What’s your USP as a PT?
Nature is a great healer and offers the chance to be playful, so I conduct my sessions outdoors as much as possible.
As I’m based in Cornwall, I like to meet clients at the beach, or in the woods, and we do a mixture of cardio and bodyweight exercises using minimal equipment.
I encourage them to appreciate what they have on their doorstep, as many of them don’t make the most of the natural environment that’s all around them.
As our physical, mental and emotional selves are all connected – for example if you put on weight it’s not just your body which is affected – I like to take a holistic approach. I start and end each session with meditation, encouraging people to relax, centre themselves, take in their surroundings and look at the sky.
Exercise has always been a release for me. I have personal experience of using exercise to create a better and healthier life and to feel better about myself, so my aim with Freely Given is to reach out to people who need it most, many of whom are disadvantaged.
How have you gone about this?
I’ve reached out to GP surgeries offering to work with people as part of the social prescribing scheme. Because many of the people who could benefit the most from personal training can’t afford the service, I work on a donation-based system, so people pay what they can afford via an honesty box or an internet link.
A donation system sounds laudable, how does it work out?
I find it works really well. I was inspired by a donation-based meditation retreat I attended, and by the community waste food cafés using the same model.
I encourage people to pay what they can afford – so if money isn’t a problem to give generously in order to let me work more cheaply with those who wouldn’t usually be able to afford PT.
I was very keen to be able to reach out to people who need personal training and not to exclude those who could most benefit from the service.
A donation based system creates a non-discriminatory environment and empowers people to give what they think the service is worth. This challenges me to keep service levels high. I don’t live a lavish lifestyle – that’s not what I aspire to.
My business costs are low and I go to cool and exciting places – both outdoors and people’s homes. Working this way feels exciting and creative and allows me to show my values and attitudes.
Plus, I believe the current economic system is outdated: continuous growth in a finite climate is a farce. I’d rather grow the business for the benefit of people, not money. I like trusting people’s natural trait to want to give and be generous.
You have to have faith and give people the opportunity to show their nice side.
What has been your experience of finding clients?
In Cornwall, it’s easy to find people from marginalised backgrounds – through GP surgeries, food banks, clothing banks. It’s much harder to find affluent people, so far they have come through networking and word of mouth.
Is money the main barrier for low income clients?
Money is a big issue, but sometimes people just don’t know how to get started – where to go or what to do – and need support with their confidence.
Many of my clients are intimidated by gyms and think they’ll be unfriendly environments full of fit, good looking people. I think operators could help to overcome this by offering a buddy system: inviting, or incentivising experienced members to accompany newbies on their first few visits.
What are your ambitions?
My dream is to be able to continue my work and have a positive impact on as many people as possible. I’m also looking for external sources of funding to help me do this and have applied to the National Lottery and also to the Tudor Trust. I hope I can find a source of support which will enable me to extend my work to other vulnerable groups.