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Dublin: 4°C Friday 22 January 2021

Good habits mean consistent gains in SMART Training philosophy

Jonny Bruton runs the Dublin business and says he wants it to inspire people.

JONNY BRUTON SWEEPS his arm around to point as his most prized possession.

When arrives to have a nose around his gym-with-a-difference, the Ireland hockey international is busy milling from desk to counter and shovelling the nutritious looking contents of a tupperware box into his mouth.

He doesn’t give himself much time to sit, sitting can wait. The Corkman runs SMART Training in the Churchtown area of south Dublin. The name of his business is borrowed from the acronym for breaking down objectives and goals – Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, Time-frame.

“I set up this facility to inspire people,” he says. And you believe him.

The 27-year-old has an infectious personality that befits a personal trainer and that’s what SMART Training offers, except the word ‘personal’ is given a loose definition under his roof. It’s not that Bruton and the three others he employs don’t do one-to-one sessions. But in an effort to limit prices he asks customers to, where possible, share a trainer’s time with up to  two other people within the same slot.

SMT3 Source: Smart Training

‘Facility’ is a much more important word for Bruton. As you follow his arm around the larger first floor training room it’s clear this is no average gym. If you’re looking for endless racks of ever-increasing weights, you won’t find it here. The room is spacious, furnished with functional equipment including a workout bench, a selection of kettlebells and some TRX-style suspension straps.

It’s a relatively blank canvas; more than enough to facilitate SMART’s speciality of helping its customers lose weight. There are other goals they will help towards – agility, strength, speed, stamina – but shedding fat is where Bruton earns his corn.

Where SMART differentiate themselves is that they aim to make it all possible in a steady, calm way. No crash diets, no boot camp, no drill sergeant, no negativity – just good habits and good old sweat.

SMT2 Source: Smart Training

Bruton has provided in an insight into some of those good habits in nutritional articles he contributed to in recent months. On top of that, good habits relate to good form. Step one of my pre-workout consultation in Bruton’s personal training room took the form of 15 squats while the trainer looks on from three angles taking notes. Despite being firmly focused on squatting correctly, Bruton has immediately spotted my flaws and weak points.

On the rise, my shins began to lean inwards and the lower portion of my back could have been straighter.

The solution is nothing quick or easy.  It starts with some foam rolling – a central part of Bruton’s vision and a consistent part of his clients’ warm-up. First he has me rolling the pain into my calves; it’s a muscle I need to strengthen to correct my shin position. Secondly, the roller is used for my lower back, a position that is almost a full core workout in itself before getting down to business.

Along with the personal training (of up to three people) SMART also offer group sessions. With 80 clients currently coming through his doors, Bruton highlights the camaraderie that this type of environment in this type of facility can generate.

SMT1 Source: Smart Training

It’s a theory of group training that sounds very familiar, but the Corkman can’t hide a wince as we mention ‘Cross Training’. So what’s the difference?

According to Bruton, it’s the patience and gradual progression of his method. He gives the example of a deadlift, an incredibly effective but often poorly executed compound lift, saying:

“We might start somebody off with a light kettlebell deadlift. Then if they’re improving well we can move on to two kettlebells or dumbbells to make sure the technique is sound before a straight bar deadlift.”

It all builds in to the central philosophy around Bruton’s SMART Training. Good habits can’t be installed with the flick of a switch. Changes come gradually and small tweaks can eventually lead to great transformations.

If you want to learn more about SMART Training, you can visit their Facebook page here or the website,

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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