Arguably the greatest skill in business is the ability to spot an opportunity. Mike Salkeld has done that time and again.
Ten years ago he was working as a personal trainer at the North Lakes Hotel in Penrith while studying for a degree in physiotherapy.
He completed the degree in 2010.
“The following year I resigned to start North Lakes Physiotherapy,” he said.
“At the start it was just myself renting a clinic room in the spa treatments department at the North Lakes Hotel.
“The same year I set up Sculpt Personal Training with my business partner James Pittam, also at the North Lakes Hotel, where we deliver a personal training service.
“We began to take on other personal trainers as the business grew and this allowed me to concentrate on more physiotherapy related training sessions.”
“I work primarily in the gym with people with Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and those rehabilitating after a stroke.”
As well as devising bespoke fitness programmes for clients, Sculpt has a team of class instructors who deliver exercise classes at the North Lakes Hotel from body combat and circuit training to tai chi and pilates.
Sculpt also have swimming instructors who teach children’s swimming lessons in the hotel pool weekday evenings and Saturday mornings, working only in one-to-one or one-to-two sessions to meet the specific needs of the child.
Mike and James expanded again last year launching a second personal training business, Adapt Personal Training, at The Cottons Hotel in Knutsford, Cheshire.
The personal training businesses now employ 10 personal trainers and have recently taken on Karen Rathbone at Adapt as personal training manager.
Mike said: “Personal training has grown over the past 15 years, and the delivery of personal training has changed.
“It’s more dynamic and functional. Customers are educated in fitness concepts so personal trainers must keep up and explore new and engaging routines, while still maintaining their focus on the individual and their needs and goals.
“There’s no doubt there is much more competition and exercise opportunities available than there was even 10 years ago. The level of interest in road cycling after the 2012 London Olympics is an example.
“But if personal trainers keep themselves fresh with new and effective training methods, people know they will get something extra from working one-to-one with a qualified personal trainer, which they may struggle to get elsewhere.”
In 2016 North Lakes Physiotherapy won the contract to provide physiotherapy services to Sedbergh School, one of the country’s top public schools.
Mike said: “Sedbergh School places sport as a high priority for pupils and specifically achieve brilliantly in rugby, running and netball. The contract was to provide physio services to pupils primarily with sports injuries.”
With the new Sedbergh School contract North Lakes Physiotherapy also took on physio Nils Killgren, a fully trained pitch-side physio who acts as such for the school during rugby fixtures.
Mike added: “The style of physiotherapy Nils and I provide is evidenced based with a firm emphasis on the biopsychosocial model of care, which looks at the patient as a whole not just on the injury per se.”
They view strength and conditioning, and sound rehabilitation, as the foundation of their sports physio service.
And they are sceptical about methods used by some other physios – such as electrotherapy including ultrasound, or lots of manual therapy – arguing there is no evidence or poor evidence to justify these techniques.
The two run the physio service for Sedbergh School from Sedbergh Medical Centre, where they also provide a private practice service for clients.
Mike has further expanded his physiotherapy business taking on Anna Monk as a specialist physiotherapist in women’s health.
She has been a physio for more than 20 years and has specialised in women’s health for the last three years.
Mike tapped into free support and advice from the Chamber’s Cumbria Business Growth Hub to help his businesses develop.
His Growth Hub adviser, Peter Fleming, has been a big help.
Mike said: “Peter has supported us through grant applications and advised us on advertising and marketing platforms and social media.
“He helped me get to grips with Instagram.”
Mike has made good use of the Growth Hub’s Subsidy Scheme.
This enables ERDF-eligible businesses – that are looking to grow and create jobs – to access a 40% contribution up to a maximum of £2,000 to buy-in consultancy to support their plans.
A separate Subsidy Scheme applies for business start-ups, offering grants covering 40% of consultancy fees up to a maximum of £1,000.
Mike said: “We used the Subsidy Scheme to pay web consultants to upgrade the North Lakes Physiotherapy website.
“And we’ve just had a £1,000 grant approved towards a £2,500 project to create a new website for Sculpt and Adapt.”
A wide range of consultancy services are covered by the Subsidy Scheme.
They include marketing advice, web development, accountancy and finance, social media consultancy, legal advice and public relations – and that isn’t an exhaustive list.
Growth Hub advisers help businesses put together a brief to select and manage the best consultant for the task.
For more information on the Subsidy Scheme, click here.
The Subsidy Scheme is receiving up to £2,528,767 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund.
Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information click here.