Ed Crocker meets new coach Mason Tustin
Once again, Mason Tustin is having a good start to October. Last year, he was starting a new job as a personal trainer at Manchester’s Virgin Active. This year, he’s starting his new role in Joshua Paul Fitness – as the first new coach since Evo Camp began. And he still can’t really believe it: “It’s my dream job, and it’s just been offered to me! When (Joshua Paul Fitness head) Josh explained how it works to me, all the different classes and the philosophies they’re based on, it was like he was reading my mind on how to train people – I was like, how did this guy know!” As we sip our coffee on West Didsbury’s Burton Road, mere metres away from the new Joshua Paul Fitness studio Mason is getting to grips with, I ask him if he’s nervous about his new role. His answer is slightly unexpected: “Nervous and excited are exactly the same thing. Clammy hands, etc. Whenever you’re nervous, just remember that your body’s actually excited instead!” Interesting – I think maybe Mason missed a trick at not being a lion-tamer. “To be honest,” he continues, “although I’m confident about my training, I’m a little nervous about meeting all the new members – but I think everyone will be welcoming. I’ve already done my first class last night, and everyone who was there was really friendly.” 25 year old Mason was born in Los Angeles, but there’s no Californian accent – he was only there for a few weeks before his parents moved back to Bolton, where he’s lived all his life. He does have dual citizenship, though, so if President Trump ever bans foreign personal trainers he’ll be okay.
Masons first night coaching in his new surroundings
For Mason, there was never an epiphany moment when he realised he wanted to be a personal trainer. In school, he loved rugby and athletics, although the rugby side was maybe too painful: “I broke my nose and hand – I thought I’d better stop before my face gets broken!” His career began in college when he started attending the David Lloyd gym in Bolton, starting off in the kids club but soon moving on to fitness coaching – teaching classes, learning the ropes. He was particularly influenced by watching some of the coaches there, and seeing the progress they made with clients and how they helped them with their problems. “Seeing how much their lives were improved by the coaches’ training – that really made an impact on me.” From there, he moved to the Virgin Active in Bolton, where he finished his personal training qualifications. There, he began to get involved in a lot of things that will be familiar to him at Evo: busy boot camps and strength conditioning classes. Now a qualified PT, he spent a year in Australia, making what I assume were already typically fit Aussies into even fitter machines. His studio sounds quite good: “The cardio section had a glass wall looking out directly over the sea. It was so nice.” He learned a lot from the Aussie coaches (“Their clients over there don’t just see fitness as a hobby, more of a lifestyle or even a career!”) and came back to the UK ready for the next stage in his career. After a period at Lifestyle in Manchester’s Great Northern, next came Manchester Virgin Active, where he added a confident selling approach to his personal training portfolio: “I learnt that there’s nothing wrong with selling something to a client if you know it’s going to really help them achieve their goals quickly.” And then came Josh. Through a friend from an earlier gym placement, he heard that the man behind Joshua Paul Fitness was opening a new studio soon and was recruiting coaches. Having not come across Evo Camp yet, he wasn’t sure what he was going to hear at first, but as soon as he met Josh for a coffee he knew it was for him. “It sounded 100% exactly what I wanted to do. The studio side of it, the community feel, the mix of small and large group classes and one-to-one training – everything was right.” He was particularly impressed by Josh’s vision going forward. “He said he didn’t want a turnover of loads of coaches, he wanted to keep the feel of a close-knit community. Working at previous places, I saw how cold it could be when you have a dozen trainers and different clients all the time, you can’t be as personable or make lasting connections. I love being able to go into a class and say hi to someone, rather than thinking “I’ve never seen any of these people before.”” So that’s how Mason got here – but what can Joshua Paul Fitness members expect from the new kid on the block? “Well, my training philosophy – conditioning, strength training, small groups and one and one – is what Evo is all about, so hopefully I’ll fit in well.” Anything new to bring to the members? “Well me and Josh have a similar training background, but all coaches have different ways of doing things and that will come out as we do the classes and people get to see my style and how I motivate them. No two coaches train the same! Put it this way – the starting and end goals are the same, but the path you take there might be different.” That was a good answer, but I decide to put him on the spot anyway: what three words sum up his approach to fitness coaching?
“Thanks for that! Well, first I’d have to say strength, (there’s never a downside to being stronger!) Next I’d go for wellbeing. I think me, Josh and (senior coach) Jake all have a similar philosophy: It’s about trying to make you healthier and stronger so you can enjoy everything, day to day, pain free, over a longer term. If you have an aim of a six-pack in twelve weeks, then we will definitely get you there, but we’ll do it in a sensible way, so that at the end of the twelve weeks we can maintain that in the long term. Nutrition also comes into that. My brother calls me a food nazi, but I’ll never tell people they can’t have a small amount of something they like in moderation, but I will definitely help them put nutrition at the heart of their fitness programme.” Mason doesn’t give me a third word, but his second one was pretty good, so I let him off (although if you see him in a class, feel free to put him on the spot and ask him what it is). What about Mason’s own training? What does he do himself? “To be honest, my training is very much focused on the strength side, with a lot of body building in there and – I know this sounds shameless – but it’s very much focused on the looks side of it, the aesthetic side!” To be fair to Mason, if this is shameless, then there’s a lot of people reading this, interviewer included, who are shameless… Does he do much cardio? “Not as much as my strength training, but I do a lot of sprinting, short bursts and that. I’m not really into the long distance side of it – although I did a 10k before, to prove a point to my stepdad! I’d never say just running is bad, but if people want to do to improve fitness, then it’s good to do a mix of things, including short interval training.” Finally, I ask Mason what he does outside of training, and get a classic personal trainer answer: “Well, I train my girlfriend a lot in the evenings.” Um… still training, I’m afraid! “Fair enough! Well, I really like cooking.” Now we’re talking – everyone always wants to know what a PT eats. What’s his special dish to cook? “Probably beef chilli.” What about breakfast? “The other morning I had a pulled pork and cheese omelette. Then on Sunday morning I cooked pulled pork burgers, with cheese, halloumi, asparagus. No bread of course… that’s the kind of meal I like, high in protein, some fat…” And with that, it’s time to finish. Has Joshua Paul Fitness found someone who can blend into the already thriving community? Well, put it this way. Interviewing Mason, I felt a weird sense of déjà vu. Then it hit me… it felt just like it did interviewing Josh himself almost exactly a year ago, and not just because we’re sat one table away. They have the same energy, focus, enthusiasm, philosophy. Something tells me that Mason will fit in just fine, but just in case, there’s always that U.S. passport…