Louise from Affinity Pole Fitness discovers a healthy way to build a business

From: Business Link
Published: Sun Feb 21 2010

For local entrepreneur and professional pole dancing instructor Louise Gardiner, a long term passion for feeling good and keeping fit led to the launch of a life changing new business with help and advice from Business Link.

Louise’s company Affinity Pole Fitness now employs two full time staff. It has grown over the last three years from a couple of one hour classes each week, to private tutoring and numerous pole dancing classes across various venues in Canterbury, Whitstable, Deal, Ashford and Herne Bay in Kent.

As a young single mum on benefits, Louise knew that she wanted to earn her own money rather than rely on support from the state. She also knew that as a young person on a low income she would find it hard to rise up the career ladder and to make a home for her daughter, as well as enjoying time with her family and friends.

Having trained as an equine specialist, Louise realised that with a young child she could not commit to the long hours needed for this kind of work. After discussions with her sister, Louise decided to re-train in fitness instruction, and work the hours which suited her and her young daughter. After gaining the relevant fitness based qualifications, Louise knew something was still missing from her work-life balance. An introduction to pole dancing gave her the inspiration to look at different and unexplored areas of the fitness industry as a way to become self-employed and start her own business.

"I had sporadic periods of work as a fitness instructor and in promotions, but I knew that in order to grow a business based on my enthusiasm for pole dancing, I needed to be qualified," Louise explained. "Having achieved the Vertical Dance qualification, I began looking for a venue from which to teach, and was lucky to find a local club in Herne Bay which had a couple of poles for their own dancers."

"I realised quite early on that there was a negative perception to pole dancing but it’s a great way to keep fit. I also realised that my biggest hurdle seemed to be a lack of business awareness," confessed Louise.

Louise was keen to address her lack of business experience by seeking support, and began by contacting the Prince’s Trust, a charity which supports young people with business ideas. Because Louise is based in Chestfield, an area of Kent with low economic activity, the Prince’s Trust referred her to Business Link who provide specialist help for those growing a business.

Louise added, "The Prince’s Trust put me in touch with Dorothy at Business Link. Dorothy sat me down and helped me to put everything in order so I had a plan to work with, and I could see what my next steps should be."

"Dorothy also arranged for me to receive a grant to pay for some promotional flyers, designed to advertise my classes. I went out each weekend and put them all around the pubs, clubs, and local shops, speaking to as many local people as I could about my new venture."

"I feel totally liberated through running my own business" exclaims Louise, "I hope it will continue to thrive and over the coming months I plan to grow the studio, and increase the demand for classes across a variety of locations. I get a real buzz out of my classes and always come home on a complete high. Not only am I earning money from what I love, but I am also making a difference to women’s lives – I help them to feel good about themselves, learn more about their bodies, and also to keep fit."

Dorothy Thom, from Business Link said, "Enterprise, and enterprising individuals, boost the local economy – my role is to help people to spot opportunities, utilise their talents and develop the skills and confidence necessary to succeed in business. Louise is one of the many aspiring young entrepreneurs who we help to turn their dreams into reality with coaching and intensive support. Louise has turned her love of fitness and dance into a business with great potential for her and a number of her friends. I get a great sense of pride as Louise has now achieved her goal of working for herself whilst caring for her daughter."

For more information about Business Link’s support for individuals who are thinking about starting a business or are in the early stages of running a business and face barriers to enterprise because of personal circumstances visit www.bringyourideastolife.co.uk or phone 0845 600 9 006.

- Ends -

Media contact:

Katie Mason

Telephone: 02380 613255

Mobile:07882 102555

Email: katie@ambmarketing.co.uk

Notes to Editors

About Business Link

Business Link’s information and advice services are available through the website www.businesslink.gov.uk/southeast or by phoning 0845 600 9 006.

Business Link is the government funded national business information, advice and support service, delivered in the South East by the six Business Link Providers. In the South East the service is funded by SEEDA.

Business Link helps businesses and entrepreneurs to establish new enterprises and maintain and grow established companies by helping them to locate and benefit from the broadest range of public, private and voluntary business support services.

Business Link offers specific help to individuals who are unemployed, currently only working a few hours week or in a situation that makes it harder for them to get involved in enterprise or to access Business Link support. These two services help people to start a business and offers free, advice, coaching and intensive support from having and idea to when the individual starts trading. Once the business has been established the business owner is encouraged to take advantage of the extensive information, advice and support provided by Business Link’s core service.

SEEDA, the South East England Development Agency, is the Government-funded agency responsible for the sustainable economic development of the South East of England – the driving force of the UK’s economy. Through supporting businesses, encouraging innovation, developing skills and engaging with public and private partners, we aim to create a successful, sustainable future for the region.

Company: Business Link
Contact Name: Katie Mason
Contact Email: katie@ambmarketing.co.uk
Contact Phone: 02380 613255

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