Cover Photo: Ultimate Performance

As the CEO of a global company who also juggles other responsibilities such as being a father, this is how Nick Mitchell finds the time to get it all done

How I’m Making It is a weekly series in which Tatler speaks to influential individuals about their unique journeys and what keeps them going.

Judging by his impressive physique, one would automatically assume that Nick Mitchell has been in the fitness industry all his life. However, the personal trainer, author and owner of Ultimate Performance, began his career as a banker armed with a law degree. 

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After graduating from law school, Mitchell quickly realised that being in the legal industry was not for him. 

“My parents had pretty high expectations. They believed in the traditional paths of becoming a doctor or lawyer and having a proper job. But that wasn’t me,” Mitchell shared. “So I quit law and I decided to try a few different professions. I went into banking and tried that out for a bit but I was waking up every morning going to work in London and hating my life. I kept thinking that there had to be more than just this.”

Miserable and feeling stuck, Mitchell started wondering if perhaps there was a different career that would be more suited to him. “Maybe you can call it a mid-life crisis but at the age of 34, I saw a friend who was doing personal training and, I mean, I’ve been going to the gym since I was 14. So I started wondering if maybe I could try being a personal trainer.”

It took a long period of deliberation but Mitchell finally decided to take the plunge. “I was scared and nervous. I don’t think I’ve ever been this scared or nervous but honestly, that helped me so much because fear just gave me the biggest kick in the backside I’ve ever had in my life,” he shared. “I didn’t want to be in my 40s thinking what might have been and wondering why I stayed stuck in a job I wasn’t happy in. So I just went for it.”

Despite the fact that he hid his career from his parents initially, as someone who was a former competitive physique athlete, Mitchell already had several decades of practical experience in coaching athletic excellence under his belt and was able to hit the ground running. “I hid it from my parents until I got my first big article about myself out. That was when I kind of said, look, I’ve decided to do this and I’m going to embrace it,” he said.

Mitchell started Ultimate Performance in 2009 when he set up his first gym in London. The gym focuses on personal training and today operates all over the globe including in cities such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Los Angeles, and Amsterdam.

However, upon launching the gym, Mitchell very quickly realised a crucial problem. “When you’re trying to build a personal training business, you’re basically swimming against the tide in the fitness industry because commercial gyms dominate the fitness landscape and they hire freelance trainers and basically care a lot more about money,” Mitchell explained.

“So you’re fighting against this dominant business model which is all about numbers but we wanted to build a personal training space where we looked at trainers with a long-term lens and we wanted to build them up and have them grow which was difficult at the start,” he continued. 

He added that it was also difficult to attract clients because the gym promoted drastic and quick results and many people simply did not believe that this was possible.

“So almost every client that came through our doors was forced to suspend their disbelief because they thought it was too good to be true in the fitness industry,” Mitchell said with a laugh. 

Of course, there is no quick or easy way to lose weight or improve your fitness and Mitchell understands this—and this may be why Ultimate Performance continues to perform well in the industry. 

The organisation uses intelligent processes, well-rounded schedules and meticulous planning and pays attention to detail with each of its clients as they help them achieve their goals quickly and effectively. 

It uses a combination of online and physical training, nutritious meal plans and targeted resistance training to get its clients to where they need or want to be with their body composition goals.

Mitchell is also always on top of everything that happens in the fitness industry and regularly updates methods and technology, making him the top choice for high profile clients such as summer and winter Olympic medallists.

As someone who believes that everyone is different and that a real-world application is needed in this day and age, Mitchell has certainly earned his share of fans and has been invited to write for many magazines such as Men’s Health, Red, Vogue and more. 

He has even contributed to national newspapers in Europe, appeared on the BBC and ITV, and, even wrote two of his own books. The 12 Week Body Plan was his first book and the self-help book quickly tore through the ranks to become Amazon UK’s number one fitness book for 2013 and a Top 100 Overall book for that same year.

He later published The 6 Week Muscle Plan which once again became the number one Amazon UK Kindle book at the time. 

Today, with an elite personal training team from around the world and gyms across four continents of the globe, Ultimate Performance is only soaring to greater heights with Mitchell at the helm. 

As Mitchell balances working out, his career, his family and more, here’s how he does it all in his own words.

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What do you usually have for breakfast?

Nick Mitchell (NM): I have the same breakfast almost every day, which is not always good because you shouldn’t have to eat the same foods all the time. I have five eggs, scrambled, and I have that with goat’s cheese and tomatoes as well as watercress, sauerkraut, cashews, and a coffee. That sets me up for the day and then I don’t usually have lunch. 

What does a standard workday look like for you?

NM: I’m usually up at 6 am and I clear my emails and have breakfast at around 10 or 11 am. I usually do four to six hours of video calls a day. I probably do 10 to 12 hours of work a day, six days a week.

Many people talk about having it all but I know that I’m not capable of that. While it would be fantastic to have a thriving social life, family and business, I can’t do it all so I focus on what I can achieve which is health and fitness as well as my family and business. 

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How would you describe your working style?

NM: I’m very unflinching and positive. So there’s this management concept called Radical Candor. So it means if you work for me, my goal is to build you up. I’m doing my job if when it comes time to review their pay, my employees have a fantastic case for me to pay them more. That means they’re adding more value. I tell you when you do a good job. You should know when you’ve done a good job, I should build you up. But at the same time, I’m going to work with you to improve what you’re doing. So it’s always about improving as a team.

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Free time: overrated or underrated? Why?

NM: It depends. Do you need free time to decompress? Yes of course. I think it’s essential to listen to your brain and respect your body in whatever capacity suits you best. For example, exercise to me is my free time in a way. 

How do you manage stress?

NM: I get a massage every week when a therapist comes to my house. I also get physical therapy and that is my decompression time. I also spend time with my kids which helps me to destress. Aside from that, I exercise and do weight training which is like meditation for me. You can’t compartmentalise mental health because it is so intrinsically linked to everything else.

How do you achieve a work-life balance? How do you set boundaries?

NM: Well, I mean work-life balance happens if your work has meaning I believe. My work is my life. This is my life. This is my business. So you need to try to find work that has meaning.

I do think it’s very important for someone like me to look out there and remember that not everybody is wired like me. So you have to respect the boundaries of the people who work for you and you have to understand that I’m going to push you. You need to learn how far they want to go and I think it’s the same with respecting work and life.

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Risks: should you take them? Why or why not?

NM: I’m going to be boring. It depends. My risk profile and your risk profile are two totally different things. So it’s about honest communication with yourself. Take the risks that you feel comfortable taking, and only take the risks that you feel comfortable taking. 

How do you deal with your shortcomings?

NM: So from a professional perspective, my shortcoming would be that I’m quite sharp. I tend to write sharp emails very specifically.  So to mitigate that, I’ll usually write the email and sit on it for 24 hours and wait till I’m relaxed. So that’s how I handle that more challenging aspect. 

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What is the best piece of advice that you have ever gotten?

NM: Honestly, it’s such a cliche but, you get out what you put in.

How do you stay motivated?

NM: I don’t think I have achieved my full potential and that’s what keeps me motivated and striving for the things that fulfil me. We’re all different. We’re all on a spectrum. So it’s what we do to fulfil ourselves that keeps me going.

What is the last thing you do before you go to bed?

NM: I take my magnesium supplement and then I tend to read and fall asleep. I normally go to bed at 10.30 pm.


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