Once upon a time, childhood friends Charlie Turner, 32, and Lee Forster, 34, competed side-by-side as professional swimmers for Great Britain.
Now retired, the pair are making a splash in the fitness industry by launching their own all-natural protein brand: Neat Nutrition.
The product, which comes in 15 varieties, can be found in London’s most trendy gyms, including Third Space, Kobox, Frame and Core Collective.
Most recently Neat has a cafe in Lululemon’s flagship Regent’s Street store and is now set on conquering the US, having recently launched across the pond.
As former athletes and nutrition experts, we caught up to find their workout secrets.
Our Journey 🌎
What do you credit to your success in your fitness journey?
Charlie: “We were able to both rise through the ranks very quickly due to our work ethic, commitment to training and a self-belief that we could achieve our goals.
“Early mornings and intense training sessions are extremely familiar to us, which we do look back on fondly. I think that the success was really down to working hard and having that determination; we both wanted to be the very best we could be. The fact that we both have a competitive streak has also helped us along the way.”
What’s one of the most memorable moments in your career and why?
Charlie: ”As a swimmer, it was definitely the first time I was selected to swim for Great Britain and received my first team tracksuit, I’d wanted one of those since the first time I saw one as a ten-year old on poolside.”
Our Training 💪
Talk us through your week in fitness
Lee: “We both love to keep fit and have similar likes in terms of fitness. Obviously, swimming is still a huge part of our lives, but having retired from professional swimming to start Neat, we love to keep fit in other ways too. We are lucky that there is so much choice, especially with London’s ever-growing fitness scene. I like to try and get in a few circuit-based or strength training classes a week, such as at UN1T.”
Charlie: “As Lee said, we both love to keep fit and enjoy similar workouts and classes but a typical week in fitness can differ depending on work schedules. If some weeks are busier than others, I’ll still make sure I get in a run, a swim or a weights session. I love training at studios that we work with as a business and being able to combine a workout with a meeting is awesome.”
What’s your favourite type of workout and why?
Charlie: “Naturally, swimming is our favourite workout and the pool is where we feel most at home. Swimming is a great full body workout, not to mention works all muscle groups and helps maintain fitness levels. It’s low impact, so there is less chance of injury and it’s a great stress reliever too.”
Do you always have fitness goals you are aiming for?
Lee: “Our fitness goals are very much to keep moving, be active and to ensure we keep up a good level of fitness without going overboard. Balance is key. I think it’s good to set yourself challenges and be active for your overall health, as opposed to a particular ‘body goal’, as much as I like to stay in shape.
“Neither of us workout purely for aesthetics, but we do like a fitness challenge and we are extremely competitive. We completed the Swim Serpentine last year with SportsAid with the whole of team Neat getting involved. Safe to say, I did beat Charlie by three seconds.”
Charlie: “As Lee says it more about enjoyment for us now and working out has increasingly become a way to get away from the noise and hit reset.
“Having said that I increasingly find myself with one eye on the next challenge and recently submitted an entry for the Neptune Steps race in Sweden which is essentially a tough mudder in water, swimming through canal locks and over cargo nets.”
Do you have rest days? What’s your favourite way to spend your rest day?
Lee: “Yes, we do have rest days. As with anything too it’s important to have rest days and over training or too much exercise can be detrimental, especially on your muscles and joints.
“We are firm believers in letting your body recover and giving yourself the rest needed in order to do so. The best way to spend a rest day is to catch up with family or friends. If we fancy some light activity, we’ll go for a walk or maybe do a yoga class.”
Our Food 🍳
What do you eat throughout the week to complement your training schedule?
Charlie: “When we were training as full-time swimmers, we had to ensure we were fuelling our bodies with exactly what we needed in order to perform our best. I am a sprint swimmer, so I ensured my diet was high-protein and slightly lower in carbs.
“Nowadays, you could say our diet is less strict but we just ensure we get what we need, especially if we are working out. We eat lots of lean meat, eggs, avocado, fresh vegetables and complex carbs. I always make sure I have a shake every day and usually a protein-based snack ball or bar.”
Lee: ”I am a middle distance swimmer, so when competing I made sure I ate plenty of carbohydrates as well as high-protein to support my training regime. Foods such as pasta, sweet potato and lots of vegetables were regulars on the menu.
“We both still eat quite a lot now, but our weekly diet is not as tailored for a specific training regime or as strict. We eat lots of lean meat, eggs, avocado, fresh vegetables and complex carbs. I always make sure I have a shake every day and usually a protein-based snack ball or bar.”
What are your pre and post-workout snacks?
Charlie: “Favourite snacks would be homemade protein balls or protein bars. Post-workout I always ensure I have a protein shake within 30 mins of the workout, as this is when glycogen can dip and is a prime time to refuel the muscles for recovery.”
Lee: ”Post-workout, I’ll mix up a shake with Neat Whey Protein in chocolate flavour, which is my favourite. You can just add water or add milk, banana and a nut butter. Either way, it’s a delicious way to give your body what it needs to recover.”
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about food?
Lee: “The biggest lesson I think we have both learnt about food is that what you put into your body really does count and can have a huge effect. We learnt quickly that you need to fuel your body in the right way depending on your activity levels.
“In terms of nutrition, we’ve both learnt that regardless of whether you are training or not, filling your body full of good quality foods and ingredients is key. One of the reasons we started Neat is because we wanted to offer a natural product with no nasty chemicals, which is effective and easily fits into everyday life.”
Charlie: “We both really enjoy food and are firm believers in balance and not being too strict. You’ve got to let yourself enjoy a piece of cake or grab a few beers at the end of the week, especially since retiring from the pool. Pragmatism is key.”
Our Motivation 🙌
Do you have a motivational mantra that keeps you going?
Lee: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
Charlie: “The best way to predict your future is to create it.”
What’s your ultimate workout track and why?
Charlie: “N.E.R.D – Rockstar (Jason Nevins Remix) High intensity to match the workout!”
Lee: “The Ballers Soundtrack – to be a beast like the rock!”