Published on:
August 9, 2023

The story of BTC

Naivety is a hell of a thing!

Let’s go back in time, it’s 2015 and I’m working in a big commercial gym as a personal trainer, I’ve been there for a few years and everything is going fine, well if you consider being one of the gyms top performing PT’s and only taking home about 40% of what my clients are paying the gym for me to coach them.

At the time

I was probably knocking out 30-35 sessions a week and that was twice or more the amount of the other PTs at the time and that doesn’t include all the waiting around between clients you have to do. I was walking away with next to nothing, you know the phrase “pay peanuts, get monkies” well this monkey had enough and started to look at options.

The way I saw it was I didn’t take home most of my client’s money anyway so ill use that percentage to find my own building and kit it out and go it alone. Sounds fun right, it took me the best part of 2 years to find a building that would work, the local council’s planning department does not make it easy at all, you’ll hear more about my friends in the planning department later.

After a few non-starters, I viewed a small garage in Warwick behind a used car dealer, hidden around the back, not visible from the road at all, a terrible place to open a business but it fit into the budget. So Barbell Training Complex was born, a 4000sqft single-story industrial unit.

Year one was just me and my very loyal clients that had followed me from the commercial gym.

On a flight back from a weekend away I had the idea of kitting the place out in Rogue kit with an entire 8-station rig on one side of the room, Astro down the middle and the other side was half Cybex machines and some cardio pieces,

Then our good friends in the local council planning department piped up and give a nice phone call at 4;30 on a Friday that happened to be the last day they had to give me notice whether or not my planning application for turning the building into a gym was accepted or not and to everyone’s surprise they failed the application, this was after pending £450 for a meeting with one of the planning departments team on what I need to do to pass.

What a waste of time and money that was, it only turned out the planning officer didn’t even go to the correct building on her visit to the site, the officer went to another building we are attached to that is five times the size of my small unit, when I informed them I was told to appeal and that would take another 22 weeks to process.

22 weeks of not being open was not an option, weeks I pestered the council and local MPs for help and it was all looking very bleak, then sat in Victoria gardens in Leamington I was on Instagram and Warwick DC posted a lovely picture of the parade with the quote 2 Warwickshire, a great place to work and live” …….shots fired, I let loose on in the comments and put in exactly what had happened to me with the starting sentence THE LOCAL COUNCIL IS MAKING ME BANKRUPT, with-in 30 minutes I had someone on the phone asking me to remove it, within 24 hours I was talking to the major and 2 weeks later planning was granted. I wish it didn’t have to come to that but the power of social media is crazy.

The next year I took on some other Personal trainers and before long there were five of us working out of the unit and things were going smoothly.

BTC was making decent money and building a name for itself, and then…. boom, someone in Asia decides to eat a bat and the world loses its mind.

During the first lockdown, Another coach (Eliot) and I trained nearly every day, what else was there to do, then the idea was born, let’s extend the unit upstairs and make Warwick the first and only powerlifting gym.

I took the lease on and doubled the size of BTC, I put some friends to work painting and putting th

e floor down and start to source equipment.

coming out of the first lockdown we opened the doors to the public and Barbell Training Complex V2 was alive, geniuses, right? open a brand new venture coming out of lockdown and when people were still scared to go out, what’s the worst that can happen?

Well we did great the first few months, we grew to 180 members in no time and things were looking up, then we found out that what doesn’t kill you mutates and tries again. The second lockdown hit, rent and bills were still expected and the government grants and loans were not friendly to new start-ups. Debt became an issue pretty fast and I didn’t see us lasting long, but we survived the second and third lockdown. in a big financial hole but at least the doors were open.

Then onto the next kick in the privets, a local woman and her band of merry men decide to commit fraud and wipe our bank account and then proceed to break in not once but twice and the local police did naff all to stop them or prosecute them in any way at all. Thanks, guys.

Now the doors were closed, but only for a week, I replenished what had been taken and opened up for our members ASAP.

Roll on competitions, we started our Novice powerlifting competitions as well as federation full power powerlifting competitions and before long we were on the map as one of the go-to powerlifting gyms.  Because of this, we have picked up the reputation as the scary gym in the area but those who know us know we’re passionate about what we do and getting people ready for comps, we push, poke and nag until our clients move correctly and efficiently and are in the best place they can be.

We now have a solid crew of coaches and over 250 fantastic members, not to mention all of the online clients we work with. We have recently started running a bunch of classes and things are looking up.

Roll on the next few years and no doubt Barbell Training Complex will grow and mutate into something even bigger.

Do I regret it? sometimes yes but from being a school drop-out to running and owning my own business and completing it on sheer determination I have learned so much more than any school could ever teach me. This won’t be my last business and they will only be easier taking into it what I know now.