James Conci-Mitchell is the founder of Six3Nine, a boutique, members-only gym in Covent Garden. A second SIX3NINE is due to launch on Gun Street in the City this autumn. Here, Conci-Mitchell talks to Brummell about the challenges of lockdown, reopening and how a bespoke and sensitive approach to fitness and nutrition makes the Six3Nine’s experience unique.
Can you tell us a bit about Six3Nine and how you started it?
I was a trainer working out of a five-star hotel prior to setting up Six3Nine and over the years I kept thinking that I’d not seen a personal trainer (PT) provider do things the way I thought they should be done. You see, personal training in those days comprised pretty much entirely of self-employed trainers paying rent to work in a gym or studio. What this did was produce a competitive environment among the trainers as they were essentially competing for business. Of course, this meant that most PT’s wouldn’t work together, and the result was that the clients got a diminished service.
With Six3Nine we wanted to build a space were the trainers worked as a team, with our clients progress central to our ethos. This is why our trainers are salaried rather than self-employed and must be motivated team players in order to get past our vetting process. Our trainers are a diverse bunch with different skills and specialisations. At Six3Nine the PT’s will work together in order to match those skills depending on the clients needs. That means our clients get a huge knowledge pool to draw upon when they train with us, something we know they value greatly.
What motivated you to open a new branch of Six3Nine in the City?
When I started Six3Nine I wanted to change the industry. I was frustrated with all the nonsense thrown about by influencers and fitness companies promising the world and delivering very little bar confusion. However, while my enthusiasm is still there to have an impact, I’ve realised that trying to shout loudest isn’t always the best way of being heard. Instead I’d rather focus on changing things bit by bit through who we can influence directly. The new Six3Nine in the City is one step towards that goal. Here we can influence more people directly through our trainers and the relationships that they build with their clients. It might not be the fastest way to get the right message out, but we won’t have to compromise on message either.
What can people look forward to from the new Gun Street gym?
Honest, down-to-earth training conducted by motivated trainers who have integrity; a rare thing these days. Of course, it’s also a fantastically equipped and beautiful space, that’s not what’s central to Six3Nine, but rather the cherry on top of the cake. Our trainers are the heart and soul of our business, and they will go out of their way to ensure that their clients get to their goals while having fun and learning all the way.
What workouts and training does Six3Nine specialise in?
While the majority of our work revolves around bespoke resistance training with nutritional support, there isn’t a Six3Nine way of training. We remain focused on our clients and as each and every one of them is different our trainers need to be able to build and support programs that match their needs rather than try and shoehorn people into a ‘system’. Be it fat loss, preparing for an event, building some muscle or injury rehab, we have trainers with the skills to get you to your goals.
How did you adapt to lockdown and what lessons will you be taking with you now gyms are reopening?
Luckily, we had spent time prior to the lockdown developing an online coaching option. When the proverbial hit the fan, we had to accelerate and implement this faster than we’d have liked, but luckily our clients supported us and so we’ve been hit less than some. If there’s one thing we’ve learnt is that all the work we’ve put into building positive relations with our clients was well worth it. The goodwill we’ve shown them over the years was certainly returned when we needed it, and long may that continue. We now offer fully remote sessions, conducted live with a trainer as well as tailored programming with weekly check-in support.
What are your tips for staying motivated when working out from home?
Set a time and just get on with it. Also, be relaxed about your goals when things outside your control change. For example, you’re not going to be in the best position to maximise muscle growth without access to a gym, however, you can work on your condition or fitness. As a self-confessed gym bunny myself it took a few weeks for me to take on board the situation, but I’m now running my fastest 5km in years! Stay flexible and focus on what you can change rather than what you can’t.
Many of our readers work in demanding jobs in the City. Is it important to find time to exercise even if you have a high-pressure job?
Physical activity is, of course, important especially in order to build the resilience required to deal with pressure and stress. There is a big ‘however’ here though, and it’s that your training shouldn’t add to the stress you’re dealing with in your life but rather help relieve it. How this works in practice varies from one person to the next, with some needing to vent and others relax, but having a coach on hand to discuss things and change things up depending on what’s going on in your life can be a real asset here. In fact, it’s the major advantage a real flesh and blood trainer has over all the apps and online stuff in the industry and something that can’t be replaced.
In your opinion, what is the best way to start the day?
A decent night’s sleep behind you and a cup of coffee in hand. In all seriousness though, sleep is the one thing a lot of people don’t take seriously, and they should. The holy trinity of being fit and healthy comprises of stimulation (training), nutrition and recovery. Sleep makes up huge part of your recovery and as such is essential if you want to achieve your goals. Most would benefit hugely from spending a little more time getting their head down.
What piece of gym equipment can you not live without?
Personally, I would struggle without access to a barbell, but then I’m an old bloke who grew up in sweat and sawdust gyms. The truth is, no piece of kit is essential and keeping an open mind is the key to not only being effective with your training, but also living a stress free life.