Life is busy. Three young children and a full time job working for South West College in Omagh, a husband that runs his own barbering business and a lengthy journey to and from work every week.  Starting up my own business seemed crazy.

Why would you do that when you have a guaranteed income and security?  There are many reasons. I know it is always discussed about men having a midlife crisis but I feel that is exactly what happened to me. I returned to work last year after a maternity leave with my third and final child, a beautiful daughter, knowing that I would never have a period off work like that again. It was very emotional and made me question a lot of areas within my life,  particularly  my career.

I love my job. I thoroughly enjoy teaching, watching individuals develop and grow, seeing the majority of them continuing on to university or obtaining employment within sport and fitness or even setting up their own businesses and succeeding. I have been doing this for 13 years now, so its not so much of a challenge anymore and with nowhere to go along the promotional ladder within the college, it started me thinking….what else could I do? How could I challenge myself further and how could I progress my career?

I have had some extra challenges over the last few years as, on top of my full time job, I have been working as an External Quality Assurer (EQA) for the awarding body VTCT for three years.  In a nutshell my role within this organisation is to visit centres running sport, health and fitness related courses, check their management systems and ensure they are assessing their students fairly and correctly. During many of my visits, when I was trying to put some structure on their management systems and advising them on how to run their programmes and assess their students correctly, it got me thinking, that I could run these courses better and more efficiently than many of these centres are doing. An added benefit that I could bring to the table within my own organisation, is my high level of qualifications and many years of teaching and learning experience.  Many of these centres do not have tutors with a high level of qualifications or a great amount of teaching and learning experience.

So out of my midlife crisis, Sports Fitness Academy was developed.  I have all the skills and experience necessary to both manage and teach within this new training organisation and feel it is time to start working for myself, be my own boss and provide further challenge within my life.  Many people have told me that I am the most driven person they know, but I just don’t see it like that. I just love learning new things and trying to develop myself and this Academy has been and will continue to be a learning curve.  It has been a number of months in the making and initially my problem was that I had too many ideas, too many things that I could do. I could run fitness classes, be a sports massage therapist, a personal trainer etc but many of these things didn’t involve teaching, which I am very passionate about, so all of these ideas were discussed and scrapped. Narrowing down what I could teach did take time and I had lots of support from friends and family. I also had a few one to ones with Evelyn McMarketing, which helped me to focus on my strengths and realise what exactly it was I wanted to do.  Having an outside opinion was also an excellent idea, as friends and family sometimes tend to just agree with everything discussed, or it might be that they just wanted me to stop talking about it!!  My designer and good friend, Tommy Callaghan from Manna Design also offered a lot of help and advice in relation to brand awareness and social media marketing.  The job he did with my branding and website is superb and the feedback regarding this has already been fantastic.

Another goal I wanted to achieve before embarking on this new business was to return to my pre-pregnancy body shape.  With this in mind I enlisted the services of a personal trainer to help me do this. Mark Teague from Future Fit Personal Training has been an amazing addition to my life, not only has he helped me lose some weight (not all of it yet mind you!) and increase strength but working with Mark has allowed me to take some much needed time out for myself and exercise has given me greater mental focus and determination in regards to getting the new business off the ground.

Another reason for this change in my career is that it will allow me to be closer to home.  Reducing my hours at South West College will give me the time to establish this training organisation while being closer to my children and hopefully, in the long term, allow me freedom to spend more quality time with them.  The taxi of mammy and daddy has not quite started yet but I am aware that I will be needed for this in the future.

The two main things that helped me along this journey was to ask a lot of questions, taking advice and ideas from as many people as I possibly can and, secondly, for me, a personal trainer. It’s money very well spent.  Exercise not only improves your body shape but also helps to improve attention span, learning and focus. I could discuss this area in a lot more detail but that deserves a blog of its own.

This business is only in the early stages of production and I am aware that there will be a lot more work to do and many challenges to overcome but I have always been a hard worker and I will do everything I can to make a success of this.

The courses that I will be running will be based in the Base Enterprise Centre, with the fitness instructor and personal trainer courses completing any practical elements within the gym in the Finn Valley Leisure Centre.  The management within the Base Enterprise Centre and the Finn Valley Leisure Centre have been hugely supportive of this new enterprise, which has made life a lot easier for me in regard to getting things off the ground. For the sports massage therapy courses, links with local sports clubs are in the process of being established in order to conduct some pre/post training and event massage for the athletes.  This will give student excellent experience while completing their qualification.

Students will be offered flexible part time study options and all the courses delivered are accredited and mapped to both the English Qualification and Credit Framework (QCF) and the European Quality Framework (EQF). Students of the Academy will be provided with excellent support and guidance when completing your qualification and you will be put at the centre of everything I do, going above and beyond to make certain that you have the skills required to do your job well.  I want to ensure all our students are industry leaders in their chosen area of expertise.  I look forward to working with every student that enrols on a course within the Academy and assist with educating, informing, supporting and inspiring those wishing to begin a new career or advancing their knowledge within their profession.