Meet the fitness whisperer
Imagine turning up for your weekly workout to be told by your personal trainer, "Oh, today I'm going to give you a massage instead".
That's often the case for clients of Australian fitness trainer Radley Spring, a professional athlete turned holistic coach who believes in tailoring his sessions to what he "senses" his client's bodies need. Is it any wonder his army of (particularly female) fans love him?
The word-of-mouth sensation just signed up Lara Bingle as a client, after she said she'd "tried everything" to achieve her dream silhouette.
This is no deterrent to Spring who claims that any woman can totally change her body shape by following his approach; a mixture of strength training, cardio and "self-care" such as early nights, long baths and meditation.
"I get clients who complain that they inherited their bulky legs from their mother and no matter how much weight they lose it's part of their DNA, but that's rarely the case," says the 35-year-old. "It's more likely to be nurture over nature. They might have [their] mum's eating patterns, limiting thought processes or self-doubts that are causing them to act in a way that recreates her body shape."
In fact, as part of his training program he sometimes suggests that clients see a therapist or meditation teacher. "It's important to unravel what part of your body is really you and what part is your mum, or whoever is holding you back," he adds.
Some of Spring's techniques do sound unconventional (he recommends women spend 10 minutes each night staring at the moon to synch their menstrual cycle to the lunar cycle) but under the new-age sheen is an athlete's authority.
Raised in New York on an organic farm the sportsman has competed for his country in marathon canoe racing, rowing and holds a world record for Dragon Boat racing.
Since moving to Sydney in 2007 he's also become the trainer even the fitness experts turn to and his clients include celebrity trainer James Duigan, the man behind the toned curves of Elle Macpherson and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.
"In every session I incorporate strength moves with all the 'primary patterns' to give clients a balanced and open body - squats, lunges, bending, pushing, pulling and twisting," says Spring. "Sometimes we do sprint intervals or use kettle bells too."
Though this workout structure in itself doesn't sound particularly unusual, it's the mind-body-soul triad that he claims makes all the difference.
With a particular interest in the nervous system and the relationship between emotions and the body, during every consultation he takes a full-length photo of clients to assess their posture. "Your cheek bone and collar bone should be in alignment but often in a woman who is particularly ambitious or driven her head will naturally jut forward," says Spring. "It may sound counterproductive but sometimes people need to do less and slow down for that eureka body transformation to happen. If you've had a stressful day at the office then a stressful training session might not be what you need."
Even his diet advice has a unique flavour - this is a trainer who recommends tea and buttery toast as part of his three-week detox regime. OK, the "toast" is a vegan, gluten-free savoury loaf made from sprouted and fermented grains, carrot, zucchinis and coconut oil.
Meanwhile the tea (which detoxers drink six cups of a day) is a herbal blend, containing ingredients such as turmeric, aniseed and dandelion root, that he developed with a naturopath.
"We call it 'gut gardening'," says Spring. "During the three week detox the teas 'weed, seed and feed' your colon, intestinal tract, liver and kidneys, removing the bad bugs, fungus and heavy metals before we use supplements and probiotics to bring them back to optimum health."
But what happens if a client just wants to work up a sweat, go hard and go home without any of the holistic extras? "I'll certainly still train them," says Spring, "But I know they'll eventually come around and soften to my other methods. I believe every client is drawn to me for a reason."
The promise of a back-rub, toast and a flat stomach might have something to do with it...
- Sydney Morning Herald