After getting married and welcoming their son Austin to the family, Kate and Wayne made the move back to Plymouth. Kate explains that owning a gym had always been a pipedream of hers, but after the couple came into an unexpected windfall- that dream was soon put into action.
“The initial aim was for a lifestyle business; I would buy a few pieces of equipment and hire out a hall for a few days a week. I absolutely loved my job in London, and that was the inspiration behind starting up a gym for babies and children down here in Plymouth”.
In 2011, Kate started up Gym Bubbas and was based out of a hall at The Devonshire for a few days a week. Building on her experience in London, Kate got stuck in creating dynamic and unique lesson plans for her gymnastics classes.
“I knew what I wanted to do and how I should do it. I absolutely loved the lesson planning side of the business and it came naturally to me. The side that I didn’t quite know was how to market myself- how to create a brand around what I was offering and that was where Wayne came in!”
For Wayne, this was a whole new way of life. Originally a high-flying estate agent in London, he gave it all up to help Kate build her business, holding a partner role but soon becoming a fully-fledged gymnastics teacher and instructor.
Wayne thinks big. He always pushed the business to be bigger and better and he always had this vision right from the start of where it could be, where it could go.
Within a year of being at The Devonshire, Kate acquired a loyal clientele of over 100 children through organic growth and word of mouth.
“Looking back at this time period- it was absolutely mad. We were both up at 6am every day to get our parking space, we would do some marketing for a few hours, unload the equipment from the back of the van and I would then teach classes all day. Wayne would meet me and we would load the van back up- if it was raining we would wipe down all the equipment, ready to do it all again tomorrow!”
This hard work certainly paid off, as Gym Bubbas soon grew to over 250 clients- reaching capacity for the hired space at Morgan’s. Kate and Wayne took a leap of faith and decided to make the move to their current premises, a purpose built gym at Drake Mill Business Park. “The whole concept was thought up in our two up two down house in Ivybridge- we just decided to go for it!”
The couple put everything they had into getting the space ready for their opening day in September 2013 and the rest as they say is history.
Gym Bubbas offer fun and interactive gymnastic classes designed to help develop physical, social, emotional and cognitive abilities in young children.
Each of the seven classes, which are split according to age, see highly-trained instructors use a variety of individual and group activities to develop flexibility, strength, balance and coordination, which Kate says is vital at a young age.
Starting from as young as 4 months- the classes encourage parent participation until 3 years, where toddlers are allowed to take part in the activities in instructor led classes. Kate and Wayne both stress the importance of having fun at Gym Bubbas- whilst learning valuable life skills such as listening to instructions and understanding how to take turns.
Both Wayne and Kate have the core qualifications needed to teach the gymnastics classes- and love every second. “We currently have a tight knit team of 12 instructors- we are like one big family! Everybody here loves what they do and they’re all so great with the kids- you can’t teach that”.
The most rewarding aspect for all of us is that it is not a competitive environment at all; each child is encouraged to move at their own pace. One small achievement for one child may be huge for another and we love to celebrate every little milestone
Often, the couple see children develop throughout the years that they teach and remember when they were first learning to walk; now they see them flourish into completing routines on the bar and doing their first handstands and cartwheels.
Perhaps what sets Gym Bubbas one step ahead is the genuine passion for what they do- and wanting each and every child to absolutely love their time in the gym. Kate explains that they don’t want their clients to feel like they are just a number- and go the extra mile to remember the small details.
“We have the same instructors teaching the same class each week, so this really helps the children build a meaningful relationship. We also put particular emphasis on remembering the small details in their personal lives that really make a difference; asking how mums holiday went, asking how granddad is after his operation; showing genuine interest outside of Gym Bubbas is crucial for us”.
Looking to the future, exciting plans are already underway for this busy local business, as they have recently acquired a second purpose built gym in Match Mill- Plympton. Kate explains that they have very quickly hit capacity where they are based now- so the need was there to expand.
Our second purpose built gym is due to open at Match Mill in Plympton in January. We are very excited for this to progress and we are on the lookout for dedicated and enthusiastic staff members to take on the Gym Bubbas ethos
Since the company’s inception in 2011, it’s fair to say that Kate and Wayne haven’t really stopped. Working 60, sometimes 80 hour weeks to get the dream up and running- Kate tells us that only now do they feel like they can apply the brakes a little.
“We will never take a back seat because it’s not in our nature. It’s certainly been a whirlwind to get to where we are today and we are both extremely proud of what we have achieved. The business has grown substantially and there are a number of different avenues we could explore for future growth- who knows what the future may bring!”
Gym Bubbas offer classes from 4 months to 11 years, and offer a free initial trial to see if it’s for you. They also offer hassle-free party packages for children aged 1-10 years. Children can join at any point during the term, so get in contact with a member of the team to find out more.