Podcast Episode 9: Jonathan Bowman-Perks

Learning To Become A Leader, with Jonathan Bowman-Perks

Every personal trainer wants to have as much influence and success in the fitness industry as possible. That is only natural. However, many personal trainers don’t really know how to go about becoming leaders who command respect and high incomes. There are certain plans that you can put in place in order to maximise your earning potential and influence in the fitness world.

Branding yourself and having a keen eye for marketing is especially important in today’s digital world. If you harness the power of your own brand and become a leader, then there is no limit to what you can achieve.

It helps to have a formula in place. Today’s guest Jonathan Bowman-Perks has a very effective recipe for success: the eight steps for Inspiring Leadership. Each step is designed to maximise your potential in every area of your professional life.

“The Leader listens to people with palpable respect and an interest in where they are going next” – Jonathan Bowman-Perks

About Jonathan Bowman-Perks

Jonathan Bowman-Perks is a renowned leadership advisor, who has worked closely with some of the biggest businesses in the world. He has coached top leaders in global brands like Facebook, Amazon and Siemens and CEOs of many top Companies. He is the author of “Inspiring Leadership” which gives readers an insight into his methods.

He enables people to progress in their careers, opening up the possibility to greater earning power and increased job satisfaction.

He believes in keeping things simple. He wants to help you identify the key areas that benefit your leadership qualities. This will ensure that clients admire and respect your work as a personal trainer.

Show Highlights

  • How to determine what gives your life purpose
  • Why focusing on mental health is important to improve your leadership qualities
  • Why setbacks are important and how they can be used to build resilience
  • Why branding and marketing yourself is important as a leader
  • Why it is important to make a sustainable difference to those around you


“A leader has to persuade people to do things that they don’t want to do, and feel good about it.”

Connect with Jonathan Bowman-Perks

Website: http://www.jonathanperks.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jonathan.perks.77

Email: http://www.jonathanperks.com/


Interview Transcript

JH: Welcome to the Fit Man Collective podcast show. I am Joe Hanney, your host and founder of The Fit Man Collective. This is a show that helps you become a better personal trainer by becoming a better man, a fit man. On today’s show, I am pleased to announce that my guest goes by the name of Jonathan Bowman-Perks. Jonathan is the CEO’s trusted lead advisor and coach. He is involved in helping people to increase profit and influence in the marketplace.

He helps people find purpose and to increase their branding. He helps you become a better person and coach to clients, so this episode will bring you insight and practical tips. It could give you a different perspective on your current situation.

Jonathan has experience of being on both sides of the fence. He has hired personal trainers for him and his wife. He is also a truly magnificent coach himself. The episode offers a refreshing point of view on what you can really achieve as a personal trainer if you put your mind to it.

Hey, Jonathan welcome to the show, how are you?


JP: I’m very well indeed, thanks, Joe.


JH: Just for the audience who are listening to the Fit Man Collective show, could you give them a broader overview of who you are and what you are all about?


JP: Ok, well first let me talk about myself and my wife Leigh. We are trusted leadership advisors to CEOs, public figures, top teams and boards. We have set up the Institute Of Inspiring Leadership because it is about the charity work we do with leaders that want to put something back into society, as well as look after their physical fitness.

So we set up the Inspiring Leadership Trust For Disadvantaged Women and Children, in London, Kenya, South Africa and Nepal. The work that we do is speaking, facilitation, one-on-one coaching and mentoring. We love bringing in the latest thinking – I’m off next week to Harvard to one of their leadership programmes, in order to learn more. There is also neuroscience, and together with Dr Reuvin Bar-On, we’ve designed a psychometric test around what makes people inspiring leaders.

The theme today, and what we have been using for a long time is the Thinking Environment, which was designed by Nancy Kline. Indeed I am spending the day with Nancy tomorrow.


JH: I am very jealous of you meeting Nancy Kline. I read the book Inspiring Leadership and really took a lot from that. In regards to the inspiring leadership that you do Jonathan, it is based on eight principles, is that correct?


