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Metabolic Birmingham ~ my experience plus Q&A with Jack Braniff

Updated: Jun 11


As you may know, I lost 12kg in recent years; the accumulation of weight gained during Covid lockdowns and following the birth of my fifth child. I have sustained the weight loss, because it was achieved without hyperfocus on a weight loss goal and without obsessing about it. What I did instead was to focus on health and fitness goals, use measurements such as internal body fat, and incorporate additional healthy habits, over a period of time.


This approach worked well for me, and, in fact, led to the career path I am on now.

 

So, having sustained the weight loss, and become a personal trainer, you might rightly question why I chose to join a 6-week programme (sure enough, you might assume, my health and fitness would be good enough already). In actual fact, I was aware that I could make further health improvements. My reluctance to make the further lifestyle adjustments necessary to facilitate change had been based on the assumption that I would need to trade off some enjoyable elements of my lifestyle and diet. My journey was never about the way I look, but really about how I feel.

 

However, as my life has become considerably busier in the past few months (with several new work contracts and clients to support), I was finding time for self-care a bit of a juggle.

 

I had often wondered what it would feel like to have my own personal trainer/s, along with the support and accountability that comes with professional guidance. I began to wonder more and more about this. Perhaps I even manifested it because all of a sudden (as happens in life!) I was offered the opportunity to work with a personal trainer on a new programme. I have also been imagining lately what it would be like to have a housekeeper who loves ironing, washing dishes and gardening so I am hoping to manifest that wish in coming weeks too, if anyone wants to help.


 

Having seen Metabolic Birmingham’s Instagram and been really impressed with the quality of the content,  I contacted Jack Braniff, the owner, and arranged to meet to find out more about the Metabolic Accelerator programme, and to explore ways we might be able to work together.

 

Metabolic Birmingham is a warehouse space at Hastingwood Business Park, B24 9QR, with a gym on the ground floor, and an assessment centre on the first floor. On first meeting with Jack, he was welcoming, very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the Metabolic Accelerator programme.

 

As you may be aware, I often speak about metabolic health  (you can see this blog post here) Body positivity? What about metabolic positivity? – Tonia Trainer (wordpress.com) and, of course, I work as a locality health coach to support people to improve theirs, so I was delighted when Jack offered me the opportunity to join the Metabolic Accelerator, pro bono. The Metabolic Accelerator is a 6-week programme tailored to individual requirements, with a focus on improving metabolic health

 

Joining the programme was a wonderful chance to see whether I could further improve my health and thus reap the short and long-term benefits that come with making such changes. It also gave me the chance to explore what the programme has to offer, and to gain a unique insider’s perspective.

 

The programme requires an initial consultation, whereby several metrics are taken, and thus your individual targets can be calculated accurately based on your resting metabolic rate, where you are now, and where you would like to be.

 

 

Initial Assessment & Check-ins

 

Firstly, I had a chat with Jack about my lifestyle and current habits, strengths, areas for improvement and goals. It was a refreshing change to focus on my own goals, and to explore how these might be achieved.

 

The assessment involves weight, and a bioelectrical scan of the body to identify areas for improvement. There is also approximately a 15-minute section of breathing into separate equipment to assess the metabolic rate.

 

(Images courtesy of Metabolic Birmingham)


The kids behaved whilst I was doing the assessment and Jack was great at entertaining them. They were quite curious about what was going on. 


 

At the end of the appointment, we had another chat and I was handed a print out which explains various elements of body composition analysis and metabolic rate. 

The next steps were to agree a calorie target, and to begin logging my meals into the app

 

The Metabolic Accelerator provides participants with a check-in at 4-weeks, in order to establish progress and to have the opportunity to discuss in detail what it is working, what may need changing, and how to move forwards. There is also a check-in at 6-weeks to assess progress over the course of the programme. Both of these appointments were really helpful. It was great that we discussed an endpoint, which really helps to focus the mind.

 

 

The protein target of 122g per day was higher than I would have set for myself, so that was really interesting. The calorie target was around where I expected it to be (although at 1800 a day, lower than my preference).  I was really surprised to learn that I had a resting metabolic rate of 2400 calories at the time of testing, meaning that if I continued to consume 2400 calories a day, nothing would change – although it's important to understand that resting metabolic rate can change during the monthly menstrual cycle, and can also be affected by breastfeeding.

 

I was concerned about feeling hungry, and thus triggering the notion of being ‘on a diet’, which has not been helpful to me in the past. However, I decided to trust the process and give it a try.

