In Part 1 of our look at the career of Simon McEvoy; the head of King of Kings Personal Training and the head of strength and conditioning at the world famous SBG Ireland, we looked at Simon’s beginnings in the industry and how his passion and determination led him to never give up and keep pursuing his dream through times of adversity and many an obstacle.
In Part 2 we will look at the second key to anyone’s success – their results. You can have all the passion in the world; Simon evidently does; but if the results aren’t there then the passion won’t be enough. Thankfully, Simon’s results speak for themselves.
We’ll look at the second half of his career in the fitness industry, and how Simon wound up as the head S & C Coach at Europe’s most successful MMA gym. We’ll see his own personal body transformation and we’ll also look at some of the results his clients have enjoyed, far and away the most important measuring stick of a personal trainer.
By the middle of 2010, Simon was just starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Just starting to see some semblance of a reward for the 5 years of hard work he had already put in. His business was doing well enough to at least keep his head above water and he was only having to do a few hours here and there at his old gym to sustain his income. Still, in a recurring theme in Simon’s career, he was thinking how to improve. He was in his thirties, and average wasn’t good enough. When Simon encourages his clients to aim for the best, it is something he has lived. Practicing what he preaches is indeed a key aspect of the second half of Simon’s story.
An old colleague asked Simon if he would be interested in running a “Bootcamp” in the upstairs of a local pub. The idea was to run it for 6 weeks and try and convert a few attendees into 1 on 1 clients. The class in and of itself made little money. Darren and Simon kept plugging away with and eventually moved to a bigger hall and were getting regular customers. A decent number were converting to 1 on 1 classes which was only helping the Personal Training business.
Just as a side note; 5 years ago Simon was doing group classes in a pub and now he is working closely with UFC fighters and has even been involved in stretching out Conor McGregor during his training sessions. A lot of PTs tell clients anything is possible if they stick to it; Simon has proved that!
Simon was attending classes at the Irish Strength Institute regularly to broaden his own skillset and ensure he was giving his hard earned clients the best service he could. I don’t think the word complacency is in Simon’s vocabulary. Working with Eoin Lacey and the other ISI coaches was really motivating Simon
“Eoin Lacey & the ISI coaches were now a standard I saw as one I should be aiming to reach for, their knowledge & methods were far superior to anything I had seen in the previous 6 years. 2011 was fast approaching and I knew I had to start improving big time!”
Still striving to improve, despite now making decent money with a good client base. You’re maybe starting to see how Simon has enjoyed the success he has!
In 2011, with Simon’s confidence starting to build, he enrolled in his first Poliquin course and through hard work he passed with 92%! He was also asked to do some consultancy work with the Waverley academy to help design and implement. Simon was delighted to help with this and did so; unpaid! Why was someone who was making money doing PTs, and spending a lot of their own money to improve sed PTs, doing consultancy work for free!?
“This gave me experience in front of students which even though was unpaid was invaluable in how I was going to teach & coach in the future!”
If it would improve him as a coach, he’d happily do it for free. This was a theme of Part 1 as well – Simon is always willing to help anyone who asks without charging. It was being so forthcoming with advice and the desire to help that secured him the seminar at GCG. He shows you his knowledge, confident in it’s accuracy and confident that anyone serious about improving will come back to him as a customer. Putting his money where his mouth is would be a serious element of the next chapter of his career.
Towards the end of 2011, Simon got a huge opportunity at his old gym.
“I was asked to create a training team & system that hadn’t been put in place before & also to do it without spending any money & we would earn only if we got members and new clients to pay for our service”
Did Simon, who was earning decent money now as a PT, go back to square one, where he could potentially earn nothing at all, in order to have a go at being more of a success than ever before. Was he confident that he could pull this task off and improve his earning potential and take a big leap in his career.
What do you think?
“This was a huge test of my abilities, but all I could do was give it my best shot & if it worked out it would lead to a more permanent arrangement in the club which would lead to being more financially stable”
Of course he did!
Simon describes 2012 as a “career-defining year” and it’s easy to see why. Working 80 hours a week to get the project off the ground meant that by March they were doing well. The gym Simon had been assigned had moved from 2nd last out of 9 gyms to 2nd best out of 9 gyms – a pretty substantial improvement to say the least. Then disaster struck. Simon was offered a contract that more or less dissolved the business and signed over all his rights and privileges to the company. All his ideas were effectively going to be stolen from him, with no financial gain after all the hard work. To make things worse, he had no choice in the matter. The American consultant spearheading the project backed out and they were in dire straits. Simon was owed 2000 Euros and when he returned from his first holiday in years (Miami to see Wrestlemania 28; more on that later!) there was no sign of the money. In May, Simon was suspended, absurdly enough for “taking money”.
