Working with everyone from Tom Ford and David Cameron, and Piers Morgan to Paloma Faith, these fitness entrepreneurs have transcended the gyms they toil in to become famous faces in their own right
here is no shortage of personal trainers in London; the industry is positively bursting with them. They’re not just here to teach you how to do the perfect squat, however. These days, top fitness coaches also focus on nutrition, lifestyle and sleep patterns in a bid to provide you with the perfect, tailored wellness package. Because, when it comes to personal training, you’ve got to step up your game in order to stand out from the crowd. Whether your aim is to burn fat fast, or pack on superhero levels of muscle, we bring you the London-based personal trainers that even celebrities are willing to break a sweat for.
Having lived and breathed fitness her whole life, former Olympic speed skater Sarah Lindsay is the founder of Roar Fitness, a boutique training facility specialising in fat loss and muscle-building transformations.
The 40-year-old is one of the most sought-after trainers in the country, with her three amazing training facilities in London – Bank, Liverpool Street and Kensington High Street – attracting the likes of Piers Morgan, Paloma Faith, Vogue Williams and Henry Holland.
“The real reason people come to us is because they know we produce incredible results with our clients, time-and-time again,” says Sarah, who swears by a combination of old-school weight training and cutting-edge equipment.
“Even before I had my own gyms, I’ve never trained people in the park. I believe in weight training with progressive overload, which is impossible without the equipment. There’s lots of ways to exercise, of course, but this is how I prefer to train people and how we get our amazing results.”
With 30 trainers now working for her, Sarah has become best-known for her body transformation programmes. For some breathtaking case studies, see the Roar Fitness website.
Cool, calm and collected. Three things I am not when it comes to working out. However, Matt Roberts most certainly is and everything about his lifestyle brand reflects that.
The 48-year-old is renowned for working with high-profile clients, fashion designer Tom Ford and former Prime Minister David Cameron among them. Matt is quick to point out, however, that each of his clients gets the same level of patience and service, irrespective of whether or not they are famous.
“Everything goes hand-in-hand when we work with you,” says Matt, as we chat in his private office inside his ultra-chic Mayfair gym. “The PT will know what the nutritionist is doing with you and the same for the physios and so on. We’re here to help you live longer, be healthier, not fall apart, and not ache – that’s our goal. To help you live the best version of yourself.”
He may have been at the forefront of the fitness industry for more than two decades, but Matt delivers his knowledge and guidance in a simplistic way, so that even uninitiated gym bunnies like me can understand. Exercises are designed to raise your heart rate – which Matt believes is the best way to burn fat – and he is all about strength training, which he reassures me “women never bulk up from, despite their concerns.”
Before you even put your body in the hands of Matt's team, you have to undergo a full-body scan on a machine called the Styku, which measures everything from your belly fat to your body composition. It is a relatively new piece of kit but that’s no surprise, given that Matt always has his eye on what’s new in the world of fitness.
“Technology is changing all the time so I need to ensure that my staff and I are keeping an eye on all the latest products. That way we can keep our clients informed. We road test every bit of equipment before we offer the services to the people we train.”
It is totally justifiable for Luke to have earned the moniker 'The Body Engineer'. For what makes this 41-year-old PT stand out is not just the fact that he is an incredible trainer, but that he's also a sports scientist, educator and coach to boot. There's a reason he's graced countless men’s magazines and built up a celebrity clientele.
“I think my reputation stems from the fact that I have 20 years of solid background as a PT, which means I have seen everything,” says Luke, talking to me at the Marylebone gym where he trains his clients.
“I may have the sports science background, which obviously helps, but having worked with so many different clients, with so many different body shapes and needs over two decades, I know what works and what doesn’t.”
Although Luke is all about strength training, he also takes a holistic view, ensuring that his clients' lifestyle needs are also taken into consideration. “The mind and body connect, and so my aim in helping my clients to get fit is to also ensure other areas of their lives follow suit. You need to have enough sleep, the right kind of nutrition, and so on, to get the best out of a fitness plan. Our body is a finely-tuned machine; though most of the time things run smoothly, one negative change can throw the entire system out of sync.”
