I recently reached out to the CEO, John Treharne, of the widely-known UK based gym company, The Gym. Luckily, I could steal a couple of minutes from the CEO’s incredibly busy schedule and ask a few questions. Below, are detailed answers that I believe will offer value for people both inside and outside of the fitness industry.

John studied economics at the University College of London, graduating with a 2:1. Shortly after this time, he secured a place on the England squash team in 1982, and was on the British racquetball team for 3 years. In 1985, John decided to knuckle-down and get to work. He joined Coral Leisure and trained in accountancy, while running the commercial squash division. After 5 years, he noticed an opportunity in the market for health clubs as David Lloyd had recently opened. This created his first business venture, Dragon Health Clubs, in 1998, which expanded to 21 sites across the UK. Although, it was eventually closed due the closing of the established private equity fund.

Following this, John researched several low-cost gyms in the US and Germany, and was impressed by their successful business model for short term membership contracts. This resulted in John launching The Gym in 2007, making health clubs accessible to all waves of people for a no-frills fitness experience. At its first site in Brighton, over 6,000 people were happy to pay the 9.99 joining fee before the gym even opened. Since then, over 100+ Gyms have opened across the UK.

Below are the questions I was able to ask John about his career.


Q: What attracted you to a life of entrepreneurship rather than the standard 9-5?

John: I’ve always preferred leading a team and never liked the traditional restrictions standard work puts around you.


Q: If you could restart your career, what would you do differently?

John: I wouldn’t change anything. It’s been an exciting journey, and the inability to manage absolutely everything makes it even more so.


Q: Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your younger self?

John:  Let the manager manage…. Be in love with the business, not the game.


Q: What would be your best advice, for growing and developing a brand?

John: Learn from others first, before you try it. This will dramatically reduce the risk of failure at your expense.


Q: What, in your opinion, stops the majority of society from pursuing their goals and dreams?

John: It is due to the concern about the risks involved and the potential downside of failure… Most start-ups go bust, within the two years of set up!


One of the main takeaways from these answers, I believe, is the mind set. If you strive to achieve great things in your life, the mind set and attitude is key for creating the desired results. To succeed in either your business, or a career, you are required to take risks and pour your passion into your chosen field. No matter what path you chose to follow, you will experience moments of failure. The difference is, will you roll over and give up? Or will you learn from the experience, and come back stronger next time?

Something you can take away from John is the enjoyment he took in the unpredictability of business. Throughout his career, he had no guarantee of success. If his business had gone south, he would have been in astronomical debt. However, by believing in his business and enjoying the process, he created one of the largest and fastest growing gym businesses in the UK, with more and more gyms opening up every year!

We hope these lessons resonate with you, and help you with some of your own goals in life. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at deusperform@gmail.com.


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