Training club expanding with support from Project Warwickshire
A training club in Warwick which is putting the region on the powerlifting map is adding to its strengths after seeing its membership rocket by 40 per cent – with help from SME support programme Project Warwickshire.
Barbell Training Complex, on Miller's Road, was set up by Pete Grove as a personal trainer in 2017, before extending its premises and adding a gym in 2020.
He got into fitness almost a decade ago when he weighed 18 stone, smoked, and had a chest infection.
Pete quit smoking, joined his local gym, and by the end of the year he lost seven stone – leading to him to be offered a job by his gym as a weight-loss coach, and eventually setting up his own business after moving onto weight training.
Barbell has seen membership increase from 185 people at the start of the financial year to 265 – and is on track to hit 300 members by the end of the year.
It now boasts top Team GB and Team Ireland athletes among its members and has become nationally recognised, being the only facility in Warwickshire to host powerlifting competitions.
On the back of its growing success, it has now launched its first ever classes to build its growing powerlifting community.
Pete has been helped to grow his business by Project Warwickshire – a free support programme set up by Warwickshire County Council to help companies in the wake of the pandemic.
Project Warwickshire was set up by Warwickshire County Council as part of the CW Business: Start, Grow and Scale programme and has been delivered by the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce.
Working with Chamber business supervisor Russell Grant, Pete was given one-to-one support and training to develop his skills in finance, social media, website management, and running a business.
Pete said: “There’s lots you don’t know about when you start a business, and I reached a point at the start of the year where I just needed some help to get my head around things.
“Russell could just look at it with a blank slate and was fantastic. Although it sounds simple, it is so nice to have somebody step back and say ‘have you tried this?’.
“I’m dyslexic so the financial side of the business has always been a bit more difficult, so Russell was a great help with that.
“We’ve come a long way since we started. We’ve tried to change our image on social media, and membership has really taken off to the point where we’ve had such demand we’ve expanded with these new classes.
“It’s great that we have a really strong following online now. If we walk into any powerlifting gym in the country, people know us.
“We host the Varsity powerlifting competition between the University of Warwick and Coventry University, British Powerlifting Union (BPU) and Amateur British Powerlifting Union (ABPU) competitions and our own too. We’re the only gym in Warwickshire doing this – so we’re just about bringing something new and a friendly space to get fit in.”
Support provided by Project Warwickshire is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Warwickshire County Council, and delivered by Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with Shakespeare’s England and Northern Warwickshire Tourism, on behalf of Warwickshire County Council.
Russell added: “Pete’s done a fantastic job at nurturing his own passion into a business, and one that has not only weathered a pandemic, but is now really taking off.
“He’s helping to put Warwickshire on the map for powerlifting and, not only that, he’s helping to introduce new people from all ages to build their strength and fitness. It’s fantastic to see and I’m really pleased I could help.”
Warwickshire County Council Portfolio Holder for Economy & Place, Cllr Martin Watson, said: “It is always wonderful to see a small business flourish and I am delighted that support from Project Warwickshire has helped Barbell to truly punch its weight.
“Project Warwickshire exists to give small business owners like Pete the specialist advice and expertise they need and I would urge anyone who is contemplating growing their business to get in touch and see how we can help.”
The newly-launched classes at Barbell include a beginner lifting class, functional class, high-intensity circuits, and mobility class.
Pictured: Pete Grove (left) with Russell Grant