Celebrity trainer says you should swerve the treadmill as gyms reopen

Cardio ISN’T the answer! Celebrity trainer reveals why you should ditch the treadmill for weights to shape up post-lockdown when gyms reopen (and you can still enjoy a glass of wine)

  • Celebrity personal trainer warns people to take it slowly when gyms reopen 
  • Ex-Olympian Sarah Lindsay says weight lifting is key to losing lockdown pounds
  • And she says people can use the extra weight to their advantage when lifting  

A fitness trainer to the stars has shared her secrets to shaping up fast and shedding those lockdown pounds. 

With gyms across the UK set to reopen on April 12, Sarah Lindsay says the key to losing weight and toning in time for summer is to ‘swerve the treadmill’ and never spend more than an hour exercising. 

And don’t worry if you have put on a few pounds, because you can use it to your advantage, according to Sarah. The 40-year-old former Olympian told FEMAIL: ‘Don’t pound on the treadmill desperately to try and lose weight or spend hours on the bike – it’s a sad state of affairs.

‘So many people have gained a bit of weight in lockdown and think they’ll run first, and then “get toned” in the gym. But the fundamentals are weight training, regardless of your goal. This will challenge what people think, but swerve the treadmill. Running just makes everything worse.’ 

She added that even seasoned gym bunnies risk injury if they attempt to pick up where they left off last year. Here she shares her plan for what to do when you get back in the gym and how to avoid hurting yourself.  

It’s all about balance: The 40-year-old ex-Olympian only works out three times a week – and enjoys a large glass of wine at the end of it

The trainer says the key to losing weight and shaping up in time for summer is to ‘swerve the treadmill’ and do weights instead

Lindsay is the trainer the rich and famous turn to when they want to shape up. Pictured in her garden


Sarah claims the key to getting back into the gym safely is conditioning and setting yourself a programme. 

She said: ‘If you’re a complete beginner and have never weight trained before, it’s good to have a programme. 

‘Don’t try and wing it and make it up – that’s impossible for anyone. Always have a plan.

‘If you’re unsure what you’re doing, or have no confidence, practice the moves at home first so that you’re not shy and embarrassed and you don’t have that temptation to just sit on the bike when you get in the gym.’

‘Squat, push, pull and lift’: The movements that burn fat quickly

Sarah’s training plan for the average person looking to make progress in the gym:

  • Compound lifts; squats, lifts, rowing movements, overhead presses, deadlifts, chest press, rowing movements
  • Aim for 2-3 sets of about 15 reps
  • Train three times a week, for 45 mins to an hour
  • Do this for about 2 weeks or 6-8 sessions
  • Then begin lifting heavier weights, with lower reps  


Sarah warned even those who are used to weight training in the past still need to go back to basics.  

‘Even for the fittest, strongest people, the danger is they go back in the gym, and can lift the same weight they could a year ago – but actually they’ll just pull a muscle.

‘You might be just as strong and be able to pick up the same weight that you could a year ago, but your body simply won’t be conditioned for it.

‘Conditioning is muscle fitness – your muscle’s ability to recover. You have to lay the foundations with lifting. 

‘Those people who think they’re strong enough and able enough to do it – those are the people who’re going to get injured so you need to recondition, whether you like it or not.

‘This means higher reps, and taking the rest down. So if you usually do 8-10 reps, you need to do 15-20 for a few weeks.

‘It’s about being patient and not expecting too much from yourself.

‘It’s also really important to recover in between sessions so that you’re not fatigued for the next one. When you’re not training, your focus should be on recovering.’

Sarah says the key to getting back in the gym safely is conditioning and setting yourself a programme


Sarah, who trains a host of celebrities at her Roar Fitness gyms, also warns against running.  

‘So many people have gained a bit of weight in lockdown and think they’ll run first, and then “get toned” in the gym.

‘But if you go out running and you’re carrying a little bit more weight, you’re putting more load on that impact.

‘If you’re heavier, that’ll make you stronger – so use it to your advantage.

‘You’re actually going to be able to lift a bit more weight, so can gain an advantage in the discipline before shedding the weight again.