 

At first, it felt strange to enter my own meals into the app (I prefer to count macros usually, not calories), but I did continue as it was helpful to have the accountability, and I knew it would not be necessary for a long time. Also, I think what made a big difference to me in terms of having a calorie target is that I knew it had been individualised to my own body, scientifically measured, and that the protein target was calculated similarly. Having a tailored plan, based on such accurate information felt preferable to shooting into the wind with calorie targets.  

 

I was surprised to find that the higher protein intake meant that I felt fuller for longer and more satisfied after each meal, meaning I would not consume second helpings (I love food!). This was a real game-changer for me because I resist diets due to disliking the feeling of missing out and being hungry.

 

It was also helpful to be part of the community online. I did get to a couple of in-person weekend sessions, and it was great to be challenged in the workouts. I think in an ideal world, attending in person really is often best option, and the classes at Metabolic Birmingham are scheduled every day, but for me as a personal trainer and busy mum, the online training turned out to be the most viable option, because it enabled me to work out around my own clients and work commitments and around my children (some of them joined in with the workouts).

 

Of course, my weekly exercise routine needs to be flexible. Life is certainly not linear and never predictable, especially with five children’s needs to take care of. Having the online workouts set for me gave that extra level of accountability. It was really helpful having someone on hand to answer any questions, and to act as a mentor. I am relatively new to the personal training world, and I am always open to learning new ideas, so it’s lovely to feel supported and welcomed by more experienced trainers. Every day is a school day, as the saying goes!

 

Some of my results were as follows:

Body fat decrease of 2.9%

Weight decrease of 3.2kg

Better quality of sleep at night

Reduced (not eliminated) feelings of anxiety

Visceral fat decrease equating to 1 point on the scale.

Decrease of hip to waist ratio

 

So, perhaps the million-dollar question is …will I keep going with the changes I have made? As you may know, I am passionate about sustainable health. I would like to say at this point that whilst the programme is 6 weeks in length, it is not meant to be a quick fix, it is designed to facilitate habit changes – and there is the option to extend the programme. It would be interesting to come back again in 6 months and see where I am in comparison to now.

 

Truthfully, I will take forward several new things that I feel certain that I will be able to maintain.

 

1)    Increased protein intake,

2)    Keep going with the consistency of home workouts

3)    Having the flexibility to make my workouts shorter to ensure I can complete them.

4)    I have also been thinking more about sugars, and where I can change and adapt the weekly shop, and indeed recipes (especially baking) to create lower carbohydrate options. Just to be clear, this is not a no-carb programme, it’s just that for me personally, I found my body responded well to lowering (not removing) carbs.

 

The great thing about the Metabolic Birmingham’s Metabolic Accelerator is that it allows you to explore what works for you. It really does do what it says on the tin, and I can only thank the team for the time and effort that has gone into this programme.  The passion, dedication and commitment has been palpable – but more than that, it has produced results.




 

 

 (Images courtesy of Metabolic Birmingham).


Q&A with Jack Braniff


What inspired you to set up Metabolic Birmingham?


Having a background in education (I have a  Master’s in Sports and Exercise Nutrition) has been a huge factor, because I am passionate about people receiving accurate information and realistic, sustainable actions. In the fitness industry, I am going to honest now, I think there's a lot of charlatans out there making promises to people which turn out to be quick fixes or unsustainable. My aim is to use scientific methods and evidence to create individualised, tailored plans that can be maintained. My motivation is to understand people a little bit better, and in turn, to help people to understand themselves and how they work. I do this by incorporating elements such as the metabolic testing. I am passionate about providing a genuinely individual tailored plan to a client. In my view, the issue is that lots of programmes will say that they are tailored, but in reality, they are not (or at least not in the same way, and to the same level of detail)...

 

The idea with the Metabolic Accelerator (and indeed all programmes that are offered at Metabolic Birmingham) is that we support you to understand yourself much better. Understanding people is not just about the physiological markers. We really work to understand you as a person. I've done a lot of online coaching in the past but I really aim to encourage people to attend sessions in person. That way, we have the opportunity to listen to you so that we can actually understand your struggles, your barriers. Where do you need to help and off the back of that, what are you currently doing and how might you be best supported to make the changes that you would like to make? With all of this information, we put together a plan which is truly tailored to you and your individual needs.

 

Who is the programme for?


The programme is open to anyone! We have a particular focus on working with individuals over 30 and particularly women, because that we do see changes in ladies physiology as they approach perimenopause and menopause. One of the big things that changes is the resting metabolic rate (metabolism). Often, we see an increasing visceral fat, combined with a decreasing muscle mass, and that tends to lead to a drop in resting metabolic rate. What we are able to do is create a tailored plan, taking into consideration body composition, combined with other metrics, and lifestyle factors.

