Personal Trainer Vicky-Leigh Kruger’s refreshing take on online coaching

Vicky-Leigh Kruger is a young personal trainer, exercise specialist and holistic health activist who has recently been making waves on Social Media with her honest and authentic approach to all things health and fitness.

She is a successful online coach as well as a personal trainer at Virgin Active, all while inspiring her clients and followers to lead a healthy, balanced lifestyle that can be maintained forever.

Age: 21

Lives: Eagle Canyon Golf Estate

Trains at: Virgin Active Honeydew

Profession: Personal Trainer

Website: www.thewholecoproject.com

IG: coachedby_vicks

TikTok: coachedbyvicks 


What initially attracted you to start your own business in the Fitness Industry, and how long have you been a coach? 

I’ve always been super into sport, but I have never been great at it. Then I discovered CrossFit and the gym and because it required little co-ordination/ball skills – my fire and passion for the health, wellness and fitness started.  My boyfriend at the time (now fiancé and soon to be husband) was shadowing one of my coaches and we had both gone to do our CFL1 qualification in  Feb of 2016 which is where my coaching journey started. I really just wanted to be a CrossFit coach – but after failing my exam the first time (I couldn’t understand why), Josh said to me that I needed more practical experience and that it didn’t help that I had head-knowledge but didn’t know how to work with people. So I started coaching my moms friends daughter for a while and after posting a “before and after” photo of her Squat Transformation on Instagram, my online coaching journey started. 

I have been coaching since the July of 2016 (after I rewrote my exams) – so close to 4 years now. My first year and a half I was coaching as just a qualified CFL1 trainer and then after 2017, a qualified Personal Trainer. I hosted my very first Online Programme in the August of 2016 when one of my classmates asked me to create a programme to help her and a few other friends lose weight for Matric dance. After that, I had another girl ask me to create a similar plan for VAC and so it began! 

Just being able to see how my friends (essentially my clients – but we were school friends) became more confident and empowered through something I had helped them with, really just encouraged me to keep going and keep learning. I fell inlove with the idea of being able to help another woman love herself and feel more comfortable in her own skin. 

What are the top lessons you’ve learnt in establishing yourself as an online coach in the oversaturated South African market?

Be unique, be creative, find your own niche and don’t compare yourself to the “bigger” coaches. Your true energy and authenticity will always attract the right type of people, followers and clients and even if it takes a little longer to grow as a coach, trust the process. “You don’t need to be like everyone else” – I struggled with this concept for my first 2 years of coaching. I felt that I needed to look and be like everyone else, but why I am successful is because I have stayed true to my roots and I have never tried to do anything that isn’t me. 

How do you differentiate yourself from other coaches in the industry?

For starters, I have never competed before and I don’t ever plan on doing so either. I train my clients for LIFE. I train them for functionality. I train them for longevity and I help them increase their lifespan. I teach them that exercise is a huge privilege and its forms part of being a human. I teach them how to build a good relationship with their bodies, with food and with exercising. I also stress the importance of having a normal body – having abs doesn’t always equal health. I stress the important of building up both a positive physical and mental health. Once we have sorted out the fundamentals of living a healthy lifestyle, the aesthetic benefits of exercise will come as a result. It’s not just about “losing weight” or “looking a certain way” – there is so much more to it. I am also very hands on – many other coaches sell plans and leave their clients to do it by themselves. I am very very involved with my clients to such a point that they become good friends of mine. I take the “personal” in Personal Trainer, quite literally. 

What challenges has Covid-19 presented to you as a personal trainer and a business owner?

To be honest, there hasn’t been any hectic challenges. In the first 3 weeks, I really battled mentally with the idea because of all the uncertainty – but then after taking some time to just sit and brainstorm, I got working again. I think COVID has allowed an opportunity for massive online growth (if you’ve taken and used the opportunity to do so). This time may put some of us in-house trainers in a place where we don’t necessarily ever have to step foot into a “real” gym again and we can be fully sustainable online. 

The biggest struggle for me is just the little technical difficulties. So for example demonstrating sessions over Zoom or FaceTime may be delayed or there might be a connection problem here or there. I miss my clients though because Virtual, although a great alternative, isn’t the same as coaching someone in person. So for me I miss the physical connections. But as a business, it has made me more creative and innovative than ever before. 


When your motivation is low, what do you do?

I just get it done. If my motivation is low due to my having a low mental health, I will take a week off to refill my cup. But if I am just lacking motivation because I don’t feel like doing it, I will tackle the root of it and work with what I have (even if that means just going for a walk – any movement is better than no movement). I will remind myself that being able to exercise is a huge privilege and I have been blessed with 2 arms and legs that can be taken away from me at any moment. I usually hype myself up with some of my all time favourite tracks – knowing that 5 minutes into the workout, I will feel better and start pushing harder. Motivation is temporary and we can’t always be motivated, so building those habits and discipline is key. I schedule my workouts into my diary as if it were a meeting with my boss. 

How many times a week do you train? It honestly depends! I try to get in at least 4-5 sessions a week. Sometimes it can be 6 because I train with my online clients every Saturday. My goal is to try move my body at least once a day though. 

Do you change your approach to training from time to time?

I never do the same workout twice. My programming varies every single week, so yes – definitely! I enjoy bodyweight, compounded & functional movements as well as strength, cardio, metcon and HIIT training. There isn’t any single form that I don’t enjoy or don’t include into my regime. I like to mix it up every week, training the same muscle groups – but changing the workouts (either time priority, task priority or intensity) so that I don’t get bored. If you are having fun and enjoying a workout – chances are you’re more likely to really push through it. 

