Updated: Aug 31
One Year on at DH Training Club.
Like all stories there's a beginning, middle and an end - here's the beginning of what I hope is the making of a great story as I take DH Training Club from the bottom of the garden to the high-street, transforming client health and fitness journeys along the way.
Sport and Exercise has always played a massive part of my life, I have strong memories of playing Sunday League Football as a child and the excitement I got from playing with my friends. This lead me to pursuing a BTEC National Certificate at the then Sutton Coldfield College (Now Birmingham Metropolitan College) where I studied along side a heavily Sport filled schedule. I met friends and staff that had a positive influence on my life to this day.
Following a Bachelors Degree in Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Wolverhampton I entered the big SCARY world of employment and adulthood where I had to earn a living and find a career path that I was passionate about. I find if my hearts not in something it's very difficult to keep myself motivated day to day. Following a few years as a Customer Sales Associate, Fitness instructor, and Warehouse Operative combined with the passing of my Father, I decided I needed a drastic change to utilise the Degree I had and find a job I loved. This is where I went back to the University of Wolverhampton to complete a Masters Degree in Research in Sport. During this time I was lucky enough to carry out an internship at Walsall FC within their Academy working as a Sport Scientist. This is where the love affair started with Strength and Conditioning. I packed in my part time job at the time and threw myself into my studying and daily duties within the Academy, if I was going to earn a Full Time role in Football I knew I had to show an eagerness to learn and a work ethic like no other.
Following a year's internship and completing my Masters degree, I was offered a Full time Internship by Walsall's First Team Physiotherapist Jon Whitney, this lead to part time paid work and eventually a full time role split between the First Team and Academy. Following 5 years and a promotion to Head of Academy Sport Science and Medicine at Walsall, which saw me walk out at Wembley in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy Final, and work with some fantastic people and players who I still think highly of today, it was time for a change and I couldn't resist applying to work for my boyhood team Aston Villa FC.
The interview process was intense with 3 stages and 150 applicants to compete against, but eventually I got the call to offer me the Lead Academy Sport Scientists role for the U9-16s - this was one of the proudest moments of my life so far. I was that excited, I handed my notice without receiving my contract from Villa, a schoolboy error that could have put me in a sticky situation if the contract never materialised. After a nervy month of waiting and quite a few reassuring phone calls to Dan Lothian (Lead Academy Sport Scientist), I finally started work. The next 5 years saw a great deal of development and success at the club, new staff additions to the Sport Science Department and changes on the pitch with the First Team's promotion back to the Premier League, lead to academy successes with The U15s winning the Northern Floodlit Cup and the U18s winning the Prestigious FA Youth Cup. During this time I feel I developed massively working alongside excellent practitioners, hopefully having a positive impact on the provision to players and above all making strong relationships with players and staff who have become friends.
In 2020, like everyone else in the country during lockdown, I was trying to get my exercise fix, doing Home HIIT sessions and going jogging in the local park. We're lucky enough to live next to two lovely parks in Bearwood which became part of our daily walking allowance. However, this had a shelf life and it wasn't long before I needed to do something, so I had the idea of renovating the out building at the bottom of the garden into a gym. Following the easing of restrictions, we recruited a couple family members to help over one weekend to insulate and give the building a facelift. We installed solar panel lighting and assembled gym equipment/flooring from BLK BOX so it slowly started to resemble a space we could call a gym studio.
After using the studio purely for personal use until Feb 2022, I made the huge decision to leave working in Academy Football and take the leap into self employment. The major driving forces behind the decision was to have a better life balance and ensure I worked to live, not lived to work, as this tends to occur in Football. I must admit my initial expectations on how the next 3-6 months would go were too high!! Any business owner will tell you the first 12 months are the hardest and you have to be resolute and persistent. During this time I've had to learn a vast amount of new skills including web design using WIX.com, accounting, marketing, communications and landscaping - things I wouldn't have even thought about before as I'd had this ideal vision of purely training clients to make them stronger and healthier, without thinking about how the business would grow and develop.
One year on and my life has completely changed (for the better), I don't work weekends, I manage my time around work and life so I don't miss out on the good stuff (time with friends and family). I have a regular group of fantastic clients that I love working with and gain a huge sense of reward seeing their progress each week. I have built great working relationships with my clients as they tell me about their day/week and feel a huge amount of pride when they tell me they have dropped a jean size, gained compliments from friends and family or can simply feel themselves getting stronger, happier and fitter to tackle the day to day challenges life brings.
I feel I have pushed myself further in my own professional practice - working with people with a whole range of strength and conditioning experience. From clients who have never weight lifted before - who are now technically competent and enjoying their new found strength, to clients recovering from serious injuries or operations - working to build their confidence and strength back, to clients who are athletes - working to be robust and reduce the risk of injury; I can certainly say I have been challenged to adapt to each and every individual.
I have big plans for the future of DHTC and hope to eventually open a larger facility where I can expand my passion and my services for my clients. My values will forever remain the same - I aim to always provide a bespoke service that is friendly and non-intimidating as so many gyms can be. I want to make strength and conditioning accessible to all, as I strongly believe it has huge benefits for living a healthy, happy life.
I am incredibly grateful for all the support my friends and family have shown me and for the loyalty shown by my clients, you will never know how much it means to me. So here's to another 12 months of DHTC - lets see where this journey takes us!