JP: If I perhaps explain very briefly, the whole theme of Inspiring Leadership. I was twenty years an army officer. For fifteen years I’ve been in business.

I’ve been the managing director of a PLC, I’ve been in PricewaterhouseCoopers and IBM as a consultant and leadership coach, and I have worked with some of the top brands around the world.

I have worked with Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, O2, Vodafone, John Lewis, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Emirates, IBMG, Siemens, Barclays and HSBC, so a whole range of really great clients to work with. Lee brings the experience of having been in the heart of businesses like Barclays and HSBC.

What is it that creates leaders who bring out the high performance in people? Both of us have written books from the research that we have done, mine was called Inspiring Leadership,  leadership lessons from my life. I’m a believer in a stoical philosophy, it’s something that you can talk at length with personal trainers, it’s a key aspect.

Leigh was writing about what made inspiring women leaders and about what brings them on, the confidence issues that hold them back. Her book was Inspiring Women Leaders.

In two month’s we are publishing our next book, which is a pocketbook of wisdom, Top Tips For Inspiring Leaders. It will be interesting for the personal trainers because it contains one and two liners of really practical advice that people can apply.

What was it that lead into the research for Inspiring Leaders? We worked with Dr Reuvin Bar-On from America and Israel, and we designed a psychometric to measure it.

This is an online tool that people can take. It involves the eight elements of Inspiring Leaders, I could talk about that in more detail. Would that be helpful?


JH: I relate to what you have just said and I’m sure the trainers will too. Especially the elements that people might not quite recognise. These could be a limiting factor in their overall development.


JP: I think that you are spot on. I’ve had a personal trainer called Andy Henson, we had weekly sessions and he came to our house. We converted the garage into a gym. We have a running machine in there, the weights and all the kit. We have both done triathlons. We did those in order to raise money for the charity. Until I am 62 I am going to be doing a triathlon every year.


JH: Sorry for interrupting – I’m doing my first one this year.


JP: I’ve done three now and I’m really hooked. I need to only do one a year, otherwise, you get a bit obsessed about it. Leigh has had a great trainer working with her, she can squat 80 kilos. That is like lifting me! This is a small, slim lady who is lifting 80 kilos. Her trainer is Nathan Newton-Willington. He has his own blog about food and nutrition. All this work was leading us to think about what are the eight principles?

The first is people’s True North. We call this people’s MQ and PQ. MQ is the moral quotient. Go to jonathanperks.com for the moral compass.

The compass moves around and can tell people about each different quotient. The key thing is “what is your integrity?”, whether you are a personal trainer or a client. What is it that you will do or you won’t do? What are their values and the principles that they will live by?

The second one is PQ: what gives your life purpose? Many of the clients that you are working with face the big issue of “what is my life about?” when they get into their 40s and their 50s. They are successful, they are doing well and they have their own personal trainer.

That can lead to some very powerful conversations. For your listeners, what is their life purpose? If you haven’t got your act together, how can you help to train anybody? Personal trainers who have read Inspiring Leaders have been made to think about this. You have to breathe life into those that you are with. You can’t do that if you are all over the place yourself.

It’s like someone waddling up to the weights saying that their client needs to work harder, yet they are not doing it themselves. Getting your meaning and purpose is important.

Health quotient is one of the elements. We’re into mental health and physical wellbeing. In our next book Top Tips, we have a great cartoon of someone wallowing in a sea of toxic waste. There is someone also jumping out of it and choosing not to stay in that toxic environment.

It is not just about what you are eating. It’s about mindfulness and thinking about yourself. I have a diary called The Five Minute Journal, about the whole mental attitude of what I want to focus on. That is HQ.

The fourth area is EQ and is not just about intelligence. For many years I thought I wasn’t very bright. When I was 7, my teacher told me I was thick because I couldn’t do my maths or spell. It turns out I was dyslexic and couldn’t spell.

