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STUDENT SPECIAL


As well as manning the gym floor, the students provide personal training sessions and group classes for clients


Student-led gym: a class apart O 10


ne of the most common com- plaints from gym operators is that newly-qualified personal trainers (PTs) have a wealth of


knowledge, but little, if any, practical experi- ence of using it on the gym floor. Eager to give his students the edge in what


is becoming an increasingly competitive market, Gordon Barr chose an uncon- ventional approach. North Hertfordshire College’s vice principal for entrepreneurship and student experience bought a struggling gym and tasked his fitness and exercise stu- dents with reversing its fortunes. Te former LA fitness site – which now


falls under the énergie Group’s Fit4less brand – has undergone a stunning transformation since the college bought the franchise for the Stevenage gym in January 2012. Under the watchful eye of gym man-


ager Adam Groves, a team of 10 students have combined their studies for physical


Run almost entirely by college students, Fit4less


Stevenage is the educational experiment that turned into a thriving business. Jak Phillips meets the


pioneering team behind the exciting new health club concept.


activity qualifications – such as the BTEC Extended Diploma in Sport, as well as NVQs in Instructing Fitness and Exercise and in Personal Training – with paid roles which see them responsible for every aspect of the gym. Te venture is designed to ensure students


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develop the entrepreneurial skills required to run a successful gym, with the students taking care of marketing, profitability and retention, as well as the usual responsibili- ties of a personal trainer. While many businessmen might balk at


the prospect of entrusting their investment into the hands of a group of students, Barr is delighted by how the college’s faith has been repaid and says the gym now makes a six-figure yearly profit, as well as ranking among the top-performing énergie gyms in the country for several metrics. Tere are now plans to reinvest these


funds in a second nearby gym, giving more students the chance to take part in a scheme that has turned the heads of educators and gym operators across the country. We caught up with Barr, Groves and star


student Emma Stewart to find out what hap- pens when young PTs are handed the reigns of a bustling commercial gym.


Twitter: @leisureopps © CYBERTREK 2014


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