don’t do any strength or conditioning specific stuff. It is mainly training to be fit and look good.
So got into that and started proper bodybuilding around 2017, I signed up to Pure Gym. Started to go every day with my mate Ben Watt. Who I looked up to massively at the time. He was competing so when I started he was competing and in amazing shape. He was my age (18-19 at the Tim). He came second in the British Nationals (I can’t tell you what it is actually called). I started training with him a lot and stayed consistent, then I went downhill again and was just on and off until 2018-2019. In 2019 is when I started to train the whole year. Like 10 months of the year and not just 6.
Getting Into Gym Continued
So I have been training for a long time but it has been on or off, it hasn’t been consistent. I could never see myself progressing too much, I took it more of a hobby. Now, it has got serious in the last few months and have found a love for it that I missed back then.
It’s going back to that “Instagram” picture, for the holidays and that. I think everyone started because they want a good picture and get in shape for holidays. I don’t know many people that have started gym and said that they do it for their Mental health, Their fitness and their health overall. Where, now if you ask me that question, it is completed different. Before it was just to be in good shape and take nice pictures.
Q: What then made you transition into “CrossFit”?
In 2019 I trained well, got really strong. I went up to a very big weight. I went up to around 94-95kg. I was really strong, really enjoying the gym and smashing it out. Then I started posting videos on Instagram. Just standard bodybuilding stuff, Push, Pull, legs repeat. Sometimes an arm day on a Saturday for the ego more than anything. Then lockdown came in 2020. I went to LA in January and came back and in a few weeks, lockdown happened. I stopped working (i am an electrical full time) and I just started to do a PT course. As soon as I started doing it I lost interest because gyms closed and I couldn’t do anything. Obviously, everyone started working out in their garden, as was I!
This is funny, So I was doing Bicep Curls in my garden thinking “This is training” and after finishing that I would go eat and then sit in my room playing video games. Lockdown went on and on and on, I stopped training. I thought “I am not training in this!” So I got myself a bike. I cycled when I was a kid when I lived in Cornwall and Poland before I moved to England. I cycled loads. I use to love it and again, lost love with it because I did it so much. So I got myself a bike in around May time. Started doing little cycles and it just got bigger and bigger and bigger. I didn’t train at all, I just cycled. My weight just dropped down. I was 95kg and went down to around 85-86kg.
Transition to CrossFit continued
Then it hit July when we started doing pre-season football. So what we did because we weren’t allowed to train until around the 23rd of July (Or something around then). So our team did cycles on a Saturday as a preseason up until August. Then I thought I wanted to do something completely different. I didn’t want to do bodybuilding, I don’t want to go into the gym and do bicep curls for 4 sets or bench press for the whole session. I just didn’t want to do it, I completely lost interest. Might also be because I lost my strength as well! I have huge respect for bodybuilders, it is a hard sport when it is at the elite level.
At the elite level when you are going for a pro card, fair play to you I understand that. It is very hard and I have got respect for those guys. However, I wasn’t that guy! I wasn’t competing! I was doing it for my ego, to have a picture taken at ocean beach once a year. So I said “OK! Let’s try something different!” So I signed up for Marchon Program. Which is Functional fitness, not all CrossFit. I didn’t even know what CrossFit was at that point. For me CrossFit, at that time if you asked me I would have said: “I will never, ever do that! It’s the worse thing ever, they don’t get in any shape or have any muscle”.
Q: I think that is a lot of peoples thoughts on it until they give it a go
Yeah, I think it goes back again to be so one minded. Everyone is so one minded with everything in our society these days. Everyone has got a strong opinion before you even try something. So you learn from these little mistakes. So going back, Started functional fitness with Marchon and absolutely loved it. I said I was going to get into the best shape of my life for October 30th. It was so much cardio so I could just eat. My body reacts quickly to food anyway so I can put on weight and lose weight really quick. This is also a bad thing with muscle mass, I can lose it.
So kept training, It was really hard! First workouts I couldn’t even finish sometimes. They were really hard and taking me too long. I never understood when they had the rep scheme of 21-15-. Which is your simple CrossFit programming! I was doing these and thinking they were three big sets, I was doing the 21, then resting, then the 15, then rest. I never knew 21-15-9 all the way through. use to think “Dam, I am really unfit”, like really unfit. Couldn’t run, never done any running in my life. except for football, but that is a different type of running. So just kept training and kept grinding away.
“The issue being with that is you could have one ingredient that could have 1 milligram, and it could be needing 300 milligrams in there.”
