Stretching your Horizons

From time to time on Rohantime we receive articles from readers that strike a cord. A once in a life time total career change story is one of them. This is one persons story of just that. A Big Thank You to Louise for taking the time to share your story with us and the very best of luck with Stretch Fitness.

Any tips or messages for Louise please add them to the comments below, I am sure they will be appreciated…

Stretching your horizons

They say you’re only supposed to do it once; that once in a life time total career change.

Several years ago, friends knowing my passion for fitness and it’s mental and physical benefits suggested I become a personal trainer.

I have always been passionate about fitness; firstly it helps keep me fit for the outdoor activities I love and from personal experience I know and understand the many other benefits being fit can bring. I’d be lying if I didn`t mention that being human I am also vain and like every one else I want to stay healthy and in shape for the encroaching years! However, back then the time wasn’t right for me to make such a career change and this was tempered with a lack of faith that I really could make a living from personal training.

So, what changed? A restructuring earlier this year at the Outdoor Industries Association (OIA) gave me the chance to re-evaluate my life, both professionally and personally. With my role at the OIA going part time I realised this was it, time to ask myself whether I wanted to continue making a living from a marketing and corporate career or do something completely different and something that would make a tangible difference. Taking my passion for fitness, helping others to get fit, become more active, healthier, lose weight, gain confidence, feel better and do things they couldn’t before fulfilled the latter.

training Photo Credit PFMPicturesHaving given a career in personal training serious consideration, I realised the time was now right for me to make the move. I had used the services of a great personal trainer myself for a few years after I was getting over an illness and he had been a real inspiration to me. He totally changed the way I trained and the results were amazing. He also gave me an invaluable insight in to what makes a good personal trainer and conversely what doesn’t! Added to that my first hand knowledge and understanding of the difference exercise and better nutrition can make to anyone leading a busy stressful lifestyle I had all the motivation I needed.

So, back to the books. Since completing my personal training course, all my free time and nearly every weekend has been spent setting up “Stretch Fitness”, much to my dog’s disgust. I initially set about training willing ‘guinea pig’ clients to get feedback and training hours in return for free personal training. During this time the unique concept of a mobile training studio, “StretchBox” was born. I put the idea to potential clients and friends and their response was overwhelmingly positive and encouraging. “StretchBox” is a van which has been converted in to a studio and can go to your home, office or anywhere else you may want to train. It took me 3 months to find the right vehicle which I then went about converting into a studio. Doing it up has been a bit like ‘pimp my van’ and there have been a few learning curves along the way – some more expensive than others – but clients love training in it as it is both private and convenient. “Stretchbox” is equipped with the best and most innovative fitness equipment including the TRX Suspension Trainer, which is without doubt the most versatile and effective piece of training equipment I’ve ever come across and is great for everything from strength and cardio to endurance and mobility regardless of fitness level.

The StretchBox photo credit Shot2Stun

The mobile studio was a really important aspect of delivering on Stretch Fitness’s core values i.e. making fitness more accessible for everyone, be that making time in a hectic schedule or making exercise and losing weight a less intimidating prospect. And it’s unique! And my dog, Tuli, a very active border collie, when not being tired out at Dogmore daycare, rides shotgun with me in the van, and loves to join in on any client runs (if of course the client doesn’t mind)!

StretchBox inside photo credit Shot2Stun

I have also launched the Stretch Fitness charity pledge which is really important to me. It’s about putting my money where my mouth is and encouraging people to ‘stretch’ their horizons and do the things they didn’t think possible, whilst also raising money for some great charities. We will give 10% of our training fee direct to which ever charity event clients are training for.

So what does the future hold? The fitness industry, like the outdoor industry, is undergoing some significant changes. Exercise, and the equipment used, is becoming much more functional and much less about what weight you can lift in a gym or how long you can pound the treadmill for. There is also a much greater connection and awareness to the outdoors as a fitness medium. Corporate wellness is an area which is slowly starting to infiltrate the UK business psyche. We are still a long way behind the USA regards addressing issues such as workplace stress, depression, back pain from poor posture all of which are very real problems in the workplace and have huge financial implications for businesses who do not address these problems effectively. All the research shows that a healthier lifestyle, regular exercise and healthier eating can have a huge impact on these areas. It’s on my radar!

So, the ‘one’ has happened and “Stretch Fitness” is now fully up and running. I have some great clients with varying goals and I have no regrets. That’s not to say I don’t have moments of ‘minor panic’ with the disappearance of the comfort of a healthy monthly pay cheque. But like all things in life worth having, a bit of hard graft, a belief in yourself and what you’re doing will hopefully ensure that all will come good. I hope so, or I’m going to have one very hungry dog! So go on, Stretch your horizons too.

Louise Ramsay, Owner of Stretch Fitness and part-time Communications Director for the OIA


Rohan Heritage

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