Meet Joe Hanney

Entrepreneur, adventurer, and Fit Man…

In 1983, on one of the roughest estates in Leicester, Joe arrived. Despite a crappy set of cards, he made out alright. Best known as the founder of U Fit Studio, an innovative, results-driven personal training studio (sold in order to create time and energy to help other trainers create their success, too).

You’re here. And if you’re going to listen to this guy, you don’t want a slouch. Accolades matter:

  • 2008 IFS Personal Trainer of the Year

  • 2012 IFS Health and Fitness Manager of the Year

  • 2013 Coached a staff member of UFit to win IFS Personal Trainer of the Year

  • 2015 Niche Best Health and Wellness Business of the Year in Leicestershire

  • Master architect of the famous Dine on a Diet program, creating menus for 8 different restaurants

  • Two-time special guest judge for Miss Great Britain

  • Special guest judge for Leicester’s Got Talent

  • Health and Fitness Mentor at Roger James Hamilton’s ILAB Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program in Bali

  • Special Olympics Ambassador

  • Raising £50,000 for Youth Sport Trust

Are you a personaltrainer looking for business related strategies? Or perhaps a male personal trainer or studio owner who needs personal coaching? As in you have a perfectly good business, but there’s the sneaking suspicion it’s you who could be getting in your own way?

Accolades matter, but there’s more to this game than achievement. There’s the emotional stuff which people in this hyper masculine industry tend to avoid, but is absolutely critical to get a handle on in order to achieve what’s really possible.

Here’s how Joe did it, in his own words …

I’m no hero, but, like you, I have an origin story.

Grew up in a household where money was a hot issue. I fought for my parents’ attention, like it was my job, but they were more interested in arguing about bills and how much they owed each other. I arrived when they were just 18 and 21, and I realised they saw me as a burden. Harsh thing to know so young. So, I ended up spending the majority of my time with grandparents. Frankly, I was embarrassed. Sometimes, still am.

The effect of all that is a predictable script. Seeing how mum and dad argued shaped how I behaved in relationships. My dad said some ripe stuff, like “Joe, don’t ever trust women, even your mum, because all they do is lie and steal from you … never settle down.” Good times when I got that telephone call from dad’s mistress. I had to tell mum. That left a mark, on both of us.

No money for a car, so had to walk home from training at the Leicester City Football Academy. I’d hide behind shrub rows to avoid my team-mates as they drove by with their parents. How to cope? I doubled down with training. Some called it obsessive. I called it heart and soul. It was my only way to becoming a pro footballer. My only escape.

But, it was a castle in the sky. Injuries caught up with me. Instead of offering support, my mum berated me. Called me a failure for letting the family down. That left a mark. So, when I started my journey as a personal trainer, I was shy and quiet.

It was the role I knew. My position in life. The great fitness guru Alwyn Cosgrove even nicknamed me ‘Silent Joe’ on his Results Fitness Internship. Spare the old metaphor, but I had to come out of my shell.

I went hardcore. 60+ hours a week. First in gyms. Then as an independent trainer. I paid attention. I studied people — the one good thing I learned from my parents, from studying them. Now, there were people who I could help. Who actually wanted my help. Freely gave and received attention.

I learned about “mindset” and human behaviour,  and applied that in practical ways to reach my clients on a deeper level. With me, they got toned and got their mind right. Lives were changed. Dress sizes were reduced.

Fast forward. Two years of running my own gym put twenty years on my face.

Not kidding. I had to deal with fraudulent landlords. Electricity being turned off. The company was made insolvent at one point. Despite this, I soldiered on and created a successful results-driven fitness studio. Created something rare in business: made the competition irrelevant, and carved out an uncontested market space.

But then the success went to my head. I became reckless and crashed my Mercedes while drink-driving. Something had to change …

HOW I BECAME ‘THE FIT MAN’

I swallowed my pride. Began to receive coaching on my mindset and behavior (yes, coaches who teach this absolutely need it too). I learned to look inward. Which meant I dared to look inward. What did the mirror-mirror say?

I was pushing people away in relationships and punishing myself for my success. I believed that money would bring me the confidence that I was lacking in, but outwardly portrayed. How people spend their money says a lot about what’s happening inside. I thought my Mercedes, Boss suit, and Breitling watch were saying one thing, though they were really saying another.

During this time, I knew I was entering a strange place. A place that men have been led to believe are un-masculine and unusual in the fitness industry. While the “real men” continued on smashing iron, I wanted something more. I broke my life down into three areas: Fitness, Family and Freedom.

Fitness

This is how the confessions of a personal trainer blog emerged. I was able to help my coaches at the U Fit Studio reach their full potential by understanding the importance of their own mindset and behaviour patterns.

Mindsets and behaviour patterns of coaches have a direct impact on clients.

We built the first results-driven personal trainer development program and have been successfully teaching this to personal trainers for half a decade. You can learn more about that here.

Family

My father taught me to keep women at a distance. To shield myself. But it takes a real man to flip that script. Altering my mindset and behavioural patterns, I found love on the island of Bali. I met Lili.

Instead of pushing her away and focusing on my business, I opened up to her completely. When I am vulnerable, she gives me strength. True purpose, it seems, was far beyond the four walls of my UK gym.

Freedom

I have a weekly podcast called “The Fit Man Collective” where I delve into some of the greatest minds in the fitness industry. My aim is to help you level-up as personal trainers. To do that, you must realise there is more to fitness than the “perfect workout” or counting calories. Like the benefits of reading a good book, the people I interview offer mindset and behavioural hacks to help you and, by extension, the clients you passionately train.

You can listen to the podcasts here.

You may not be where you want to be. But instead of beating yourself up, ask yourself why you aren’t where you need to be. Your mindset and behavioural patterns may be negative. Or the patterns in your business may be negative.

Fixing that is the challenge, and goes straight to the heart of redefining what a man can be in this life. To become a better man. And by becoming a better man, you can become a better personal trainer. Sign up now for my email newsletter, and receive weekly stories that’ll inspire and motivate you on your path to the additional gains which really matter.