Updated: Mar 28, 2022
It was a cold Isle of Man winter and my wife Jo bundled up in yet another coat (I was actually unable to move at this point due to layers!) and handed me a hot breakfast and coffee at 6am to take on my way.
I had worked on building sites since I was 13 years old. A bricklayer by trade I eventually stepped up and formed my own company Omega Construction when I was 25. As my 30th Birthday approached I started to question whether I wanted to stay in the construction industry as a life-long career or whether the time had come to make some life changes. After some soul searching I decided to leave construction behind and follow my passion by moving into fitness and wellbeing. A rather daunting prospect given my personal challenges in education previously.
The step up outside of comfort zone gave me the new challenge I needed. I signed up for my level 2 and completed my Gym Instructor qualification. My Level 3 Diploma followed and my own business DB Lifestyle was formed. Alongside this I completed my CrossFit Level 1 certificate to understand more about the sport I loved and this gave me great knowledge of Strength & Conditioning.
At this point we moved to Gibraltar and with my raft of qualifications and ambitious personality I was confident that DB Lifestyle would fly quickly, it was quite a reality check when I learned gyms did not want to open their doors to me as a new Personal Trainer, the realisation that I was entering a highly competitive industry.
I had to be creative and started training individual clients in a local park or on the beach. My equipment would be packed in my rucksack the night before and I would wake up at 4.45am to cycle over at 5.30am to start with my first client at 6am. Some of the toughest times and yet some of my fondest memories especially the group session where there was a lot of laughter!
During this time I was living in Gibraltar and working both in Gibraltar and the south coast of Spain. I quickly realised that there were many components to health and wellbeing and my having a more holistic offering would open more doors and opportunity for DB Lifestyle. I followed my Personal Training qualifications with certs in Nutrition, Sports Massage Therapy, Medical Acupuncture and Mental Health. This knowledge helped me ensure I was offering an all encompassing service to my clients and this set me apart from other Personal Trainers. DB Lifestyle started to grow as my reputation built.
I met with some incredible people and over this time I was privileged to both train with and treat some incredible athletes. I provided sports therapy to Sara Sigmundsdottir, Samantha Briggs and Hayley Knowles while they were in Spain over the summer.
While DB Lifestyle continued to grow I was very mindful of not being complacent and looked to expand into new locations. Clinics were opened on Kings Road in Chelsea and Ultimate Performance in Marbella
So how did running clinics and Personal Training take me to opening Circle Wellness Academy? I noticed a trend with clients. The more confident they became with their training and nutrition, the harder they worked to achieve more. I felt it was my role to really help positively motivate them and through spending time understand what could be barriers to their success or progress. I had some amazing client testimonials and without question loved what I did. What frustrated me however was when clients would approach me tarnished by some of the sessions they had undertaken with Personal Trainers:
• Lack of understanding of basic nutrition and working to significant calorie deficit as a solution. Some female clients contacting me for help who were on disturbingly low calories intake and wondering why they felt light headed
•Clients coming to me with poor form on weights, but trying to increase load as this is what their previous trainer had encouraged. Curved spines on deadlifts, squats barely at parallel with knees folding in & bicep curls with bodies swinging
•Clients who were left to their own devices in training and were astonished when I worked with them throughout the session. They were used to running on the treadmill while their personal trainers sat on their phones disinterested and disengaged.
I realised that my passion was not only in helping clients, but as a higher priority to educate individuals on how to become great and competent Personal Trainers. I experienced first hand the damage that can be done to a clients health, wellbeing and self esteem by poor Personal Trainers. With this vision in mind Circle Wellness Academy plans were put in flight.
On reflection I can honestly confess I did not initially appreciate the magnitude of what I was trying to set up. A global ‘school’ which would focus on students with integrity and an aligned set of standards. I was very clear in my mind from the start that this was about quality Personal Trainers and not trying to trying to push students through qualifications as quickly and cheaply as possible.
I was considerate of the challenge when setting up your own Personal Training business and wanted Circle Wellness Academy to be with students for the journey into entrepreneurship. Helping students with their business plans, marketing and clients strategies and not just stopping at qualification
Having the vision is the easy part, trying to implement this was the challenge. I was still working within DB Lifestyle as financially this was paying the bills, therefore working on Circle Wellness Academy was between 9pm and 2am before starting with DB Lifestyle clients again at dawn. I learned the power of great mentors and remain thankful to an incredible businessman in Marbella (Simon) a visionary CEO in London (Anish) and an inspirational entrepreneur in Essex (Casey). This support has remained with me and something I am keen to promote and provide to all Circle Wellness Academy students
Finally I had agreed the partnership to affiliate the school and after hours writing policies procedures, websites and branding I was in touching distance of launching Circle Wellness Academy. At the 11th hour I was travelling through London Gatwick airport and received a call to say the affiliating body was no longer supporting these qualifications and could no longer affiliate the school. I watched months of work virtually crumble before my eyes. While the natural reaction could have been to admit defeat, immediately I researched alternatives and was drawn to Active IQ.
I reached out & Active IQ replied with enthusiasm pledging their support within 2 hours of my contact.
Circle Wellness Academy opened its doors and with confidence I started to enrol students. I was encouraged by the interest and engagement from around the world and within the first few weeks I had students enrolled in Spain, Hungry, Isle of Man, Jersey and UK.
I was excited to bring my students to amazing gyms in Marbella, Isle of Man, Jersey and UK to complete the teaching and assessment.
Suddenly however in 2020 this was impossible with travel on lock down and the country in turmoil. It was scary to watch so many of the schools fail who did not have online capability and I quickly realised I had to adapt and fast!
Active IQ were incredible and together we worked out an assessment process which would allow students to progress through Level 2 into Level 3. I embraced technology for teaching but also for portal and assessment and I was cautiously optimistic that we had a model which would work and be sustainable even in these challenging times.
Over 2020 Circle Wellness Academy has experience growth and we are having an incredible year. We will continue to support our students through the challenges of the current environment and will evolve again as the world starts to recalibrate. Excited to have partnerships with some of the best gyms secured such as Real Club Padel Marbella
You may be looking at free personal trainer courses online, or considering how to study an active PT course without going through an affiliated body. I would really encourage you to find a reputational company like Circle Wellness Academy who will support you through your learning (the personal trainer dropout rate is very high), but also help you develop your brand/business as part of the offering. Adapting to Covid-19 we offer one on one coaching with your own portal and your own fitness login/study active student zone.
Always happy to talk, please let me know if you'd like a chat