Sevenoaks Ladies Joggers

This is my story

My name is Sam Palmer and I am the founder and owner of Sevenoaks Ladies Joggers – SLJ.

We are an award winning business which offers a variety of coached fitness classes for women only.

I am married with 2 children and 4 step children and a cockerpoopoo called Elma!

I also run a First Aid Courses business, called Peak Skills, so life is pretty busy!

In a nutshell

SLJ

voted UK Running Club of the Year

Different classes per week

Coaches

Tell us about the first few months of setting up.  Does the business now look as you had planned at the start? What motivated you to set up in the first place?

I ran SLJ as a hobby while I was still nursing in Neonatal Intensive Care. When my brother was killed in a motorbike accident I was given a place to run the London Marathon in his memory and it was during the inevitable training that goes with the territory that I realised that there was nowhere for ‘normal’ women to learn to run, for many the idea of a traditional athletics club was too scary. Hence SLJ was born and slowly over 17 years it has expanded to offer a broad range of fitness opportunities for all women.

Because it started as a hobby I must admit I didn’t really think about paying myself and I certainly didn’t factor in the planning and marketing when thinking about my pricing, I learnt the hard way!

You’ve been going quite a long time now.  How has your marketing changed over the years?

HUGELY! Initially I didn’t do any marketing at all, most of my business came through word of mouth but all businesses need to grow and it is important to use a variety of ways to tell people about the service you offer.

Leaflet, flyers, magazine ads have now given way to social media advertising, video blogs and email campaigns.  I have had a range of websites over the years, and each my knowledge and skills have increased so that the current one is able to offer more to support my business, it’s part of my job that I really enjoy.

It’s hard to stay abreast constantly but I believe it is important to keep learning and adapting to changes in marketing styles.

How much time do you invest in the business from week to week?

I work every day except Sunday when I often run with Elma to research a route for one of our runs. I have reduced my evening working to just two evenings a week now which is lovely!

What is a typical day like for you?

7.00 Tea – check emails and messages, reply if urgent

7.30 Breakfast – Oats! I need to make sure I eat prior to exercise as I’m always telling everyone else to!

8.30 Walk Elma

9.00 Teach 1-3 Fitball, Hi Met or Run sessions

13.00 Lunch, I’m normally starving by now

14.00 Admin – planning classes, updating website, replying to emails, promoting courses etc etc

18.00 Stop working for a cuppa

19.00 Teach evening classes

21.00 Supper ( way too late often!)

22.30 Bed!

You also run a first aid training business.  How do you juggle and find time to give both businesses the attention they need?

I dedicate certain hours purely to Peak Skills, the First Aid business and won’t do any SLJ work and vice versa. Otherwise I rely hugely on the amazing support of the people who work alongside me, both in a coaching capacity and in the office. I’m an ideas person and it is the team that turn the ideas into reality or tell me I’m barking mad, often the latter!

What are your future plans for your businesses?

Peak Skills has a reputation for excellence in both the school and childcare/family sectors but I intend to keep that growth as we become better known with businesses in the area.

With SLJ I want to continue to encourage women to enjoy recreational sport of all types both with the classes that SLJ offer and also working alongside other fitness groups who use the same approach as SLJ does – fun, friendly and non competitive.

I’d love to be able to bring all the elements of my business together under one roof but that may be pie in the sky!