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Fitness business owner offers start-up advice

Students Lee Moore, James Appleby, Garry Cooperwaite and David Stephenson with Gavin Cogdon (centre)

An accomplished Wearside entrepreneur and footballer whose sports companies are going from strength to strength has shared his business expertise with Sunderland College students.

Gavin Cogdon owns successful fitness training ventures CrossFit Tailored Training and Unique Performance Coaching, and has just launched Movement Academy, a football strength and conditioning programme for youngsters.

And his achievements don’t stop there. The 33-year-old also plays for South Shields FC who have just won promotion to the Evo-Stik League after being crowned Northern League champions, and he will be heading to Wembley with his team this month for the FA Vase final.

Gavin, who used to study at Sunderland College, returned to Bede Campus to deliver a motivational talk to BTEC sport, fitness instructor, personal trainer and higher education sports students, who are interested in setting up their own companies.

The dad-of-two, who works full-time as a physical activity programme coordinator for people with long-term health conditions, admits he has become a master at juggling priorities and is keen to speak to aspiring entrepreneurs about the reality of running a business.

He said: “It’s a very rewarding experience but I think a lot of people at the outset don’t realise how much hard work it can be. You’ve got to love what you do otherwise you won’t have the motivation and commitment to see it through.

“We all make mistakes and have to sacrifice certain things, and I think that’s what separates the dreamers from the people who go out and make it work – I’m still learning from my mistakes, and I think it’s important that people understand the challenges of owning a business, and how you can turn a mistake into a success story.”

Since launching Washington-based CrossFit Tailored Training three years ago with business partners Michael Williamson, an ex-Sunderland College student, and John Lee Lydon the company has tripled its membership and moved into bigger premises to meet demand.

Building on this success, Gavin and his friend Ian Watson launched Unique Performance Coaching (UPC) in 2016, a business designed initially to educate elite sportspeople about the importance of strength and conditioning as part of a training programme. It now has a range of clients attending using the UPC tagline ‘train like an athlete’.

The company trains professional boxers, athletes, MMA fighters and semi-professional footballers, and is set for expansion – via the launch of Movement Academy – as it aims to target the younger market.

Gavin, from Wear View, spoke to Sunderland College students about his businesses and offered a range of advice, covering areas such as marketing, business development, unique selling points and gaining experience.

He added: “I really enjoyed speaking with the students and I hope it was beneficial to them. When I studied at the college I was given lots of encouragement and support, so it was nice to give something back and help the students decide what they want to do after they leave the college.”

John Rushworth, Faculty Director (Sport, Health and Wellbeing), said: “It was fantastic to welcome Gavin back to Sunderland College to share with learners what he has achieved from the skills, knowledge and experience he gained from the courses he studied with us.  His achievements to date are a testament to his passion for the exercise and fitness Industry, and I’m sure our sports students have been inspired by his journey.”

Sunderland College teaches a range of courses from its purpose-built Sports Academy, including qualifications in Level 2 fitness instructing, level 3 in personal training, level 3 in combined fitness instructing and personal training, and Level 1 to 5 sport courses.

For more information about sports courses at Sunderland College, call 0191 5116000, email or click here.

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