Blogging for Fitness: Interview with Julia Buckley

Julia Fitness Blog Picture
Photo courtesy of Ciaran Hanway
Entering the term ‘fitness blogs’ on Google returns around 559 million results. Fitness- and health-related topics are some of the most searched and blogged-about subjects on the internet today. From the newest diet pill to marathons, there is an endless stream of information and resources on health-related items.

Though I have tried diet pills, products that promise a six-pack, fasting, juicing, and many other dieting options, the only real results that I have been able to achieve and keep have been from training and exercise. Marketers and drug companies have done a fantastic job convincing people that a supplement or drug can get you in shape, but exercise and physical training is time tested and a fixture in any routine that leads to a healthy and fit lifestyle. When looking for fitness information, I now look for natural and exercise based fitness programs and trainers instead of the newest and latest diet craze.

Julia Buckley is a fitness trainer, author, journalist, and blogger, based out of the United Kingdom. Julia blogs about her own fitness endeavors as well as tips, advice, and specific training programs for her readers. I interviewed Julia about her history with fitness, what she is currently working on and more.

Michael Luchies: How did you first come to be passionate about fitness?

Julia Buckley: Although I was an active child, at school I hated Physical Education class. When I was 16 I tried a Jane Fonda exercise video (very trendy at the time!) and loved it! I bought various other videos after that and later joined a gym. I never thought of it as a career, but as the years passed, the more I learned about the amazing difference it can make to so many areas of people’s lives, the more passionate about fitness I became. My background is in journalism and I began researching and writing more and more about fitness as my passion for the subject grew. Editors started to consider me a specialist in the subject and I eventually decided to become a trainer and fully dedicate myself to helping people achieve their fitness goals.

ML: You currently provide updates on what you’re working on, fitness tips, and more at JuliasFitnessBlog.com. Why did you start a blog and how have you been able to build a following?

JB: I had hoped to create one of Britain’s favourite fitness blogs when I started my blog last year and I’m so pleased that it’s becoming a reality. I wanted to create a friendly place where even total beginners could come for down-to-earth fitness advice and where I could talk openly and publish quickly. I love the independence blogging gives me and I’m finding myself increasingly drawn towards spending more time on the blog where I am free and can use my own “voice” to candidly share my thoughts and opinions in a way that can be tricky when writing for magazines and websites.

I have quite a loyal band of followers from sharing my work on Twitter, probably because I dispense a lot of free advice, but I hope the main reason people spread the word about my posts is simply because they like them. I’m finding I get an increasing amount of traffic from Pinterest too.

ML: There are a lot of ‘fitness experts’ and people that claim to know the right way to get in shape and stay in shape. Why should people read your blog and follow your fitness plan?

JB: People are becoming increasingly skeptical about ‘fitness experts’ and I don’t blame them – there’s a lot of nonsense being spouted out there, especially online! I take a very down-to-earth approach and people seem to appreciate that. All the Before and After photos you’ll see on my blog are taken by real people in their own homes, with no special lighting, professional make up, or anything like that. I don’t oversell my fitness program or make outlandish claims about it. It’s tough and requires commitment. Although it could be modified to suit most people, it’s not for everyone. But for people who are up for the challenge it offers fantastic results. Most of the people who have completed my program are on Twitter and everyone can see me interacting with them regularly on there. I think that has been important, as people like seeing that I’m working with real people, helping and supporting them through challenges they can relate to, and the results they’ve achieved are very inspiring.

ML: You have an upcoming book titled “The Fat Burn Revolution.” How will this book separate itself from other weight loss and fitness books currently available?

JB: The reason I have the word ‘Revolution’ in the title is because the approach is different to the way most people train for fat loss. Although men have enjoyed the same brilliant results from following the program the book outlines and are very welcome to follow it too, the book is mainly aimed at women. A lot of women try to shed fat by doing endless hours of cardio workouts and, although it is possible to get leaner that way, it’s not the best way to exercise when fat loss is the primary goal. In my program the workouts are short, but very intense. It includes weights sessions, high intensity interval training, plyometrics (jump training) and core work. Women are often worried that they’ll get too bulky or simply won’t be able to do this type of training; I address these concerns and explain why this type of training is going to help shed fat and re-sculpt their bodies. I know from experience that my program frees women from being dependent on classes or diets and empowers them to take control of their own training and diets and therefore their bodies – that’s where the “revolution” happens.