What style of training are you loving right now?

Definitely HIIT (in specific EMOMs) 

Do you do any other training other than gym based? 

Absolutely! My fitness roots come from CrossFit – so I do tons of “garage” styles workouts (in other words, home-styled). I believe that your body is your “gym machine” – you should be doing basic squats, push ups and sit ups before touching gym equipment (in most cases). Home based training can be just as effective as gym based if you’re creative enough. 


What made you change to a plant based diet?

I started transitioning into a more plant-based diet in the January of 2019. I wanted to do it for my gut health, but mainly for my skin. So we started small with cutting out all forms of dairy and I saw a hug difference in my acne. Then we lost the plot as the months went on and my skin got really bad again. After feeling so helpless, we made the decision to fully cut out all animal-based products in November 2019 and went full Vegan. So the root reason was always because of my skin. But as we learnt more about a plant-based diet and culture of it, our views changed from a self-reason to an ethical reason. We now do it for the environment and for the animals. I will never go back to eating meat. 

What is your go-to plant based meal?

Any form of a Buddha/veggie bowl! 


Can you give us a breakdown of your daily diet?

Breakfast: Usually a high calorie smoothie (plant-protein, almond milk, coconut nibs, nut butter, banana, ice, pumpkin seeds and carb clever granola) or a wholesome and filling oat bowl (especially during winter) 

Lunch: Almost always a Buddha bowl/veggie bowl. The more colours and the more veg, the better. Always paired with a fat (avocado or olives) and a carb/starch. 

Dinner: Usually a Frys Family “protein alternative” with a starch (egg free pasta, rice, couscous, quinoa) and more veg. We do Vegan tacos/burgers/pizza/pitas/wraps very often! They key is variety and colour. 

Snacks: Usually a Trek Bar, Nakd Bar, or a huge fruit salad with an assortment of nuts/seeds and dried cranberries. 

What is your take on cheat meals?

I don’t use that word and I don’t ever consider any food I eat as a “cheat.” I don’t usually encourage my clients to have a “cheat meal” either – too often they start to get the idea that a “cheat meal” is a negative thing. So I encourage my clients to eat what they feel like (a considered “cheat”) and just include and incorporate it into their daily calorie goal. I encourage to live within balance and moderation. Sometimes I have sugar every single day if I am craving it – within moderation, other times I don’t. Listening to your body and to what it wants will always trump having a dedicated “cheat meal” or “cheat day.” The relationship we build with food is extremely important in determining how successful our fitness journey will be and no types of food should allow someone to feel guilty for eating them. 


How do you juggle running a business and your personal life?

This was extremely difficult in the beginning stages of starting both of our businesses. For me personally, 80% of my job comes from being on my phone and interacting with my clients via WhatsApp. So sometimes it has definitely affected my relationship with Josh or with other family members as they feel that I live on my phone. It has taken me a while to set the needed boundaries (ie: no messages past 6pm / no messages on a Sunday etc) and to actually stick to them. The most important thing is definitely boundary setting as well as prioritising what is most important to you. Yes, business is important, but so are family and friendships. 

What big events do you have coming up?

Josh and I are getting married on the 11th of July! Yay! Hahah it has been crazy trying to plan a wedding with all of the Covid regulations and just the general fear some of our guests have with regards to leaving their homes/putting their families at risk. We also had to change our wedding venue 16 days before getting married. It has been a ride wow – but we are so so so excited! 

Yay or nay- What does Vicky say 

Competing? Nope! I take my hat off to some of the athletes and their work, but personally it is not something I would ever recommend or promote. 

Fat burners? HELL NO. I just don’t think that they are necessary at all. With the correct understanding of nutrition and training – you can burn/lose fat without them. I wouldn’t recommend them to my mom or my grandma, I wouldn’t take them myself, and if I were to take them – I wouldn’t be able to incorporate them into my life forever. I believe that a natural and holistic approach to weight loss should be taken, one that you can do forever

Cardio? Big yes from me. Super beneficial to your cardiorespiratory system and heart health. I’m a huge fan of running, spinning, swimming and stepping. It’s all part of building a balanced and rounded fitness. The trick with cardio is making sure that you aren’t bored and doing the same thing. So playing around with intervals and intensity is key to actually enjoying it. 

Protein bars? Depends – I don’t often buy them. If you’re eating them in place (punishing yourself) of a food you’re actually craving (chocolate bar), then NO. Some of them are good and contain awesome macros, but others are made with so many artificial sweeteners and often contain the same amount of calories as a standard chocolate bar. Really depends on the purpose behind eating it for me. 

Keto diet? Absolutely not (personal opinion). If you’re doing it for weight loss – it is totally unnecessary. There are better methods in my opinion. Not only that, you’re destroying our environment and your body is probably craving some fruit and lettuce haha.

Author: Logan Leigh Rix

Logan blends her passion and profession by working as a digital and social media marketer and content creator in the fitness, health and wellness industry. She’s also a personal trainer, former Face of Fitness finalist and Fitness Magazine featured athlete.

Logan blends her passion and profession by working as a digital and social media marketer and content creator in the fitness, health and wellness industry. She's also a personal trainer, former Face of Fitness finalist and Fitness Magazine featured athlete.

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