Back in the apprenticeship game, same problems different time.
By Neil Perkins
In 2007 I established Fighting Fit City Gym, ten years have passed and I encounter the same problems then as I do now. At Fighting Fit City Gym we had a great reputation for our class and one-to-one session delivery. My initial team consisted of clubmates from my old boxing club, coupled with a few ex clients. As they had either come from the same training background as me or trained under me, they understood my ethos, ethics and approach to training. As my brand grew, this became problematic – I couldn’t find trainers with my mindset. I despair at the fitness industry – personal trainer courses churn our ‘PT’s’ who have a low knowledge of what it means to be in shape and have even less of an idea to get someone else to achieve their goals. The reality is that the fitness journey is very often taught and delivered from ‘experience gained from within the trenches’ not taught on a level 3 diploma.
I was aware then as I am now, that your brand is only as good as the person representing it. I may have ‘Britain’s Coolest Gym’ but a dumbbell is a dumbbell and a treadmill is a treadmill and the heartbeat of the gym is the staff who engage with my members, that enabled Fighting Fit City Gym to survive and thrive and evolve into Henrietta Street Gym. Now more so than ever, I realise the value of getting the right ‘heartbeat’ running through the business. In 2011 and after several failed attempts to bring on freelance trainers with ‘industry experience’ I took the brave step to employ trainers and apprentices and teach them my brand values.
- They would need my integrity and be honest to openly evaluate what it would take someone to achieve their goals and how they could achieve it – very often that means less not more sessions per week.
- They would need to give guidance on how clients could achieve their goals, looking at lifestyle including nutrition, sleep and mindset strategies. When employing young boxers, this is very often lessons they’d have learnt themselves.
- They’d need to stick to basics – training isn’t hard. Simple movements and simple strategies. Boxing is best executed with basic techniques, HIIT training is effective with simple moves paired together and key movements such as squat and deadlift are the basis of strength training.
- They’d need to be the motivator and push people through sessions when they lacked the energy to train.
- They’d need to believe. Not only in the plan, advice and sessions they’re implementing, but in the client.
- They’d need to have fun. Make their sessions enjoyable and openly engage with their clients….they are a PERSONAL trainer.
I don’t know if my first six trainers we’re spoiled by me or if I was spoilt to have found them? The values, ethics and integrity I helped nurture within them has stood them in good stead, not only as personal trainers, but as members of society and athletes.
The Super Six
Anthony Rogan: Still a key part of the team today. He has stood on stage as a fitness model, boxed competitively and this weekend competes in a CrossFit competition. He offers clients guidance and has a track record of success.
Luke Paddock: Luke is looking to go full time with his professional boxing. His fun and motivating sessions made him a popular addition to the team.
Matthew Hannigan: Matthew is the only one of the ‘super six’ not in still involved with fitness. I bumped into him walking his dog to discover he has full time employment, a long-term girlfriend and a mortgage.
Kieran Quinlan: Kieran has seized life’s opportunities. He jumped on the body transformation package that the gym launched and made it his own. An excellent motivator who sucked up knowledge and is evolving all the time.
Tom Breese: I gave Tome Breese more warnings than I’ve ate hot dinners! I always knew he had a winners mindset and belief. This has seen him rise through the UFC rankings, where he remains a top fighter.
Tommy Langford: Tom was a pleasure to manage and always worked diligently. He offered expert guidance to his boxing clients and now British and Commonwealth Middleweight champion, it is good to see him doing well.
I am ten years older that when I started my gym in 2007 and six years older than when I employed my first team. I am not looking to take on six staff members – but I am adding to the team. I sometimes joke ‘I HATE STAFF’ but for those of you who really know me, I love people. Training, nurturing and evolving my team is something that I embrace and I’m looking forward to getting stuck into. I have the best looking gym in the UK, now it’s time to get the right heartbeat going and ensure that the right brand values are been portrayed. We will start two new apprentices in August, I look forward to these exciting additions to the team.