Aimee Victoria Long
Aimee is the founder of the Body Beautiful Method, which blends Pilates, barre and bodyweight strength and conditioning to create strong and supple limbs. It is her relaxed and down-to-earth style that no doubt makes her one of the most influential trainers operating in London.
Unlike other fitness trainers, Aimee’s programmes incorporate a lot of different areas, which is something she believes appeals to her clients. “I feel that I am very relatable and am able to offer a well-balanced style of training. Whether that be Pilates, barre, strength and conditioning or HIIT, the variety adds an element of fun to my classes,” she says.
“One thing coming out of lockdown is that people are realising they don’t necessarily need to go to the gym to see results. I’ve seen some great transformations with some of my clients working out from their homes.”
The way Aimee works with her clients will depend on what they want to achieve, whether they are new to exercise or just need a helping hand. And that is what makes Aimee’s training methods so different to the rest; an older client may never have considered Pilates, for example, and the same goes for bodyweight strength.
“I am passionate about encouraging women to lift weights but also to educate them at the same time, to explain that weightlifting won’t cause them to look bulky. It depends on what rep ranges and intensity you’re training at, as well as diet, that will effect if you become ‘bulky’ or not. That being said, if you are concerned about putting on too much size then I’d suggest opting for a low intensity, low impact option like reformer Pilates or yoga. These still challenge the body, but in a very different way.”
Bradley may not have as many years of experience behind him as other personal trainers on this list, but he sure has racked up the numbers when it comes to his social media following. Not that this PT relies on social media status alone – Simmonds has achieved about every fitness qualification it’s possible to attain. As we chat in the garden of his Ealing home, the 26-year-old tells me about his no-nonsense approach to fitness and how his Get It Done fitness platform has gone from strength-to-strength during the various lockdowns.
“My quick routines help blast fat, increase your fitness and build muscle with minimal kit, so they are perfect for at-home workouts,” says Bradley. “Perhaps one of the best-kept secrets in fitness is that you don't need a lot, to do a lot.”
Signed to Chelsea Football Club at the age of seven, Bradley was an aspiring professional footballer until a major injury forced him to consider a different path. It was a knockback from which Bradley was able to bounce back, and he’s now on a mission to help his clients do the same. “Any time a client has a wobble or something sets them back from training I know I can use my motivational tips to get them back on the ball. Of course, my exposure on social media has helped me get where I am today and in lockdown it certainly helped grow my online fitness programme, but you can’t make a living like I do without sheer grit, determination and a lot of hard work.”
Bradley's advice when it comes to Instagram is that “people should be wary of the images that those in the fitness industry are posting and the reasons behind them. You see me training every day because it’s my passion, but for someone else fitness might be a business rather than a passion. Of course, they are not going to have the hunger that I have.” Look out for Bradley’s new fitness app, coming soon.
After almost two decades in the industry, 38-year-old Shaun Stafford has perfected the art of sculpting the bodies of his clients. And what makes him one of the best in the personal training business is his distinct style, which, Shaun believes, “has a meaningful impact on people's lives”.
“You have to take a real interest in who your clients are,” says Shaun, “what makes them tick, and how to motivate them to be consistent over a significant period of time. Sometimes all you need to do is be a good bloke and make their sessions enjoyable – so they keep coming back every week.”
Shaun’s style of training is heavily programme based. “Regardless of what you are looking to get out of training with me, it needs to be rooted in results-based strength-and-conditioning work. At the end of the day, my clients are paying me to help them realise their potential and get to where they want to be.”
The owner of City Athletic, which operates clubs in Bank and Victoria, Shaun has played rugby for Oxford University and has been crowned winner of both the WBFF European and WBFF Pro Fitness Model World championships. You’re in good hands, then.