Small Business of the Week: Primal Health & Fitness

by Shelton on February 22nd, 2015

filed under Personal Funding

Health club zombies. We’ve all seen them, the treadmill-trudging, stationary cyclists staring intently into the distance in a bid to burn off the calories.

But their efforts may all be in vain, according to Liverpool-based Primal Health amp; Fitness.

The business, founded by James Slomka, Simon Langton and John Wright, provides personal training regimes and nutrition consultations for everyone from professional athletes, to the ‘weekend warriors’ who take to the amateur sportsfields across the country, or just clients looking to get in trim.

They argue that without the right advice many people could be wasting their time exercising or dieting.

James explained: “Some people have dieted for far too long and damaged their metabolic rate.”

They say Primal is in the forefront of personal training techniques, drawing on the very latest data from around the world.

James, Simon and John knew each other through a well known gym chain.

Simon and John were personal trainers and James was a member.

They set up their own businesses to provide an alternative to the conventional gym offering, then eventually formed Primal in 2009.

Simon said: “We set up Primal because gyms are just for people to come in and have minimal interaction with the staff.

“They put people on a treadmill and just leave them to it. They are not coached or guided.”

Their first base was a 1,000 sq ft site in Smithdown Road before moving to their current 5,000 sq ft site on Harlow Street’s Grain Industrial Estate in Toxteth last May.

Their bootcamp serves around 1,000 people a month and the three partners provide personal training services for hundreds of clients, having built up a loyal clientelle from the very start. Simon believes it is their unique services that continue to attract clients: “We were in Smithdown Road with no parking and no shop front, but because we provided a great service we had lots of repeat referrals.”

He explained: “We help guide people to a healthier and fitter life through exercise.

“Our ethos is #becomebetter, for anyone who has never exercised in their life, all the way to professional athletes.

“There’s nothing like us in Liverpool or the North West.”

Their clients include basketball players Colin Sing, of Sheffield Sharks, and David Aliu of Chester Phoenix, international lacrosse player Andrew Farrington, some of the Wrexham FC football academy, former Everton player Hope Akpan who is now at Reading, and Liverpool-born Perry Ng of Crewe FC.

But Simon added: “We cater for everyone, for male or female weight loss, muscle building for both males and females, and sports performance for anyone who plays sport.

“We give people a consultation, and then guide them through the process using our facilities and expertise.”

He said they are not a typical gym; there’s no treadmills or swimming pool, and there’s no set time limit for members: “We ask for a minimum of six months commitment.

“If someone hasn’t looked after themselves in their life it is not going to be fixed over six months. We educate and guide them.”

John said they can make clients look better or improve their performance levels, through setting them performance goals: “We give them performance goals to get them in the mindset of training, instead of training for what they look like in the mirror.

“We have to manage expectations. We say, ‘respect the process. It takes as long as it takes’.”

Classes start at £4 for 45 minutes, with an opening offer of £10 for 10 days. One-to-one personal training starts from £15 a session and a private service is charged from £30 a session.

The partners attend internships across the UK, Europe and America to keep abreast of the latest developments and they stage expert tutorials, including a session with a USA Olympic weight lifting coach this August Bank Holiday weekend, and a Canadian Olympic coach in September.

Simon said: “We believe we are really good at what we do. And we get results.

“There’s lots of ‘before and after’ pictures on the website.”

And he believes controls for the industry could be more stringent: “A lot of people do a 12-week personal trainer course and they are let loose on the industry.

“There’s a big divide in the industry – personal trainers are either very poor, or good.”

The business, which employs seven full time trainers, two physios and a cleaner, was part-funded by Merseyside Special Investment Fund, and personal funding from the three founders.

James, who graduated in sports science from Liverpool John Moores University in 2002, even gave up a six-year job in law costs to return to his preferred career.

The specialist strengthening and conditioning equipment accounted for most of their £50,000 start-up costs, and they are continually re-investing in kit from all over the world.

This year’s turnover should hit around £60,000, but the aim is to reach £250,000 in revenues within five years.

John said: “We are confident in our business model. If you are passionate and confident in your business, you don’t need to worry about the competition.”

