Strong Friend Lee Royston: Humble, grateful, dedicated and successful
It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy
Lee is the most humble and modest human in the world and a very successful coach who is constantly striving to grow and learn.
I met him in 2012 on a Charles Poliquin Biosignature Course course on hormones, supplementation & body fat skinfold measurements. We got chatting and have stayed in contact ever since, thanks to our similar philosophies when it comes to training clients.
In 2013 I took a trip to Australia as a sabbatical from London and Lee invited me to stay with his family while I did work experience with different sports teams and their Strength & Conditioning coaches. I got to spend a lot of time with Lee at his gym, learning more about his style and meeting his fantastic clients.
I hope you enjoy this chat with Lee. It wasn't easy to get him to talk about himself (don't get me started on getting photos of him!) but it was well worth it. His story is honest, human and inspiring.
Tell me about yourself
My name is Lee Royston. I am the owner of Royston Medicine and Movement – a personal training/athletic performance facility just south of Sydney.
The fitness industry, if I am honest, was something that I sort of just fell in too. Up until I was 20 years old all I wanted to do was play football for a living (that’s how I first ended up in England when I was around 18/19) but unfortunately for a number of different reasons it just never quite happened for me and so I had to find something else to do for work.
I'd always had an interest in exercise and nutrition and whether this is a good thing or a bad thing at least initially it was quite easy to get my qualifications as a personal trainer and begin working.
I realised pretty quickly though that if I wanted to earn a decent living from this profession then I would need to look at increasing my knowledge. I was lucky that my parents had always instilled in me that education is really important and so since I first became your average personal trainer I have not stopped studying and trying to better myself. I always wanted to get better and be known as someone who is good at what they do - perhaps this comes about from my sporting background and my super competitive nature.
After completing my university degree I have continued studying in areas such as nutrition, functional medicine and of course strength training and coaching. I also try to travel somewhere new every year to complete a private internship with someone I greatly respect and want to learn from. Such trips have lead to a number of really good friendships as well as knowledge that has served my career really well!
Tell me about your business
I started my business back in July, 2012. I'd worked in a number of different gyms for 7-8 years previously whilst also always studying and so 2012 was when I finally took a chance and started my own business.
Looking back I was pretty crazy, I didn’t really have a business plan and all I had was a tiny little space that I managed to squash in a squat rack, an Olympic platform, a cable machine and some DBs.
I’m extremely lucky that I had a lot of family and friends really support me and now, five years on, and a lot of work later I’ve moved to a facility five times as big as that first little studio I started at and I’ve also been able to upgrade all my equipment and have a facility now that I’m extremely proud of.
In terms of clientele, I would say that roughly half of my business is general pop clients and the other half is young athletes mainly in the form of young footballers (soccer for those reading this in Oz) and sprinters (100, 200, 400 and 800m).
Hopefully, at next year's Commonwealth Games, there could be up to 5 or 6 young athletes competing that I’ve had the privilege of working with.
What do you like most about working in the industry?
This is one of those questions in which I could throw out the usual responses such as its something I’m passionate about, it's rewarding etc and it is all of those things but more importantly, it has allowed me to continue doing something I love after I finished playing football.
It has kept me involved in sport, allowed me to meet a number of really amazing people, travel, keep myself fit and active and just, in general, allow me to wake up in the morning and actually look forward to going to work whilst making a good living at the same time (didn’t come easy though!).
Tell me about your favourite success story
Having a favourite success story is hard. Something I am proud of though is the culture I’ve managed to create in the gym. Every time you come into the gym you will find a mix of talented young athletes training alongside those recovering from injury, middle-aged people who have never set foot in a gym before until they’ve come to visit me, younger people who just enjoy training and want to get a little stronger and healthier etc and everybody works really well together.
I never allow music on the gym floor so there is always a bit of banter between everyone but they are all training hard and I have found that everyone is really supportive of each other and takes an interest in what everyone else is doing. That is something that means a lot to me.
It might only seem like a small thing but I always find that something like a simple thank you message from a client is also a really good sign of success. Whilst I need to get paid to do what I do, if you had to ask me what feels better, receiving a lot of money or having a client genuinely saying a big thank you for my help then I would take the thank you any day of the week.
It's rewarding and great to know that the work you do is making a difference and really means something.
So I guess the two points above are what I would define as success.
Tell me about a difficult challenge that you have faced
I think as coaches and as business owners, we are challenged with difficulties daily but personally, probably one of the biggest challenges I faced was continuing to study full time whilst also putting in a lot of hours at work as my business grew.
There were a number of occasions when I really started to question myself and ask myself why I was doing this but I managed to get through it and looking back I’m now really grateful that I stuck at it. In years to come,
I'd like to actually go back and get my medical degree and become a doctor but I might have to wait until I have a few more staff members to help me here at work!
In terms of clients there are always challenges whether it be an athlete who is struggling with their performance, a difficult fat loss client, a client in the early stages of their rehabilitation process etc but I think that as a coach it's important that we always remain calm, take into account all the different possible factors and then ensure that there is a plan put in place that not only I but also the client can understand, believe in and work towards.
A good quote I got from well-known sprint coach, Stu McMillan at Altis, is 'Complexity + uncertainty = chaos. Coaching is the edge of chaos'. I think this sums up coaching really well as, despite the fact that at times we might have the most well designed, well thought out plan, there is no guarantee or certainty that we will always get the exact outcome that we want/expect.
Who’s your inspiration in your industry?
This is quite a difficult question to answer. To be honest I think that anyone I can learn from is inspiring – this may be mentors, fellow coaches, clients etc.
A handful of people in particular, however, have had a significant influence on me as a coach. These include Nick Greene, Stephane Cazeault, Michael Dooley, Andre Benoit, Ido Portal, Dan Pfaff, Dr Rakowski.
I will always be grateful for the support and help I’ve had from these people. Without them, I wouldn’t be lucky enough to be in the position that I am. Nick, Stephane and Michael are three people in particular that I will often turn to if I am having difficulties with something.
Do you have a favourite quote or mantra?
I’m not sure about a favourite quote or mantra but a few things I like to try to live/work by include:
No one ever owes me anything but if I work hard, remain humble, am always grateful and thankful for those who help me and for opportunities that I receive, am always honest and respectful then I find good things seem to happen.
Where’s your favourite place to eat in London?
Wherever Grace takes me next time I’m there (possibly later this year for the athletics world champs!) – her shout! ;)
Find Lee online:
Facebook: Royston Medicine & Movement