Luke at the 2019 Shaping Portsmouth Conference

On Friday 18th January, I had the privilege of speaking at the 2019 Shaping Portsmouth Conference held at Portsmouth Guildhall. A huge thank you Stef for the opportunity and to everybody present for the kind reception. Here’s a transcript of my first experience of public speaking (groom and best-man aside!)

“Thank you for the introduction. Good morning to you all. I invited World Champion Para-Triathlete Lauren Steadman to join me this morning. She was looking forward to attending but following her successful stint on Strictly had other obligations. Sadly, the Strictly Tour trumped us. And so you’re stuck with me.

The Fitness Festival exists with the sole purpose of inspiring and celebrating active and healthy lifestyles. We are extremely proud to call Lauren an Ambassador and we’ll hear from her shortly.

Last year saw a career highlight. I made OK! magazine.

 In all seriousness, it was quite something as we were named in the top 5 Fitness Festivals to attend in 2018 alongside Balance, Be:Fit, and Virgin’s Festival of Sport.

It was quite something simply because our event, our one-of-a-kind event is and always will be free to attend. It just doesn’t make sense with our primary goal in mind, to create another barrier to exercise by charging an admission fee.

Portsmouth’s Tackling Poverty Strategy, 2015 -2020 informs us that: “In one ward over 40% of children are living in poverty” It also states that: “Poverty is one of the key determinants of life expectancy and health outcomes more generally.”

I had the idea of the Fitness Festival back in 2014 whilst having a Rocky Balboa moment at the top of the Castle Field steps. Having just launched Sweat Southsea, and knowing that our primary services of 1-1 personal training, sports injury rehab and bespoke fitness classes were unaffordable for many, And knowing that our city, as wonderful as it is, has some serious issues around poverty and health, we felt that we had to do something positive. I had been to many fitness events. Most, even those calling themselves Festivals fell into the category of Expo’s or were Sports Days with pre-arranged, competitive sports. What’s different about The Fitness Festival, aside from that it is free to attend, is that it is genuinely designed for everyone. We believe that there is a sport or activity for everyone. Our event is family-friendly and we try to incorporate as many sports and activities as possible.

Badminton – Boxing – Tennis – Archery – Football – Volleyball – Netball – Table-tennis – Triathlon – Running/Athletics – Cycling – Swimming – Dance – Sailing – Wakeboarding – Paddle-boarding – American Football – Capoeira – Trampolining – Yoga – Pilates – HIIT – TRX – Bootcamps – Crossfit – Buggy Fitness – the list goes on!

2019 will be our fifth year. In 2018 we welcomed over 4,000 people, around ten times our Year 1 footfall. 2018’s event saw a wide range of organisations join us including global brands TRX and Powerplate to many local businesses and organisations including Portsmouth Cathedral, RNLI and Good Gym.

 Our 2019 event takes place on Saturday 1st June and is already shaping up to be our biggest yet. So you’ve heard why we created the event. We asked our Ambassador Lauren to talk a little about why she got involved.

Opportunity runs through our company’s DNA. My wife and business partner Tina and I both left behind successful careers fed up of feeling like numbers.

We try to create as many opportunities as possible and to adopt a can-do attitude.

Opportunities for our clients at Sweat who can pay-as-they-go, pay weekly, monthly or even annually. Many of our loyal clients report that Sweat doesn’t feel like a gym. Many haven’t felt comfortable in or even been to gyms but love Sweat with its focus on 1-1 services and classes capped at just 10 participants.

No mirrors, no egos, no intimidation.

Opportunities for our team. Our freelancers enjoy a private and unique space in which to build their businesses and we’ve created employment opportunities. Two of our employed members of the team were discovered with the help of the University of Portsmouth’s Department of Employability and these students, Carla and Eva are excelling in their roles whilst gaining valuable experience.

We see the Fitness Festival as a huge opportunity. We’ve met amazing, inspirational people and created partnerships we wouldn’t have otherwise. We’ve helped get many more people active and engaged in physical activity than we would have been able to without the Festival.

We believe that we are creating a platform from which we can help Portsmouth be one of the healthiest and most active places in the UK. Of course, that doesn’t happen overnight and there are considerable social and economic issues. But as the Festival grows, we are able to commit more resources to community projects and ensuring a year-round positive impact, not just for our collaborators but for our community.

We facilitate the Fitness Festival. Our sponsors, partners, collaborators, exhibitors and visitors make it.

Today was an opportunity to convey that message and to invite you all to contribute towards making Portsmouth a healthy and active city. Literally Shaping Portsmouth.

So please do share any ideas, introduce yourselves and make introductions, volunteer on the day, share our posts, sign up to our newsletter and of course, visit on the day. 

Thank you.”