Simon added: “We’re quite lucky in that a lot of our clients are successful businessmen and women who help us out and can offer us advice.

“It has been a steep learning curve, but we are happy with what we have done so far.

“We want to improve and we are continually striving to keep one step ahead of the competition.”

The business also has close links with charity organisation Tom Harrison House, a specialist facility that provides addiction treatment exclusively to military veterans, reservists, emergency personnel and their families.

It is the UK’s first addiction treatment centre for the military and emergency service sectors and Primal opens up its facilities twice a week as part of their treatment programmes.

10 Best Banks of 2015

by Shelton on February 22nd, 2015

filed under Debt Consolidation

By Christina Lavingia, Editor

This is the fifth installment of GOBankingRates third annual Best Banks series, connecting consumers with the best deposit accounts and banks of 2015. Come back each week of February for our rankings and reviews of this years best institutions and bank products, including online banks, military financial institutions, certificates of deposit, checking accounts and savings accounts.

gt;gt;See the 10 best online-only banks of 2015 here.

At the end of the day, you want to trust where you bank. Interest rates are near historic lows nearly anywhere you can deposit your funds or obtain a loan, making the difference between big banks, credit unions, local banks and online institutions relatively minimal in terms of dollars and cents on your account statements.

Whether because they have larger marketing budgets or a high volume of branches and ATMs, big banks still hold a huge portion of the market share for deposits and loans. In fact, their assets are growing. According to Fortune Magazine, assets for the six largest US banks in September 2013 were 37 percent greater than they were five years earlier. It seems that, despite the Great Recession, big banks are still an attractive option for depositors and companies.

Fortune also reported that one-third of all business loans were made by Bank of America in 2013, while Wells Fargo financed almost a quarter of all mortgages. JPMorgan, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley owned 67 percent of US financial assets.

Traditional banks do have their appeal: They offer convenience, access to funds and a wide variety of banking products, all of which are backed by the FDIC, meaning deposits up to $250,000 are insured against any losses.

Additionally, big banks serve an important function in the US economy. GOBankingRates found that the 51 largest banks employ nearly one percent of the US workforce (1.23 million people). These banks pay a few hundred million to a few billion dollars in corporate income taxes to their headquarter states each year and give away millions to charities and nonprofits.

For those who prefer to bank with an institution that has an outpost in nearly every city (and even, in some cases, internationally) GOBankingRates ranked the best banks of 2015. This study excluded online banks and military institutions, which were evaluated in separate rankings.


  • 10 Best Checking Accounts of 2015
  • 10 Best Savings Accounts of 2015
  • 10 Best CD Accounts of 2015

Review: 10 Best Banks of 2015

To determine the below rankings, GOBankingRates looked at the top 100 banks by assets, according to the FDIC, and evaluated each on the following criteria:

  • BauerFinancial Star Ratings for overall financial strength
  • Yields, fees or other terms on checking, savings and one-year CD accounts
  • Whether the bank offers auto loans, mortgages, credit cards, investment services and/or insurance services
  • Branch number and availability

Deposit rates are accurate as of Dec. 23 for checking and savings and Dec. 29 for CDs.1. Wells Fargo

Why: The most notable reason why Wells Fargo ranked No. 1 for brick-and-mortar banks was its branch availability: Wells Fargo offers the most branches of the 100 banks surveyed, at 6,353.

Review: Wells Fargo offers all five products GOBankingRates surveyed: auto loans, mortgages, credit cards, investment services and insurance, making it ideal for consumers looking to simplify their finances and bank all in one place. Wells Fargo boasts a BauerFinancial Star Rating of 4 out of 5, and is home to $1.7 trillion in assets, making it the fourth largest bank by asset size in the US

In terms of social and economic impact, as an added bonus, Wells Fargo employs the most people of any big bank, at 265,000, and paid $1.9 billion in California state taxes in 2013. Additionally, in that year, Wells Fargo gave $275.5 million to 18,500 nonprofits.

How to join: Wells Fargos pervasive branch accessibility makes it easy to open an account in person, as well as online. With dozens of accounts to choose from, opening any one of them takes no more than 10 minutes.

