More than just dress sizes and abs: state-of-the-art Lancashire gym giving North West teenagers a fitness education

In the vapid world of social media, it can be easy to think that ‘fitness’ applies solely to six-packs and dropping a dress size.
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For the generations of young people growing up online, such shallow interpretations can be harmful, and so, to combat such misguided notions, the co-founder of one of Lancashire’s best gyms recently set the record straight.

Heading down to St Wilfrid's Church of England Academy, Jack Brunet - who co-founded the Bamber Bridge-based gym Thrive: Optimal Human Performance with his business partner Patrick O’Keeffe - spoke to Year 12s and 13s about the importance of mental health, holistic physical fitness, and not only how to forge a career in the fitness industry, but what it takes, too.

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Jack was invited to speak to the kids by the school’s Student Welfare Officer Amanda Watson, who is a member at Thrive, and took the opportunity to outline certain key principles which apply both to personal and professional success as well as to mental and physical fitness: teamwork, communication, leadership, motivating others, and a disciplined routine.

Jack Brunet and Patrick O'Keeffe from Thrive: Optimal Human PerformanceJack Brunet and Patrick O'Keeffe from Thrive: Optimal Human Performance
Jack Brunet and Patrick O'Keeffe from Thrive: Optimal Human Performance

“If I was in their position, I would find it really helpful if someone 15 years into their career and running their own gym had come in,” says Jack. “If it motivates and helps inform or direct a young person into a career where they will be fulfilled and can follow their passion for physical activity, then it is worth it.

“Or if just one young person has some simple tools to help maintain or improve their mental health through physical activity then it is worthwhile,” adds Jack, who previously spent a season working with Blackburn Rovers. “I really felt like it makes a difference connecting with young people outside the gym.”

Amanda agrees, adding: “It was great for the students to hear from someone who actually uses these principles for themselves and who has built a successful business providing them for gym-goers.”

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Jack’s take-home message was that, by working and communicating with others in pursuit of a shared goal, you will achieve fulfilment and success, provided you are willing to make small sacrifices and be resilient along the way. An apt case study is Thrive itself, which he and Patrick set up in late 2018 and which has blossomed into one of Lancashire’s finest.

Jack Brunet at St Wilfrid's Church of England AcademyJack Brunet at St Wilfrid's Church of England Academy
Jack Brunet at St Wilfrid's Church of England Academy

Specialising in performance-driven training, enabling people to improve their physical and mental health through bespoke exercise programmes, Thrive tailors bespoke goals for each member and helps them work towards them via personalised programmes and nutritional guidance. Their target is long-lasting change, rather than quick fixes.

"Members get a bespoke exercise programme in a private space and it's an enjoyable environment: people are happy to come here,” says Jack. “People may have become frustrated because they aren't improving, so we break things down and look at people's movements to make sure they're doing everything well and then build it up from there.

"We've created an enjoyable atmosphere where people get the big-picture of fitness, nutrition, and a social community, which keeps people enjoying their fitness regime for longer," adds Jack. "We get the work done but, at the same time, people can really enjoy the process. We take it slow: we're not a quick-fix transformation gym

"Things take time,” he says. “Getting the fundamentals right is crucial.”

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