“I was brought into an office for a “Disciplinary” meeting in May and told that I was being suspended for “taking money”. I honestly thought it was a wind up; I had made a comment that without the money owed (€2000) I was struggling to put fuel in my car(truth). The story was that I had taken class money (truth was I had let folks have a free trial of a class to boost numbers). This had meant “management” didn’t trust me so I was suspended from my paid job (nothing to do with PT contract I was trying to get) and my arrangement (project) was immediately terminated! So I had to call clients and say I could no longer train them at the gym with the contract project. I was heartbroken, 6 months of work down the swanny & not knowing if I would ever get my owed money. This was a tough one to swallow. I was thinking of packing it all in now!”
Now 7 years into his career and still experiencing obstacles and one bad break after another.
But there was a twist in the tale….
Despite being screwed over himself royally, Simon was more concerned about the people he had been working with on the project. He still had some PT clients but had lost a few due to the amount of time he had committed to the project. Simon was also still doing some training at the Waverley Academy keeping him studying and working with students. He then got a text from a friend asking him to meet him to attend a “Viking Casting”. Now if you’ve met Simon, or seen pictures of him, you’ll understand why getting cast as a Viking in the hit show Vikings was far easier for him than getting his PT career started!
He was spotted by one of the recruiters and simply told;
“You’ve a good build, start growing a beard & we can use you”
3 weeks later Simon went to Ashford studios for a costume fitting. At this time, Simon was also trying to get his fitness career back going. He went for an interview and was told to get the job he’d have to cut his hair! Ironic! Simon had had his hair long for 7 years and decided that if they didn’t want him how he was then they wouldn’t get him. Turned out to be a wise decision as the Vikings people wanted his hair long and he got work on Vikings for 4 seasons!
This seems as good a time as any to drop in a little fun aside about Simon. Simon is a huge wrestling fan, having attended a few Wrestlemanias live. Between the long hair, the superhuman physique and the name of his business – “King of Kings” – you may be noticing a resemblance to one HHH.
I asked Simon about this and was delighted to hear how big a wrestling fan he was and specifically how big a fan of Triple H he was. Indeed – Simon made the decision to get into fitness after reading HHH’s book in 2004!
Some of Simon’s favourites include; Triple H, The Rock, Chris Jericho, Shawn Michaels, Batista, Edge, Ric Flair, Stone Cold, Eddie Guerrero and Hulk Hogan!
After the work on Vikings, the next big boost happened! A guy called Shane asked Simon to run classes in a new warehouse set up that he was putting together. Most people would run a mile from a venture so similar to the one that had wrecked them just a few months earlier. Can you guess what Simon did?
“I saw it as an opportunity to put what I had learned from the failed “gym project” and create something better I asked the folks who had worked in the gym with me if they wanted to come along and see what we could do together. I wanted to give them the same opportunity I had as a means of thanking them for when they worked hard with me trying to earn the contract in the gym”
Not only did Simon jump at the chance, he also prioritised making sure the team who he felt were wronged on his last project were seen right by aswell.
They had an empty warehouse, a small amount of equipment & no guarantees. Sound familiar!? The team met up and had meetings to try and come up with a sustainable business plan. It was tough but they were just about making things work. At the same time as launching this new venture, Simon was still volunteering at the academy and working on Viking – lots of work for very little money! Simon had 2 gym rents to pay and was getting hardly any time with his girlfriend and friends. But as you can guess by now – he kept plugging away!
2013 is where things really started to take a turn for the better. The warehouse gym was getting busier and Simon got his first experience working with truly elite athletes, working with a football team from Inchicore. Alan O’Brien, the team manager, saw the benefits Strength and Conditioning could offer a football team, at a time other teams didn’t value it. The efforts Simon had put in at the Waverley Academy were also starting to pay off as Derek O’Kelly from the Academy was referring lots of business to him. When they were told that their warehouse lease was up, instead of the usual bad news that Simon encountered in ventures, the backer of the project, Shane O’Leary actually moved them to a bigger venue. Some good luck for a change! During the move, it was decided that the team from the project should “split” – not an easy decision for Simon to make, but sometimes needs must
“I had to try build this opportunity up and make it something otherwise we would all end up with nothing so I kept as professional as possible!”
In May, Simon went on his first fitness retreat to the Algarve with the ISI, a trip that would be paramount to his future in the industry.
