Meet the entrepreneur who turned his blogging hobby into a successful fitness business

One to watch

Company:  LDNM
Your name and role: James Exton, co-founder of LDN Muscle
What it does, in a sentence:  Helps tens of thousands of people worldwide transform their lives through fitness, nutrition and educational advice
Founded: February 2013
Founder/s: Tom Exton, James Exton, Max Bridger and Lloyd Bridger

How is the face of fitness and strength-training changing?
There has been a notable shift from people wanting to resemble massive bodybuilding physiques to more attainable, more natural, lean looking physiques that aren’t Arnold Schwarzenegger type shape. There seems to be a shift towards promoting health and fitness more rather than unattainable physiques that are unachievable. There is definitely more transparency than there was a few years ago, for instance the inclusion of #SPON with adverts has helped people work out what’s genuine and what’s not and that will only continue to evolve.

What kind of clients do you have and what is one growing issue among them?
In terms of clientele, we have a really diverse range of people using our products which includes senior partners in law firms, barristers, accountants right through to people with more everyday jobs so for instance; taxi drivers, nurses, teachers, doctors, office workers, builders and scaffolders.
In terms of issues that we see amongst our customers, often people come to us and think that in order to achieve their desired body type, they have to cut out a particular food group, which is usually carbs, or they think they have to eat a certain number of calories to achieve their goals.
it’s usually a lack of understanding and they think that. In reality that’s not the case and what we do differently at LDNM is provide a solution which offers them a more sustainable, enjoyable long-term approach to help them achieve their fitness goals, whatever they may be. Ultimately it stems from a lack of understanding, but adherence is the key word here and that’s where we come in with our approach.

Millennials are a lot into fitness. Is technology going to change this industry as well, how?
Digital fitness is very much where the industry is at the moment, but the lion’s share of gym owners and people working within the industry are doing everything online and consumers are digesting all of that information from a digital source, which is usually their mobile phone. Of course, it makes everything more accessible for people but it’s also more suited to their lifestyles.

How do you make money?
We make money in a variety of different ways, so we have downloadable e- training guides, a clothing and apparel range, a personal training academy to help people become personal trainers, a supplements range and earlier this year we also launched a fresh food meal delivery service.

Who’s on your team that makes you think you can do this?
We all believe that we can be successful which is why we are where we are today. We have different skill sets which complement each other so we’re always pushing each other. I think a lot of people look up to us in terms of our work ethic and that’s why we have been so successful.

Who’s bankrolling you?
LDNM really did start out at our kitchen table. We are a set of twins, and a set of brothers, who shared a common passion for the gym. We paid a graphic design student £50 to create a logo and the business started from there. We haven’t had any external investment along the way and all the capital we require, and use is self-driven from revenue and profit. There is no investor or anyone behind the scenes, it’s just us driving the business forward.

What advice would you give other entrepreneurs trying to succeed in the fitness industry?
Find something which genuinely separates you from everyone else out there and make sure you know what that is from the get go. Persistence is the key!

Do you have expansion plans? What do you believe the key to growing this business?
Education is our main focus and growing our Personal Training Academy. We want to scale it so we dominate the London market and then roll that out to other parts of the country, probably somewhere like the midlands.

What metrics do you look at every day?
Total sales across the day. We also look at monthly figures so looking at sales by product verses margin and profit. We also have separate metrics we look at across our social channels. So common metrics page likes, interactions reach etc.

What’s been the most valuable lesson you’ve learnt so far?
Stay true and stick to your starting foundations and ethos. We’ve walked away from a number of opportunities and subsequently tuned down revenue because it didn’t align with our brand.

What’s been your biggest mistake so far?
Setting a precedent on social media, but arguably it’s one of the reasons why we have succeeded. We are so diligent in replying as we don’t have anyone behind the scenes. The expectation from our customers is 24/7 and so setting expectations on customer service maybe slightly more in line with normal working hours might have been better rather than finding yourself online seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

What do you think is on the horizon for your industry in the year ahead?
We like to set ourselves aside from predicting future trends. Trends come and go, that’s exactly what they are by nature so our ethos and what I think we are seeing more and more is more genuine advice and transparency. There is only one way that’s works in our eyes and that’s our approach, which is balanced and flexible and that’s what we will be doing again in 2018.

Which London start-up/s are you watching, and why?
Sanctus, it’s new approach to mental health using fitness and is a really great concept. My twin Tom is involved in another start up Emoji Fresh. It’s a cool business so definitely keep an eye on those guys.

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