As a seasoned exercise scientist, as well as a mindfulness and wellness expert, William Clegg has spent decades counselingclients on the best ways to stay healthy, both mentally and physically.
Born and raised in London in the United Kingdom, the city he calls home to this day, William developed an interest in physical health from an early age. As a boy, he participated in many sports, particularly excelling in tennis, squash, and track and field. After graduating from secondary school, he was accepted into a program studying exercise science at a well-known British university. There, he discovered a passion for gymnastics, joining the school’s competitive team. Although he never distinguished himself with a gold or silver medal, William has continued avidly following gymnastics throughout his life. He graduated with a degree in exercise science in the early 1980s.
Once out of school, William took a series of odd jobs to support himself, all the while working towards his ambition of becoming a professional health and wellness consultant. After a few years spent obtaining the relevant certifications and securing startup funding, he was finally able to launch his own consulting firm. Since then, William Clegg has offered his services advising clients on matters relating to diet, exercise, and all areas of physical health. He was also an early adopter of the practice of mindfulness, advocating for a robust approach to mental hygiene at a time when many doctors and other health professionals dismissed it as nothing more than a fringe concept. Indeed, in the learned opinion of William Clegg, mental health is just as important as physical fitness. Having come to this conclusion informed by years of study and first-hand experience, William believes that an approach integrating both these components is crucial to the achievement of overall well-being, and as more time passes, scientific study on the subject only serves to vindicate his position more and more.
What do you currently do at your company?
Basically, I act as a coach and consultant to people who would like to become healthier. I take an all-encompassing approach in this regard, counseling people not only to eat a balanced diet and exercise daily, but also to audit their mental health and look for areas that might need addressing there. I teach mindfulness alongside physical fitness. So, my client list consists of people interested in losing weight and building muscle, accident victims looking to regain mobility and range of motion, and also people hoping to combat anxiety and depression.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
It happened when I was in university. I was on the gymnastics team for my school, and one of my teammates was experiencing something close to a total nervous breakdown. His girlfriend had just broken up with him, he was floundering in his classes, and to top it all off, one of his parents had just contracted an awful illness. Looking back, he was not entirely mentally healthy to begin with. He definitely exhibited clear signs of what we would now call generalized anxiety disorder. At any rate, this guy was on the cliff’s edge of a total meltdown. One day, he confided his problems to me, and as I was listening to him speak, I remember thinking, ‘This fellow is in peak physical condition. He’s a 23 year old gymnast with close to zero body fat and musculature that would put Jean-Claude Van Damme to shame. But his brain is fried. So, what good is a perfect body if the mind is debilitatingly injured?’ It was that thought that eventually led me to my idea of creating a health and wellness practice that integrates both physical fitness and mental hygiene. I should add that my teammate, with the help of myself, some other friends, and some professionals, staved off depression and eventually dealt with his mental issues. I remain in touch with him, and he now leads a happy and healthy life.
What defines your way of doing business?
I treat each of my clients almost as a doctor might treat their patients, right down to the idea of confidentiality. While it is true that my clients and I do not enjoy the same legal protections afforded by doctor/patient confidentiality, I observe it in every other respect. Their cases are private, as are all conversations we have in our sessions. Short of a search warrant or a court order, nothing will make me break that bond of trust.
What keys to being productive can you share?
I’ll concede that having a smartphone is somewhat necessary to function in today’s society—especially as someone who owns and operates my own business—but I maintain that having it constantly on your person or within arm’s reach is detrimental to proper focus. So, the key to being productive that I would most endorse is to put your phone away when you need to concentrate on something important. Personally, I lock mine in my desk drawer during sessions with my clients.
What would you tell your younger self?
Do more stretching in your teens and early twenties. Believe me, you’ll be grateful that you did once you hit the age of 40 or so. I would also tell my younger self to take some classes on finance and business management. Those would’ve been useful to me in the first few years after starting my business.
What are some of your favorite things to do outside of work?
Outside of spending time with my friends and family, which is probably the primary thing I love to do outside of work, I love performing gymnastics. Although, I’ll admit that gets more difficult as the years go by. These days, I tend to watch a lot of gymnastics competitions on television instead.
How would your colleagues describe you?
I would imagine the word ‘single-minded’ would crop up a lot. I would also hope they describe me as compassionate, effective, and dependable.
What is one piece of technology that helps you the most in your daily routine?
Even though I don’t use one myself, I routinely recommend that my clients make use of Fitbits or other similar technologies. I can’t deny that the raw data they return on a person’s daily activities is valuable in establishing an effective program to maintain optimal health and wellness.
What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?
My old gymnastics coach always used to tell me to “make sure to stick the landing” during my routine. Roughly translated, that means ‘finish strong, and it will benefit your overall score.’ I believe this advice is applicable to nearly all aspects of life. For example, I always endeavor to ‘stick the landing’ with my clients and make sure I finish their treatment on a high point.
How do you measure success?
One client at a time. You know that old axiom, ‘You’re only as good as your last performance?’ I firmly believe that, especially with regards to my chosen profession. I’m only as successful as my last client. When they find success in health and wellness, I view it as a success for me, too. By the same token, if they decide to throw in the proverbial towel and revert back to their poor habits and unhealthy mental outlooks, I view that as a failure on my part. Luckily, those cases are few and far between.