It’s time for a serious alternative to the budget gym model

After retiring from an international rugby career which saw him represent both England and the British Lions, Phil Greening turned his attention to professional coaching and has since been involved with London Welsh, England 7’s, Scotland 7’s and has been pivotal in the recent success of the USA 7’s team.

At the heart of Phil’s approach is elite performance. With every team Phil coaches he brings a set of tools, systems and principles that enable professional athletes to gain the edge over their rivals. Phil’s real vision, however, is to share this insight with the general public through The Athlete Factory, a functional training gym and online platform that has brought together over 25 elite coaches who, like Phil, have spent years advising the world’s top athletes.

We met with Phil to learn why he feels the general public are in need of this elite performance model and how it will fare against the increasingly popular budget gyms.

What are your thoughts on the fitness market at the moment? Where do you think it might be going wrong?

The health and fitness market needs to start learning from the world of elite sport. It’s time to get away from gimmicks and move towards proven techniques that actually work, and it should come as no surprise that these proven techniques are the ones employed by professional athletes.

Over the last 15 years there has been so much energy and money pumped into training the world’s top athletes, whether in rugby, cricket, american football, soccer, etc., and it’s time for these principles to be shared with non-professionals who nevertheless share that ambition to be the best they possibly can be.


So is this training specific to sporting performance or could anyone benefit from it?

As long as you’re serious about achieving your goals then this is for you. It’s certainly not just about performance on the sports field. Take weight loss for example, we’ve had players come back from holiday seriously overweight and with just 2 or 3 weeks to get back in shape. We know all the tricks and techniques to get results fast, but we do it the right way.


How does the elite performance model compare to the recent trend towards budget gyms?

There has always been a lack of care and attention in gyms and the budget model has just made that worse. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a brilliant business model and clearly there is a huge amount of demand, but people are just left to their own devices. Even at the higher end gyms such as Virgin Active and David Lloyd, you’re unlikely to receive much support unless you pay for a regular personal trainer, and how much experience does that trainer have at an elite level? The answer is probably none whatsoever.


As you say there is huge demand for the budget model and most people now expect to be able to use a good gym for less than £20 a month. Do you really think people will be willing to pay more than that for access to an elite model?

There will certainly be those people who just want to continue paying their £12.99 a month and are satisfied with just having access to decent facilities. However, there are also many people with more serious goals that are willing to spend extra money on personal training. So why would they choose to spend an extra £50 an hour on a personal trainer when for less than that they could join a gym which included as standard a consultation from the bloke who’s led strength and conditioning for the British Lions, or the guy who’s consulting England Rugby on their nutrition ahead of the World Cup?


Surely the issue then is one of scalability?

Yes it is, and that’s why we have over 25 elite coaches behind this, all happy to give their time and share their insight.

It’s also the reason that we’re building an online training platform, so that anyone in the world can benefit from our expertise. We’re even looking at providing educational programs for PTs to large chains of gyms.

At the heart of this is a desire to share our expertise. We’re not protective over our IP and are willing to use any platform to ensure as many people as possible benefit from the tools and knowledge that until now has been exclusive property of the world’s top athletes.


Posted in Gyms & Clubs, Interviews, The Fitness Network.