Of course, setting up your business can be a daunting prospect
but if you're thinking about taking the plunge, then read on.
Back in 2012, Chris Morgan - a former Royal Marine - was
desperately keen to set up a fitness centre serving the Maesteg
area of Bridgend.
With a lot of hard work, passion and commitment, he managed to
garner support for the idea from a range of local sports clubs
including rugby, football and the local judo club. Local police and
fire services also threw their weight behind Chris as well as
members of the public.
Maesteg is listed as an area of deprivation and there wasn't
anything in the way of what Chris had got planned nearby.
His dream was to open a centre where locals could safely take
part in weightlifting, bootcamp, general fitness and cross
He approached Sport Wales with his business plans who then
helped to shape the idea further. A grant of more than £10,000
followed. Of course, there are other agencies out there who can
provide useful advice. Business in the Community also lent a
The centre opened in February 2013 and today it is thriving. But
what are the secrets of Chris' success?
Well, Chris was business-minded in his approach, forging
fruitful partnerships that have gone a long way to creating the
bustling centre you'll find today.
He linked up with the Ford Motor Company factory in Bridgend who
offer an employee development and assistance programme scheme. This
offers their staff the use of personal training, or any of
the classes on offer .
Similarly, he approached Ospreys Rugby Academy - where he had
been a Strength and Conditioning Coach for three years - and now
runs weight training classes for their Maesteg-based players.
And locally, it's making a massive difference. On the books,
there are more than 700 members ranging from 14 years old to the
over 60s. On an average week, Chris will see around 250 people
coming through the doors.
One member is a 53-year-old lady who joined the gym when it
first opened. She is there almost every day and has lost an
incredible amount of weight, giving her a tremendous confidence
boost and a more positive outlook.
Chris has also worked closely with a young man who has learning
Initially lacking in self-confidence in how to use the
equipment, he was reluctant to be left alone. After several weeks
of working with Chris, the whole team noticed how his
self-confidence and self esteem had increased. He is now happy to
use the gym equipment by himself, he feels at ease in the gym and
interacts with other gym members in a way he never would
Chris says: "His confidence has gone through the roof and he's
got so much stronger."
The centre is also used by two local personal trainers and it
has also helped them to build up their own businesses.
One of Chris' major passions was to build an Olympic
weightlifting club at the centre. The club is run by a
weightlifting coach who trains at Unique Fitness who Chris
describes as being "very passionate and an asset to the club."
There is now a core group of ten lifters including a 16-year-old
who had never done any weightlifting prior to the launch of Unique
Fitness. He started classes in May 2013. He has since taken part in
his first ever competition - the Welsh Schoolboy Championships
where he won a gold - and broke the Welsh record en route!
So what are Chris's top tips for starting your own sports
- "Do your homework first - what's the need locally? I spent a
lot of time asking around about what people wanted and what they
thought would work. I looked around to see what else was being
offered and made sure that I was doing something completely
different. I am local to Maesteg so I knew the community was crying
out for something like this.
- "Cater for different people - put a range of activities on so
that you can attract more people through the doors. We do Olympic
weightlifting but we do kettle bells and boot camp too which tend
to attract more women into the gym."
- "Don't expect to earn back your investment straight away - it
takes time to build your business."
- "Get plenty of experience - get the courses under your belt so
you can pass on your knowledge. But get real work experience and
lots of it - that way, you are much more credible.
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