2. BBVA Compass Bank

Why: BBVA Compass Bank offers depositors higher interest rates than Wells Fargo and has a higher BauerFinancial Star Rating. However, BBVA Compass Bank has just a tenth of Wells Fargos branch locations.

Review: The banks more limited accessibility put it in the No. 2 spot. Like Wells Fargo, BBVA Compass Bank offered all five of the other products we surveyed, but has a higher BauerFinancial Star Rating of 5. BBVA Compass Bank offers its customers a high one-year CD rate of 0.45% APY. Additionally, its checking account comes with no fee and its savings yield beats the national average at brick-and-mortar banks, as well, at 0.15% APY.

Customers have access to four different credit cards with BBVA Compass Bank, as well as ample mortgage options, covering everything from a first home to a second refinance, renovations, new construction and equity.

How to join: You can become a customer of BBVA Compass Bank from the comfort of your home. Simply visit its website, peruse its many bank products and services, and apply for whichever accounts you want online.

3. Bank of America

Why: Bank of Americas interest rates are on par with Wells Fargo, but it offers the same products, along with a BauerFinancial Star Rating of 4 and 5,101 branch locations.

Review: Bank of America is committed to empowering its customers — and the public — with the financial literacy needed to grow wealth. In partnership with Khan Academy, Bank of America produced a number of videos and tutorials through its Better Money Habits series to help people reach goals of tackling debt, saving, budgeting and establishing credit.

How to join: As one of the largest banks in the United States, Bank of America is accessible to most depositors. Requirements to open an account include a Social Security number, a current residential address, bank account number or debit card to fund your account, co-applicant information if applicable, and a valid email address.

4. BankUnited

Why: For checking and savings accounts, BankUnited offers higher yields than the three banks ranked above it, and boasts the highest BauerFinancial Star Rating available of 5. However, the bank offers far fewer branches to its customers — just 106.

Review: For a major bank, BankUnited pays its customers yields that rival credit unions and community banks. Depositors earn above-average yields on savings and one-year CDs at BankUnited, at 0.25% APY and 0.55% APY, respectively. Despite offering its customers fewer branches for in-person banking, BankUnited has the same product offerings as the banks ranked above it.

With four checking account options alone to select from: Relationship Checking, Bonus Interest Checking, Signature Interest Checking and 50+ Signature Interest Checking, BankUnited provides a wide variety of bank products to meet varying needs.

How to join: Those who wish to join BankUnited can do so by opening an account, visiting a branch or calling 1-877-799-BANK.

5. First National Bank of Omaha

Why: First National Bank of Omahas product offerings are broad and it boasts a BauerFinancial Star Rating of 5; however, the banks more limited branch access places it in the fifth spot.

Review: First National Bank of Omaha offers all the same product offerings as the above banks, but with just 127 branches. Customers with a checking account from this bank enjoy paying no maintenance fees.

No matter your credit card preference, First National Bank of Omaha offers American Express, Discover, MasterCard and three Visa options to choose from. Wealth management services, from 529 savings plans for your toddler to tributary funds, are available as well.

How to join: This bank serves those residing in Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Texas, with multiple branches in each state. Potential customers can apply online at the banks website.

6. Zions Bank

Why: Zions Bank charges no maintenance fee on its checking account and offers high savings yields. However, the bank has under 150 branches for its customers.

Review: Zions Banks savings account earns the highest yield of any bank on this list at 0.45% APY. Although Zions Bank offers auto and mortgage loans, credit cards, and investment services, it doesnt offer insurance. The bank boasts a BauerFinancial Star Rating of 5, but only offers 145 branches to its customers.

Zions offers rewards credit cards, along with an entire suite of bank products geared toward children and young adults, including student checking and savings, kid savings, and the Zions Bank Pays for As program.

How to join: Zion Bank has locations in many Western states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington. Customers can apply online for credit cards and accounts with Zions Bank.

7. BBamp;T

Why: With a BauerFinancial Star Rating of 5 and ample branch locations, BBamp;T ranked No. 7 among the best banks of 2015.

