It’s that time of the week… it’s another Flourishing Entrepreneurs interview!
As I mentioned last week in my interview with Ciara Lennon, I didn’t want to only feature female wellness business owners through this series. My coaching is available (and taken up by) male wellness entrepreneurs too and so I wanted to make sure Flourishing Entrepreneurs reflected that.
So today I’m introducing Flourishing Entrepreneur #10 (double figures!) Chris Pinner from InnerFit.
Chris founded his Personal Training business believing physical and mental well-being sit at the heart of feeling and performing to your best and has come on an incredible journey himself through corporate employment to where he is today.
This written interview will be paired with a live chat with Chris on my Instagram account on Wednesday 20th March 2019. Make sure you're following to ask Chris some questions yourself and join the conversation.
Who are you, what is your business and what job title do you have?
I am Chris. I founded Innerfit in 2016 on a mission to help people feel healthier and happier.
I try my best to live a life in line with my values: health (physical & mental), wealth (time, money & fulfilment) and love (friends & family).
Innerfit helps me live the life I want. I started out helping people on a 1-1 basis with 3 Month Plans before growing the business towards workplace wellbeing.
Having instructed 1000’s of people and completed 100’s of 1-1 Consultations over the last 3 years, I’ve realised that, when it comes to health, people often know what they need to do; they just don’t do it.
That’s why Innerfit aims to help share knowledge and inspire action. All of our services, from lunchtime talks to video content and events, are all about helping people actually change.
What were you told about work growing up?
I always wanted to be ‘successful’. I was told working hard would get me there, via good grades and a good job.
I got good A-Levels and a 2:1 in Economics from Bath, where I spent 1 year of my degree at a US investment bank.
On graduating, I joined a top Strategy Consultancy firm in London and travelled from Mumbai to Moscow on fascinating projects. Demanding weekend work, 12+ hour days and the odd 36-hour shift followed. It was an amazing, but physically and mentally demanding experience.
The next 2 years I spent in sports marketing (at a Sunday Times Top 100 Employer) were an eye-opener, proving to me just important our physical and mental health are to both our performance and happiness.
Innerfit was born. Late nights in coffee shops after work, and early mornings. I reverted to working long hours like in the consulting days, but this time I was working on my passion.
How has your mindset changed around work since you started out?
The ability to work hard is my greatest strength and will always be important to me. In my opinion, hard work beats intelligence.
So what’s changed?
As Steven Covey said in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:
‘“If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster”.
In the last few years, I’ve tried harder to check where I’m going before I get started. Anyone can be busy, but it’s important to be busy on the right stuff. I’m still getting better at balancing thinking versus doing. Knowing that I’ll always be able to work hard, my conscious effort is to work smarternot harder.
I’m lucky to have brought a lot of skills from strategy consulting into Innerfit.
From consulting, financial modelling, PowerPoint and desktop research skills have all been useful. Slides were often rammed with detailed analysis and based on a deep attention to detail. If a line in PowerPoint was 0.1cm misaligned, I would notice.
Sports marketing was a shock to the system. Slides were often just a few words, or even just a picture! It helped me understand storytelling and how to communicate with different people.
That said, as an entrepreneur the most important skill to have is the ability to just figure things out somehow! Sometimes you (and by ‘you’ I mean ‘I’!)) can overthink when really ‘acting like water’ and just getting things done would be best.
How do you prioritise your health as a busy entrepreneur?
Truthfully, I am only just doing this properly.
I know, crazy right?
As many Personal Trainers will tell you, it can be a tough game. 5am alarms in the winter to cycle into nearly 4 hours of instructing make it tough. Lower back pain has been a challenge, alongside general fatigue. My mental health also took a hit one month in particular.
Luckily, I have amazing people to support me and took time out to take perspective. I also do know a thing or two about health, so basically now practice what I preach! I joined a gym close to my house, stock the cupboards with healthy food and spend money on my health.
I knew health is essential to happiness and productivity (it’s what my business is all about!) but in the thick of ‘making things happen’ it’s easy to forget. Only when taking some time off and really putting my health first did I remember how hypocritical and unproductive it really was.
I’m grateful for the tough times, as I can now honestly say that I believe in the Innerfit mission more than ever.
More than that, I know it never has to be as tough again. As the saying goes: “don’t waste lessons hard earned”. That’s why I now organise my life in line with my values, literally reading them every weekend (in PowerPoint, of course!) and planning life 3-months ahead in line with my values (health, wealth & love).
How is your relationship with food? How does food feature in your life and what does it mean to you?
I love food.
I exercise a lot. I eat a lot. I once ate over 4,000 calories of chocolate before 11am (it was Christmas!).
People always ask me about diet and expect quick fixes. As we all know, there aren’t any.
I was lucky to be brought up on unprocessed home-cooked food and never takeaways. McDonalds was a rare treat and I’ve carried that through into adulthood. I always load up on vegetables (7+ a day) and always eat dessert. I do not cook good food. I cook healthy food in massive quantities. The 80/20 rule would probably summarise my approach.
What is your favourite meal, something you would recommend others learn to cook or prepare?
I can’t cook fancy food and would feel uncomfortable giving anyone a recommendation on how to cook! My basic evening meal is literally to chop up as many vegetables as I can fit in a pan, add a source of protein and just get it done! This is how I’ve cooked since I had to start cooking for myself and I have never taken a day off work sick in my life – it seems to work!
The voice in your head - we’ve all got one! What negative thing does it say to you most often and how do you deal with it?
My head quite often just has noise. Thoughts that I try to note down but often keep me going in circles.
I have also invested in coaches for the last 3 years. I share some of my deepest thinking on coaching sessions and find them incredibly useful.
I have been working up to a regular meditation habit and lay a notepad on my bed so that each night and write an A5 page of thoughts. I find both helpful, just need to cement them as habit now!
Success – what does it mean to you?
Living in line with my values (health, wealth & love) as best I can. In practice, that will mean different things over time.
The book ‘Who Moved My Cheese’ (in the Innerfit reading list) captures how our goals can change over time, and I’ve learnt through reading and doing that a lot of life is about enjoying the process – it’ cliché but true. For example, success for Q12019 means:
Health – be on track to complete the London marathon in my target time
Wealth – hit my Innerfit sales target
Love – visit my family 6 times
Self-care. What does it mean to you and what self-care practises do you have to look after yourself as a busy entrepreneur?
Self-care to me means putting myself (especially my health) first. It means taking the time for me. In practice, it can be small things like having a bath(!) or the bigger things like weekends away. Again, I have learnt that putting self-care first is important for me.
That’s why every Saturday morning is reserved for ‘Saturday Self-Time’! Pre-11am on Saturday is time for me. I love running, so that’s often
What one book, video or podcast would you recommend to entrepreneurs?
Impact Theory – Tom Bilyeu. Class.
What one tip, quote or resource would you share with other entrepreneurs to help them on their journey?
In 2011, I trained for 6 weeks at a Shaolin Kung Fu school in China. We trained hard, rising most days at 6am for tai chi before hours of training. I still think about the words of our Shifu (master) told us: “Persistence is victory.”