I start filming it, I thought it was cool and I like it so I put them on Instagram. Never done it to get followers or clients, it was just for me because I liked it. It was for me. At the time I only had about 1000 followers (August to October). Kept at it and was enjoying it! Then another lockdown came but I couldn’t care. I hit my goal for October, got in the best shape of my life. got my picture! Which I am proud of to this day!
The way Marchon do it, the way the community is! If anyone is looking to get a functional fitness coach it is a great entry. There is some hard, hard stuff in there. Got in the shape I wanted and lockdown came and I didn’t care. Got in the shape I wanted, Christmas coming round the corner so I can relax a little bit. Then go again in January. But I thought I wanted to get fit so was thinking about what I could get. I was looking at an Air bike but was in two minds and ended up with the SkiErg. That came and I was smashing that every day in November, with Kettlebells and things like that, started to do home workouts. Putting them on Instagram and it started blowing up.
Even More CrossFit
In the Marchon program, there were some CrossFit movements. Hang Cleans, Power Cleans things like that. I was doing them and filming it but wasn’t actually doing them right. I quickly found that out when I had some CrossFitters commenting on my stuff. I was like “I’m not doing CrossFit, I’m doing functional Fitness”. I was so close-minded and in that one box. Started looking at some videos of CrossFit, and how they do certain movements and things. I started coming across Athletes like Will Kane, Zack George and thought “This is sick”. Didn’t do anything about it, still trained as normal. Some conditioning stuff, some bicep curls in my room, chest press, things like that all the way to Christmas. Kept following the Marchon stuff. I was with them for 6 months. Loved it! Kept going at it.
Then after Christmas, we went into another lockdown! I started looking at all these videos from Zack George, he had these challenges. They didn’t look that bad! I gave them a go and thought “Oh my god! This is hard!” These people are fit. This is something I want to get into, I want to be fit and do the gymnastics kind of stuff. As soon as I saw the gymnastic side of things I didn’t think it was something that could be joined into a sport.
The Change from Marchon
So I said, I am going to stop with Marchon and see if I can program for myself. The way I programmed for myself is by looking at the CrossFit athletes, took some ideas from Marchon training as well (I still love them, still my favourite 6 months training ever). So I started doing loads of SkiErg, loads of EMOM’s and loads of AMRAP’s, anything I could do to get my heart rate up and see how long I could last. Started loving it! It was so good!
It slowly transitions into CrossFit. I was a bodybuilder trying CrossFit because my mobility was shocking! So going back to the videos with the CrossFitters commenting on them, I can’t hold a front rack, unless there is some weight on there. My front squat is good. My quads are good from bodybuilding, I am very quad dominant. Which gives me a big advantage in CrossFit.
I can’t hold a front rack with my elbows up, I don’t get how they do! I thought no way am I going to be able to do this! Overhead squat, I was like “I don’t know how to do that!” My wrists were taking a battering. Then these thoughts started to creep in “Is this for me?” And “I can see why people get injured!” I stuck to it and quickly got myself a coach (From CrossFit GB in Brislington Bristol) who is Chris. He said we are going to stick to one movement, I can keep going with my conditioning stuff but we will work on cleans overall. The first zoom session we had and asked me to hold a bar up I was doing that (start of a shoulder Press).
Now, I haven’t been posting anything about this, I am strongly against posting anything that could mislead people. Especially as my following is following. If 5 people take some bad habits that are still bad. So I am only posting workouts that are done correctly. Compared to bodybuilding where I would go as heavy as I can, I’m not allowed to go past 60kg on the cleans at the moments. Which is very lightweight for me. Even my coach has said I could clean 120kg right now but it just wouldn’t be pretty. I just want to make sure my technique is good. I still do my standard workout!
The only thing I don’t do is resistance machines! When I was bodybuilding I use to love resistance machines, the fatigue I could get from them and the isolation from something like a chest press machine. Hitting shoulders on cables is amazing! You can’t hit them with dumbbells like you can with cables. So I don’t think I have touched a resistance machine since December. Even before then, I would only use cables for tricep pushdowns. So I think that’s the biggest change that happened from Bodybuilding to CrossFit that I miss.
Q: I think Home workouts have pushed people more towards functional fitness
Exactly! Now I just use a barbell, Ski Erg, Air bike and a dumbbell (Sometimes two if I am lucky). There isn’t much else I need. I think a lot of people would have transitioned to that type of training (Functional) because you don’t need a lot of things or equipment. I think that is the main reason I went that way as well. With one kettlebell I can do 15 different movements, why would I not do that?
