Gym & Tonic
Gym & Tonic provides a range of advanced sports and remedial massage techniques.
Founded by sports massage therapist Stephanie Douglas, the company is located in Hertfordshire, London and Buckinghamshire.
Formerly an international track athlete, Stephanie Douglas competed in all major athletics championships including two Olympic Games and three World Championships, representing Team GB.
Stephanie qualified as a Sports Massage Therapist in 2009 and founded Gym & Tonic shortly after, with the aim to help each client maximise the potential of their body in order to perform to their best in work, in sport or at rest. This is achieved through regular treatment, education and body awareness.
Gym & Tonic’s services are designed to prevent and treat injuries, optimise the healing process and maintain your body in tip top condition to help enhance your lifestyle.
Why did you decide to start your company?
I was studying for my diploma in Sports & Remedial Massage Therapy and knew that it was a career I wanted to pursue after completion. Most therapists are self-employed therefore starting my own business was a natural progression.
Although I started the business in 2009, I had a full time office job alongside building up a client base. I finally went full time self-employed, to concentrate solely on the business, in July 2011.
What was your career path prior to starting your first business?
I had a 15 year career as an international athlete, competing at the highest junior and senior levels. I funded my career with part time office work in various roles and financial support from my family.
Did you always know that you would start your own business?
Not in a million years! Sometimes I wish I had started earlier, but I do believe that everything happens for a reason. The knowledge and experience gained through my sport and office work have had a huge significance on what I am doing now.
How does your work / life balance now compare to your previous career as an athlete?
I retired from athletics 10 years ago when I had my daughter, which started a totally different chapter in my life. I was then only working to make a better life for her.
Now, after using transferrable skills from my athletics days, such as dedication, motivation and determination, I aim to succeed in and enjoy my new career, but enjoy the time with my daughter even more.
What are you working on at the moment?
I have just secured a new clinic in Bushey to build up a client base in my home town. I am also working on expanding a Sports Massage & Remedial Therapy wellness programme – SmaRT – into schools and businesses in my area.
In this age of high stress and anxiety more and more schools and other businesses are focusing on wellness programs and offering benefits such as massage to their employees and students. It’s a great way to show staff that their work is valued as well as their personal health. In addition, this benefit is also a great selling point to potential employees and students.
Can you describe your typical working day?
A day can range from complete rest to focus on admin, spending 12 hours in one clinic with up to 11 clients or driving between 3 clinics in one day.
Did you have a business mentor?
I sought business advice from several sources, my family, colleagues from my former job and a fellow sports massage therapist.
What have been the highlights of running your own business?
Not having to seek permission on whether to work or go and watch my daughter in activities at school, be it a netball match or a school play.
What is the hardest part of running your own business?
Making sure I meet my weekly targets and seeing 11 clients in a day.
What has been your biggest triumph so far?
Firstly, designing and creating my website with limited knowledge but learning as I went along. Secondly, taking over an existing client base and maintaining client retention.
What, or who, inspires and motivates you?
I take my inspiration from all walks of life – something I see on TV, someone’s story I read in a magazine, family and friends. There’s not one person in particular.
Fast forward five years, where do you think your business will be in 2017?
We’ll have an established SMaRT wellness programme with other therapists on board.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering making the transition from a professional career to entrepreneurship?
Follow your heart but don’t forget to take your brain with you!
Stephanie, is there anything else you’d like to share?
Be active, be healthy, be SMaRT with Gym & Tonic!
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Stephanie Douglas was interviewed by Octavia Goredema, founder of the Twenty Ten Club.
Do you have a question for Stephanie? If so, please feel free to post a comment below: