It’s well known that regular exercise benefits us. It’s also well known that many of us don’t get enough. Looking to change that is Beth Dawkins, whose new company, Can & Will, is aiming to create a welcoming space in Market Harborough that offers everyone the chance to improve their wellbeing, both in body and mind.
“I first had the idea two years ago,” explains Beth, pictured right. “I was working in corporate fashion, as a footwear buyer for a High Street retailer. I spent a lot of my free time working out and that helped me deal with the stresses of the office and corporate life.”
“I developed a passion for it and decided it was what I wanted to do. I wanted exercise to help other people the way it helped me. So I left my job and retrained. I had a stint at a big gym, but I wasn’t able to nurture clients how I wanted, so I thought: “I’m going to do this on my own.'”
Breaking the mould
But Beth isn’t satisfied merely withÂ being your average trainer. She’s looking to break the mould with Can & Will by giving people the help they need to improve their all-round wellbeing, both physically and mentally.
“I want to help people, not just to get fitter physically, but in terms of their mental health as well,” Beth explains. “It’s for the body and mind equally. The vision is for Can & Will to be a wellness hub. I want it to be somewhere that lots of different people can come to access personal training. They can come to exercise classes, and they can also come for Pilates, yoga, and wellness and mindfulness classes.”
Beth herself will be running CALM (calming and light movement) classes, mixing tai chi with mindfulness and hatha yoga. “If people have had a stressful day at work, it’s a half-hour class where they can escape and relax, and let the troubles of the day go,” says Beth. “I’m also doing HIIT/circuit training sessions, PiYo (which combines Pilates and yoga) and “Match Ready’ ” providing local teams and anyone partaking in sporting or physical events, such as running races or team sports, with a chance to physically and mentally prepare on Friday evenings.”
Hot yoga will be on offer and the centre also has two sports massage therapists for those who need help recovering from injuries. Beth is also working alongside a local general practice to identify more ways in which to help the local community and people with long term conditions. She’s even opening a branch of an eating disorder support group, for which she currently volunteers in Milton Keynes.
Getting all this up and running has, of course, been hard work for Beth. And as a newcomer to the world of business, she wasn’t sure where to start. Thankfully, HarboroughÂ District Council funded Pioneer 10 scheme was there to help.
Pioneer 10 is a programme designed to encourage the growth of industry and innovation in the Harborough District (HDC). It’s operated by Oxford Innovation on behalf ofÂ Harborough District Council and headed up by the company’s Business Support Kate Jackson, who is based at Harborough Innovation Centre (HIC).
Beth met Kate earlier this year when she dropped into one of Kate’s one-to-one sessions in Lutterworth. “She was so encouraging and made me feel like I was doing the right thing,” says Beth. “When you’re setting up your own business, it’s very daunting, but Kate gave me bags of confidence and ever since then she’s been really supportive.”
The first thing Beth needed was a venue. Luckily, she stumbled on a vacancy at Market Harborough Rugby Club at exactly the right time. The club had extended its facilities to incorporate a studio and treatment rooms. It was perfect for Beth’s plans, so she jumped at it.
One of her first visitors was Kate. “She knew when she walked in that it was a great space,” Beth says. “I was able to share the vision I had for it with Kate, and she just got it. We started bouncing ideas off each other and it went from there.”
Since then, Kate has offered Beth all the advice and support she needs. She’s also been a great help in networking. “I moved here four years ago and having somebody who knows a lot of people and contacts has opened so many doors,” explains Beth. “I’ve met some really nice people who are offering their advice for free.”
Marketing the idea
Kate has also given Beth lots of ideas and advice with marketing, which is something she hadn’t had much experience of. “Because I used to be a buyer, I like developing products and ideas, but in terms of putting yourself out there and selling what you have to offer, that’s the bit I’ve struggled with. Kate’s given me a lot of confidence,” Beth says.
“She’s told me to stay true to myself, think about the brand, and don’t be afraid to sell who you are. When you’ve got someone there who believes in you, it can only help. Having Kate to mentor me on how to do it well and reach as many people as possible has been great. I’m still learning, but I’m getting a lot better at it.”
The business is now up and running. Beth’s website (canandwill.net) will be fully online from 3 December, offering information on the services available and giving visitors the chance to book and pay online. “I want things to be as easy as possible for people,” says Beth.
It’s an exciting time for Beth and she’s looking forward to business taking off. She’s set herself no financial goals, though. For Beth, the real motivation is helping. “My goal is to help as many people as I can,” she says. “If I can create a friendly, welcoming environment here, that’s the main thing. I want people to feel they can come along and enjoy exercising because the benefits are massive.”
Harborough Innovation Centre is owned and supported by Harborough District Council (HDC). As the building owner, HDC also funds the Centre’s business support provision, providing the basis for expert business advice, mentoring and workshops.