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Phil Snowden made the decision to end his army career and fulfil his ambition to conquer his passion and work in the fitness industry.

Little old me – the story so far

“Joining the army at 16 effectively forced me into exercise,” begins Snowden. “Having completed three operations tours in Iraq, Northern Ireland and Afghanistan, I left after six years to work in the fitness industry as a personal trainer. The most important things I learned from the army were discipline, time management and respect for others.”

He continues, “My first job as a PT was at Fitness First in Chatham, where I stayed for five years until I was employed by the NHS and local council. My initial role was as project co-ordinator for MEND (a healthy lifestyle programme for overweight children). Then I became a physical exercise instructor in the GP referral scheme and a part-time PT working out of my converted garage gym. In those two years I learned a lot about myself and about what people wanted/needed to help them with their struggling weight management – education, motivation and accountability.”

Changing lanes, Snowden was determined to make his mark on the fitness industry. Alongside his business partner Ross Cowan, Snowden opened the M.E.T.A Studio in Rochester, Kent. Diving into the unknown, the ambitious business partners were eager to learn and be educated.

Snowden explains, “We didn’t know anything about business, so it was a steep learning curve – and we’re still learning – but, in the last four weeks, we’ve been nominated for three business awards and won the Ultimate Achievement award from Kent business networking group ABC Network for our integration and implementation into a networking group, utilising opportunities, working with other people and building business relationships.”

M.E.T.A winning the Ultimate Achievement award (Snowden is third from left)


Taking the lead

“I never liked being told what to do, so leaving the army was probably a good idea and PT was a natural calling for me. However, building a clientele was slow because I knew nothing about the business. I just expected customers to come to me.”

His mission? To get fit. His ambition? To become a successful personal trainer.   

Interestingly, Snowden at first believed that fitness was “all about running” and, upon leaving the army to pursue his ambition of becoming a personal trainer, he suddenly realised he had been making a lot of mistakes before transitioning from the army barracks to the gym floor. Key elements the young trainer plucked out as distinguishable weaknesses were his training knowledge and also his nutritional awareness.

“I am devoted to increasing my knowledge of and expertise in exercise, movement, nutrition, psychology (using NLP) and hypnosis, in order to try and enhance as many aspects of performance as possible.”

Snowden’s devotion was targeted at enhancing performance within sports and leisure activities, which included rowing, mountain biking, mixed martial arts and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He magnified the importance of nutrition and, as a result, has worked directly with local food producers to achieve results.

“Working with local food producers means we can direct our clients to good-quality foods and also help promote local business and farming.”

At M.E.T.A, Snowden and his business partner have teamed up with the local butcher to create a range of M.E.T.A meat packs, which include a meat treat at the end of each month. This means clients don’t have to think in too much detail about meat choices because M.E.T.A can make selections for clients as part of their programmes if required.

It’s not just the building of nutritional relationships that has enabled M.E.T.A to develop the personal training business. Snowden has also been involved in GP referral schemes, which have enabled the personal trainer to build programmes based on the core elements of a client’s personal story. As a result of doing just this, M.E.T.A is able to offer a complete tailor-made fitness programme for each client, working on everything from self-confidence to diet plans.

“The main learning element of my time spent working with the NHS is that systems and processes work. As a result of learning about these systems, I developed the M.E.T.A system, progressively building up client confidence while changing some of their lifestyle habits. We make sure we keep the information simple.”

The M.E.T.A theory

Move, Eat, Think, Achieve,

So, what does the M.E.T.A system involve?

“We aim to educate our clients, rather than tell them what to do. Listening – and I mean listening – to understand is an important part of building a relationship and, in turn, seeing results.”

He adds, “There is no ‘I’ in M.E.T.A but there is ‘team’ and ‘mate’. Our coaches are involved in everything. It needs to be an environment they love coming to every day. It’s important that they believe our values; finding the right people is probably the toughest thing.”

The M.E.T.A system involves clients learning about different types of food, as well as how they affect individual body types, when and how much to eat, and key insight into food labelling, as Snowden explains, “The system informs and advises clients, so they can make confident choices of their own.”

Snowden tells me he never uses static resistance equipment. In order to help build a rapport with his clients, he listens. He also uses rapport-building skills learned from NLP and various coaching methods to communicate with the client, which helps make the process faster and more effective.

The future?

“We’d love to replicate our model and expand, franchising to help other PTs/coaches who want to make a difference in their community, and we’re currently working with a film producer to take our services online,” concludes Snowden.

Vegas mud requires strength

If that wasn’t enough to be getting on with, the personal trainer is embarking on a challenge. Designed to push the boundaries and urge mudders to the next level, Tough Mudder® just got a whole lot more serious. The M.E.T.A team is raising funds for a local charity and will be participating in the Las Vegas event.

To get us all in the zone, Snowden has provided a snippet of his training programme pre Vegas Mudder. From decelerating drop split squats to multi-grip pull-ups, check it out here:

1. Decelerating drop split squat

Reps and sets: 10-15 reps x5 sets
Rest: 60secs; then 45secs, then 30secs, then 15secs

(Reduce rest after each set)

Weekly target: Aim to increase reps and height of drop 


2. Climbing wall challenge

Reps and sets: As many lengths of the wall as possible before falling off x5 sets
Rest: 60secs; then 45secs, then 30secs, then 15secs

(Reduce rest after each set)


3. Monkey bar travel

Reps and sets: As many lengths of the wall as possible before falling off x5 sets
Rest: 60secs; then 45secs, then 30secs, then 15secs

(Reduce rest after each set)


4. Multi-grip pull-ups

Reps and sets: Max effort reps x5 sets
Rest: 60secs; then 45secs, then 30secs, then 15secs

(Reduce rest after each set)

Weekly target: Change grip on each set (hand width and number of fingers)

Watch Snowden training here:

Are you interested in a kettlebell workout? Read Ali Longmate’s feature on kettlebell training in Doha and why group exercise training outdoors shouldn’t be underestimated.