30 Sep 11 magic moments
It’s been quite the rollercoaster building my little empire. Sometimes I think that if this was a reality TV show, people would think it was way too OTT! As the saying goes, it’s the journey, not the destination, and I’ve had a pretty interesting one so far. Of course, I’m not quite at my destination yet but I wanted to share the defining moments; the ones that would be included in the movie of my life (well, a girl can dream!) Hopefully you’ll be inspired by these moments too. And yes, I couldn’t stop at just 10!
I was teaching Turn’d Up Fitness at Penarth Leisure Centre and the queue was out of the door! I realised I had found a gap in the market: dance fitness classes to R&B, hip hop and dancehall.
I had my sights set on working in Dubai but I wanted the classes to carry on; my members wanted the classes to carry on! I had a few ‘right hand girls’ in class who were brilliant dancers and I thought, what if I trained them to teach Turn’d Up?
The first instructor I taught was Gemma Hillberg. She went on to have packed-out classes in Barry and her success showed me that Turn’d Up had huge potential.
A tough decision
The second time I went out to Dubai, Gemma was covering my classes and as far as I was concerned, Dubai was for keeps. I’d lived there for a few months before and loved it. The sunshine, the lifestyle, the opportunities; what wasn’t to love?! But this time something kept nagging away at me; it didn’t feel right being there any more. My heart was telling me to get back to Cardiff and go for it with Turn’d Up.
I became depressed and anxious. I was offered a job in one of the top gyms in Dubai but by this point, I knew I had to get home. Crazy? Maybe, but I followed my gut. Why was this a magic moment? Because I trusted my instincts and it paid off!
My dream team
To grow, I needed help. I put a shout out to my class one day and Clare offered to help with my website and social media. And from there, my little team has grown. Clare’s sister Jen came on board to help with admin. And then I took on my girl Friday Mollie. Where would I be without Mollie, Jen and Clare?! Rocking back and forth in a dark room, most likely!
I work with choreographers who I absolutely love, Leighton Wall and Jaleeza Lammy. We bounce off each other and learn from our styles and techniques.
My strengths lie in dancing and creating. It’s hard to delegate with something that’s so important to you (Turn’d Up is like my baby!) but you have to or you’d go mad. It was a great moment for me when I realised my team had my back and I could get on with doing what I needed to do.
I’m with the brand
When the website and logo were launched, it felt real – we were a business! I wanted a logo and a website that summed up Turn’d Up Fitness perfectly. I wanted it to be iconic, edgy and sum up what we are about. Oh, and I wanted it to be instantly recognisable. I don’t ask for much, right?!
Steve at Embryo Design just got all of this instantly. I fell in love with the logo as soon as I saw it – I loved the way it incorporated the initials and also looked like an ‘On’ button. And I still feel a burst of pride when I look at the website. And don’t even get me started on how I feel when I see girls out and about in our merch! I want to give them all a hug!
Business Wales were a big help to me in the early days, and they fixed me up with Neil Hill, my mentor – and now business partner. We meet every week and he’s been a guiding light to me. He’s a successful entrepreneur himself and he gives me perspective and focus. And a kick up the butt if I need it! He believed in Turn’d Up and realising that gave me a massive confidence boost.
Are you sure?!
I won Entrepreneur of the Year at the South Wales Fitness Awards in 2018. It was a massive shock to win; part of me felt like a complete imposter! When you’re running a business you can’t see the wood for the trees and it took the award for me to take a step back and realise how far I’d come. I thought ‘Well, maybe I’m not doing so badly after all.’
And I’ll tell you a secret – my dress didn’t arrive on time, and I ran into town and grabbed a dress an hour before the awards. Life on the edge hey! Pretty much sums up life as an entrepreneur – serene on the surface, panicking like mad underneath!
Gym’ll fix it
Walking through the doors of UFit Fitness was one of the best moves I’ve ever made. They’ve been such a support for me; letting me use their studio for training and filming and they have backed and supported my classes. The owners have great business minds and I’ve learned a lot from them.
I’m a survivor
I’ve had more setbacks and kicks in the teeth than you’d believe. There have been times where it feels like I’m just going from fighting one fire to another. There’s been many a sleepless night over money; people have massively let me down; and there’s been huge disappointments. But each time I’ve dusted myself off, picked myself up and got back on track. The first time I managed this, it was empowering. Coming out of a storm proved to me that I, and my business, were resilient. And that’s a good thing to know!
Getting my Turn’d Up tattoo was definitely a big moment for me. I got a matching one done with Gemma and we were buzzing afterwards! It was a way of showing my commitment to the business – there was no going back now. Plus, it meant I’d better not mess up, or I’d have a permanent reminder!
What a milestone! 100 wonderful women all trained to teach Turn’d Up! The vast majority of them came from classes and it made me so proud and so happy that these amazing women loved and enjoyed Turn’d Up so much they wanted it to be a bigger part of their lives.
Turning Up the UK
We had a great working relationship with JD Gyms in Cardiff, thanks to our awesome instructors Wendy and Martina. So when other branches expressed an interest, I did a little jump for joy!
I travelled up to the JD gym in Wigan to showcase Turn’d Up and it was a definite case of nervous-cited! But they were so positive about it and now I’m in the process of teaching it in the Midlands and the North. I’ve trained some incredible instructors up there. When I realised that this could really happen – that we could expand like this, I had to pinch myself. I can’t wait to see the new classes start!
What inspires and encourages *you* to keep going? I’d love to know. Tell me below!