Thisweek’s Londoner is Darren Barber, macho man and East London dweller, Dazza runs Barbers Gym in Stokey and can have you looking honed and toned in no time…
DARREN! How long have you lived in London, where and why?
I’ve lived in London for over 12 years now, 3 in Twickenham whilst at University and 9 years in Stoke Newington/Dalston. I moved here because of the price back then (it wasn’t always trendy) and proximity to central London, it worked for me and my girlfriend having just got back from 2 years away snowboarding. We liked the vibe of the place and the local feel, and stayed because it quite rapidly became home, it’s a great place to hang out, socialise, walk the dog and now walk to work.
So Darren, you’re looking pretty buff and we know you’re a gym bunny – tell us more about it…
I own and train from Barber’s Gym, a strength and conditioning facility at Hackney Downs Studios. I work as a personal trainer coaching individuals to improve their performance as athletes and day to day people. In short I grew up in a physical environment as my parents were in the army so it just made sense to continue what is most natural, being healthy, fit and enjoying life’s adventures. So after my education and snowboarding for a few seasons in Europe and America, I returned to London to work as a sports therapist and personal trainer. I worked the usual large commercial and cooperate gyms, before setting up on my own to do what I’ve found works in my way. Getting rid of all the bureaucracy pinning me down allowed me to create my own style of training and gym where I could get the results my clients wanted in an environment they felt most comfortable in.
You have a studio in Dalston, what made you choose that location?
Having lived in Dalston for a while, and trained clients locally I knew there was a market for fitness coaching here. I was looking for the right space close to a park which is great for training outdoors when the weather permits. I got lucky with the right time, right place and started putting it all together. The look is shabby and back to basics with a great feature wall and old metal shutters which is quite unique. It really fits the back to basics style of training I use and makes people think less about being in a sterile gym environment and more somewhere to get physical work done. There are also a lot of independent businesses in Dalston and people in the area like that I think.
We could do with some help and we reckon some of our readers probably could too, what are your top tips for getting in shape?
Now that would be giving it all away, a million dollar answer don’t you think. I’ll be honest and it’s simple really, anyone’s grandparent can tell them. Firstly get your diet right, you are what you eat after all. Cut out all that processed crap and junk foods we’re bombarded with day in day out and don’t overeat. Now for getting fit there are a ton of directions you can take but I’d say stick to the basics and be consistent with your training. A combination of conditioning and strength work gives maximum results, so long as you challenge yourself. Swim, cycle and run regularly. For strength training I find body weight movements great for beginners and equally advanced athletes, as well as weighted compound exercises to balance out your programme. We should all be able to squat, lunge, press and pull ourselves around, we need to be able to pick stuff up and move objects to survive and play. You have to push yourself to make change so be honest with how hard you are working and equally rest when you need it. Stay hydrated and get supple and mobile, people are generally too stiff and restricted with our modern sedentary lifestyles.
No junk food??! So which restaurants would you recommend for those looking for healthy food then? Any tips on what to pick when dining?
Dalston has an amazing choice of eateries and I often head to Mouse & de Lotz cafe for lunch, amazing Chicken Salad. Floyds have a great menu along with many turkish restaurants along the high street, Tava is a favorite. My advice would be to go for meals with basic natural ingredients done well, seasonal veg and salads with a good quality piece of protein (meat, fish or egg) don’t be scared of a little fat, just avoid processed foods, don’t stuff yourself and keep the alcohol under control.
Alcohol under control, got it. And finally what would be your perfect day in London?
Waking up early to a blue sky and beaming sun. Taking our dog Reggie for a long walk on Hampstead Heath. Having a late breakfast with friends before heading out on bike for a skate in one of Hackney’s concrete bowls (and not breaking myself). Hanging out with my girl and Reggie at one of East London’s street markets followed by a steak dinner. To top this chiiled day out off head over to Ruby’s cocktail bar for one or two of their amazing Chilly Apple Martini’s, we all have our vices.
We certainly do! If you fancy getting your lazy ass in shape then hit up Barber’s Gym and let Darren put you through your paces. www.barbersgym.com. Just remember a no bread diet don’t mean you can overload on chicken nuggets…