The king of bespoke fitness and owner of Matt Roberts gyms shares his path to the top

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Nearly twenty years ago,  Matt Roberts  took the leap and opened his first gym in Mayfair - with this he changed the way we view working out. Fast forward to 2014 and Matt now owns six gyms in London, a booming personal training business (he’s trained some of fashion’s most fabulous bodies including Mario Testino and Tom Ford) and writes frequently for titles including The Times and The Telegraph. To find out why eating beans on toast for a long time was worth it, read on…

Why did you decide to specialise in fitness and nutrition?

I grew up surrounded by sport; my Dad captained Wales and played for Arsenal whilst my mum played Netball at an international level.  I started my sporting career running alongside Darren Campbell and many of the other big sprinters. It was after a running injury that I decided to pursue a health and fitness career because it seemed a logical step.  I spent time studying and then headed to the States to learn more on the specialist side -  since then I’ve never looked back.

When was your big break?

Opening my first club in Mayfair nearly twenty years ago was my first break. I’d been turned down by the bank for the investment because they ‘couldn’t see there being demand for the service’ so I took it upon myself to fund it. I worked really hard and negotiated hard with suppliers at all times. I ate beans for a long time but it was well worth it when I opened the club on the first day.  Now we have four clubs and a host of commercial ranges and are the biggest of our kind in the world.

What does an average day look like for you (if there ever is one!)?

Unsurprisingly my role is very varied. I answer all my emails and social media comments before arriving into work and start with clients at 6:30am, sometimes a little earlier or later depending on their schedules. I tend to have a mid-morning operational or business development meeting followed by lunch - food is very important in my day!  I’ll finish training people around mid afternoon after which I spend the time catching up with my team. I head home late afternoon or early evening to spend some time with my family.

MORE GLOSS: The Adrenalista visits Matt Roberts' fitness retreat

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy the role being so varied because no one day is ever the same. Spending time coaching and mentoring my clients to achieve their goals is very rewarding, especially if they have an ailment that can be overcome with corrective exercises.  Finally, nurturing my team and seeing them grow and develop is equally satisfying.

Are there any aspects of your job that you find challenging?

Being the Chief Executive of any company has its own unique challenges, and my industry is no different. Keeping on top of and responding to market trends can be both exciting and challenging in equal measure. On a personal perspective, working with clients who don’t buy into the ideology of what we are trying to achieve can be testing! I have a number of tricks up my sleeve to deal with these types of people - thankfully they are few and far between.

What's the most common question you get asked by clients?

People tend to think that because I am personal trainer I don’t eat and spend all day working out! I am often asked whether I eat chocolate and drink wine. Everything in moderation, although I do steer clear of alcohol unless it is a very special occasion.

What's your team 'me'? Who do you rely on to keep you happy, healthy and sane?

My staff are my team and with so publically fronting the brand I could argue that they are ‘team me’!  However, my family especially my children are very important and keep me sane and grounded.

How is your industry changing?

The health and fitness industry is constantly evolving.  Whether it is new companies coming onto the market, the reinvention of new ones or the impact of digital media and client testing - it is ever changing. We find that with more and more new technologies available, people have much more data at their disposal to make informed lifestyle choices.  The trainers have to be on top of their game or they will inevitably not make it in this business.