Andrew White has worked in the corporate world all his life, first for NatWest and then for O2, where he rose to the rank of corporate accounts manager.
Now 38, he has decided to make a dramatic career change, buying a health and fitness franchise.
Andrew opened an Attiva club, one of the UK’s fastest growing health and fitness franchises, in Andover four days ago, on Saturday. The former O2 manager and fitness enthusiast opened the doors to the gym with his wife Helen.
“After 20 years I wanted to go it alone and was eager to look at various business options,” says Andrew.
But it almost never happened. Andrew was just about leave the The National Franchise Expo in October 2006 disappointed with what he had seen, when he noticed the Attiva stand. After a one-hour consultation with the Attiva managing director Craig Farman, he became convinced by Attiva’s offer.
To prepare for the opening Andrew took Attiva’s six-week training course on business and operational management. The company considers itself a ‘gym-in-a-box’ business model, and has developed an intense training programme to prepare franchisees for success. The programme includes coursework in business management, accounting, marketing and promotion, health and safety, human resources, and equipment operation.
Andrew also participated in a job share at the Attiva club in Malvern that provided him with real-world experience. He has also just qualified as a level II fitness instructor.
I gave up a nice comfortable job and salary to make a leap of faith with a new business
Andrew White, Attiva Club franchisee
"Leap of faith"
Andrew says he found Attiva’s support extremely helpful, and that it helped allay fears of starting in business.
“I was uncertain about starting a business completely by myself,” he says.
“I gave up a nice comfortable job and salary to make a leap of faith with a new business, but I’ve been very pleased with Attiva.
“Unlike some franchise models where you are left alone, I’m receiving top-notch attention and expertise. I get on very well with Craig Farman [managing director] and Richard Noble [operations director] and I feel like they are my business partners.”
Attiva says it supports franchisees throughout the entire start-up process, from start to finish. Their support ranges from finding and kitting out premises, to helping secure a business loan to the recruitment and training of staff and beyond.
Andrew, it seems, is excited about his new life with Attiva.
“I was looking to do something that inspired me, something meaningful. Working in the health and fitness industry will let me make a real difference in people’s lives, which is very satisfying.”
“The Attiva model appeals to me because it is perfect for market towns like ours. We don’t have any affordable, appealing fitness facilities in Andover, and I’m thrilled to bring a high-quality health club to my hometown that will be accessible to all.”
“We see our relationship with Attiva as a progressive one, and aim to expand to two or three clubs in the future. ”
Attiva, which was established in 2003, aims to open gyms in market towns across the UK at an affordable price. The Attiva model carries a capacity for up to 7,000 sq ft of space and 1,200 members, with a minimum personal investment of £50,000.