Balancing the Grind with Michael Ramsey, Co-Founder of STRONG Pilates

Michael Ramsey is the Co-Founder of STRONG Pilates, which has over 100 locations confirmed around the world, and is the Young Entrepreneur of the Year in Fitness. STRONG Pilates has recently announced AFL and NRL players, Travis Boak, Nat Fyfe, Nicho Hynes and Shaun Johnson as ambassadors to support men’s health.

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Let’s start with your background! Can you share with us your career journey and what you’re currently up to?

Sure can – I was a gym instructor at 17, personal trainer at 18 and studied for seven years in Marketing and Commerce. I ended up working in the Oil and Gas industry as a Marketing Manager for the first part of my career and PT’ing clients on the side. After a few years of corporate, I quickly realised it wasn’t for me.

I quit my job and opened my first F45 Training studio at the age of 26 with my business partner, Mark Armstrong. That studio ended up winning best F45 globally for three years’ running! We were ultra-ambitious and launched another five studios and grew those communities very quickly. At the same time, I launched an events-based business called Journey Retreats, and invested in a magnesium oil product-based business. In 2019, we sold all six F45 studios and rolled our profits into the next adventure – STRONG Pilates.

Having been a franchisee, I always felt I could create my own concept and use a lot of the key learnings to build something really special. We launched STRONG Pilates at the back-end of 2019. Then, from Q4 in 2021, we really pulled the trigger on the franchise and scaled from three to 37 studios globally. We now have over 140 confirmed in upcoming locations across Australia, New Zealand, UK, Singapore and soon to be – Canada.

We’d love to know what a typical day is like for you. Could you describe a recent workday?

My day starts around 5:00am when my six month old wakes me up and needs a feed (we don’t use alarms anymore in our house). Then, it’s coffee, gym and straight to the office ASAP. The best thing about my business is no two days are ever the same. My role is constant problem solving, innovating and relationship building. I can be travelling to Singapore for a conference one day, then developing new programs with my team in Melbourne the next. The reality is, I’m working 12+ hours most days, but I wouldn’t change a thing!

Can you define work-life balance for yourself and share with us your approach in maintaining it?

Short answer – I don’t really have a work-life balance. Work is now integrated as part of my life and I am effectively ‘on’ every waking minute. It sounds kind of horrible, but I really do love being so connected to my business and this journey. Family is super important to me, I am a dad before anything else. What I have realised though is that I have a very unique and exciting opportunity with STRONG Pilates and refuse to leave any stone unturned. Prioritising the important stuff has really helped me navigate this entire process. I still manage to stay healthy, social and happy, while being a dad and running a fitness franchise.

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Change is constant, and it’s essential for growth. Have you made any lifestyle changes in the past year to improve your work-life balance?

Absolutely! Sleep is everything. I get to bed as soon as humanly possible. I also know training and going to the gym is 100% the most important thing for my mental health and productivity. I force myself to train every single day (even if I don’t really feel like it). I don’t drink during the week now at all; previously, I’d have a glass of red or two throughout the week. I’ve also started seeing a business coach/psychologist who has really helped me to enjoy this process and work on coping mechanisms for stress and managing my workload. Meditation and practising mindfulness is a really good one – previously I probably thought it was a little bit “fluffy,” but now I’m seeing the benefits of becoming more mentally resilient through meditation practices.

Can you recommend any books, podcasts, or newsletters that have helped you in your journey towards balance?

Huberman Lab podcast (Andrew Huberman) and The Proof podcast (Simon Hill) are two brilliant resources for health hacks and understanding the science and physiology behind why we do what we do.

If you LOVE business and human psychology like I do, read $100m Offers by Alex Hormozi. It’s a game changer. Hormozi is the man.

Do you have any final words of wisdom or insights on work, life, or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

I think it’s important to remind yourself that YOU are in charge. You can structure your life however you want with minimal constraints. There’s always another option or another pathway. For me, I’ve integrated work into my life just as I would eating food or drinking water and opted for less ‘balance’ – this works for me. Figure out what works for you and get it done.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.