Nobody changed the world without a vision.
But equally you cannot achieve greatness with vision alone; without ambition and the dogged tenacity to follow through on those big dreams ‘vision’ is nothing.
This is perhaps why Nick Mitchell has succeeded where thousands of other personal trainer failed – having a grand vision allied with the unstoppable ambition to see that vision made flesh.
After all, nobody achieved anything truly great by playing it safe and taking the path well trodden.
When Nick Mitchell started out with his first UP gym in London back in 2009 he had a strong vision for where he wanted the company to be.
Eight years on and that gym has grown to be a global concern, operating across four continents, with a reputation for results unrivalled by any other personal training business on the planet.
So how has this vision for UP changed, what are the plans for the next eight years and how will UP continue to change the game in the fitness industry? Nick Mitchell reveals all in this interview excerpt…
What is your vision for UP?
I want perfection in what we do.
I know that this is an impossible goal, but it doesn’t stop me from striving for it.
Where we are with UP now is tremendously exciting.
We can do things that no one else in our field can do and I want to see that translate very visibly into an unparalleled service for our clients, a voice that really can help people lead healthier, fitter and more productive lives without this squalid noise that most of the fitness industry makes as they constantly chase after the next dollar, and I want to continue to be able to provide world-class career opportunities for the people within the business.
I feel very strongly about all these points, but the last point is something that gives me immense pleasure and pride to be able to do. The fitness industry should be a celebrated, high-end, long-term profession, yet it could not be further from this once you scratch the shiny, Instagram-driven reality.
A key mission statement at UP is all about changing that.
If you want to know what that vision means for the actual bricks and mortar gym business then the next steps are to open in the U.S.A. (Los Angeles) which is a huge risk and challenge – the U.S. has been the graveyard for many a foreign business and the fitness industry over there is extremely poor from a PT perspective.
We are going to have to change Personal Trainers’ perception of what a PT career really means if we are to succeed, but if we do then look for 50 North American UPs by 2020!
Has your relationship with Charles Poliquin influenced your vision for UP?
Not at all, however, there can be no doubt that Charles Poliquin has not exerted a very positive influence on where UP finds itself today in 2017).
As a mentor in how to design weight training programs Charles has been one of the biggest influences on me and I feel that all serious personal trainers, whether they like the guy or not (because we have to acknowledge that he is a divisive figure) owe him a debt of gratitude for many of the systems and approaches that he has brought to our attention.
Charles also showed an early belief in me that definitely helped the “Nick Mitchell” name. When I was just starting out as a trainer, grinding it out in an environment that with hindsight really didn’t do me too many favours at all in developing my PT career (the rough tough world of Muscleworks gym in London), Charles paid me uncharacteristic special attention and helped to cement the reputation that made it easier to bring serious PTs into the UP family.
Charles’s hand is also there in how I’ve grown UP. In 2016 we took over two existing gyms, Evolve in Amsterdam and Clean Health in Sydney, both of which in part grew up from a combination of Charles’ teachings and the inspiration of seeing what we were doing with UP. Whilst he wasn’t anything at all to do with those deals or the running of those businesses, the contact and the awareness would not have been there without his influence.
Do you have plans for UP outside of personal training?
Within our niche of working with so-called ‘regular people’ (in other words not dedicated physique athletes or sports stars) I want UP to be THE trusted place for the best body composition-focused advice and services in the world.
We are in the process of growing our online advisory business which is great because it allows all the people who want to work with UP but can’t get to one of our gyms or afford our, admittedly expensive, Personal Training fees.
I’m also a big believer in certain nutritional supplements and we’ve developed some great new products that I think will be a big boost to many people’s health and fitness regimes. These products have been years in the testing because it’s taken a heck of a lot of work to get UP’s reputation to where it is today and I am aware of the suspicion that many have towards the often huckster-like supplement industry.
How and why did UP’s own brand of supplements come about?
I like to be in control of what we give to our clients and ultimately the best way to guarantee quality is to do it yourself.
The supplement industry is also a very interesting business to get into. The profit margin versus Personal Training is very positive (PT is not a great profit margin business) which never hurts, but myself and the UP Global COO, Joe Halstead, have always been very keen to see some of our whacky supplement ideas take life.
Having our own line has given us the impetus to experiment with a variety of different formulas, the vast majority of which will never reach the public domain, and I think that over the coming years we are going to put out some very interesting supplement products. Of course, nothing we can do will be “drug-like” or “better than steroids” – if something was drug-like, it would quickly be regulated and controlled as a drug!