When it comes to body composition expertise or proven, real-world personal training experience, you will struggle to find anyone even in the same universe as Nick Mitchell.
As the head of the world’s only global personal training business, Nick and his team have helped over 25,000 clients achieve life-changing outcomes over the years. Through his best-selling books and articles everywhere from Men’s Health to the Sunday Times, Nick has helped hundreds of thousands more.
Yet, what makes U.P. special isn’t about a single individual – but the collective adventure the company has been on, and the culture and vision formed from taking the ‘road less travelled’. Nick’s story as founder and CEO encapsulates that journey and speaks to the very heart of what makes us tick…
“One of the world’s leading body composition experts.”
Nick trained as a barrister at London’s Inns of Court School of Law, before following the standard career path of his peers working in the financial markets of the City of London.
Outside of that time, Nick’s overriding passion was for all things bodybuilding and ‘hacking’ his health and fitness – long before the concept had ever permeated the mainstream consciousness.
It was from this lifelong passion, in the quest to ‘find his thing’, that the idea for Ultimate Performance was born in 2007…
Starting out as a one-man band operating from a ‘spit and sawdust’ bodybuilding gym in East London, even before he ever trained his first paying client, Nick realised he wanted to change the personal training industry.
What he saw around him were low-value propositions that missed out on giving both clients and personal trainers the outcomes that almost all were looking for.
Personal training was conducted in sterile environments where pushing a client out of their comfort zone was never the done thing.
“Too dangerous.” “Too tough”. “Too scared to push hard.” “If it’s uncomfortable, they won’t come back.”
These were just some of the objections hurled Nick’s way at what later became known worldwide as the U.P. philosophy of training….
“The Goldman Sachs, Real Madrid and Apple of Personal Training. They’re that far ahead of the field.”
Nick’s philosophy can be best described as…
“Train unfettered. No one is looking at you, no one is judging you, everyone wants to see you do your best. All that we care about is that you try hard, because it’s not what you do, it’s how do it.”
His goal was to take all the raw, visceral and positive aspects of the bodybuilding gyms in which he’d grown up in from the age of 14, and bring them to an unsuspecting public whose only experience was the soulless corporate ‘globo-gym’ environment.
He wanted to synthesise this with the best aspects he had learned from over a decade of working in the City – bringing professionalism, accountability, transparency, and above all else a tangible return on investment for those who trusted him with their health and fitness.
Ultimately, the aim was (and will always remain) to be a trusted advisor, working with clients on any and every aspect of their lifestyle in order to help them efficiently and enjoyably achieve ‘maximum results in minimum time.’
Looking back on Nick’s career to date, it’s easy to see it as a line of unbroken success.
He launched the first U.P. gym in the City of London in 2009. Within a decade, U.P. had its own estate of gyms across four continents of the world, building a world-class team of over 300 people and helping thousands of clients achieve life-changing outcomes along the way.
“Unbroken success” is merely what the public sees. The truth is very different and Nick, as even his detractors would note, is nothing if not forthright and honest.
He will always ask “why is U.P. the only global personal training business in the world?”. He didn’t invent the idea. Countless businesses were doing it before him, and countless businesses have sprung up as direct copycats of U.P. So why has no one else done it, and what has U.P. done that is so different?
To Nick, the personal training industry is fundamentally broken.
What should be one of the most impactful jobs in the world – and is less a job and more a ‘calling’ – is widely regarded as a bit of a career joke.
There are precious few barriers to entry. The dominant model is commercial gyms renting out space to young trainers, 90% of whom burn out and leave the industry within 18 months.
Those who survive face a ‘Lord of the Flies’ environment where they are forced to sell to feed themselves – and there is literally zero accountability for the quality of the work because all the gyms care about is their monthly rent cheque.
It’s a race to the bottom. Nick and U.P. had a different vision…
When creating U.P., Nick set out to provide trainers with a platform where their sole focus was mastering their craft.
No selling, no marketing, no fear about where the next client is coming from. All so that the trainer can feel unencumbered in their pursuit of the best outcome for their clients.
History, thus far, has proven that Nick’s approach to personal training is one that stands out from the rest of the industry. The ruthless quest to always improve, the willingness to iterate and not be locked into any single dogmatic diktat, the need to take the right path – not the easy path – typify what both he and U.P. stand for.
With the continued development of the U.P. platform, Nick has seen his role develop from the very first PT sessions he took in an East London park, to where U.P. is today as a globe-spanning company.
It is one that encompasses the advisory work of personal training alongside supplements, food, books and education, scientific research with the likes of Cambridge University, and app development with an in-house technology team of over 30 people.
The next frontier for both Nick and U.P. will be artificial intelligence and how best to utilise the unique data and knowledge generated by having a global PT business that manages so many aspects of so many people’s lives.
This is a unique proposition because U.P. is a unique business. It is the key aspect of his quest to democratise fitness and help as many people as possible access the lifestyle-related health advice they need to be guided on – no matter their individual price point or accessibility to a gym. Watch this space.
As one of the world’s leading body composition experts, Nick has featured in media outlets including The Times, the Daily Telegraph, Sydney Morning Herald, Huffington Post, Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Men’s Fitness and many more.