A fitness studio specialising in enhancing customers’ mental, physical and emotional health is helping women with low confidence and self-esteem get fighting fit on all fronts.
The Transformation Tribe, founded by 33-year-old personal trainer Liam Britton, is already running close to full-capacity after attracting over 30 customers since moving to new premises in January.
The studio differentiates itself from most gyms and fitness groups by focusing strictly on metabolic conditioning for women who don’t feel comfortable visiting gyms – and mindfulness and lifestyle coaching are seen as a fundamental part of every programme.
“We specialise in women’s body transformations,” Liam said. “We train women who potentially aren’t training or have never trained, so it’s not for everyone. It’s about giving those who need it a place where they feel comfortable and giving them the right support needed to start a new routine.
“There are so many women nowadays who have body and mental issues, they hate what they see in the mirror and have totally lost their confidence. They wear baggy clothes and won’t go to gyms due to that lack of confidence, and that’s where we come in.
“We have a lot of ladies who come to us suffering with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. It’s about getting them through the door and us pushing them through exercises, tailored for them, that build up their inner strength and allow them to handle life a lot better.”
Born and raised in Suffolk, Liam previously managed and sold a similar business in his home town before relocating to Wearside to start a new life with his Sunderland-born partner, Samantha.
Liam said: “Samantha wanted to be closer to home, so I moved up with her in March last year. I didn’t have much, so began training people as a stop-gap until I decided what to do. But, as soon as I got back into training people, I realised how much I missed it. I knew I had to get back into it.”
The Transformation Tribe, based at the North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC), opened its doors in January and is already coaching 31 women from around the region – and Liam is proud of the community that he and head coach Ashley Paynton have established.
“To come to Sunderland less than a year ago and now be running this studio is a huge achievement,” he said.
“We’re also incredibly proud of the fact that we’ve been able to create a community, not just a company. We have a WhatsApp group of members all supporting one another, discussing how they’re getting on and sharing experiences.
“It’s a support network and it’s great to see the comradery between everyone. You don’t get anything like this at big chain or budget gyms, it’s a game-changer. I’ve seen similar groups established further down the country, but as far as I’m aware there’s nothing else like this in the North East.”
Liam set up the gym at the North East BIC after being introduced to the team by Samantha, who runs a community interest company (Best Self) at the centre.
“The team at the BIC was great helping us move in,” he said. “I was looking for space for a while but when I walked in here it felt right. It’s a busy area with lots of businesses, so there was already a self-contained community to tap into. It feels good here with so many unique, niche businesses.
“Samantha has a wealth of experience delivering nutritional advice and coaching, so it’s an added bonus to be so close to her. She’s provided advice and training to pro-athletes and footballers and she’s been really involved by supporting the women in the WhatsApp group. It’s been great having her around.”
Donna Surtees, centre manager at the BIC, said: “We’re delighted to have been able to support Liam and Ashley and are extremely proud of how far they’ve come in such a short space of time. They’ve already been in touch about increasing capacity should their numbers continue to rise and we’ve promised to help them as much as we can. I’d like to wish them all the best for the future.”