Wirral-based EmpoweredFIT has grown its gym exponentially by securing a larger site, increasing its team size, and growing its customer base after securing a £100,000 investment in January 2021 from NPIF – River & GC Microfinance, which River Capital manages in partnership with GC Business Finance as part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund.
The company launched a 4000 sq. ft gym and has since it expanded to a 22,000 sq. ft. facility in 2017 which was secured, renovated, and equipped with the help of NPIF funding.
By the end of 2022, the company achieved a turnover of £1 million, up from £360,000 in 2021. The gym group also has plans to expand its offerings by providing a new system for tailoring online work out programmes, expanding its product range in its shop to include more supplement and clothing brands, and holding more educational events in the gym. These initiatives are expected to increase EmpoweredFIT’s turnover to £1.1 million by the end of 2023.
Customer membership also saw a steady increase, rising from 300 members in 2017 to an estimated 3000 members as of March 2023. On average, only 20% of gyms’ registered members across the UK actually attend the facility within a given month. For EmpoweredFIT, 87% of its 3,000 members attend its gym in a month.
Launched by Chris Ellerby-Hemmings and Thea Anne Holden, the company now employs 35 team members, which includes skilled personal trainers who help provide training and guidance to EmpoweredFIT gym members.
Purchasing almost £300,000 of brand-new equipment with the help of the investment from NPIF, EmpowerFIT also used social media to keep its members and potential new joiners updated on the transformation of its new facility. The team also kept the community engaged by posting at-home workouts for its members on Instagram and Facebook.
This strategy led to it signing up 1,000 new members on its post-covid reopening day in April 2021, with queues to sign up circling around its site.
Chris Ellerby-Hemmings, founder of EmpoweredFIT, said: “Our mission has always been to provide a friendly and welcoming gym environment, where everyone feels empowered to achieve their fitness goals. We’re proud to have built a community of passionate members and expert trainers who support and motivate each other every day.”
“The NPIF investment has been crucial in enabling us to take our vision to the next level, and we’re now looking to explore further business options like franchising, taking advantage of the personable and engaging brand we have curated over the years. We’re committed to making EmpoweredFIT a household name synonymous with health and vitality. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for our company and the people we hope to inspire along the way.”
Sue Chambers, River Capital Investment Manager, said “Since moving to larger premises EmpowerFIT has literally gone from strength to strength and we are delighted to have enabled Chris and Thea to achieve their growth plans. Their entrepreneurial spirit combined with their passion to support their members achieve their fitness goals was evident from the beginning and will continue to stand the business in good stead for the years ahead”.
Sean Hutchinson at the British Business Bank said: “EmpoweredFIT’s commitment to its gym members, even during the COVID-19 pandemic, is a testament to the resilience and tenacity of the business. The success story of the team is an inspiration to all small businesses that with hard work and access to finance, they can transform themselves into a high-growth enterprise. Businesses like EmpoweredFIT play a crucial role in helping to build a stronger regional economy in the north, and we look forward to seeing the business continuing to make its mark in the fitness industry.”
The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.
Image L-R: Thea Anne Holden & Chris Ellerby-Hemmings