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Proathlon: A Q&A with founders, Simon Jackson and Rachel Surgeoner, on redefining fitness

  • January 7, 2024
  • 4 min read
Proathlon: A Q&A with founders, Simon Jackson and Rachel Surgeoner, on redefining fitness

Q1: How did the idea for Proathlon come about, and what motivated you to create a fitness centre that focuses on small group personal training?

A: Rachel Surgeoner, my wife and co-founder of PROATHLON, planted the seed for setting up our own facility. We both worked as freelance personal trainers at Fitness First in Paternoster Square, running successful small group training programs. However, coaching in a busy gym became frustrating. We explored the idea of opening our own facility focused on small group personal training, offering high-level coaching at a fraction of the cost of 1:1 sessions. After a ski trip, Rachel found the commercial unit on 21 Ludgate Hill, and Proathlon was born.

Rachel Surgeoner Proathlon

Q2: Can you share more about the unique features of Proathlon’s small group personal training sessions and how they differ from traditional fitness classes?

A: Our small group sessions prioritise coaching, making them more comparable to 1:1 training than traditional classes. With a maximum group size of six, we can offer individual coaching, catering to diverse fitness levels. Our bias towards weight training, using a variety of equipment, ensures members become proficient in many exercises.

Small Group Personal Training, Proathlon

Q3: In a market filled with various fitness options, what do you believe sets Proathlon apart, especially in terms of personalised support?

A: Our program delivers results, with members getting fitter, stronger, and increasing muscle mass. Every member receives a personalised lifestyle and nutrition plan, joining a private Facebook group for nutrition education. Regular check-ins for review and improvement contribute to a holistic approach to health and fitness.

Q4: The combination of personalised training plans, nutrition support, and ongoing assessments is a comprehensive approach. How did you come up with this holistic approach to fitness, and what benefits have you seen for clients?

A: We recognized that without focusing on nutrition, daily non-exercise activity, and recovery, members would achieve average results at best. Our holistic approach not only reduces body fat but also improves overall health, mood, energy levels, sleep, and more.

Q5: Can you elaborate on the range of classes Proathlon offers, and how do you ensure each class caters to diverse fitness levels?

A: We offer weight training and sweat sessions. Weight training focuses on coaching safe and effective techniques, while sweat sessions are high-energy and great for cardiovascular fitness. New members go through a 1:1 initial assessment, guiding them to the most suitable sessions.

Q6: The dedication of your expert trainers is highlighted. How do you go about selecting and training your trainers to ensure they align with Proathlon’s commitment to client success?

A: Finding exceptional, passionate trainers who are also nice people is challenging. Our team, together for over eight years, regularly meets to fine-tune programs and discuss client progress, ensuring alignment with Proathlon’s commitment to success.

Q7: Could you share a success story or an example where a client’s fitness goals were achieved through Proathlon’s training programs and support?

A: Karin Zarnack, aiming to reduce body fat, experienced transformative results through a personalised program combining weight training, reduced high-intensity sessions, and careful nutrition monitoring. Another success story is Nick Harrison, who lost 12 kg of fat mass while improving overall fitness, strength, and well-being.

Q8: As the owner, what challenges have you faced in establishing and running Proathlon, and how have you overcome them?

A: The greatest challenge has been COVID-19, prompting a quick shift to online sessions. Support from the community was crucial. Juggling multiple roles led to employing a business coach, facilitating systemization and delegation, allowing a focus on working on the business, not just in it.

Q9: How do you stay updated with the latest trends and research in fitness, and how does this knowledge influence the programs and services offered at Proathlon?

A: Continuing professional development is at the heart of PROATHLON. We submit points annually to exercise professional registers. If a new exercise, program, or nutrition intervention holds value, we include it after putting ourselves through it first.

Q10: Looking ahead, do you have any plans for expanding or introducing new features and programs at Proathlon? How do you envision the future of the fitness centre?

A: In 2024, we’re doubling our timetable, introducing two new weight training sessions and one new sweat session. Expansion is on the horizon, making Proathlon an exciting space to watch.

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Emma Trehane

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