Head of Marketing Communications: THE PROTEIN WORKS™
Ross Edgley is no stranger to an extreme sporting challenge. Ross studied Sport and Leisure Management at Loughborough University, graduating in 2008. Happy to pull a car or a tree around for 24 hours straight, Ross outlines his most exciting challenges, working on co-founding a company and shares how his Loughborough experience has impacted upon his career and challenges so far.
I think the answer is I wanted to add “strings to my bow”. Basically I love all things sport, from studying and competing to charity work and the commercial aspects. For as long as I can remember it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. But before I attended Loughborough University I was fortunate enough to have played my chosen sports to an international standard, learnt from some of the world’s best strength and conditioning coaches and my family was heavily involved in a lot of sports-based charity work. But I remember thinking if I was able to learn about the commercialisation, history, sociology and psychology of sport I would become this Sports-Based Guru (well, that was the theory of my 18-year-old self anyway).
I wouldn’t be the person I am today had I not attended Loughborough. Not just because of all I learnt during my time there, but because (I always say this) for me Loughborough University is a giant “melting pot” of sporting genius. It’s a unique place where strength-based athletes exchange S&C genius by the water fountain in Powerbase with triathletes. A place where marathon runners talk carb-loading and fat fuel sources with elite rowers by the cardio equipment. Where Premier League football players discuss hydration strategies with Olympic swimmers. I was incredibly fortunate to plant myself in the middle of all of this and became a strange “sporting nomad” who learnt from anyone and everyone.
Did you take part in many other extra-curricular activities during your time at University other than being a member of the AU Water Polo team?
I honestly played anything and everything. I come from a sporting family. My grandad was a marathon runner. My dad is a tennis coach. My mum was a sprinter. My older brother was a footballer and my little brother does martial arts. So when I arrived on campus way back in 2008 I was like a kid arriving at Disneyland. It’s also this that shaped my entire training philosophy as an athlete adventurer which is something I teach on my website: “There are many ways to get fitter, stronger and leaner. You shouldn’t discriminate against any of them or favour one. As soon as you do, you close your mind and limit your potential.”
The last 3 years have been awesome. When we launched THE PROTEIN WORKS™ the founders and team set out with one clear goal; to change the sports nutrition industry. Now after winning awards for our whey protein, creatine and protein snacks we feel we’ve done just that, but we also feel this is just the beginning. This is why we’ve just invested heavily in a state-of-the-art protein bakery and built Europe’s first sports nutrition Nuttery, since protein cookies and toffee-fused peanut butter are just the “appetiser” for what’s to come.
Also I won’t lie, I have eaten (trialled) every single product we’ve ever launched from the bakery and in no way has the novelty warn off yet. We have some incredibly talented product developers and I am a willing and happy “guinea pig” who will try every nut butter and protein truffle prototype that leaves their desks.
Yes, when I’m not eating my bodyweight in protein bars I am overlooking the marketing and communications for THE PROTEIN WORKS™ as we expand into Europe. This basically includes product information, website copy, SEO and social media and essentially most things that are written by (or broadcast) by us across the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Sweden and Denmark.
But I love to write, I love to travel and I, of course, love sports nutrition. So for me it rarely feels like work.
Also what’s been amazing to see is the ever increasing importance social media now plays within sport and business. For us at THE PROTEIN WORKS™ we like to think we’ve embraced this more than any other brand and regularly hold live feeds across our social media channels so our customers can exchange ideas about new products, ask advice and just generally keep in touch with every area of our business.
You’ve mentioned before that at the start of the year you set out to raise money for charity through your extreme challenges – what charities do you support and why?
It may appear like an odd mix of charities and causes, but each one I work with is very close to my heart and each one does some truly amazing work. From the wildlife conservation projects of Chester Zoo who I became involved with after living in Africa and the Amazon, to the Teenage Cancer Trust who helped one of my best friends recover from leukaemia (twice). In my opinion more people need to know how much they help and if my extreme sports-based stunts serve as a vehicle to do this, then every rope burn and blister becomes worth it.
How did you maintain a rigorous fitness regime after leaving University and entering the world of work?
I’m incredibly lucky that I was able to turn THE PROTEIN WORKS™ into my “base”. When we launched we all agreed we absolutely needed a gym at our headquarters, because although we were all prepared to work 18 hour days, training was like a “religion” and at least once a day we had to attend “church”. Whether that was in the form of some Olympic Lifts, some gymnastics ring work or some sprints in the car park. Now as my charity work and challenges have grown, so has the gym (for example we now have a running track) and, thankfully, so has the amount of time I can train again.
How have skills you gained studying at Loughborough influenced you as an iconic figure in the health and fitness industry?
That’s very kind of you to say. But I honestly wouldn’t say it has anything to do with my skills and a lot more to do with the friends I’ve made (and probably their skills). In all my writings I always try to celebrate and broadcast the teachings of some brilliant coaches and athletes who I’m lucky enough to call friends and that’s what I love doing. To quote the famous French philosopher Michel Foucault, “I'm no prophet. My job is making windows where there were once walls.”
Perhaps the two “skills” that I do have is I’m able to jump from sport to sport and immerse myself in the culture and learnings of each to then merge them into something that everyone can learn from; like my articles. But again, that’s only because I’m able to call upon the genius of friends who happen to be world class athletes and coaches.
After leaving University I travelled the world for a year which threw up some interesting challenges. Living with the Japanese Yamabushi monks as they embarked on their annual 100m walking pilgrimage was fun. Equally wrestling bulls in Ecuador on a volcanic mountain left its mark (quite literally as I have a horn-shaped scar to prove it). But I also love the ocean, so to wrestle sharks in the Bahamas was something I will never forget.
I’m actually 200,000 words into my writing my first book. I started it from Loughborough’s library and now 10 years later it’s almost finished. It’s been a labour of love and basically merges the expertise of world champions, Olympians and celebrated military personnel to create (what I think) will be the most eclectic fitness guide ever written.
I cannot wait to publish it since I think it will ruffle feathers and raise bars within the world of training and nutrition. It also draws upon some of the stranger experiences I had in the Amazon jungle when traveling or my encounters on the African plains when I lived as a San Bushmen.
I think running a marathon around Silverstone’s iconic race circuit with a 1.4 tonne car on your back as your family cheer you over the finish line will be pretty hard to beat. My older brother actually ran the whole way with me, shielding me from the rain from 3am to 7am with an umbrella and then my mum had my favourite cheesecake waiting for me afterwards (she’s an awesome cook).
A Tree-Athlon! On the 12th of November I will visit the island of Nevis in the Caribbean and attempt to complete their annual triathlon, which is dubbed “The World’s most beautiful", whilst carrying a 100-pound tree to bring global attention to their pioneering advancements in green energy as they look to become the world’s first carbon neutral island.