Q: Do you think most people tend to transition to
functional fitness from bodybuilding?
That’s a good question! For me it was! Mainly health and fitness! I was crap at bodybuilding! I was strong and got into decent shape but nowhere near what some of these people are looking like! It doesn’t matter if you are enhanced or natural, you have to put the work in either way! People need to understand there are no short cuts! That’s what the sport is about.
I think if you have got someone’s who is genetically gifted and dedicated they won’t move away from bodybuilding, because bodybuilding is a much bigger sport. Plus you also feel better looking better. Especially when people tell you all the time as a bodybuilder. Whereas with CrossFit, if you asked me who Matt Fraiser was 7 months ago, or I saw him walk into Tesco I would think he was someone’s dad. I think mentally people stay in bodybuilding because it’s more pleasing, and more people tell you how good you look.
So many people don’t get the credit they deserve because they don’t have abs and someone else does. Normal people on Instagram always follow people with a better body than someone with a worse body but more experience kind of thing. I think a normal joe, like me, tried functional fitness they would love it a lot more. It’s a mix of CrossFit and bodybuilding.
Q: So what is your diet looking like at the moment? You tracking calories etc?
I was looking forwards to these questions! People always talk about training but never talk about food and mental health! It’s my favourite subject! Diet-wise! I have sorted out my diet the whole time I have trained to October. I was eating around 2200 Calories. I was going to work, so I burn roughly 2250-2650 on an average day, plus 600-800 calories for training, so roughly I was burning about 3500-400 calories a day. Obviously, give or take but I know roughly if I was eating 2600 I would maintain my weight, but be lean and keep muscle as my protein was quite high.
Whereas some people, those calories would shrink them even more but for me it kind of works! It’s different for everyone! So fast forwards to now. I posted a picture a few weeks ago saying I’m around 90kg right now and fuelling myself or performance, I said to myself this year I want to fuel myself purely to perform better, get fitter, have height energy, and lift heavy! Move fast, lift heavy! That was what was in my head.
I understand the nutrition side of things because it worked for me for getting in shape, I am a very disciplined man, I will always get the workout done! However, I made friends with someone on Instagram called Luke Hall, who works for PH nutrition. The guy is a wizard! Simple things but some of the things he explained to me was insane. I never knew that subtle little tweaks would make such a huge difference.
I sent what I eat, and he changed a few things. Like I was eating too much protein, sugars are a bit higher which is a good thing for workouts with a high heart rate. Fats! Scary, through the roof! For the last few months to stay in the shape I have been in I was eating 30-40g of fats per day, Max! now, I am allowed to have 80g, which is still quite low. That’s still low for the intensity I am training at. I have been doing a lot more zone 2 training (heart rate below 140 for me) and the main energy source for that is fat. I use to struggle with that when my fats were low. Whereas now, in the recent weeks I love it! It’s getting better!
What does Phil Eat?
As far as actual food goes, I eat the same thing from Monday to Friday. The standard Porridge in the morning, with protein, blueberries and Biscoff. You don’t need to eat boring chicken and rice meals every day, you can have your Brownies, your Pastries and your ice creams! I eat all of that! I just make sure it is in the right portion sizes! You just have to be switched on and educated about these types of things!
So my pre-workout is a banana and a Rice Krispy bar before I train! That is the best workout! That’s my go-to right now! You are allowed to eat these foods! They are fuel! No such things as bad food! My lunch has been the same for about 1-2 years. I always have chicken and rice for lunch as it is convenient to make for work, however, I swap carbs. So might be egg noodles, Pasta or sweet potato. In the evening I would have either rice, noodles or sweet potatoes with chicken or turkey.
“I tend to eat what I want when I want. I am still strict compared to your average joe, but every day I will have a bit of chocolate or a little sweet or something.”
My go-to is Fage yoghurt (5% fat one) and I add different colours of fruit, very important! Luke told me to try to have 5 different colours in my bowl. Then on top of that either Jam or Spread or any sauce. Then cereal! My go-to cereal, which is the elite is Curiously Cinnamon! It has loads of sugar so I have to go careful. I am going to change to Musli for a while to see how my body reacts to less protein more carbs.