“I saw that these guys were incredible trainers, and achieved amazing results that week. I took pages of notes after training & learned more in that week from Eoin & the guys than in years with other courses and experiences in fitness. I came back a different person! I now had a mission; I was going to work until I got to a standard that was of an exceptional level. I had seen it and now wanted to become that good! It meant leaving behind much of what I knew and going on a journey which I hadn’t a route for but I had to make a start!”
Simon describes Eoin as “the mentor he was searching for”
Interestingly enough, after the guys at GCG trained with Simon, they were saying the same thing. Simon is exceptional and we want to be exceptional aswell. Simon went from the inspired to the inspiration in the space of two years.
Whilst Simon was away in the Algarve, the football team he had been working with won a trophy and almost completed a treble. The first of many great results Simon would achieve with elite competitive athletes. The warehouse was starting to go places and he was still enjoying filming Vikings. Simon then asked himself the same question that GCG head coach Ross McTavish asked himself before deciding to book Simon for a seminar
“What do I need to do to get myself to an exceptional level?”
Simon’s thought process here is a must read template for any team/individual looking to improve at anything in life, so I will just let him do the talking here
“I identify that I should be learning from the best people I can. “Who is the best I have met in my career so far?” Eoin Lacey. Ok next time I meet him I’m going to book time, pay whatever the fee is and write everything down that I can. I wrote a page of questions and turned up, Eoin spent 2 hours with me and it was the best 2 hours I had ever spent. He gave me 4 tasks to complete and told me to return a month later with them done. A couple of them were “how the hell am I going to get that done? 4 weeks later I returned, with everything done and had another great meeting. Two things happened
1. I realised then that he was after being an amazing help to me in such a short time, his honesty, encouragement & feedback were career changing, and that was how exceptional I wanted to become as a trainer/ coach and no matter how long it took I now had someone to gauge off!
2. I did everything he asked and more, if I could do all that in a short time then I CAN get to an exceptional level!
I left the ISI that day feeling amazing and now was the time for me to go and become the type of trainer I wanted to become”
Again, it is worthwhile pointing out that through his seminar in GCG, he is now playing the role Eoin played. Simon has become the trainer he wanted to become.
Of particular note is Simon’s belief that it was Eoin who showed him that he could achieve what he wanted. This directly translates to the experience of Stewart Morrison, who attended Simon’s seminar. Stewart, having only trained BJJ for a few months, gained the confidence to compete in his first competition after attending Simon’s seminar. Simon’s coaching and approach/mentality inspired Stewart to give it a go. Simon may not have helped Stewart with his BJJ, but the changes just two days with Simon made to Stewart’s confidence and determination to “try” were mindblowing.
Stewart won double gold by the way, and credits Simon as much as he does his BJJ coaches for this.
In October 2013, Simon felt his back go during a strongman session and was in tears the next day just trying to move. Through sensible rehab, Simon was OK and able to attend a seminar late in the year. At this seminar he decided to do something new – he took photos of himself. He was, believe it or not, “horrified” at his condition and resolved that in 2014, he would get in the shape of his life!
To start 2014, Simon was working with 2 League Of Ireland officials and has soccer players working with him & he comes up with what he decribes as his “greatest idea yet”; group sessions in the evening with a 12 week target. Working with 12 guys 4-5 times a week and also seeing how the program’s he had learned from various courses would do with normal everyday clients.
“In 3 months I see & learn amazing things, I am learning to Coach, I am also getting myself in better shape by making myself train hard. I am being “accountable” for how I train and want to look”
Interestingly, when I asked Simon his number 1 fitness tip he answered with
“Be accountable – if you can do that then you can achieve anything you set your mind to”
This is where photos became a big part of Simon’s routine.
“Photos were now part of the procedure, they can’t lie the same way a scales or bodyfat monitor might”
Simon was enjoying his work (as always) and financially things were improving (finally!). Simon finally felt like he was getting where he needed to be as a coach and changing people’s lives. Then some of his clients asked him “how do we get to 10% bodyfat”. His response to this pretty much epitomises why he is one of the best Personal Trainers in his field
“I knew I had to go find the answer, and there was no time to lose, otherwise the clients would be going to find a new trainer! After checking online I finally stumbled across m10 fitness in Nottingham ran by Mark Coles. The before & afters were amazing! I knew I had to go see how it’s done, I was going on a trip that would blow my mind again!”
I don’t know many PTs, to be honest, who if they were asked a question they didn’t know, would actively endeavour to find the correct answer, at great personal cost of both time and expense. Most would just bluff their way through.
