Tue, 12 Nov 2019
Her mother’s chance glance at a holiday snap flipped all of Tania White’s career plans on their head. And now the 29-year-old is turning around the fortunes of a Newbury gym.
Born in Peterborough, Tania admits that she really “wasn’t particularly sporty at school”.
She left at 17-years-old with plans to travel around Australia during a gap year and then begin a photography course on her return.
“I spent the first half of my time in Australia sunbathing and exploring,” she explains. “But then my mum saw a photo and noticed I’d put on a bit of weight. In fact I’d gone up two dress sizes.
“So my auntie introduced me to her gym. I got a trainer and I did sessions on the beach in Adelaide.
“I had never done any gym work before and I found I really liked it, so I called my mum and asked her to enrol me on a fitness instructor course and I haven’t looked back.”
When Tania returned to Peterborough she took up the place at college that her mother had secured for her; studying for her Level 2 gym instructor qualifications.
“During the course I did work experience at a gym and I was offered a part-time job there, watching people on the gym floor.
“The gym put me through my life-guarding course while I was there too.”
After her two-year course finished, Tania upped and moved to London, being offered a job and moving to the capital within a few days.
“I knew I wanted to do my Level 3 personal trainer qualification,” she adds, “so I got a job at a David Lloyd in South East London.
“I was 20-years-old and I moved to London without knowing anyone.”
During her time working at David Lloyd, Tania had a private tutor and qualified as a personal trainer (PT).
A perfectionist at heart, she spent 18 months studying every aspect of training, including physiology and anatomy, to ensure she knew the answer to absolutely any question a client could ask in the future.
She spent another year at the gym, building up her PT clients, while still enjoying working one shift a week on the gym floor.
“I loved it but I got to the point where I wanted to do something different and so I moved to a Power Plate studio in East Hampstead,” reveals Tania. “We did half-an-hour classes all day every day.
“I had done a Power Plate course while I was at David Lloyd and I just realised I wanted to specialise in something; and the old way of PTing was changing.
“I was there for a while but then my grandma wasn’t well, so I went back to Peterborough.
“I had just bought a house up there and my dad suggested I move back and re-evaluate what I wanted to do. And save some money too.”
And the decision Tania made was to sign a nine-month contract to work on a cruise ship.
“It was amazing,” she adds. “I got to travel to Hawaii, Tasmania, Barbados, Fiji.
“I had two products to sell and then taught yoga, pilates and PT too.
“It was 16 hours a day, six-and-a-half days a week, but I wouldn’t have swapped it for the world.”
Tania always knew she wanted to work in gym management, but she also knew it was incredibly difficult to break into.
She applied for jobs within a 50-mile radius of London on her return from the cruise and was offered a place at a gym in a school in Reading.
“That was where I learnt how the gym inside a school really works,” she explains. “I learnt how it adds value to the children and to the wider community.
“You always want to do a good job, but you also have the reputation of the school to consider.
“Then I saw the job here, at Lifestyle Fitness, and thought it would be perfect.”
Lifestyle Fitness is based at Trinity School, Newbury and the moment Tania walked through the doors for the first time she knew she wanted to work there.
“I came and had a look around, pretending I wanted to join as a member,” she says. “I remember thinking ‘this is my gym’. It was exactly what I wanted to do.
“I had the interview and straight away they offered me the job.
“It is so hard to go from PT to management; it’s a big jump but I was so excited.”
When Tania took up the post of manager, in July 2018, she got to work quickly making some changes to the timetable in particular.
“It went from four classes a week to 14,” she says. “I re-evaluated everything and had to make the timetable a success.
“We had to get people to achieve their goals.
“We went from 220 members to 387 members in just over a year.”
Tania also introduced Teen Gym for pupils at Trinity, after school on Monday to Thursday and on Saturday mornings.
“The pupils absolutely love it,” she adds. “I have had parents call me to say how successful it is.
“It’s been absolutely amazing and I’m sure it’s added a lot to their schooling too.”
Tania works with three other instructors at the gym and she says they all share a genuine care for the members.
“Service comes above everything else,” she insists. “I think that is quite rare at a small gym like ours, but it is so important to us.
“The majority of our sales come through referrals, which is a great thing.
“There is a real buzz and community feel to it here. I love it and our members seem to too. I just love coming to work.”