Going back to the transition, But I tend to eat what I want when I want. I am still strict compared to your average joe, but every day I will have a bit of chocolate or a little sweet or something. What you see on Instagram is the best version, In fairness, I do put everything I eat on Instagram but I’m not going to put 4 jelly babies on there or 4 squares of chocolate. Sometimes, don’t get me wrong, I won’t have any of that! Either I am busy or I just forget. Another trick for cravings is Tea. Cinnamon one with a bit of honey takes away the cravings.
Q: So you are doing a Charity Rower event? What’s the plan with that?
So the first event is a marathon row! On the 20th of May at “The Gym” in Longwell Green, Bristol. Doing that for my partner’s sister. She has got AS. Which is Arthritis in the spine. So she gets really bad days where she can’t walk at all, medium days where she can use a stick and then good days where to be fair she sound. However, there are more bad days than good days! I just said, how can I help you! I like that through sport and something I love I can raise awareness about this. I strongly believe that people look at me and think I have an easy life, but to be fair the last few weeks I have been struggling!
“I want to do the challenge to help me Mental and physically, to help someone close in my family and also help everyone to see the bigger picture. ”
I have been struggling mental a bit lately, been feeling a bit down and not 110%. Always happy to help but I do go through hard times as well. I never speak to people about it, but I should ask to speak to someone. Going back to the challenge, it’s not just a chance to raises awareness for AS but for everyone! going back to Fay again, if she has a good day you wouldn’t know! you would look at her and think she is fine!
You don’t know what people are going through or if they have a condition. I want to spread the message to be the same with everyone and ask if they are ok! It is important to be the same with everyone! I want to do the challenge to help me Mental and physically, to help someone close in my family and also help everyone to see the bigger picture.
So yeah, Marathon Row, May 20th. I am sure I will see you there. I am going to be there for a while! I am hoping to do it in under four hours. I have never done anything long distance. Never done over 10k on anything so this is going to be massively challenging for me.
Q: What else do you have planned Charity wise?
I have a bowl Cancer event in October. I am volunteering for them in Manchester! They are amazing! They work together to help people that have beaten cancer get back into the gym. I think it’s amazing because they have gone through all the treatment, lost their confidence and thinking they can’t get back into the gym. These guys help them!
We have also been raising money for the Ellen Marcarthy trust, which is aimed at younger people, between 8-22, and again helping them get their confidence back! They send them on sailing trips, outdoor activities and help them find work etc. We have already raised £1200. So doing some charity work along with side things that I love so it’s nice to be able to help people through fitness and help people I love.
Q: What does the event in October consist off?
I believe it is 4 workouts and they are only 9 minutes long. They are going to be mainly bodyweight exercises or Ski Erg and also be in teams. It’s going to be fun and very competitive. Again, functional tests and workouts! Looking forwards to them! I think there will be some more events creeping in after I do the rowing.
Q: Do you have any plans for the future? To compete or entering competitions?
So competing wise, I am sticking with my coaches. Helping with my Olympic lifts at the moment and as soon as I get that down we can load the weight and see where we are at. Running, I recently got my personal best on 5k with the help of a coach. This is the first time I have run consistently.
Then I am going to work with my Nutrition coach to help maintain my weight then I am going to go fully 1-2-1 with him for the open. I want to do the open next year, take it seriously and just see where I am at. I just want to do it for myself, compete against myself and do it to say I have done it to the best of my ability. See where I am and it’s always fun to do it!
To anyone that is reading this, Don’t compete against others! Only compete against yourself! Any personal best or anything you do is your own and you should be proud of it regardless! You can’t get a personal best and be like “It’s not that good because so and so are 3 minutes faster than me”. You have done your best and you have beat your other best! As long as you are bettering yourself every day that is all that matters!
I want to thank Phil for having a chat and talking all about his Journey. If you aren’t following Phil’s page you should be. It is nice to see some honest and amazing content from someone who is into Fitness. Also good to watch someone in their CrossFit journey, Phil has some amazing meals, and really shows how flexible you can make dieting and still enjoy it. Also great to talk about Phil and his Charity work and all his plans he has made! You can find all his links below:
Phil M Fit Links:
If you enjoyed this interview with Insight Supplements, please feel free to check out our other interviews here. We are starting to build a catalogue of interviews with many more in the pipeline soon to be released! Is there anyone who you would like us to interview? Drop us a message on our Instagram or tag us in one of their posts! We want to build a collection of Interviews from everyone and anyone in the fitness and health Industry.
Written by Kieran Blacker
Kieran is the CEO and Founder of Sets & Reps. He decided to make an application that helped people get a gym workout when not at the gym. He designed, Coded and built the application himself.