I also don’t know many PTs who are brutally honest with clients, for fear of the client reacting badly. When I briefly met Simon, he fairly went to town on my diet. Not in a harsh way, but in a true way. He was right. He isn’t doing anything that hasn’t been done to him before…
Upon returning from his course with Mark Coles, Simon told his girlfriend Aisling that he has to “up his game”
“Mark had said bluntly to me “you are afraid”. “Stop wasting time being a jack of all trades which is what you are trying to be!”. “Find out what you want to specialise in and start DOING IT”. He tore me apart and made me really think, what the hell am I actually trying to do?”
“I’ll put it into other words “time to become someone who is exceptional and has mastered something rather than be like the majority out there who try doing a bit of everything and are good at nothing”
“I vowed to Aisling that I would take his advice and become someone exceptional that she could be proud of! She is the best person I have ever met & I wasn’t happy with myself at all after this meeting”
Simon returned to the warehouse more determined than ever, which if you’re this far in the story, you know must have been something else! Simon decided that he would get himself as lean as possible. If he couldn’t do the program, then how could he expect clients to do it? He compared photos in December 2014 to photos from December 2013 and had transformed his body. Simon doesn’t just get results for others – he also proved he can get results by doing it himself!
Simon had a new goal – the group he had been training in the evenings. He wanted to coach them to the standard where he could take them to the Algarve on the fitness retreat in 2015! Eoin replied the exact same way that Simon would reply to anyone else
‘Why not this year?”
Simon was buzzing as he prepped a group for the retreat in the Algarve. A tax audit for 8 weeks drained him, and decieitful goings on at the warehouse meant it wasn’t going as well as it had been. Simon was however getting lots of booking and referrals and most importantly, people were achieving great results, which is what Simon wanted to be known for. The results achieved in the Algarve were incredible but Simon returned to find that the warehouse he was using, he was in danger of losing. All these clients, but no venue to work in – what would he do?
It’s 2015, and Simon’s clients are achieving amazing results and Simon’s knowledge is going through the roof. Another boost was that Eoin agreed to do a mentorship with Simon. Simon also booked into an advanced bodyfat testing course in London – still building his knowledge. His only issue left was to sort a training base.
It’s only fair to let Simon tell the story of easily his greatest success, and the final piece of the pizzle
“Another meeting with Eoin changed my life. There is an opening in SBG, it could be somewhere for me to go and run the business. It was something I genuinely never believed would come my way. This was the chance of a lifetime, and I was going to take it and try my best to make it work. I knew I needed help from Stuart who I had built up a strong relationship with; his skills with treating clients with injuries would be an incredible resource. Mark who I knew for many years, an outstanding young trainer who needed somewhere to showcase his skills, was someone I knew would add to my business with his MMA knowledge and passion for improving at his craft. 2 young men who I knew this would be something that would also change their lives. If I was being given the chance by my mentor, I thought it only fair I give 2 young guys their chance aswell! It was decided that May was the time to move, so May 2015 was the introduction of King of Kings Personal Training to the amazing SBG, John Kavanagh & his fantastic team It was a dream come true for me after 10 years I finally felt “at home”.
I thought that would be a shoe in for Simon’s greatest achievement, but of course Simon’s greatest achievement in his eyes would be those of his clients – never his own.
“There are many achievements I’m proud of but prepping the group for first Algarve trip considering none of them had trained much with weights or knew each other before they came to me is so far the greatest achievement “
The theme of this piece was results. Whether it’s helping a BJJ white belt enter that first competition, whether it’s helping UFC fighter Aisling Daly get in the shape of her life or whether it’s persevering through 10 years of adversity to get where he wanted to be, the results have always been there.
It was a career highlight for Simon to take his second crew of clients to the Algarve Strength retreat and be training with them the same day that Aisling Daly stole the show in Dublin.
It seems only fitting to let Simon close his story;
“After 10 years of working to get to this point, what is next? Help people like Aisling daly reach her title goal. Work with John & his amazing athletes helping them keep improving. More education for myself and the team I work with. Build the next Algarve retreat. Find, educate & give more opportunities to deserving talented trainers. More seminars to share my knowledge and improve aspiring athletes & coaches. Reach my goal of being world class at what I do and be outstanding like Eoin, Mark & John Kavanagh. The more I achieve the more challenges I see ahead to be conquered.
I’ve been fortunate and blessed to have been helped on my journey by many amazing people which is why there is a story to tell. Amazing mentors & colleagues and friends & loved ones have been there, it is up to me to honour them by trying to help as many people as I can improve & excel to their full potential!”
Remember to like Simon’s personal FB Page – King of Kings Personal Training