Nick Mitchell on how to be the best in the industry

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In good shape

Nick Mitchell, the man behind Ultimate Performance Cheshire, on what it takes to be the very best in the industry

Ultimate Performance has become one of the world’s leading personal training company, with 24 gyms spread all over the world. They have a flagship gym in Alderley Edge – U.P. Cheshire – which is a bit of a playground for the rich and famous, where they train the great and good of Cheshire and they have a lot of really high-profile clients, both in terms of being celebrities and net worth.

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We decided to get the gym kit out of the dusty drawer and visit to meet the man behind Ultimate Performance, Nick Mitchell, and find out how he uncovered a niche that has lead to global domination.

What gap did you see before launching Ultimate Performance?

My initial goal was to be known as the best trainer in the UK and have a PT gym business that was recognised as the best in London. I thought a couple of gyms might scratch the itch, but as ever with me, and I recognise that this is both a good and bad character trait, as soon as I get close to achieving my goal, I move the goalposts.

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I wanted two gyms, then only two London gyms and one abroad would work. Then I thought “you’ve made it when you have five”. Now I’ve got more than 20 across the world and we’re continuing to expand and identify new sites both in the UK and abroad. 

And so over time, my goals have evolved from wanting to be the best personal trainer in London to wanting to reinvent what personal training should be about and setting a benchmark for the rest of the industry to follow. 

The moment that you walk through the doors of a U.P. gym, you know it stands for something. We have a belief system that runs through everything that we do. It can be encapsulated in any one of our slogans – ‘maximum results in minimum time’, ‘results not promises’, or ‘where the excuses stop and the results begin’. We live and die by these mottos at U.P..

From day one, what did you want to offer? What made you different?

There were two things in the front of my mind really. One, the primary thing was that I thought the client experience was atrocious, that’s what I really thought. I come from tough, hard, bodybuilding gyms where it’s not exercise, it’s training, it’s a visceral experience. I would observe the way most trainers work with clients, and I thought: ‘I wouldn’t come back for this, what would be the point in coming back for this?’ It’s boring, it’s dull, there’s no excitement in it. You need to make exercise exciting and interesting.

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Sarah Jayne Dunn

I also looked at the trainers who had no career platform, nowhere to go, exchanging time for money and that’s it, they flatline. I wanted to change that, I wanted to create a platform for the trainers who work for me.

I wanted to build a personal training space where results mattered. Where clients can genuinely see a return on their investment. That’s why I judge my trainers on the results they deliver for their clients. They don’t need to worry about marketing or selling themselves, they just need to work with their clients and deliver the best possible results. And we give them the training and the tools and the behind-the-scenes ecosystem to allow them to deliver the best personal training experience on the planet. And that’s not hyperbole, that’s true. My trainers achieve incredible results that no other fitness business in the world can match. 

How do you look back on the last 14 years of Ultimate Performance?

Of course, to have grown and evolved from one gym in London to being the world’s only personal training business, and operating in places like Washington DC, Los Angeles, Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong etc is satisfying. 

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And I take it as a complement in some ways when social media trolls or keyboard warriors or whatever you want to call them comment on our pictures and say they’re too good to be true or that they’re faked – which they’re not – because it proves we’re achieving results for our clients no other fitness business in the world can match. 

I’ve got big expectations of myself. I always change the goalposts for myself, so nothing feels like a big deal to me. They’ve been milestones along the way for sure. Opening the first gym in London in 2009 was a big milestone. Opening the first gym abroad in Hong Kong was a big milestone. The first book I ever wrote was an absolutely enormous buzz. 

When did you open in Cheshire and why was it the perfect place for Ultimate Performance?

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May 2018. After opening so many gyms in London, as a Northerner (born and bred in Yorkshire), I always dreamed that we could expand away from metropolitan city centres and bring the U.P. experience to the kind of places in which I grew up. U.P. Cheshire was our very first location that’s away from the big city hustle and bustle.

What would we find inside the gym?

A 2,500sq foot, state-of-the-art, private personal training facility stocked with a selection of purpose-built free weights and Atlantis fixed machines. You will also be greeted by a results wall, displaying the ‘before’ and ‘afters’ of genuine U.P. Cheshire clients, which everyone who first enters U.P. Cheshire stares at a disbelief because the results are that good, thinking that will never be them. But every single person on that results wall is a genuine U.P. client and those people who initially stare in disbelief often go on to be on the wall themselves. 

Typically, how do you work with clients?

Typically, a client will come to us with a goal, whether it’s to get in shape for their wedding or for a holiday, or after a real wake-up call with their health that jolts them into realising they need to take control of their health and well-being.

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We will then arrange a consultation with a gym manager, who will talk to that client about their goals, their lifestyle, their pain points, their stresses, their previous experience and so on. The gym manager will then make a decision as to which personal trainer is best suited to work with that client. Because it’s not ‘one-size-fits-all’. We pride ourselves on partnering our clients with the right trainer whose approach will get the most out of their client. It’s all about buy-in. A client has to be bought into the process here at U.P. – in terms of diet adherence and sticking it out no matter how tough the sessions are – and the trainer has to achieve that buy-in. The more you put in, the more you get out, right? So, the more a client puts in, the better results they’ll get, and to do that, they have to buy-in to what their trainer is telling them. So, developing that relationship is crucial.

Then a trainer will devise a bespoke, individualized workout and meal plan programme for that client that is completely unique to them. You can’t just rip a programme off the internet that has been written for someone else. You need a programme that’s right and appropriate for you based on your body composition, your experience, your skill levels etc . That’s what our trainers will do. They will then work, hand-in-hand, with their clients over the next 6, 12, 18, 52 weeks or however long it might be to help their clients achieve their goals. 

What does the future hold for you?

To carry on expanding the Ultimate Performance estate around the world. We’re looking at opening more new gyms in London by the end of the year, and we’re looking to open a third gym in Los Angeles and a gym in Taiwan, which is a brand new location for us, in the near future.


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