It certainly wasn’t what I expected!

I bought the gym because I enjoy the gym community and have always found them positive and fun places after the cut and thrust of the corporate world. Every personal trainer I’ve ever used has become a close friend and I respect their dedication, skills, passions and knowledge, it’s a role that can truly help people.

I’m one of the lucky people who get to change a hobby into a career and although there have been some big challenges the atmosphere and character of the gym and community has been a joy to work in.

We are not fully out of the woods yet but thanks to sympathetic landladies, some tough decisions and a hard working and resilient team we are actually in a good position. It’s sad to see some of our competition falling along the way, but obviously it also gives us opportunities.

During lockdown we maintained a lot of the equipment and facilities. We deep cleaned the gym before sanitisation, it wasn’t in a good state. We repaired and repainted the gym walls and cleaned, cleaned, cleaned before sanitisation. We now have a new cleaning team in place who work very hard in a post-lockdown gym that needs to be more hygienic than ever.

We thought about our marketing strategy and sales process and tried to pre-empt reopening guidelines. We wanted to create new content and moved to online and social media. We rented equipment and started selling basic retail like dumbbells and kettlebells, which all meant we just about scrapped though.

And then we reopened. It took much pleading and persuasion to achieve a permit, although I have to say the Sport Council were very supportive. But even after 2 ½ months of thinking how to reopen we weren’t ready. The classes were not agreed, the booking mechanism not defined the opening offers not decided, the shifts not planned the opening messages not written... hindsight is a wonderful thing, and remember I’ve never run a gym before.

Reopening went well though, I’m so grateful to all the people who came straight back in such a positive, enthusiastic and energetic way. We’ve now been open for 6 weeks. Obviously not long enough to claim to have recovered but actually we are well on the way and on track.

We have been able to repair the plumbing in the ladies changing room which created a very deep hole and a complete rework of the piping between toilet and shower. We’ve tried to tackle the temperature in the studio be installing fans. We’ve painted the studio to freshen it up. There has been a complete re-work of the TV screens – so long Arnold Schwarzeneggar and hello our own staff and personal trainers on the screens. We have introduced a limited retail range of sports drinks and snacks and we’ve refreshed a few items like dumbbells, jump ropes and resistance bands.

But there is also much more to do. I’d have liked to rebrand, but will probably stick with it for now. We need to refresh the signs and decals on the outside of the building to give the entrance a more positive and professional appearance. A gym management tool needs implementing for reception and the personal trainers. The AC needs a big clean and if necessary rerouting into the studio. Some mirrors need replacing. The changing rooms could do with a refresh. The reception area needs a revamp. The Seating area must be improved. The sound system needs replacing... I bet you can think of a more things as well (and please do tell me). As money allows we will tackle these over the next few months.

It’s been huge fun working out in my own gym with my own personal trainers, but I’m always distracted as an owner and not as focussed as I used to be during workouts. I also love the chat on WhatsApp and discussions with people in the gym. To everyone who says “Hi” I really appreciate and enjoy the interaction.

My ambition is to see the gym grow as a community gym and we start to build respect in the fitness community as a professional, knowledgeable and highly skilled team that always stays focussed on providing value for money. I don’t want to just exist, I want to have pride in what we do. Success for me isn’t if we put marble flooring in the reception and changing room, but if we constantly help people achieve their fitness goals. We will review how well our Fat Loss Challenge did once it completes and always try to improve, but this is a good example where if we get it right everyone wins.

That’s enough for now.  Please reach out if you have any feedback or you want to discuss your fitness goals and challenges.