Words & Photography Kirk Truman
Once the home of London’s rag trade, Great Titchfield Street has more recently become home to a wave of thriving new businesses, ranging from dining – some of the best cafes in Central London are to be found here – to health and fitness. PerformancePro, co-founder Anthony Purcell tells me, arrived in Fitzrovia six years ago, because this was where its clients lived and worked.
After a career in fashion, Anthony went back to university to begin a new career as a personal trainer. “I gave up my role as a buyer at Paul Smith and took on a job as a cycle courier, which ignited a new passion for fitness and cycling,” he says. While working at a private personal training business, he met his PerformancePro co-founders Mat Grove and Daniel Boulle, and they decided to unite in creating their own fitness space and gym. “We always had a view of making the space a full circle of care for clients – physio, nutrition and science-led personal training,” explains Anthony. “At PerformancePro, we are a group of educated trainers who understand the science behind training. We believe in training people as if they were athletes. Basically, we train Londoners – and that can be anybody from financiers to creatives, from Fitzrovia and beyond.”
One such Londoner, no stranger to exercise himself, is Spandau Ballet’s Gary Kemp, a keen cyclist. In 1981, Spandau Ballet’s first album, Journeys to Glory, turned the band into a household name and launched Gary’s career as a popular musician, respected songwriter and successful actor. Away from his life in the music industry and the stage, Gary has developed a passion for life on two wheels, and keeps up a regular training programme at PerformancePro. “I got into cycling about 10 years ago and discovered a real passion for the sport. I guess you could say it quickly became an obsession. I came to realise that cycling wasn’t only about spending time on the road, but about strength training to enable this. You might say that cyclists often forget about their top half, putting their energy below their waists. Originally, I begun working with PerformancePro to develop my cycling technique, stamina and general fitness,” says Gary. “Anthony and I met through our mutual passion for cycling, and later embarked on a number of group cycling trips in the UK and Europe. Since my mid-twenties I’ve tried to work out at least three times a week, maybe more – sort of essential and difficult at the same time when you’re spending so much time on and off stage in a band. I have trained with Anthony for a number of years now at PerformancePro. For me, having a trainer encourages me to push myself, and continues to further educate me about my own physical health.”
Gary explains that about 20 years ago, he had “an embarrassing rollerblading accident” in Toronto in which he broke his wrist and injured his shoulder. The injury, combined with years of playing guitar on tour, later required surgery to fix his broken shoulder tendon. “I spent six weeks with my arm in a sling. Though the real recovery from the injury itself came from the rehab I received, and the fitness regime built around my injury by Anthony and PerformancePro. It was key that I took the time to build up my strength again, otherwise I could’ve easily have ended up with a frozen shoulder in the long run. I guess this is a consequence of nearing 60 – you need to seriously take care of yourself!” he laughs. Luckily for Gary, he can call PerformancePro his local gym and Anthony his trainer.
As a regular myself, I can report that sessions are led by trainers who help with nutrition and realistic health goals in an environment which is tailored to your individual needs, and with no more than six people in the gym environment at any given time. PerformancePro is bespoke, small and highly praised by its regulars, who value its focus on rehabilitation as well as personal goals.
Thanks to all of our readers who attended our recent panel discussion with Gary Kemp at PerformancePro. For those of you who didn’t we would like to offer you a FREE 75 Min consultation with the team at PerformancePro which involves a little bit of investigation and a gym based assessment. After the consultation a 10% discount will be added to any purchase of 10 or more sessions.