Marginal Gains

Nxtep, a boutique-style personal training studio in the heart of Knutsford, will be celebrating its third birthday in May and what a ride it’s been. Business is booming – the company has just filed a record quarter, and the team is expanding. Johanna Bolhoven went to catch-up with founder, Laura Hagan, to find out more.


I first met Laura three years ago, shortly after she opened the studio. She put me through my paces early one Monday morning as part of an interactive tour of the new facilities – the memory is still fresh. In fact it was this meeting with Laura that inspired me to start training again and I have been running (my exercise of choice) ever since.

I’m delighted to say that all the original ingredients are still there – passion, dedication and the desire to get the best possible outcome for their clients.

The gym is the epitome of luxury and comfort; this stylish space includes everything from classic free weights to a suite of very swish technogym cardio and functional training machines.


Fast forward three years and Laura’s relentless pursuit to deliver the very best in luxury personal training is evident in the team she has built around her. In her own words, Laura has created “A family”.

David Bell, personal trainer extraordinaire, has been with Laura since the beginning and over the last three years has continued to expand the nutritional coaching side of the business. Laura believes personal training goes beyond the things you do on the outside. The long-term benefits of a specially devised nutrition plan are numerous and David works with clients to devise a plan that works for them.

This passion is fuelled by his own dramatic body transformation; David lost more than 5-stone: ”At university I weighed 18-stone, the heaviest I’d ever been, and my confidence level was pretty much zero. I knew it was time to take responsibility for my own eating habits.


Nutrition is now my passion. I’m ‘that guy’ you see reading the back of everything in the supermarket. I like to know exactly what I’m eating so I can predict how it will affect in particular my physique and physical appearance.

My areas of specialism include nutrition for weight loss, sports performance and physical transformation. I guess we all have our own ‘thing’ and nutrition is mine! I find it both incredibly interesting and also motivating how you can completely change your physical appearance using nutrition as a tool.”

In March Laura recruited Guinness World Record holder, Hannah Bolger who holds the record for the most straddle jumps on a trampoline in one minute – 56, in case you’re wondering. The previous titleholder achieved a mere 46 which Hannah knocked clean out of the park!


She boasts an extensive sporting background. Growing up, she was a high-level gymnast competing nationally and internationally, participating in six British Championships and earning herself a bronze medal at the British Gymnastics Championships 2009 as part of the junior squad.

It was, perhaps, inevitable that she would go on to study “exercise, physical activity and health” at Salford University, from where she graduated in 2016.

In addition to her extensive knowledge of core exercises, developed through the precision of gymnastics, the course enabled Hannah to develop a deeper knowledge of exercise physiology, health psychology, policy and nutrition, which now allow her to produce practical solutions to improve health through physical activity and exercise.

This referral qualification means she can help people with diagnosed health conditions, resulting in a much closer working relationships between Nxtep and local doctors’ surgeries.


Hannah is still involved with the sporting world and coaches young gymnasts at weekends. “If I can do it then they can, and that’s an amazing opportunity within itself, and the fact that I can give something back is extremely rewarding.”

This motivation to help others to achieve their goals is one of the many reasons she was the first choice when Laura was recruiting.

Which brings me to Laura. Laura hasn’t been resting on her laurels. In the last year she has trained as a sports massage therapist, which has added another very useful skill to the services Nxtep provides for its clients.

She has recently accepted an invitation from a former client [from her time working with Matt Roberts in London] to spend two days a week in London helping him get in shape for an expedition to the North Pole in April 2018.

The expedition will face many physical challenges – temperatures down to -40°C, polar bears and shifting pack ice, and having never found a trainer “as good as Laura”, she was naturally his first choice.

Preparation will include taking part in the Thames Path Challenge on 9/10 September 2017, a 100km walk that is expected to take 24-25 hours and will be a unique test of endurance. This will be followed by a training and assessment week in Dartmoor in November 2017 that will ascertain his fitness levels and readiness for the challenge ahead.

As you can imagine Laura has devised a very intensive and demanding training programme.

When asked about spending time in London, Laura said: “This is an exciting opportunity to take the Nxtep brand out of Knutsford and who knows where it will lead. I’ve always believed personal training is the best way to ensure you’re getting the most from your workouts and I am excited to see what the team in Knutsford can achieve together.”

One thing is certain, client care has, and will, remained absolutely key to the ethos at Nxtep and, with the enhanced team and new services, their 5* training experience has just got even better.


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