Leon Dicks had always wanted to turn his passion for fitness and wellbeing into a business….and Lockdown gave him the impetus to do just that.

Leon, of Port Talbot, decided to put a positive spin on the difficulties, and gave up his retail career to launch Advance Personal Training.

The new online business received a £500 Business Support Grant administered by Tata Steel subsidiary UKSE and Neath and Port Talbot County Borough Council, which he used to buy essential IT equipment to communicate with his customers.

The business offers a range of bespoke ten-week coaching programmes to help clients improve fitness, as well as one-off training sessions.

When Lockdown ends and gyms reopen, Leon will be offering one-to-one training sessions as well as online.

In a world where there are seemingly endless options for personal training, Leon’s aim is to help people get on the right path from the outset. “I strive to set people on the correct path to training and to save them the headaches of researching countless training programmes and fads, and what rip-off supplements to avoid.”

He is writing an eBook Turning Notion Into Motion which explains his training and nutrition philosophy. He describes it as “The definitive beginners guide to training and nutrition” and it is aimed at beginners wanting to learn their options for training.

Its main mission, he says, is to explain to people the accurate real-world information and knowledge on training pathways, nutrition and many other essential topics that beginners need.

Leon qualified with the National Academy of Sports Medicine in America, through their British provider Premier Global and holds a Diploma in Personal Training  Level 3, is a Certified Nutrition Specialist Level 4 and is also a Certified Performance Enhancement Specialist. He has also taken part in Powerlifting competitions.

He says it is important to distinguish between ‘exercising’ and ‘training.’ Some exercise classes are, he feels, made purposefully difficult to tire the participants and create an illusion of underlying benefits. Training, though, should be planned and structured, and leading to clear goals.

Since the launch of the business at the end of last year the client list has continued to grow and the future looks promising. “I am getting many new clients, mainly within a twenty-mile radius,” said Leon.

“I offer free initial consultations so that people can get a taste of the service. Communication is very important as clients go through the programme and I offer a high level of support and encouragement to help them achieve their goals.”

UKSE Manager in Wales, Glyn Thomas, said he was delighted to have worked with Neath and Port Talbot Council to support the new service. “The grant scheme is part of our Community Support Progamme which has helped launch many new enterprises in the Neath and Port Talbot area. It is encouraging to see entrepreneurs such as Leon adapting to the difficult circumstances of the last 12 months, and confidently launching his new venture.”

Sian Wyndham, Neath and Port Talbot Council’s New Business Support and Development Mentor, said: “By working in partnership with UKSE, the council’s Economic Development Team is able to provide much needed financial support and start-up advice to new and existing businesses across a wide range of sectors to help them to prosper and grow.

“We were delighted to be able to assist Leon to launch his online training business and urge other businesses needing support to get in touch. We wish Leon all the very best with the future development of his business during these challenging times.”