ML: Sounds great. The ‘Revolution’ that you feel is needed has to be because people are not properly addressing their health and fitness, what is the most common mistake that people make when wanting to get in shape?

JB: Too much steady cardio, as described above. You have to push outside of your comfort zone if you want to change your body. Working out at a comfortable pace feels comfortable because your body finds it easy – and if your body finds it easy it doesn’t need to change anything to be able to do it. Challenge your body with intense workouts, supported with good nutrition and it will respond and adapt. That’s when you start getting results.

ML: You have developed an online 12 week fitness program. Tell us a little bit about the program and why it works.

JB: I originally started it as a pilot test so I could test and refine the program I outline in The Fat Burn Revolution. The results the participants in the pilot program got were even better than even I expected and I was overwhelmed with emails from people wanting the same kind of online training from me. The online program offers a different experience than reading the book because participants have regular contact with me, which means I can give them personalized advice and alter the exercise somewhat to suit their needs. There’s a (private) Facebook group where my clients interact and support one another – with people who are repeating the program offering advice to new folks. They also keep progress journals which I check regularly, so there’s that sense of “accountability” to keep them on track too. However, Fat Burn Revolution readers will be able to follow the same fitness program by reading the book, and obviously, it will be more accessible option for those not able to invest in personal coaching.

ML: I applaud you for focusing more on overall fitness than tracking weight loss. Why are we so obsessed with a specific amount of weight we want to lose instead of getting in great shape?

JB: Body weight is irrelevant to most people’s goals. This is a subject I discuss with clients almost every day. When people come to me, what they usually really want is to lose fat, change their shape and get fitter, but most of them using weight as a way to gauge the condition of their bodies. Muscle is heavier than fat. Or, to put it another way, pound for pound muscle is smaller than fat. So, it is very possible to get leaner, slimmer, firmer and fitter without losing any weight, or even whilst gaining weight. Unfortunately, after a lifetime of “weight watching” it’s hard for people to get their heads around it, but it just requires a bit of re-education. We get there!

ML: As a blogger and fitness expert, you must face some criticism and opposition. How do you handle criticism and people who may not believe in your programs or advice?

JB: So far I haven’t actually received a great deal of criticism. Or maybe I just feel like that because if someone has a different opinion to mine, I don’t take it as a personal criticism, so perhaps it’s more that I don’t perceive differing ideas as opposition.

I don’t pretend to know everything or have all the answers. Through my work as a fitness writer I am fortunate to have regular contact with many of the world’s top sports scientists, nutritionists and brands. This enables me to take an objective overview of what’s going on in the fitness industry. I simply focus on what will work for real people with jobs, families and “real lives”, who aren’t celebrities or athletes, and I pass on advice based on that. If someone wants to do something differently to what I recommend I don’t have a problem with that at all. Different principles work best for different people and if someone has found something that works for them and gives them the results they want I wouldn’t tell them to change.

If someone said they didn’t believe in my program it wouldn’t bother me. I’ve seen the difference it has made to too many people for something like that to upset me. I don’t want to sound boastful, but my program has transformed many people’s bodies and lives and I’m very proud of that. Every single person who has completed it enjoyed fantastic reductions in excess body fat, huge increases in fitness levels, and embedded healthy habits to keep them on track in the long term. It’s so rewarding, I’ve been in tears many times reading their “thank you” messages.

ML: How can more people find out about you and your work?

JB: I post my latest news and advice on my fitness blog and am always hanging out on twitter: @Julia_B. Or there’s more background on info on me and my work at http://www.juliabuckley.co.uk

My book, The Fat Burn Revolution will be available from January 2014.

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