The Elusive Exclusive
I run (at the time of writing) the most exclusive personal training facility in what is arguably one of the fitness capitals of the world.
But what does exclusive look like?
Well, coming onto my books you get access to my nutritionists, my Olympic therapists, private chefs, private doctors, meal services and private hormone clinics. Clients do not share my gym space with any other trainer, any other client, or any other gymrat on a 24-hour membership scheme. I do not rent my space out to anyone other than the client who I’m about to train.
The studio is in the heart of central London. It is underground, it has no signs on the doors, it has no windows where my clients can be papp’ed, or eager sports fans queuing for autographs from elite level sportsmen and women. It’s a safe space, a hidden space, a space where the type of people who make your annual wage in a day come to train. It is invisible to the public.
I, myself, am elusive, the guy that doesn’t shout it from the rooftops, the go-to-guy if you know the right people sorta shit. I’m bordering on the bawbag who has a ‘waiting list’ for PT slots.
This might sound utterly wanky, but it’s taken me 15 years of blood, sweat, a shit load of burpees, and the occasional slipped disc to get to the point of where I am. I do ZERO marketing to obtain my client base. I rely on the priceless power of word of mouth in the right crowds to get me new business.
But it hasn’t always been this way…
I have spent a disgusting amount of money on marketing over the years. 40,000 on website and web work alone. I have been through over 10 PR agencies, I have opened (and closed) three of my own studios, been a trainer at over 10 gyms, I’ve gone from hero to zero more times than I can remember, and I’ve probably put in over 12,000 hours of face-to-face client time. There have been many, many moments where I have questioned my own ability, I have been trolled about my own ability, and I have had close friends and colleagues sucker punch me about my own ability. I have dealt with the best and the worst that this industry can throw at me and even after being shit on (literally)…
I’m still here.
I lived it, I learnt from it, and I’m here to tell you how it happened. I won’t bore you with a CV biography that will end in you not wanting to even open the first page of Behind Gym Doors. Instead, I’ll let you know why being ‘exclusive’ has extraordinary benefits but also some pretty important constraints. If you’re a PT reading this, then I hope you can gain something from my experience. If you’re just here for some shits and giggles, then welcome to the ride.
Everyone knows that being ‘exclusive’ in any line of business, gets you a certain type of clientele. It’s the same as being seen at the poolside bars in influencer heaven Dubai, or driving a certain type of car in Knightsbridge. We are all looking for validation in some form of another. And I’ve been searching for validation my whole life. It’s why I worked out in the first place. It all stemmed from a bad breakup in 2002 while I attended the university of Loughborough (the most well reknowned sporting University), where it soon became clear that most of the female athlete’s wrists were bigger than my legs, and my arms were so small I needed cufflinks on a short-sleeved shirt.
My insecurity had shit to prove.
And so I embarked on a 15-year journey of finding my place in the fitness world, and more importantly how I worked myself into the exclusivity market. It started with never getting any proper business as a freelance PT, to working on the floor of main chain gyms, building my knowledge through the regular Joe’s and complaining Karen’s of the world. I then moved up into one-to-one facilities whose life cycles were always short as they overreached on overheads, and underdelivered on turnover. I moved myself into a more affluent area in north London, building a client base, losing a client base, and rinsing and repeating until the cows came home. I opened up my first studio and failed. I opened up my second studio and succeeded. I moved, and moved again, all the while building my business knowledge, my educational knowledge, and most importantly – my people knowledge.
Then I sat down and figured it out. How do I package ‘exclusive’?
I built The MPH Method.
This took 8 years to get to this point. 7 years more than most PTs are even in the game.
As of 2022 it is thought that 90% of newly qualified personal trainers don’t make it past their first year. There are many reasons for this, which I go into more detail in Behind Gym Doors, but the point here is that I took the time to learn, gain experience, talk to as many people as possible, and understand what made the exclusive world tick.
And that, my dear readers is BRANDING.
Exclusivity is driven by branding.
You want to set yourself apart from every other schmo trainer in the building? Build a brand.
People will follow.
I was professional, trustworthy, disciplined and reliable. Valuable things that most don’t even understand the basics of.
Be a fucking abacus. People can count on you.
As a side note – A minute example of branding professionalism that I used is that I spent years wearing my own branded t-shirts and apparel, having the piss ripped out of me by colleagues and looked at like a piece of shit by elitists who all thought I was ‘fake trainer’ because I wore my brand.
I very much doubt any of them are in the industry anymore, and here I am 8 years later still working under the same brand, pulling in some of the richest clients on earth.
Getting to this point takes time and effort, and as previously said – a shit ton of money. The other drawback to being this exclusive is the limitations on marketing. I previously said I’d been through multiple PR agencies and how I do no marketing. The truth is PR agencies, and the media find me intolerable, and I don’t market my clients because I am under more NDA’s than Ghislaine Maxwell’s conscience. And so, in that aspect, my business suffered. But that is the price that I have had to pay, and like anything that is worth working for, there are always pitfalls to success.
Understand your niche.
Develop a brand.
Don’t be a Cheetah – no one will trust you.
I wrote Behind Gym Doors to give you a glimpse of the world I’m in, and to show you some of the truths behind the exclusive world of health and fitness. I am no guru, and nor do I want to be known as one, but I’m in the business of helping people. I now often mentor under privileged PT graduates in how to build fitness businesses. I also set up a low cost, time efficient branding business to help start-ups across multiple disciplines. If you need either, then let me know on here or on the social media airwaves. And if you want to laugh out loud at my expense then head on over to the book section and grab yourself a copy of Behind Gym Doors.
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