I have proved them wrong by doing an MA, an MBA and being on the MBA programme at being a visiting professor at Cass Business School. It is not just how intelligent are you, but how are you intelligent?

There is a very good TED Talk by Ken Robinson, look at anything he does there. How do you get your wisdom and judgement? That is what we look at EQ on. This is about reading people and having a healthy relationship with clients; reading when they are up or down.

There is a book called What Every BODY is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent&8217;s Guide to Speed-Reading People. This is all about reading body language and is about emotional intelligence.

The final three are RQ (resilience and bouncing back). I’m sure that people listening have had a few setbacks. If you haven’t, you need to start learning from mistakes. If you think that you are the Golden Man or Woman, who never makes mistakes, then you have a problem.

I have made so many mistakes over the years. Hopefully, I won’t repeat them but they have given me the strength to be the person that I am. Leaders value the experiences and setbacks that I have had in the army or in business.

The last two start with Brand, which is BQ. This is key for personal trainers: what is your brand, representation, image and impact? What are you like on social media?

What do people say about you when you are not in the room?  I have chosen personal trainers because of referrals which mean that they are good and that I can respect them.

The final one is LQ, legacy. What sustainable difference have you made? This is where we do the charity work. Those are the eight components of Inspiring Leadership.

Within the inner circle are four elements. What are you doing to develop yourself? Relationships? The organisation? Your society – what are you putting back into the community? Those are the models we have created.


JH: I looked at the compass tool on your website. I looked at the different meanings and the principles behind them. I fully appreciate the work that has gone into this.

I have come to realise that I wasn’t as smart as I thought I was. I asked myself questions and it led me down a path of real self-discovery. I love the fact that you have included eight different principles because it covers everything.

Personal trainers may already have this down, but they may be too obsessive and create blind spots. Would you say that?


JP: One or two trainers are going through turmoil because they haven’t worked out what gives their life purpose. They thought that this could be a way to make money. How do they find more clients? Now they are scrambling around in their relationship with their partner. A couple of them have been focused on body image so they get into messy relationships but they never learn from them. “What was my part in all this, and how am I going to be different?”

These days everything is integrated, so you are bringing your whole self to the training with the client. They are bringing themselves to you and they may want to just focus on muscle strength and building up general fitness. They might be training for a triathlon. They are going to open up about their lives – my wife talks with Nathan about a whole range of different things. You have got to be able to handle that and you become a trusted advisor.

You have got to keep learning. The average person in the UK reads one nonfiction book a year, so if you read two then you are almost an expert. I make a point of reading 30 books a year. I download books on leadership on science.

Going to Harvard is an investment that I can make in order to help others. I encourage the listeners to read as much as possible and apply what they have learnt. It is no good just to spout rubbish. Live it yourself, that is what people will be impressed by.


JH: You are one of the first people who agree with me about trainers having their shit together. How hypocritical is it if you don’t own your own story?


JP: I knew that I had to get to a good place, to be the best that I could be. This allowed me to help my clients. There is another good book called Key Person of Influence (Revised Edition): The Five-Step Method to become one of the most highly valued and highly paid people in your industry. What is your perfect pitch, what are your products, what is your profile and who are the people that you are working with? Are you an author? Have you written something? I found that sorting my own life out and meeting Leigh, everything is aligned. It is very important that your personal trainers do the same. People can sniff out bullshit, whether you are living what you talk about.


JH: We are going to talk about how we can set up environments so that clients are empowered. The personal trainers listening should not think I am creating an excuse for them, but the industry standards are not that regulated. Learning stops at knowing how to put together an exercise programme and you might learn about nutrition. But there is never any information about the client’s mindset, lifestyle or even some of the principles that we have spoken about already. Setting an environment for trainers and clients to sit down and have a discussion.

For instance, the consultation that they may or may not have will be questions about their health. There is nothing about goal-setting, purpose or the real reasons why the clients came to the personal trainer. The trainer has to take it upon themselves to develop. How beneficial has that been to you and your business?


