“Transform your body, transform your life”: Akash’s mission-driven fitness business

“Transform your body, transform your life”: Akash’s mission-driven fitness business

Fitness trainer, author and podcaster Akash Vaghela has no regrets about his decision to switch his university application from Law to Sport Science.

A decade later, he is running an innovative, personalised coaching service that has helped more than 2,000 people around the world, disrupting an online industry where, he says, poor performance is rife.

Akash (OE 2003–2010), whose new book, Transform your body, transform your life, was published on 24th May, says: “I remember when I walked into my Head of Year’s office and said I’d like to switch my university application from Law to Sport Science. It certainly raised a few eyebrows, both in School and at home. I was one of the very few taking a non-traditional path, and to this day, it marks one of the best decisions I ever made.”

Across the world, 14 people now work for his business, RNT Fitness, which has as its mission ‘to use the physical to transform your life’.

While at Birmingham University, Akash was as a personal trainer (PT) and he continued working in the industry after he graduated with a first-class degree.

While he loved helping his clients, there were elements of the job he greatly disliked, he explains. “I had no control of my diary; it was dictated by the client, which due to work hours, often meant unsociable timings, meaning I’d leave my house at 5.45am and return at 10pm. There are only so many hours in the day, and I was limited by this. I saw fellow PTs around me start families and struggle. They’d never see their children due to the hours, nor have the flexibility to do so: if you don’t work you don’t get paid!

When he had almost five years’ experience under his belt, he realised the time had come to listen to his entrepreneurial spirit – “I was always dabbling in small ventures as a PT” – and start his own, 100% online, business.

There was certainly room for improvement over what others were doing: “The issues I saw in the online space were an abundance of cookie-cutter plans, lack of results, and poor customer service.”

He set up RNT Fitness along with a business partner in May 2017 to “create the go-to online platform for regular, busy people to transform their bodies and change their lives – we set out to create the best one-to-one online platform available worldwide”.

Since buying out his partner 16 months later, he has built a team to help ‘scale’ his efforts. His global group of coaches have now helped customers in more than 20 countries, working according to the company values of ‘impact, service, self-master, community and lifestyle’.

As well as assembling that team, the highlights have included:

  • “Building a community tribe between coaches and clients, where we’ve regularly packed out London clubs with hundreds of fellow RNT’ers!”
  • Writing his book
  • Growing the podcast, RNT Fitness Radio, which has now been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times in more than 90 countries.

There were also a few lows, especially “starting the company in the red after a web development deal went sour”.

While the rollercoaster ride of entrepreneurship inevitably brings “the doubts, worries and anxiety that come with the responsibility of building a business, I don’t know if this is a low; it’s the life I love to lead – there’s a certain buzz that comes with it that you can’t replicate!”

For fellow aspiring entrepreneurs his message is: “Be mission-driven and build a business that transcends your day-to-day and your industry”. RNT, for example, is not only about physical transformation, but instead uses the physical to help people transform their lives for the the greater good. “Be prepared to work harder than you ever imagined with ruthless consistency for the opportunity to live a life by your own design,” he adds.

Last academic year, Akash came to QE to deliver a talk. The advice he gave to the Year 11 boys on that occasion has not changed: “Follow your passion and don’t be afraid to take the road less travelled: it’s harder, more rocky, but far more rewarding. I’d encourage all students to go against the grain like I did, and not conform to the normality of being a lawyer, banker or doctor!”

Akash’s fond memories of his own time at the School are rooted in the friendships he enjoyed there and continues to enjoy now. “I’ve been lucky enough to have an amazing peer group around me, many of whom I’ve known since my time at QE (even earlier in some cases!). You are who you surround yourself, and I’m lucky to call the following fellow OEs some of my best friends: Shyam Kotecha, Jai Doshi, Amar Amlani, Sindujen Sriharan, Bilal Harry Khan and Minil Patel.

“They’re all doing fantastically in their own endeavours, and continuously pushing themselves to greater heights. I couldn’t be prouder, nor could I be where I am without their support, belief and guidance. I’ll always be grateful for QE for bringing this group together.”