This month I sat down with Anthony McFarlane, personal trainer and founder of The Firm TO. In addition to working with private clients, Anthony puts on innovative fitness events across the city of Toronto.
Can you tell me a bit about your fitness journey?
I was always active as a kid. I played competitive sports and never had any health or weight issues until adulthood. Once I graduated from school, started working full time and “adulting” I started to gain weight. The defining moment for me was getting injured. I tore my ACL and meniscus playing soccer and then had to have surgery and go through the rehabilitation process. Through out all of that I was fairly inactive and, as a result, put on a bunch of weight. I went from 205 pounds to 250. Around that time a friend kept on inviting me to do hot yoga which, of course, I just brushed off. One day I was at home and caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror. I immediately tried to suck in my stomach…and nothing moved. It was then that I realized I had a problem. After that, I went to hot yoga and really got into it. Once the weather warmed up, I started jogging and going to a traditional gym. Eventually I found myself back to living an active lifestyle.
How long was your journey back to an active lifestyle?
That day in the mirror was in 2011 and by 2014 I was down to 180 pounds. It hasn’t been a straight road – along the way, I lost weight, plateaued, changed up my routine, and once again saw results.
In general, keeping weight off can sometimes be harder than losing it to begin with. What is your secret?
Not wanting to go back to my former self. I am unwilling to go back to feeling uncomfortable in my own skin. I have gotten to a place physically where I see how much better I feel and function compared to before when I was much heavier – I can’t go back.
Do you think it is easier to lose weight than maintain weight loss?
Yes. Losing weight is easy if you have a lot of weight to lose. As you trim down, there are those last 10-15 pounds that can be super hard to lose. At that point, it is time to introduce different types of exercises in order to shock your body. For me personally, hill sprints worked well as did a lot of high-intensity stuff to shred the fat.
What advice would you give someone who feels that they have a lot of weight to lose?
Be active. Find an activity – anything that you like doing – if you enjoy it and will do it consistently. I get asked all of the time to design exercise plans and give out general advice on the “best” exercises. My answer is always the same – the best type of exercise is the one that you will do consistently.
Is it true that it is harder to lose weight as you get older?
Yes. That does not mean it is impossible. Your metabolism does slow down as you age but you can do certain things to rev it up. Maintaining a proper diet can have a positive effect on your weight as you age as can high-intensity interval training.
What is the most common thing that you see your clients doing ‘wrong’ in terms of their fitness/health/weight loss goals when they first start working with you?
Balance. A lot of my new clients sabotage themselves with their diet. One of our biggest relationships in life is with food. If that relationship is unhealthy it can follow you around and sabotage your efforts throughout your life. Another thing that they do is underestimate the benefits of stretching and meditation. Stress management can play a big role in your overall health and happiness.
To learn more about Anthony, or find out when one of his events is coming to your town, look him up on social media @thefirmto or www.thefirmto.com
by Kim England