With gyms across the world closed for the best part of the last year and a half, millions of us have moved onto the internet in search of some movement motivation.
Luckily, there are no shortage of top fitness trainers out there ready to inspire the masses. One man who can certainly be counted amongst this group is Luke Worthington, top fitness trainer to the stars. Having worked with everyone from Hollywood A-listers, European royalty and English sporting legends, Luke has a clear passion for helping his clients maximise their potential and reach their every fitness goal.
This week, DDW caught up with Luke to find out how he got into the industry, what have been his all-time favourite career moments so far and how he prefers to spend that all-important downtime after a busy day…
Hi, Luke! Tell us a little about yourself and your business.
I am a personal trainer and educator, based in central London. My business has three parts: elevate the industry (improving the standards within the Health and Fitness Industry as whole through education seminars and events aimed at other professionals), educate the consumer (create a more discerning customer for the industry by providing accessible and useable information about health and fitness through social media, public speaking and media engagements) and training clients.
I am a big believer that anyone commenting on any industry needs to remain an active part of it. I have spent 23 years training a broad range of clients from general population and weight loss, through to complex rehabilitation and optimising performance of elite athletes at World and Olympic level. In recent years I have cultivated a niche in using strength and conditioning principles developed for elite sports and adopting them for use in the entertainment world – specifically preparing performers for roles on stage or screen that both require a particular aesthetic, but also have specific physical demands.
How did you get into the fitness industry?
It is actually all I ever wanted to do! From a very young age I was obsessed with how and why some people were better at different activities than other people and from as early as I can remember I read as much as I could about the human body and what it could do.
I recently found some old stick man drawings I had made as a 12 year old making up different types of exercise – I have just turned 42 years old so, in many ways, I’ve been doing the same thing for 30 years!
My first ‘gym job’ was as a 17 year old in 1997 at the South Bank Sports Centre – essentially, as a glorified cleaner. In those days, that was the only way into the industry – clean and tidy the gym, maintain the equipment, set up courts for squash, badminton, basketball etc.
Two years after that I took on my first paying client, who was a friend’s mother! It wasn’t until almost 20 years later when I signed to Nike.
What have been the highlights of your career so far?
I have been fortunate enough to physically prepare clients for some very high profile achievements, including world titles and Oscar and Emmy award-winning screen performances.
It would be quite hard to separate out one of these over another – working with a client to achieve their goals is something that you never get bored of. It’s all as special as each other.
A personal highlight of mine is probably working with the England legends football team! It was for an ITV documentary series and I had 12 weeks to bring them out of retirement and prepare them for one last game for England against their arch-rivals, Germany.
It was a challenge, but a thoroughly rewarding one (they won!) and getting to work every day with some childhood heroes of mine was something I won’t forget in a hurry.
Describe an average working day for you…
A typical day will start at 5.30am with walking my dog around the park, getting breakfast and then getting to the gym for 7.30am. I usually see my private clients from 7.30am until 2pm, then have some time for my own workout.
From 4pm until 7pm I’ll either see evening clients or, if I’m working on their [stage] show, this is when we’ll have some preparation work to do before curtain up.
I used to spend evenings answering email queries and responding to online comments but, these days, I’ve become more disciplined in switching off after 7pm. Any messages I receive after this time, I’ll deal with during the following day. Having this down time every evening has been crucial to being able to keep delivering at a high level for a long period of time
What are the questions you’re asked the most about your business?
From young trainers the most common question is how to elevate their profile – whereas really I think trainers should be spending the first 5-10 years of their career elevating their skills and knowledge. The most effective marketing tool is to have a first rate product!
What excites you the most about your work?
I want to make wholesale changes to the health and fitness industry – in the post-pandemic era there is an expression of health being the new wealth. However, that doesn’t stack up if access to health is only available to the wealthy…
Throughout the social media era, the health and fitness industry has become ‘cool’ and the landscape has shifted away from people wanting to improve the lives and wellbeing of others and towards those wanting ‘Insta-fame’. I have a long term goal of restoring confidence in the industry and making useful information available to everyone, at the same time as continuing to raise the standards within the industry by keeping holistic health at the forefront of all that we do.
How do you like to spend your free time?
I love being entertained with live music, theatre, cinema – anywhere that I can go and be entertained by someone else!
I think this probably comes from my working day being me setting the tone and pace of everything – I like to switch off by having someone else do it.
Describe your perfect holiday.
Right now, anywhere abroad!
It’s just passing the two year anniversary since I’ve stepped on a plane. I’m hoping to be able to go to Thailand over Christmas and New Year for a two week break. Phuket in Thailand has a great combination of being able to be active if you want or sit on a beach if you don’t!
If you hadn’t gone into business in the fitness industry, what do you think you might have done instead?
Strange as it sounds, [I’d have been] a forensic psychologist! I love learning about psychology and how our minds and personalities develop – and I’m a sucker for a true crime documentary, so probably combining those two!
Do you have any advice to those looking to follow in your footsteps?
Be consistent! Currently, the industry tends to move in fads. One moment, everyone is talking about primal movement patterns, next it’s crossfit, then it’s mindfulness and sprinting.
Don’t be tempted to jump on the next bandwagon of what seems to be ‘cool’ at the time – just be consistent with the things you enjoy, when you enjoy them you’ll become good at them. When you become very good at something you become the ‘go to’ person for whatever that may be – so when the time comes for your ’thing’ to be popular, you’re already perfectly positioned!
If you want to turn your passion into a career, you should consider getting a fitness instructor job.
You can follow Luke on Instagram here.