I had Christmas money. I wanted new gym clothes.
We'd been training hard for most of the year - five days a week - and my kit had seriously suffered! I didn't have enough for a start and I certainly hadn't invested in it. I'd found that things were rolling down, baggy at the crotch, had zips that hurt, it was time to treat myself. Only I couldn't find anything. Nothing grabbed me or caught my eye. Even in trusty Leeds where everything is normally available. With a frustratingly full purse I went home, really shocked at the lack of great fitness clothing in our area. I knew about a whole host of fantastic fitness clothing brands but none of them were available for me to try. What was the fabric like? How did they fit? Are they see through? We've all asked these questions I'm sure or learnt from mistakes - buying something because you liked the pattern only to find it wasnt fit for purpose - and now it lives in the back of your drawer and you sigh every time you see it.
So we started thinking - If we want new fitness clothing, surely there are other people like us who feel the same. Where's all the decent men's stuff? Why can't I get those snazzy leggings anywhere? "Stop moaning and let's do something about it" came the war cry form my husband.
We started really looking in detail at what we liked, what worked, what we'd tried, what we needed from our gym kit. We tentatively (and almost with our eyes closed) pressed "send" on a long, poured-over email to several companies and waited to hear nothing. Really. At best, we expected a polite "thanks but no thanks".
Only, they didn't. Rather, they all thought it was a great idea! We had a "yes" (well, actually lots of "yes's"! So on we went, planning and figuring, costing and questioning. Cold January and February mornings and afternoons were spent counting footfall and conversion rates along with endless incognito trips in and out of our competitors to see if what we wanted to offer was available there.
We had a vision of creating something more than a shop. We wanted a real customer service experience, not a shouty "SPORTS SHOP". We wanted to create somewhere you want to spend time; a community to share information and build each other up; to motivate and encourage. We wanted cotton totes, not plastic bags. For the shop to smell great and give an immediate sense of "this is different"...
The business plan came together quickly and funding followed, all we needed now was a great space in the right place. It wasnt forthcoming. Too small, too big, too much, too cold, wrong location..... we (as two very impatient Yorkshire folk) were beginning to think things had gone too well and this was going to be as far as it got, just a good idea.
On the off-chance, we took the longer route home from the Valley Gardens one Sunday afternoon...
...and there it was. 23 Cold Bath Road. A beautiful corner plot with lovely arched windows and the sun beaming in onto the spacious shop floor. And, even better, a huge "TO LET" sign above it. Never had we been as eager for a Monday morning to arrive! A call to the estate agent and we viewed it straight away. We knew straight away. It knocked the spots off everything else we'd seen. It wasn't straight forward but we got there in the end; I cried when Jon told me we'd got it. Sobbed like a baby. I don't know if that was relief, excitement, fear - or a bit of everything.
I just felt so strongly that if we didnt do this, someone else would. I'm not a risk taker - neither of us are - but I didn't want this to be another "what if?.." I've already got a list of those.
The chance to bring together everything I felt passionate about and use it to inspire and motivate others was stronger than the fear of "what if it doesnt work?" We wanted people to enjoy their training and not be hindered by thoughts of "can that lady behind me see my thong?" or "God, I look like I've wet myself".
Again, I could go on. We're people - we sweat, we go red, we smell. We feel your pain! Anything we can do to alleviate any of those problems and help you to feel less self-concious makes us happy. You might have a sweaty crotch, but you won't see it in these shorts. These tights certainly won't fall down, putting you off your stride when you're running down the street. And when that lady is looking at you while you do that last superset, you won't be thinking "I really wish I hadn't worn this shitty old 10k T-shirt from five years ago"....
We honestly believe that having the right training kit will go a long way towards you acheiving the results you're working so hard for.
And so here we are - and we've got lots of plans. We made what we were searching for. My purse is now empty but damn, I feel great in my leggings.....