When I was approaching 50 I slammed on the brakes and started digging deep into the science to discover why five decades of huge diet and fitness trends had completely failed to produce health nations. I found the answers and immediately cancelled my gym membership and ditched the diets. Having trained originally as a sport and exercise science I was shocked that the principles we had learnt are now outdated and inaccurate. Even more shocking is that these principles are still being taught in most gyms, health clubs and the NHS.
Now in my 50s, I'm still hitting the wellness scores of my 20s, because I learnt that simple science-based habit hacks are actually the key to a longer, healthspan. I've had the pleasure of working with many great people, and studying at many great places, over the past 30 years. Some of my credentials and experience are listed below.
My Academic Credentials
BA (Hons) Sport & Exercise Sciences / Human Movement Studies
My first glimpse into the psychology and neurobiology of high performance and health. I read my first music neuroscience research paper during this course and that sparked my lifelong interest in, and use of, music for wellness and high performance. I majored in psychology and physiology and began using music extensively in my work. I've been using it ever since and this is why I'm also sometimes known as 'Dr Rock'.
MSc Sport & Exercise Sciences
My continued journey into neuroscience, psychology and physiology, and my first serious examination of the psycho-physical effects of music on the brain. Published in the Journal of Sport Sciences. This led to my work with GB Olympic squads and elite sports that continues today.
I explored the psychology of HR and organisational behaviour along with finance. For my thesis I analysed David Bowie's genius securitisation of his future royalty streams, and examined the same principles within the commercial mortgage sector (misuse of this finance tool eventually resulted in the global financial crash).
I examined music taste formation, and how the memories of music experiences from our youth produce powerful, lifelong effects, that can continue to give pleasure and contribute to our wellness, even in late stage dementia. This led to my work with the NHS dementia projects and an increased interest in preventative health.
King's College London - Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience
Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Neuroscience and Mental Health
This provided me with an advanced understanding of the neurobiology of wellness, mental health and the application of neuroscience-based principles. It also directed me into a whole new world of research relating to the gut-brain-axis and the impact of our nutritional habits on cognitive function and neuro-health.
Stanford University - short course
A deep dive into the detailed analysis of food, led by leading expert, Professor Chris Gardner. We are what we eat. Most of our modern health problems are rooted in our poor eating and drinking habits. The chemical reactions triggered by our nutritional habits dictate the activity of our cellular health, and therefore, the length of our healthy lifespan.
Harvard Medical School - short course
Nutrition & Metabolic Syndrome
The gut-brain axis and microbiome will be key to our understanding and realisation of personalised wellness and medicine practices in future. You cannot be truly well unless you've mastered your nutritional intake. Wellness requires keeping inflammation in check throughout life. The things you eat and drink have a huge impact on that.
Cambridge University - short course
A superb insight into genetic science, our DNA, gene expression and why our biology is too complex to really provide accurate insights via consumer tests at present. Perhaps in future as the technology advances and whole exome sequencing becomes affordable we will be able to obtain accurate personalised recommendations. Until then we need to simple focus on fixing our general daily habits.
Oxford University - short course
Analysis of Classical Music
A superb insight into the structure of music and why our brain loves it so much. It was fascinating to explore this from a classical music perspective alongside my commercial music experience.
What motivates me...
When I was 19 and working as a tennis coach I read a book about psychology. I learnt about dopamine, the reward and motivation chemical in our brain. I learnt about the powerful biological effects that things, such as music and breathing, could exert on our brain's reward circuits and many other brain and body systems. This fascinated me and continues to do so. It's enabled me to achieve consistently superhigh levels of motivation, productivity, achievement and wellness in my own life and also my clients' lives.
For the past 30 years I've been studying neuroscience, psychology and physiology and showing people how to apply the science to boost their own brain and body biology (and their employees and customers). I teach you how your brain works, and how to use simple tricks and techniques (now known as biohacks) to optimise your ancient in-built biological systems. This maximises your ability to enjoy lifelong wellness. It can also help you achieve high performance if that's what you desire.
Music/sound is my preferred tool/biohack due to the many proven ways the brain responds to it, its exceptional versatility and effectiveness. I've become known as 'Dr Rock' for this reason.
My client base has always been very diverse, ranging from ordinary folks like you and me, to Olympic squads, celebrities, business leaders, high achievers, and English Premiership Football Teams. The Smart Wellness approach works equally well for everyone.
I love learning and consider myself a lifelong student. My PhD, MSc, MBA, and Bachelor's degree research, examined various aspects of music's effect on the brain. I have amassed a very unique combination of practical experience and a wealth of knowledge through my academic and consulting career to date. This has enabled me to join the dots and innovate.
My post-doctoral studies are still in progress as I continue to delve deep into the fascinating neurobiology of our brain and behaviour.
These studies have included the Applied Neuroscience of Mental Health at King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, a Harvard Medical School module in Nutrition & Metabolic Syndrome, a Nutrition Science module at Stanford Medical School, a genetic testing module at Cambridge University, and an Oxford University short course in the analysis of classical music.
Our brain loves to learn throughout our entire life. Lifelong learning helps offset the natural decline of brain cells as we age.
Music learning adds even greater brain health benefits throughout life. So, I regularly learn new songs and lead solos on guitar, DJ, and occasionally attempt to play the drums - a true brain workout.
I enjoy my wellness coaching work with private clients. Alongside that work, I also advise and assist business leaders, elite sports and various government groups. I'm lucky enough to work with many brilliant collaborators in many different sectors.
There are several non-profit organisations and initiatives I'm proud to support including Young Voices Foundation (the largest schools' concerts in the world), The Musical Walkabout (dementia), Sing To Beat Parkinson's and the Canterbury Cantata Trust. At a government level I've contributed to several cross-party groups examining wellness issues and technology including the All Party Parliamentary Group for Artificial Intelligence, the Music in Society Inquiry at the House of Lords, the Music & Dementia Commission and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Longevity.
I was the founder of a project that made Folkestone in South East England the world's first Music Town - replicating the successful Music City model used by London, Nashville, Memphis, Manchester and other legendary locations.
In 2003, I founded an experiential company 'Found in Music' that originated, launched, designed, and/or managed many superb events with our partners. Examples include The BritBus Tour USA 2005-7, International Busking Day (a continuing annual event), Busk in London for the Mayor of London (an initiative that is still active), the Matala Beach Festival (a continuing annual event). I sold this company in 2022 and now focus solely on my Smart Wellness startup - www.smartwellness.co.uk
You can also often find me simply sipping coffee on the beach, daydreaming, shooting the breeze in the sun with fellow collaborators/friends/family/my partner, dog walking, playing tennis, sea swimming and being musical.
Since 2022, I've been the lead guitarist in all-female rock band 'Pretty Crap' after taking up the brain challenge of learning to play like Jimi Hendrix. In August 2023 we performed at the legendary Troubadour venue in London where Hendrix and many other music names have played over the decades.
I'm passionate about transforming public health and helping people live their best lives.