 

 

What services do you offer?


So, we do a range. I guess the key things we do is firstly, the metabolic rate testing to measure out people's metabolic rate or their metabolism. We also do VO2 Max testing, which is more for our athletes but again, anyone who's particularly interested in longevity or running, we do that as well. We do the body composition testing and then I guess the other arm to that is more the coaching and this can be in person. So, we do the small group personal training where again that's quite an intimate environment where it shouldn't be intimidating, it's very welcoming. We also do the online coaching as well and that's nutrition as well as exercise. So, I guess the idea with this is to provide some sort of service for the individual, whether they can come in just for testing, whether they live locally and they can do the whole package. Again, we can build something for you.


 

What does your typical week look like at Metabolic Birmingham?


Very varied; a combination of client testing and check-ins (that's a significant element - making sure everyone's okay). I have my weekly meetup with another coach of mine, Sandra. We also facilitate small group personal training, which happily fills most of my mornings, evenings (and weekends). It’s quite diverse, there is no typical week. We have a regular offering of group sessions, ongoing online support, assessments and much more. We are flexible to accommodate the needs of clients as well.

 

What is the cost of the programme?

 

£249 for the 6-week Metabolic Accelerator.

£199 for the online workout sessions only.

 

What are your plans for the future?


My vision is to continue to develop a community. I really don't like how social media and online training is encouraging fitness and nutrition away from the in-person interactions, which I believe to be so important. I want to build a local community, right here in Birmingham. Of course, I appreciate that online options make training accessible to people who might not be able to attend in person. At Metabolic Birmingham, we welcome inclusivity, and bringing people together, providing opportunities to improve health and fitness. So, ultimately, my vision is to welcome any opportunity to bring together people whose goal is to live fitter, healthier lives, and to have a better understanding of nutrition, and their own bodies. 

 

What would you say to anyone thinking about working with you at Metabolic Birmingham? 

 

Come in and meet us first and foremost. Our motivation is to empower people - especially women – to understand yourself, and to work out what parts of your life you can change. What we do is to create something that is individual to you, taking into account your life challenges, and building a sustainable plan that is achievable, and most importantly, enjoyable.

If you have perhaps spent your lifetime trying different diets; things that may or may not work, or maybe have worked for a short time…come in and see us. We hear you. We see you, and we want to understand your struggles, and to support you; we want to talk to you, understand what your barriers and struggles are, and work together to overcome these, as a long-term solution.

 

How long can someone work with you for? Is there an option to extend the 6-week programme?

 

We have lots of different options. After the six weeks, you can opt to just to use the app for £30 per month. Additionally, we provide coaching or you can do the classes, or any combination of those. It very much depends on what your needs and preferences are. Typically, people work for me for around 3-4 months. At 12 -16 weeks, that's where you start really embedding those changes and you'll start seeing the habits that we spoke about really stick. Habit change is obviously where you're going to see the long-term results. 

 

 

What is something you would like people to know about creating sustainable habits?

 

Whilst numbers underpin the initial part of the program, we try to move away from counting and tracking to pave the way to create new habits. We focus on highlighting areas which will help with your goals. So that could be increasing, fibre, steps water, protein and then we just try and systematically add one on top of each other. So, you create this compound effect, whereby over time, when you start knocking off one habit, at a time until it becomes habitual. By taking this approach you create a routine so that things become second nature. It’s the long-term approach to creating and embedding habits systematically.


 



 

Hello, I'm Tonia. I would love to work with you to help you to reach your lifestyle, health, wellbeing and fitness goals.


I created the Live Yourself Better approach as a result of significant life challenges.

 

I'm a CIMSPA-certified personal trainer with a Level 3 Diploma in Gym Instructing and Personal Training (Practitioner).

  

I have undertaken additional CIMSPA-accredited CPD in exercise referral, training perimenopausal and menopausal women, pregnant and postnatal women and training older adults. I have a particular interest in working with people who face significant life challenges as a result of chronic disease, loneliness, isolation, and mental health issues.


I am also a certified mindfulness coach, and I being this into my practice, to create a holistic approach to lifestyle fitness and to help you reach your goals.


I am a CIMSPA member (C005483) have Enhanced DBS clearance for working with young people and I am insured by Insure4Sport (Policy Number I4S675188).


To work with me, either follow the steps below, or email me trainertonia@gmail.com and we can arrange a time to chat.


 

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