Review: Those who deposit their funds with BBamp;T get standard yields on their accounts when compared to other brick-and-mortar banks. BBamp;T offers all loan, credit, insurance and investment services GOBankingRates surveyed, and its customers have access to 1,852 branches to conduct their banking in person.

BBamp;T offers its customers ample resources on its website to tackle any financial issue you could imagine, from paying for college and managing life events to planning for retirement and investing.

How to join: Those looking to join BBamp;T can do so online, by visiting one of its financial centers or by phone at 888-BANK-BBT, where they can find answers to their banking questions and determine which products best meet their current needs.

8. Chase Bank

Why: Due to its relatively lower rates, Chase Bank fell to the No. 8 spot. However, branch access is a high selling point for banking here, with 5,710 branches available to Chase Bank customers.

Review: In terms of products, customers have access to auto loans, mortgage loans, credit cards and investment services with Chase Bank; however, insurance products are not available. The bank has a strong BauerFinancial Star Rating of 4 out of 5.

Chase Bank is one of the most recognizable names in banking, and youll have ample access to your funds, both in-person and online. Services like Chase Quickpay make banking even more convenient on the go. When it comes to checking accounts alone, Chase Bank gives its customers plenty of options, with five products to choose from.

How to join: Joining Chase Bank is as simple as entering one of its nearly 6,000 branch locations across the US Potential customers can also open an account online.

9. KeyBank

Why: With over 1,000 branch locations and no checking account maintenance fees, theres good reason to choose KeyBank for your deposit and loan needs.

Review: KeyBanks Hassle-Free account was ranked highest among the top 10 banks. Additionally, it offers all of the other banking products surveyed and boasts the highest BauerFinancial Star Rating possible of 5. There are 1,030 KeyBank branches to serve its customers needs.

KeyBank also offers its customers a unique Financial Wellness Center, budgeting and debt consolidation calculators, as well as education planning and mutual fund options.

How to join: Those interested in joining KeyBank can do so by opening an account online or contacting the bank via telephone 800-KEY2YOU. The bank operates its branch locations in 14 different states.

10. US Bank

Why: US Bank boasts ample branch locations and comprehensive product offerings, though its slightly lower rates knocked in down in the rankings.

Review: US Bank customers get to take advantage of a slew of services and products, from loans and credit cards to investment and insurance options. With 3,239 branches and a BauerFinancial Star Rating of 4, customers of US Bank enjoy ease of access and peace of mind.

GOBankingRates has previously recognized US Bank as the best bank for getting your first bank account. Its Student Checking account has a low threshold to open — just $25 — and is one of two accounts from the bank geared toward minors (those 17 and under can obtain a Star Savers Club Account as well).

How to join: US Bank offers its applicants instant decision within two to three minutes when they apply for a checking account or credit card from the bank. Applications can be submitted online or at any bank branch.


Institution selection: In order to determine its Best Brick-and-Mortar Bank rankings, GOBankingRates examined the top 100 banks by asset size according to the FDIC, excluding non-active institutions, those with less than $1 billion in assets, investment banks and any institutions that require customers to use investment services to access commercial bank accounts.

Criteria for rankings: Banks were scored from most to least favorable in the following categories: (1) BauerFinancial Star Ratings for overall financial strength, and the rankings previously assigned through our survey of (2) checking accounts, (3) savings accounts, and (4) one-year certificates of deposit. Each criterion was individually scored from most to least favorable in comparison to the category average (weighted equally). Banks were then scored according to whether they offered each of the following services, all of which contributed to a single weighting: (5) auto loans, (6) mortgage loans, (7) credit cards, (8) investment services and (9) insurance services. The final criteria was the (10) number of bank branches, as reported by the FDIC. Banks were then ranked according to overall score. Data was compiled via the GOBankingRates interest rate database and verified against the individual institutions websites.

GOBankingRates is a personal finance and consumer interest rate website owned by ConsumerTrack, Inc., an online marketing company serving top-tier banks, credit unions and other financial services organizations. Some banks mentioned in this ranking are clients of ConsumerTrack, Inc., which serves more than 100 national, local and online financial institutions. Rankings are 100 percent objective and no institution, client or otherwise, paid for inclusion or specific placement.