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Train In Blocks co-founder and coding guru Mikey Lau

Fitness expert interview: Mikey Lau

Created by Jamie Spoor


9 minute read

Hot on the heels of our successful interview with personal training expert Sean Wilson, today we spend a few minutes with Mikey Lau. Mikey is a personal trainer and strength coach based in Southampton with over five years experience in the health and fitness industry…

Table Of Contents

  1. Mikey's experience in the industry
  2. How exactly does Train In Blocks work?
  3. How has Covid affected the industry?
  4. How can you become a better Personal Trainer?
  5. The future?
  6. What have you learned from running Train In Blocks?

Mikey has been in the sports and fitness industry throughout his life and provided a fascinating insight into his own personal journey and the transition from coach to coder. The man himself takes up the story...

Mikey, tell us about your experience in the fitness industry?

"I started in a gym when I was younger as I wasn’t in the best shape myself and that inspired me to go into personal training because I saw first hand the effects of training and getting healthier had on your mental health and I think it just generally makes you a more well rounded person.

"Then I landed my first job in a “big box” gym helping the general population. I had amazing, very motivated and dedicated clients, a lot of them achieved great things like muscle mass or weight loss and they all showed incredible dedication to achieve great things. Then later on throughout the years I started working with the clinical population as well, so I had the chance of working in a referral clinic for people with stroke, Parkinson’s, Alzheimers, helping them with simple stuff we take for granted like walking, post-surgery recovery, building up strength again, which was very rewarding to see them progress and rebuild.

"I then went on to spend more time with athletes, helping out a friend who was competing at a high level, so I’d help him with sports massage, therapy, and recovery which was a qualification I was doing at the time."

Mikey went on to explain how, from his fledgling early days in a potentially lucrative business, his vision for a fitness-based web application was born, Train In Blocks. The need for flexibility and adaptability is key with the needs to meet each client's requirements far more than simply one size fits all:

  • You could use Excel sheets but this can be difficult when you're trying to adapt and have to shift things around
  • It takes up too much time and time is of the essence in the industry
  • The basic vision for Train In Blocks is to make programming easier and to save you lots of time
  • The main ethos I wanted to implement in Train In Blocks is the ability for a trainer to program a workout however they want
  • Workflow is one of Train In Blocks' key values with the aim to make it easier and reduce time spent online

So how exactly does Train In Blocks work?

Mikey explains: "We organize things in a comprehensive and easy to manage way. Go to the home screen, you’ll see your clients, go into your clients and you’ll see all the different plans associated with that client. There’s a notes section as well so if there’s something specific, for example a consultation, you go into their profile and then make notes on the client information as you go through the consultation. That gets saved as well and you can see a high level overview of everything on the home screen so that’s quite nice.

There’s the option to give your clients access to the workout information so they can give you feedback or change it slightly if they want to.

Mikey Lau

"Inside the client profile you have the plans, they used to be called Blocks, hence the name Train In Blocks, but users got a bit confused so we call them plans now."

"When you’re closer to wherever you want to get to, you can switch in to the maximum strength training phase to reach a one rep max to increase your overall strength. Then you need to consider de-loads and things like that. All of this requires complex planning so our idea is we want to compartmentalize everything into a single plan, which would essentially encapsulate everything associated with that phase of the process."

How would you say Covid affected the industry?

As with every global industry, the fitness world was hit hard by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns. With restrictions implemented across the country and the world, gyms closed and fitness classes went online as personal trainers adapted to the "new normal".

"Covid affected every industry, especially the fitness one. I felt it a lot myself personally. I was still personal training throughout the pandemic, but moved online like everyone else. I was running classes as well and ended up doing a lot of online coaching like most trainers and most other people."

I think there has been quite a positive shift in fitness, I think people saw how important it was to stay fit especially when you couldn’t go to the gym or even just go out.

Mikey Lau

"Luckily, in the UK, the government managed to put some protocols in place and reopen the gyms fairly early on. Even so, you could see how initially reluctant people were to go back to the gym and people still wanted to do their sessions online."

"Personal Trainers are still very relevant and were during Covid too, but the general shift towards online coaching was quite a big move for the industry."

How can you become a better Personal Trainer?

Staying open minded and adapting to the breakneck pace of the fast moving fitness industry are Mikey's two 'golden nuggets' as you work towards constant improvement as a Personal Trainer. Mikey elaborates below:

  • Staying open minded allows you to utilise the best methods for your clients; you have to move with the trends
  • It's an ever developing field and is never finished. Like any industry, it's important to stay up to date with recent discoveries
  • Adherence is very important; if you can't get your clients to do what you want them to, no one is getting anywhere
  • Make sure you work with them on something they enjoy otherwise they won't finish the program
  • Then you can make it interesting, varied and keep on your toes

How about the future, both for the industry and for Train In Blocks?

"In terms of the industry, it’s going really strong as always. New things are always coming out: different methodologies, new research. I read up on recent trends and saw that Lululemon acquired a smart mirror company and now there are Personal Trainers in digital mirrors! There are always new tools, equipment, gadgets and innovations coming out."

"In terms of the gyms, everything’s affordable now, gym memberships are reasonably priced, at least in the bigger cities. So I think fitness is going in a generally really good direction especially with more people partaking in it."

"In terms of Train In Blocks, in the future we want to implement many new methods so our users can optimize their workflow and reduce the time they spend programming. If they spend less time inside Train In Blocks, it means they program better and manage the client faster, that way they can be out the gym floor helping their clients more. So our ethos would be to save time, be ‘out there’, and train your clients."

What have you learned from running Train In Blocks?

"Train In Blocks is my first company, as I was a self employed sole trader when a personal trainer. Everything was quite new to me when I was starting the business, meeting Joe and then designing and programming with Joe, so that was a lot of learning initially."

"The learning curve was quite steep as well as it was only just the two of us boot-strapping this financially. We had support from Solent University and they granted us some money which was great; we did a Dragon’s Den style pitch which was quite fun!"

It's been wonderful to see how our users have benefited from Train In Blocks. We’ve had some reviews and comments about how simple it is to use, and how affordable it is compared to our competitors.

Mikey Lau

"Our ethos is affordable, accessible and functional. We have made the user interface as simple as we can, aimed at reducing a lot of clutter so you know where you want to go from there. What you see is what you get."

"You have to to market yourself as a Personal Trainer to sell to people why they should pick you. You have to be the whole package but that’s why it’s such a good learning experience. Even if you’re not a Personal Trainer for the rest of your life, the skills you get from it are invaluable."

I would like to thank Mikey for taking the time to talk to me and for all his hard work and efforts in running Train In Blocks.

If anyone needs ANY advice related to strength and fitness, you can contact Mikey, but don't delay, Mikey is in very high demand and only has spaces for a limited number of people.

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