The other day I was on Facebook, when a memory popped up, it was from 7 years ago, it was a picture of myself wearing a hoodie, it was the very first day I started LEP Fitness…
“Wow!” I thought to myself, the first thing that came to mind was… “How young do I look?!?!” – BUT then that thought was quickly replaced with “7 years! blooming heck, where have those 2,555 days gone?!?!”
It’s been an amazing journey, a tough one at times, but I wouldn’t change a thing!
In this post I thought i’d pay homage to LEP Fitness, reflecting on what’s happened over the last 7 years, and sharing the journey/story of LEP Fitness…
Pre LEP Fitness…
Just before setting up LEP Fitness I was at Sheffield Hallam University. I was a typical University student (well, that’s what I tell myself!), in the sense that I went out all of the time, got drunk, and prioritised my social life over Uni (lol!) – I spent more time partying, playing football and on the X-Box with friends, than I did on my uni work (sorry Mum and Dad, but it’s true!).
I knew that when I left Uni I didn’t want to work in any old 9-5 job, I wasn’t good at taking orders, and the 3 jobs I had in my teenage years didn’t go well – I walked out of all of my previous jobs, TX Maxx, JD Sport, and a Call Centre (where I only lasted 3 days! lol). I just knew they weren’t for me!
In my final year at Uni, and for my dissertation I wrote a business plan. The plan was to start a fitness business. Initially, I came up with the name “The Only Way Is Bootcamp’ – which was inspired by the hit TV show at the time “The Only Way Is Essex” – I thought it was a genius idea, however i’m glad I didn’t pick that name – because it’s frickin terrible lol!
Instead, I opted for the name LEP Fitness. What does LEP stand for?… it stands for the Life Enrichment Program – and the philosophy behind it… the business stands for improving the quality of peoples lives, not only physically (improving fitness, weight loss, etc), but also mentally too (helping people improve their confidence, habits, and self belief, etc)
Early Days Of LEP Fitness (first 3 years)
The first 3 years of starting LEP Fitness were by far the hardest years of my life. I struggled, I had no business experience, no money, etc – I also struggled to adjust to my post Uni life…
For 4 years I had lived in a bubble, where I was safe, surrounded by friends, and supported by my Dad – who paid my rent, I also had enough money to live comfortably each month, thanks to my student loan…
BUT that had all been swiped from under my feet, and it was time to ‘grow up’. Whilst I did do a lot of growing up over those 3 years, I did find it hard to adjust to my new life, at times I got depressed, drinking heavily, and still going out regularly with my mates.
It didn’t help that nothing was really happening with the business (especially the first 4-6 months). I handed out flyers, knocked on doors, but with little success. I felt like a total failure, and my way of coping with it was to block things out – by spending time intoxicated, and running away from my problems.
I did get a couple of lucky breaks though, I managed to get 2 clients signed up, it wasn’t much, but it was a start, and it gave me the confidence that there may be something in this after all!
I applied for some small business funding through Sheffield Hallam, and managed to get £500 – which I spent on buying flyers, business cards, and banners.
Turning Things Around…
I stopped going out, and gave myself a good talking too. Back then me and my partner (now wife) Sally were living off here wage as a Nanny – she was on £8 an hour, and we had to live on that between us – it was a struggle. I felt humiliated, I would walk into shops with Sallys bank card and pay for food, it was embarrassing that I had no money. I remember that we used to walk to Aldi every week (we couldn’t afford the bus!) and it was a difficult time for us both mentally, and financially.
Eventually enough was enough.
Time to stop the BS and make something good happen.
I was at my all time lowest.
I gave myself 3 months to get the business moving, otherwise it was time to throw in the towel and get a real job!
For those 3 months, I worked every hour I could. I would post adverts online (Gumtree, Sheffield Forum), I went into local businesses – to speak to owners and see if I could do some group PT for their staff on lunch breaks, I went to parks and spoke to mums and dads, I just put myself out there as much as possible.
It was hard, I got rejected all of the time, and thought about throwing all of my flyers in the bin on many occasions. Lots of people seemed keen, and i’d feel confident that they were going to sign up…but then the phone never rang! it was tough – but at least I was trying my best.