JP: I was trained by Nancy and she is one of the wisest people that I have come across. She is in her seventies and she continues to want to learn. There will be 30 other people at the workshop tomorrow and they have been trained in the Thinking Environment. The Thinking Environment is almost like a way of being, so if you can be a Thinking Environment for your client, you will have so much more repeat business and so much more success.

If you are scrambling to get the money in, it is all just about churning through large volumes of clients. As a leadership coach, I am lucky to be in the top quarter. When you become influential in your industry then you get well paid. I have seen trainers go up the scale of what they get paid and they set up their own centres. They can charge clients more.


JH: That was my point. If the trainer takes it upon themselves to develop then it does create an uncontested market space. Trainers often know about exercise and nutrition but nothing more. Adding value to self, becoming the key person of influence, creates an uncontested market space. It is an aggressive industry.


JP: That is a great point. I respect people who are just coming into the game, but I don’t respect those that are just going through the motions – just getting through the session. When you go back to them there is not much substance. You are a leader and you might have no one in your team but you. A leader has to persuade you to do things that you don’t want to do, and feel good about it. You have to get into the mindset of the person that you are with, to understand why they are really here. Is it about having the beach body? Is it about self-esteem and low confidence?

They don’t feel good about their gut or they want to tone up. Why are they really here? You can’t do that in the first session because you haven’t built up the trust and the confidence. You get behind that mask and into the real reasons. If you have got something more to you, you can use this Thinking Environment. You can bring more to the relationship than just a quick routine of “do a few climbs, and then do a few sit ups, squats and bench presses”. It has to be more than that. Does that make sense to you Joe?


JH: It makes perfect sense.


JP: Ok, so what else would be useful to know about the Thinking Environment? Should I share some stories on how people can use it, would that be helpful?


JH: We can touch on that and I’m sure that will be helpful, with an explanation of the main components. That helps you build trust and pull out information from the client. I don’t want to step on your toes and give away too much, but it allows a client to come up with a thinking space in order to find their own solutions.


JP: It is literally a way of being. I have come across some very irritating personal trainers who just talk at you constantly. A lot of it is drivel and it is just pouring out of them. There are others who have just a few words of wisdom, and they are fascinated in the client. They think that everyone has something to teach them. They are learning from their clients and they will use that in their future relationships with clients.

You need to show that you are really curious, you are listening to ignite their thinking rather than reloading (talking over them and pretending you’ve heard, only to go on with their own agenda). She has designed the ten components of the Thinking Environment.

The first one is Attention. This is described as listening to people with palpable respect and an interest in where they are going next, without any interruptions. The great question is “tell me what you are thinking about? What are your thoughts?”

The second component is Equality. And that is where you will take turns in talking. You can even say that. “How about we go each way?” They will tell you some thoughts and you will do the same. See them as an equal, but don’t see them as your superior or inferior – we are all humans and we all look the same on the lavatory seat, let’s treat each other equally.

The third component is Peace – being free from rush or urgency. I don’t know about you Joe, but I know when someone is listening to me and they seem to have all the time in the world. They are just calm and they are grounded. You just calm down too – I am very interested in health and wellbeing, like Joe Wicks. I am drinking my juice recommended by a trainer who has just written a book about juicing.

A lot of it is looking at heart rates. I put the blood-pressure monitor on my clients and I look at the Heart Map, which looks at the variation in beats. When you are thinking well, you have a coherent heart rate pattern. There is a whole area of health and wellbeing that allows physical athletes to become corporate athletes. This is the whole idea behind Inspiring Leadership.

You are actually in the energy business, you are not in the personal trainer business. You have to have a great amount of physical and mental energy.

The next is Appreciation, and appreciation of the ten components. Catching other people doing things right. Seeing what you notice in them that is good. I have just been in a meeting with a client who is the managing director of a business in the defence industry. We always end our meeting with an appreciation of one quality about each other. There is no reason why personal trainers can’t end their sessions by appreciating a quality about a client. The client then appreciates a quality about the trainer. That feedback helps trainers know what is working and what clients appreciate. This creates a virtuous loop of what works. How is that Joe?


