It was in 2002 that I finally took the plunge and quit my job as a fitness professional at a prestigious private members club in Surrey. I dreamt of running my own business and making a difference, a REAL difference, to children's lives. I still find it horrifying that so many children's health and well-being is being so poorly taken care of so I wanted to be part of the solution in helping kids learn to LOVE physical activity and exercise.
So I designed the first ActivKids fitness development programme in 2002 and launched it into local schools in Woking, Surrey, soon learning the essential ingredients of working with children on a day-to-day basis, i.e. how to deal with tantrums, arguments and the need for LOTS of patience!
Soon ActivKids needed to train more instructors to teach more of our classes, and we ventured into new areas: birthday parties and holiday camps. More and more local Surrey schools were using the ActivKids programme before, during and after school, and this resulted in other industries being interested in what we were doing.
ActivKids was approached by leisure centres, independent fitness clubs and national fitness chains. We worked with a number and trained staff to deliver the programme.
All the time, I was introducing new games, activities and drills, designing more age specific programmes and trying to answer my big question….. "How can we get more children active?"
2005 saw ActivKids launch a franchise model. This was an obvious and frequently recommended way of helping more children experience the ActivKids programmes. This also introduced me into a new role: supporting new coaches to star and run a small business. The first two years was an intriguing journey of ups and downs, learning the pitfalls of running a franchise and trying to find 'the one', i.e. the right person, for the right role, in the right place. Thankfully I had one of the best mentors who helped me on this path and who I still owe a great debt of gratitude (Thanks Jeremy!)
2007 saw our first award from the Professional Development Board at AfPE. ActivKids has since gone on to successfully achieve this recognition on a further two occasions.
In 2008 I stopped recruiting franchisees and focused on supporting the ones we had, as well as working with a large national fitness supplier.
In late 2009 early 2010 I started the development of the ActivKids Tots programme, aimed at children aged between 18 months and 4 years. This new programme unsurprisingly coincided with the birth of my third son, which I guess prompted me to realise that together with my other two sons (aged 4 and 2 years at the time) I could handle working with younger children.
Our Tots programme proved to be a great success and I designed a whole library of lesson plans, each linked to a popular children's story. The demand for pre-school fitness was massive in children's centres and nurseries across the country so the 'Introduction to ActivTots training workshop' was born. To date, over 200 children's centres and nurseries have trained over 500 members of staff or volunteers to learn how to inspire pre-school children, and their families' to get fit using the ActivKids Tots programme!
2013 saw a re-vamp of the ActivKids franchise package, together with the formation of ActivKids (Franchise) Limited and new partners to re-start the franchise model and extend the support of our existing franchise network. ActivKids (Franchise) Limited also started an employability programme with FE colleges in Kent, which has seen 17 students trained at two colleges to deliver the ActivKids programme. This has allowed ActivKids to inspire over 600 more children to be more active in another area of the country.
So now, ActivKids inspires around 5000 children each week with classes delivered by franchisees in Essex, Kent, Surrey, Hampshire, Buckinghamshire and London. We also have children inspired by ActivKids programmes in children's centres and nurseries dotted throughout England.
But we need to do more!
That is why we are looking at new partnerships and better ways to train adults to teach ActivKids classes. The new ActivKids Training Academy and online training is an important step, as well as our new licensing package, franchise model and partnership work. The ActivKids Ambassador programme delivered through ActivKids (Franchise) Limited will also allow independent coaches to teach the range of ActivKids programmes.
It has been a fantastic journey, and I am still on it, learning all the time how to inspire more people to be involved with children's fitness. Now is the perfect time to be involved with ActivKids so contact us today to find out how we can help you.
All of our programmes focus on developing children's fundamental movement skills (such as locomotor, object control and stability skills) through non-sport specific play, active games and recognised exercise.
"My daughter Milly has scoliosis. Her motor skills were poor but by attending ActivKids they have really improved. She enjoyed all the games and can't wait for the next course."
"My son thoroughly enjoyed it all. The team were very professional, very kind and excellent with the kids. I'll be spreading the word about ActivKids!"