Smiling together through fitness: what it's like to be a personal trainer
Despite having been a personal trainer for the last decade, Katy Walwyn never found the fitness industry to be that accessible or appealing.
So she decided to take a different approach and create a friendly environment where everyone would be supported to achieve their goals - and leave a workout with a smile on their face.
Katy and her team recently opened a new fitness studio - Nexus Fitness - in Market Drayton.
"My team and I are driven and motivated by the impact of exercise, togetherness and social inclusion on happiness confidence and loneliness," she tells Weekend.
Despite her job title, Katy, who has a degree in graphic design, hasn't always been interested in fitness and had wanted to become a photographer.
But after catching the running bug when she was a teenager, she later retrained as a personal trainer and has worked in the leisure industry ever since.
"My aim has always been to make sure that my clients leave sweaty and well worked but with huge smiles across their faces, comforted in knowing that they belong to a group of like-minded people," explains Katy.
With a dream of working for herself, Katy headed back to university to complete a MSc in Sports Business Management two years ago.
When she found herself out of a job as the Covid pandemic struck, it inspired her to make a change and help people who may be struggling.
"This job loss started a little fire inside," Katy says. "I started up some bootcamps and running sessions, where Covid-19 restrictions allowed, and it quickly became clear that people needed fitness more than ever, not only for their physical and mental health, but for the social benefits too.
"The pandemic took away social connection, physical activity brought that back. The pandemic was the catalyst. The little fire inside grew, and this is where Nexus Fitness began."
"Before the opening of Nexus Fitness, members of my bootcamps and running groups formed such strong bonds - more quicky than I had ever seen before.
"We started social events, got to know each other’s families, we saw each other at our best, and worst, and our little community grew. As cheesy as it may sound, we - coaches and clients - became an extended family. They supported me, just as much as I had supported them," adds Katy.
"Nexus Fitness champions community, togetherness, and happiness. Everyone gets lonely sometimes. Our members know that there is no shame in admitting that.
"Everyone feels down sometimes. Our members know that there is no shame in admitting that too.
"Everyone has their own story, but we found that when people came together and shared their stories, common ground was found, sunken shoulders lifted, and smiles appeared.
"This story sharing process seemed very natural over a workout, bootcamp or fitness class."
Nexus Fitness, which offers a range of classes and fitness sessions in the gym and studio, occupies two units on the Tern Valley Business Park and opened to the public on August 15.
"This couldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the guidance of my parents, the support of my friends and clients and the graft of my grandparents," says Katy.
"To turn around and find my 80 year old grandfather up a huge ladder getting in the corners with his paintbrush was an extremely gratifying , yet slightly concerning,feeling.
There are three coaches who work with Katy at Nexus Fitness - Sarah Cartwright, Lucy Bell and Arry Cain.
Sarah has worked in the leisure industry for nearly 30 yeaes and is an on-call firefighter and Associate Fitness Trainer for Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service.
Lucy has worked in and around fitness for 25 years and her passion is netball. As a youngster she played at club, county, regional level and was selected to represent England at U18 level.
Arry is a coach with a background in sports therapy, behavioural psychology and endurance sport
"Collectively we have over 80 years experience and have all noticed the same problems with our industry," says Katy.
"We have very different approaches, but importantly share one ethos. "We have worked together for many years and know each other well. "Clients visit Nexus Fitness for the people.
"We have had an amazing gang of followers who have followed us for years and who have waited patiently for us to open these doors.
"I am more than lucky to have such a hardworking, experienced, brilliant team on board and even more lucky to have such a supportive group of followers.
"We have some great quality kit at our studio and hold a prime spot in town, we have a professional approach, some amazingly qualified coaches and we are the only specialist group exercise studio in Market Drayton.
"Ultimately though it’s the people. The people are what make Nexus Fitness different to any other facility in our area.
"I don’t mean the coaches. I mean our clients - clients who volunteered to pick up paint brushes and help us paint the studio walls, clients who brought their children along to help unpack equipment, clients who champion each other to succeed and pick each other up when struggling. Our USP is community – we are stronger together."