JH: That is perfect. I am going to step into the trainers’ shoes so that they can understand what we are talking about. They will be able to appreciate this on a whole different level. We will start with Appreciation. I think that trainers jump down a client’s throat – either because they have not done something that was asked, or they have not followed through on a food journal or attending the gym. That list is pretty endless. When they do something well, they are not quick to show their appreciation. That is a big factor that I would like trainers to consider.

Even if the trainer thinks about their clients they had today. Just think about whether you showed any appreciation for what your client did or tried to do. They have to appreciate that clients are not as obsessed with their bodies as the trainers are. They have not been in the industry for 10-12 years, so they have not created habits. Appreciation is part of your five-minute routine in the morning. I do the same in the evening, just to appreciate what I have done for that day.

Attention stood out to me personally, and I was under the impression that I did give people attention. Nancy shared examples of me tapping my fingers, looking at my phone, being distracted, interrupting sentences and trying to come up with the answer for them. I was absolutely not paying attention. I can understand why clients didn’t feel appreciated or didn’t feel empowered to follow through on what was being asked. I didn’t provide an environment for them to feel confident. I want trainers to put themselves into my shoes and to think about the power of these components. Can you add to that?


JP: One of the other components is Diversity. You respect difference. The best trainers that I have been with are really present with you, so they are studying your form and watching your back. I trained with the Airborne in the army and I had a really bad landing with my back and my neck. I have to really manage that, whether it is a deadlift or a squat. I could easily put my back out.

So they are looking at the micro science of your form, but also they are interested in cues from you. When you are talking, they are really listening rather than seeing them lose interest because they are thinking what to do next.They are making it up on the hoof. That doesn’t give you as a client the feeling that they really care.

The keyword in this is “dignity”. You have dignity when someone hears you and sees you. In the Thinking Environment, what is powerful is that you really get a thoroughly good listening to. This is instead of a talking to, which is what most personal trainers do. If they don’t become present with their client then it is all about them and their image. For the really good ones, it is not about them at all, it is all about you. They are really grounded and really calm. They are inspiring because they adopt the mantra of “less is more”.


JH: I wrote a quote down from the website. You mentioned the focus on doing less and doing more. It is a great quote and I am going to share it. For the trainers who are listening, if you find yourself in a position where clients are not quite responding to what you are asking, give what is being talked about here some further thought. Do some further research. I will include the links and the show notes at the Fit Man Collective.

It is about creating some time to think. Do you have any lasting wisdom for the trainers? I really like the fact that you have worked with trainers and you have studied trainers. What advice would you leave trainers with?


JP: I think the key is being a role model. The motto at Sandhurst was “serve to lead”. You are in the service business and you are there to really make a difference. If you can touch the life of one of your clients, then they are inspired by you.

They want to change what they eat and their whole body composition. They are changing their lifestyle, because of meeting you. They really like the way that you show up. I think that would be my wisdom.

My website is www.jonathanperks.com. My wife is leigh@clareonpotential.com We are doing some work on our website at the moment, the Inspiring Leadership site. I’m happy to bounce ideas off people if it helps them. Remember that as a personal trainer you are really changing lives and touching them. You are making sure that the experience they have is a good one.


JH: This is where I will wrap up the show. Speaking from experience, clients speak of you being life-changing, rather than “you helped me lose a couple of pounds and a dress size”. This leaves a memorable impression by implementing what we have spoken about. I appreciate your time, it has been very insightful and I’m sure the trainers agree with me.


JP: Thank you, it has been a pleasure. I wish you every success and I am really impressed with what you are doing as a business. I have enjoyed the interactions we have had. You are a role model for what you are talking about.


JH: Jonathan Bowman-Perks. A very smart man. Thank you for giving us your time. The Fit Man Collective group is going through a massive upgrade as we speak. Pop over to www.thefitmancollective.com. You can get access to links, show notes and any other resources that were mentioned.

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