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THE ATHLETE FACTORY

If you are looking to join a gym which boasts “state of the art” equipment, over inflated membership fees, clients who spend more time on their phones than on the machines and a trendy juice bar in the foyer…..then The Athlete Factory is definitely not for you! Although the facility will be opening it’s doors to the brand new RUGBY ACADEMY very soon there is so much more on offer to people of all ages and abilities.

Rugby Monthly travelled to Chester RFC to meet up with Director of Performance & Coaching Phil Greening, ex England and British Lions rugby player, to find out exactly what is on offer to anyone interested in becoming a member. It was an enlightening, inspiring and eye opening afternoon finding out all about what Phil and his team are putting together in the North West. Despite the amazing facilities and over 100 years of combined elite experience of the founders and coaches, this is a place for everyone!

When you first meet Phil you are instantly made to feel at ease by his friendly, welcoming and engaging disposition. He is VERY positive, Passionate and Proud of what he has already achieved and what he is putting together. He started his professional rugby career at Gloucester in 1994 and finished at Wasps in 2005, through injury, and also collected 27 England Caps and a British & Irish Lions tour during that time. Following his retirement from playing he followed his great passion of Coaching and S&C and became England 7’s Coach and started a Sports and Exercise degree. He now has extensive experience of coaching Elite athletes throughout the world and backs this up with an impressive suite of professional qualifications. He is currently a Coach with the USA 7’s and 15’s senior teams.

We asked Phil what first drove him to become co-founder of The Athlete Factory – “When I had to retire from playing it was a shock to be honest. I was fortunate though as I was offered a great opportunity in Singapore with a large Bank looking after clients, which I did for 2 years while still keeping up to my great passion of coaching. Mike Friday then asked me to get involved coaching the England 7’s team which I jumped at! However, I have always been very interested in the performance side of rugby and athletes. I had been very lucky to have worked with the likes of Craig White who was Head of S&C on 2 Lions tours and had major roles with the WRU and IRFU to name a few! Combining all of my experience and knowledge with the people I had met seemed an obvious thing to do and here we are!”

We wanted to delve a little deeper into the rationale behind The Athlete Factory Rugby Academy, the people involved and what the benefits will be to young players, Phil explained – “This will be the first private Academy of it’s kind in the UK. We want to create a pathway for players with aspirations to play at elite level in the men and women’s game that clubs WANT to sign. We have recruited World Class coaches and Consultants from a variety of backgrounds including Strength & Conditioning, Elite Coaching, Mental Coaching, Nutrition and Health & Lifestyle to name a few. Players in our Academy will have the opportunity to become the very best that they can possibly be. It’s that simple! As well as supplementing the existing Elite Club Academies and providing a pathway into the Pro game, we will also provide a platform for the unseen talent and the talent that needs that extra guidance. That is where our amazing Coaching Staff and World Class Facilities come to the fore.”

It is certainly a model that has been shown to work in the past. Interestingly, current England International Joe Launchbury had a similar journey to what Phil and his staff are offering. Joe was cut from the Harlequins Academy at 18 and went back to play for his local club side Worthing RFC in National League 2 thinking that was it for him at elite level. Luckily for him though the Head Coach was former Wasps player Will Green, who alerted Wasps to his outstanding abilities and the rest as they say “is history!”

During our conversation, Phil elaborated on how young players could experience these amazing opportunities – “We are targeting 4 main groups who will benefit from the Academy Programme; Premiership Exit Players, Missed Talent, Late Bloomers and Transfer Athletes. They will be invited to attend an Athlete Identification event which is designed to test the athletic potential of players using cutting edge physical testing protocols. Those who excel are then invited to stage 2, our Talent ID Camps. These are specially designed to evaluate the skill potential of prospective recruits. We’re not looking for the finished article but to uncover those who are the most adaptable, gritty and coachable. From these camps our team invites the most promising 35 in each age group to join the Academy on a bespoke 12 month development plan.”

The development of these young players is impressive during the 12 month plan. The Academy will also strive to build teams from the players to compete at 7’s & 15’s International invitational tournaments to showcase their emerging talents and skill sets and place them at clubs. They will also play as Academy players against domestic and International teams in a series of games at Chester RFC that will be attended by coaches and directors of professional clubs throughout the UK, to give them every possible chance to shine!

All in all, The Athlete Factory looks like a complete breath of fresh air for anyone wanting to get fit, address their lifestyle or become the best they can be! The set up and methodology behind the brand is VERY impressive indeed and the team Phil has assembled is un-rivalled. For an elite sports person it must seem like heaven, but that’s the rub….it’s not JUST for the elite. Phil makes it quite clear that anyone and everyone can get involved – “In essence we are providing gym membership to anyone who wants to get involved from 7-77, but with quite a difference!” he laughs. “The facility in Chester has world class state of the art equipment combined with a bespoke, results driven individual plan for EVERY member. We have a bespoke app that enables users to train 24/7 anywhere in the world. We will even have a Chryotherapy Chamber on site. We want everyone to be able to benefit from what we offer, whether you are a busy mum or an elite world champion, whether your goal is physical transformation or health or performance related, for the first time you are guaranteed to experience consistent positive change.”

The facility at Chester is nearing completion and the Academy ball is well and truly rolling, and we have absolutely no doubt that the first crop of the “Next Generation” of pro class players will be produced soon with a skill set, work ethic and whole understanding of the game that is second to none. We will certainly be monitoring the performance over the coming year and bringing our readers news. Phil has to be applauded for following his dream to provide this unique, holistic and world class facility to the masses. He is obviously VERY passionate about what he does and has a manic lifestyle juggling The Athlete Factory, traveling to and from the US and keeping his wife and 3 boys happy!

We wish him every success for the future…..

Anyone interested should go to www.theathletefactory.co.uk or email speaktous@theathletefactory.global or ring 0161 2989 797

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