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Custom Fitness Works Out Thanks to Productivity Programme

Custom Fitness, based in Lincoln, is the latest business to have employed a graduate intern and benefited from funding and support during the coronavirus outbreak, thanks to the Productivity Programme.

The situation

Custom Fitness, founded in 2010 by owner Dave Poole, is a fitness gym and coaching facility in Lincoln which delivers group and personal training to its members.

Dave first approached the Productivity Programme after it was recommended to him by one of his members, who was aware of the plans to grow the business and felt Custom Fitness could benefit from the different business support, advice and funding available.

Custom Fitness wanted to expand its services to more people and already had the space to do so but was limited by its existing set-up of not having enough coaches to meet the demands of its members.

The solution

Ultimately Custom Fitness wanted to employ more fitness coaches and received a £3,000 grant through the programme’s internship scheme which was used to hire graduate intern Claire Allsopp as a fitness coach to help the company achieve its expansion plans.

Through funding, Custom Fitness was able to employ Claire on an initial three-month contract and after being given an opportunity by the programme to continue with Claire’s employment, her contract was extended by a further three months.

Now that the internship has come to an end, Custom Fitness has retained Claire as a full-time fitness coach – even during the coronavirus pandemic. Following the closures of gyms in line with the UK lockdown measures Custom Fitness has had to adapt its operations and has been delivering fitness sessions to its members online using platforms such as Webex.

Members are still able to train up to six times a week, and Custom Fitness runs over 40 weekly fitness sessions ranging from personal training to group activities.

The impact

As well as primarily bringing her coaching skills to the forefront of the organisation, Claire was quickly able to put other skills to use including administration, content creation for social media and implementing new procedures to improve the overall strategic operations.

While the business has moved online during the current lockdown, Claire has also played a role in adapting the business model, from changing the weekly timetable to ensuring the gym is well prepared with new measures in place ready for when lockdown restrictions are lifted.


Dave Poole – founder and owner of Custom Fitness

“Thankfully, we were introduced to the programme at the perfect time as we were looking to expand our services to more people. Our existing coaching set-up wasn’t allowing us to deliver our sessions to the maximum levels of our ability and part of that was beyond physical equipment; we needed more fitness coaches to deliver more sessions.

“The funding through the Productivity Programme’s internship scheme allowed us to take a bigger jump than we otherwise would have been able to. As a small business we’ve been able to invest in a new member of staff who has brought key skills to the organisation.

“I’ve seen the benefits of employing an intern and would encourage others who are in similar positions to do the same. If given another opportunity, I wouldn’t hesitate to employ an intern again – it’s been great to give a next-generation coach that pathway opportunity.”


Claire Allsopp – graduate intern employed at Custom Fitness

“The internship certainly met all of my expectations, particularly after coming out of a master’s degree with uncertainty about getting a job, having moved to Lincoln from down south. It allowed me to step into a new role and to grow the business.

“I would recommend other graduates thinking of joining the scheme to get on board because it helps both those from a graduate perspective and an employer perspective – and I now have a full-time job!”