That said, things did start to pick up slightly, after about 6 months, I had 4 clients, training 2-3x per week! I also got a deal on GroupOn, where I sold a personal training package of 12 sessions for £7 (yes thats correct £7!) that meant I was charging 0.60p a session (daylight robbery!) BUT I knew It was a chance to get myself in front of lots of potential customers, and impress them with my service. I hoped that after the GroupOn sessions ended that they would sign up to more expensive packages, which they did. Thanks to GroupOn, I signed up around 15 customers…. I was finally in business – doing around 30-40 sessions per week.
I continued to graft my backside off for the first couple of years, taking on anybody and everybody. I built up to doing 60 sessions per week, got a website, and had learned a lot about marketing, and business, thanks to reading countless books and articles online.
Thankfully, I didn’t have to live month to month, and I was at full capacity, building up the business with results, online content (via the blog), and getting good reviews on social media, Google, and for my website.
Things were starting to look good, and I was receiving far more enquiries than I could handle (around 10-20 per month back then). I managed to save up some money for a house, and that lead me to the next chapter…
Back in 2015, me and my wife Sally bought our first house. It was a scary move, whilst we didn’t move far (about 2 miles away) it was still nerve-racking, and a big commitment. One of the advantages of moving into the house, was that there was room to train people indoors.
When I first started LEP Fitness i did all of my training outside (doing sessions at Endcliffe Park and at the front of our rented house in NetherEdge.
For me, and clients, It was nice to finally get a roof over our heads, especially in the cold winter months, and those rare occasions when it snowed (kudos to those clients who turned up in horrendous weather!).
Having a mini indoor gym was cool, and it was nice to get some better equipment (replacing the old rusty kettle bells and plastic dumbbells that served me well for so many year – RIP!). It was also nice being able to play music, and create more of an atmosphere – for me it was the next step, and I loved it – it felt like things were heading in the right direction.
For 3 years I continued on a similar path, doing plenty of sessions. I did however start to decrease sessions from 50/60 per week, down to 30 sessions. It took me about 6 months to slowly make the transition, as I was utterly burned out, and needed to rethink my business model – for my long term health! in a nutshell… It was a solid 3 years of graft, working with some awesome clients – a positive era of LEP Fitness.
Alongside doing one personal training sessions, I also started to blog a lot more, writing articles for my site, and attempting to build more of an online presence.
Years – 6-7
This final year has by far been the best year since starting LEP Fitness back in 2012. In January 2019, I started the year in the brand new LEP Fitness studio, which was built to improve LEP Fitness, and to take things to the the next level. It’s been one of the best decisions i’ve ever made, and i’ve loved every minute of working in the new place.
For me, it was the start of yet another new chapter, and a mini dream come true – to have a private mini gym, with top of the range equipment, and beautiful surroundings…
All the hard work, sleepless nights, and stress of the early days were totally worth it, and I couldn’t be happier.
Alongside the new studio, the LEP Fitness blog has also taken off over the last few years, there are now over 850 articles on the site (and that number continues to grow weekly!) – meaning more and more opportunities are happening online. Alongside LEP Fitness, I also write for other health and fitness blogs, and I absolutely love it!
The business is still mainly one to one coaching (70%), however there’s now a large percentage of online work (online personal training, article writing, consulting, etc) – which makes up about 30%.
I’m keeping things close to my chest for now, but i’m excited about the future, and i’m already putting plans in action to take things to the next level. I want to help more people, and have a vision for where I want LEP Fitness to be in the next 5 years.
If you’ve read this far, I just want to say a MASSIVE THANK YOU for taking the time out of your busy day to read the story of LEP Fitness.
I would also like to thank clients (both past and present) – i’ve met so many incredible people over the years, and have learned something from each and every client.
I remember every single person that i’ve worked with, from the day I started, up until now. I really appreciate everybody that’s invested in LEP Fitness over the years, and those who continue to support me: my beautiful wife, and son – who motivate me to be a better person each and every day.
I also appreciate how much help i’ve received from family, friends and mentors – thank you for your guidance, support, love, and for just being there through the good times and the bad.
I’ve worked extremely hard over the last 7 years, BUT i’ve also been very fortunate to have a phenomenal support network around me, and i’ve also been extremely lucky.
Thanks again, and here’s to the future of LEP Fitness.