Members Spotlight #5 | Ronnie Rich

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Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s largest mountain with a summit standing nearly 20,000 feet above sea level, is no small feat. For most who do it, it is a memory of a lifetime. For some, it is a life-changing event with few comparisons. For one member of our community, it is something to do next year. Twice.

Ronnie Rich, the former asset manager and now Kindred-based entrepreneur, has developed a habit of taking on challenges. His business “FITBANKER” is for those who bank on their fitness and, after four and a half years, continues to scale new heights.

FITBANKER isn’t a personal training business. That area, commonly focussing solely on the exercise part of the package, is something that Ronnie and his team have never targeted. While debate often rages about whether 10% or 20% of someone’s time is the magic number for optimal exercise, FITBANKER worries about much more than that. The approach is about making 100% of the time work for the individual, even that varies wildly from person-to-person and while a training programme plays its part, FITBANKER believes change is more than a good gym session.

Relying on the science of body types and nutrition, Ronnie has created an organisation that aims to find the best ways for people to make effective change and, crucially, make it stick. Habits and mindset are as important as weight or meal choices and with successful FITBANKER’s now numbering in the hundreds.

“Something is better than nothing for someone with a sedentary lifestyle”

Ronnie says as he explains the results that are achieved from targeting the tailored approach properly on the individual, fitting it in and around their busy lifestyle in a relevant, accessible way. The original thinking may have been that the process was for busy executives and entrepreneurs, and while FITBANKER continues to attract, and help, them, even more people from across society are joining the movement, whether doctors and nurses or, increasingly, busy mums.

It is notable that Ronnie describes the programme, not in terms of professions, but mentalities.

“It begins with self-love, someone who is mindful of their value to themselves, their family and their business” he says it is “for those who feel stuck” or, like for Ronnie himself, for those who want or need to make a change for the sake of others.

His own journey was kickstarted not necessarily out of choice when, after a sad, sudden loss in his family, their unborn baby passing away, he began having heart palpations. His wife summed it up starkly, telling Ronnie there’s “no way I’m waking up tomorrow having lost another one” and making it clear to him that a hospital trip was needed and, in the longer term, an acceptance that more people banked on Ronnie’s wellbeing than just himself.

Weighing in at one point at 108 kilograms, Ronnie’s transformation hasn’t been insignificant. He may have once been a banker under pressure and expectation, but this journey wasn’t necessarily one he sought out himself. That difficult conversation with his wife made it clear the challenge was there and, faced with it, Ronnie made the choice to tackle it head-on.

Perhaps unsurprisingly for a plan that puts so much value on habit and mindset, the FITBANKER programme has seen people, like Ronnie, confronting an initial challenge and coming back for more.

Their (now regular) Kilimanjaro treks started as monthly walks. For people who had found techniques and the mindset to take on challenges, that wasn’t enough. With the FITBANKER community offering support and mutual accountability, the African challenge is proving more popular than ever. The Swahili phrase “pole pole” (slowly, slowly) is a mantra on the mountain, and is one it’s easy to think of when talking to Ronnie. The idea to keep moving, to not stop and to succeed. His story is full of challenges, some sought out and some coming because that’s how he goes through life, and with FITBANKER and it’s expanding programme, more people are finding ways to join his journey.

In 2020, August will see the ‘beginners’ trek and November is the trip for, as Ronnie puts it, “people that are somewhat active”. Both are open to all, and with training trips, webinars and a support network in place, it is no surprise that places are being filled by those united by the FITBANKER mindset. Those open to learning, improvement and shared accountability has created a global community facing up to the process together, sharing cultures and looking to conquer challenges together.

“If you want to change your current lifestyle, you have to change your environment, community and habits” Ronnie explains, when talking about the benefits that joining Kindred has given him.

“My default setting is: be a lone ranger” he admits, but realised, like other FITBANKER’s in his programme, that success so often depends on collaboration. In Kindred he has found ways to work on his own goals (now regularly updating Monday Morning Coffee Club with his progress) but has also, surprisingly to him, found new partners, helping other members to set up a gym in Putney. The parallels between FITBANKER and Kindred, albeit in different spaces, have made Ronnie a regular fixture in the community.

Some challenges are mountains that are there to be climbed, standing isolated and intimidating. Something to tick off the list. Some are processes, every day putting one foot in front of another and keeping going, wanting to keep moving forward and never being satisfied enough to stand still. Ronnie and FITBANKER keep finding ways to help people with both, and together show no sign of stopping.

This post forms part of a series of behind-the-scenes interviews with members of the Kindred team and community.

Written by Sam Hampson, Kindred member and freelance writer.

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