By Matt Williams
PERSONAL trainer, nutritionist, Taekwondoin, and all-round nice guy. Gethin James, commonly known as ‘Coach Gethin’, quite literally has the ‘skills’ to pay the bills.
Having a personal trainer is ever more commonplace nowadays. However, having a personal trainer who is a 4th Degree Black Belt in martial arts is certainly a concept unfamiliar to most.
This is the case for Swansea based personal trainer, Coach Gethin, who manages to combine his love for Taekwondo, with his passion for changing his clients lives for the better.
However, James’ journey into martial arts was one he admits was a reluctant one.
“When I first started martial arts, I didn’t want to do it. I had no interest whatsoever. My dad took me because he thought it would build my confidence, as I was quite a shy kid.”
“The first session was quite intimidating. I’m standing in the middle of a room, surrounded by people in pyjamas, in the middle of a village hall, with no shoes on, screaming from the top of their lungs. It was completely bizarre.”
He continued, “but after the first session, I’d really caught the bug for it because it was an individual sport and as I wasn’t a very confident kid, I didn’t really enjoy rugby, football or basketball because they were team sports and required a lot of communication.”
“What I really love about martial arts is that it’s about me improving myself as an individual. It’s about the improvement of discipline, confidence, and physical capabilities as well.”
James believes confidence is the biggest element martial arts has helped him improve on. An element he claims is a skill.
“It has helped my confidence the most. Confidence is something which I believe is a skill and can be developed over time through practise.”
“With martial arts I learnt to push my comfort zone. It’s all about getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
James believes it is the psychological transformations you can get out of a client which makes his job as a personal trainer worthwhile.
“It sounds cliché, but it’s the psychological transformations you can get out of a client.”
“When you can coach someone to develop sustainable habits, to improve their self-compassion, and their relationship with food; then you can make those psychological changes in someone and make them a happier person.”
He continued, “It’s the most rewarding thing ever.”
James’ relentless drive to improve his clients’ lives for the better means he will not allow his methods to be limited to only able body clients.
The Swansea fitness guru is trained in disability inclusion by Disability Sport Wales and says the benefits taekwondo can offer should not be limited to able body clients only.
“Taekwondo has been instrumental in building my confidence and I don’t think that’s something that should be limited to anybody.”
“My gym has had clients with dyspraxia, autism, ADHD, and a wheelchair user. In taekwondo we use our hands as well, and learning self-defence is something that should be accessible to everybody, and everyone should have the right to get themselves fitter.”
James says his proudest achievement is helping a web of clients nationwide, during difficult times over the past year.
“From where I am right now in my home, there is someone in Scotland, someone in Newcastle, someone in Liverpool, and someone in Ireland, who are currently doing my training plans, who are currently feeling supported, and are currently feeling good about themselves.”
“Whereas if they hadn’t of started this coaching process with me, they’d be feeling a lot worse about themselves because they wouldn’t have learnt how to optimise their lives.”
He concluded, “fitness is not just about losing weight or building muscle, it’s about managing your stress, managing your sleep and as well as that, it’s about how you perceive yourself. So, the fact that I’ve been able to help people with that on a nationwide scale feels incredible to me.”
With James continuing his personal training practices, along with balancing his Head Coach duties at Carmarthen’s own ‘West Coast Taekwondo’ gym, the man they call ‘Coach Gethin’ certainly has the skills to pay the bills.