Designer Henry Holland worked with Sarah and her team for this transformation, which took 11 weeks

Sarah tells her clients not to panic and ‘enjoy the process’ of losing weight, getting fitter and healthier – and still enjoying the odd drink 

‘Running just makes everything worse. If you do loads of running, some of that weight you lose will inevitably be muscle.

‘I think this is going to be changing the narrative for a lot of people. But fundamentally, you need to weight train regardless of what your goal is. I believe weight training should always be applied.

‘That is my number one message – everyone should weight train.’


Sarah says ‘big movements’ are key to shaping up, adding: ‘Do big compound lifts, focus on those big movements that you need for everyday life.

‘Then get more specific in a few weeks’ time – toning your arms or stomach, or whatever it is you want to target. If the rest of you isn’t strong, you’ll always be limited. 

‘Start with high reps. Then after a couple of weeks, bring the weight up and do lower reps. If your end goal is to lift 50kg – how do you work towards that? 

Sarah was an speed skater, representing Great Britain three times in the Olympics (pictured left, front and right, in Vancouver in 2010)

‘Start off lower – start off with the highest reps and a lighter weight. Then start to slowly bring reps down and bring the weight up.

Why women won’t get ‘bulky’

The trainer – who works with models including Daisy Lowe, and presenters Vogue Williams, Christine Lampard and singer Pixie Lott – says women shouldn’t be afraid of getting ‘bulky’.

‘Your body is made up of muscle and fat, and the muscle is the thing that you use to shape your body. 

‘If you look at our before and after transformations, these people aren’t doing any cardio, they’re weight training hard and looking at nutrition. You don’t look at them and think, “they look too big”.

‘A lot of people say “I don’t want to get too muscly though”. There’s fat chance of that – you’d have to have the genetic make up to grow too much muscle, you’d have to do it very deliberately, really eat, really train hard, it takes time. It wouldn’t happen overnight.’ 

‘While you’re doing this conditioning every time you go in the gym you need to try and lift a little bit more. You should be almost failing at the end.

‘Pick the exercise that you’re best at, a squat for example – the ones you can do well and you’re strongest at, those are the ones you can progress further down the line.’


‘Stick to your plan and go to the gym three times a week, for 45 mins to one hour, max. That’s absolutely plenty,’ Sarah advises.

‘Three times a week is enough – you might be able to cope with more, but the intensity of your workout goes down. Think about how much stronger would you be if you took a rest day.

‘It’s not about more and more – that just makes you more tired.’ 


As for cardio, the 40-year-old says we should do what we enjoy outside of the gym. 

She said: ‘I don’t like to demonise any exercise – if you find something you like, you should continue to do it. 

‘Use cardio as your reward, your recovery. We’re coming into a nice time of year, we can go out and enjoy the vitamin D, meet friends, listen to music – do it because you enjoy it, ultimately. 

‘Save the gym for the lifting. We don’t have cardio equipment in our Roar gyms, you shouldn’t pay a trainer to watch you on the treadmill.’


For those worried they’ve put on weight during the pandemic, Sarah said: ‘The first thing is, don’t panic – there’s always a knee jerk reaction that day you step on the scales, you never have a good response. 

‘We need to celebrate the fact that gyms are open. You do have to be patient. Ultimately food has to start with health, always.

‘When people want to get thin they don’t necessarily think about that, so they might under eat and lose weight, but it doesn’t stay off. 

Her day on a plate: Sarah typically eats whole foods, Bulletproof coffee and plenty of protein

‘You have to look at the quality of your food so that your body is made up of healthy tissue so that you can train and recover. 

‘As far as longevity goes, you then won’t fall off the wagon. Eat to perform, eat to recover. Then think about your aesthetic or weight loss goal. 

‘You do also have to think, “How much do I want this?” I don’t want to demonise food, but you have to consider what you’re having, so if you’re really on this mission to lose weight and you want to eat cake, think about how that will impact, do I really want it?

‘It’s easy to say, but take emotion out of eating and think of things logically so you don’t have those miserable moments – it’s not a treat if it makes you feel bad.’   

Celebrity friends: Her clientele includes footballing legend John Terry and presenter Vogue Williams, right

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