Meet the man who trains Premier League players, boxing champions and millionaire CEOs

We tend to assume that professional athletes are the strongest people on earth. But how fit is the man who keeps the fittest people on earth fit?

Dan Lawrence, with the physique and face of a Thor body double, is that man. In any case, he is one of a select group of performance coaches who work with professional athletes and top CEOs in the business world – essentially people at the top of their fields who can afford a special kind of trainer.

Lawrence, the founder of Perform365, has worked with more than 30 champions across sports. His clients include Premier League players, NFL Super Bowl winner Jay Ajayi, W Series driver Jamie Chadwick and world champion boxers such as Josh Taylor and George Groves. Much of the Brit’s boxing work falls under his role as head of performance at the Matchroom gym, the facility associated with Eddie Hearn’s promotion, and Lawrence has even managed the CEOs of Joe & the Juice, Wow Hydrate and more coached.

Lawrence’s work includes everything from strength training to plyometric exercises (short, intense bursts of activity that target fast-twitch muscle fibers in the lower body, from the top of my head), and even creating the ‘optimal sleep environment’ so people ‘ Not looking at their phone for two hours in bed, which affects their melatonin production, blue light exposure, etc.”. He works with athletes to improve their overall speed, strength and explosiveness, before increasing the specificity of exercises as their target date approaches – “sharpening the knife”, as he describes it.

Work can continue until the very last moment. “In the locker room you are still working with a boxer,” he says. “You’d be so surprised. Even with a playlist you need the right melodies so the BPM isn’t too high too early! Knowing when the next fight will end is also important so we don’t have to rush things.”

I got a firsthand taste of Lawrence’s work last fall when I trained with John Ryder and Joe Cordina at the Matchroom gym. I remember Lawrence referring to my body parts with four-syllable terms that were so foreign to my ears that I could not in good faith say he spoke English – or any language formed on this planet. But his tongue-twisting terminology was delivered so confidently that I explicitly trusted him.

Lawrence with former interim world boxing champion John Ryder (Mark Robinson)

Lawrence with former interim world boxing champion John Ryder (Mark Robinson)

This afternoon he will speak with The independent via Zoom from his new home in Dubai, and our conversation quickly turns to Lawrence’s clientele. It is clearly an eclectic group, but he is in a unique position to observe the characteristics that unite the individuals. “Resilience, purposefulness, selfishness,” he says without hesitation.

“Resilience… If you accept that there will be bumps in the road, when you encounter them you can identify what you could have done better and keep moving forward.” One-sided focus? “On social media there is a lot of talk about shiny object syndrome and tall poppy syndrome. It is very important to keep the noise quiet.” What about selfishness, an intriguing element in Lawrence’s response? “A boxer doesn’t work with ten other athletes who might be having a bad day at the office. Yes, you have a team, but their only goal should be the athlete. I told John Ryder throughout his career, ‘You’re too nice, it’s a short career, you have to be selfish to become selfless over time.’ You make money, you win championships, and that allows you to better serve your family and associates.”

Lawrence’s role has allowed him to identify not only the unifying characteristics of elite athletes, but also the biggest misconceptions about elite athletes specifically.

Lawrence has worked with Premier League footballers and other top athletes (Michael Beirut)Lawrence has worked with Premier League footballers and other top athletes (Michael Beirut)

Lawrence has worked with Premier League footballers and other top athletes (Michael Beirut)

“Boxers really are the nicest people you will ever meet,” he says. “Many are born from hardship, they have values ​​of hard work and dedication, they are family oriented. When you walk into a boxing gym, everyone is so welcoming. Football players are nice people too. They are human, they have emotions, and sometimes words on social media can have a deep impact on them.”

Lawrence is also keen to address misconceptions surrounding the “average athlete,” as he calls the average gym-goer.

“The biggest misconception is that you have to train six days a week and only eat chicken and broccoli,” he says. “You don’t need an all-or-nothing mentality. You can absolutely have certain food groups that may not be in line with your goal, as long as you do it in moderation. By training three times a week you can definitely achieve results. You can reduce the amount of food group For example, if you ate a sandwich three times a day for a week, but said, “I’m going to cut that back to twice a day,” that alone could have a huge impact.

“People also go from zero to hero too quickly – for example as a New Year’s resolution – but we know that too large an acute peak increases the risk of injuries. Moreover, it is impossible for you to formulate such a habit.” The company you keep can also be crucial. “You have to choose the right gym partner, someone you don’t always end up with at Starbucks, with donuts and a chinwag. Maybe it’s someone who’s a little bit ahead of you and says, ‘Let’s set a schedule, let’s set goals together.’”

Such goals will, of course, be much more humble than those of many of Lawrence’s clients. A year ago he was in Mexico, in Ryder’s corner, as the super middleweight attempted to wrest the undisputed world titles from Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. Ryder fought valiantly against the pound-for-pound great, but he was denied a career-defining victory. Still, the now retired boxer and Lawrence left with fond memories.

“When we left our hotel, the police escort was ready to take us to the stadium,” Lawrence remembers. “Everyone else was in the car, just me and John with the bags, and we ended up with 200 Mexicans cheering on John – the guy who fought the hometown favorite. That was a tear-jerking moment for both of us, and it still gives me goosebumps.

“There was also Las Vegas, when Josh Taylor became undisputed champion [in 2021]. Then we walked, a few drinks deep, through the casino where he was fighting, and he put his arm around me and said, ‘When you told me how much you cost, I thought: Damn, that’s a lot… but Dan, you’re worth every penny. ”

Lawrence with Ryder following the boxer's 2019 interim title win (Getty)Lawrence with Ryder following the boxer's 2019 interim title win (Getty)

Lawrence with Ryder following the boxer’s 2019 interim title win (Getty)

Lawrence's clients include CEOs of companies such as Joe & the Juice and Wow Hydrate (James Lo)Lawrence's clients include CEOs of companies such as Joe & the Juice and Wow Hydrate (James Lo)

Lawrence’s clients include CEOs of companies such as Joe & the Juice and Wow Hydrate (James Lo)

And while Lawrence’s work with professional athletes speaks for itself, I wonder why a CEO would seek his advice.

“You don’t have to be a Premier League footballer; ‘high performance’ is contextual to your situation,” he explains. “If a CEO can improve his health by 1.2 [or] 5 percent, that could be a difference of millions of pounds to their business, or an improvement in their lifespan by three to five years so they can play with their children or grandchildren. Essentially, they’ve made their money; they’ve been in a chronic state of stress, and maybe they live to be 45 or north of that and they think, ‘I don’t have time to work with a personal trainer in a normal gym, I need to work with an expert in their field .’”

Lawrence’s expertise may be out of the price range of the everyday athlete, but they would do well to take note of the free tips he’s provided here. Every percent counts.

Leave a Comment