Former army sergeant marches GI Fit into new premises

A former Army sergeant who set up her own personal fitness business last November has moved into new premises in Alloa to keep up with demand.

Dawn Gibson, who served as a tank mechanic for 12 years, took the decision to leave the armed forces in 2015 and during her year’s notice period gained her personal training (PT) qualifications.

On leaving, the 28-year-old and her partner, who still serves in the Army, set up home in Menstrie and found a small studio in Alloa where she based her business, GI Fit. 

As word of mouth brought more people onto her books, Dawn contacted Business Gateway Clackmannanshire for advice on finding and taking on her own unit. 

In June, GI Fit moved into a 500sq ft gym in Alloa Trade Centre providing more space and time to run PT sessions. New classes, including circuits, will also be launched over the summer in the unit to complement the Boot Camps Dawn already runs on the grounds near Dumyat Centre. 

She said: “I’d initially gone to Business Gateway when I first left the Army last July and was given help with business planning, HMRC and legal issues. I then got help in March from their IT expert. His advice allowed me to put in place an accounts system that I find easy to use. I was then put in touch with Ceteris who helped me secure my unit. It’s really exciting having a dedicated space all to myself. Previously I was sub-letting a studio and had to work around other classes, now I can dedicate myself 100% to providing PT and classes to suit my clients.”

Alison Davidson, Business Gateway, said: “Adjusting to life outside of the armed forces can be difficult, however, Dawn has set up a business that allows her to do the thing she loves best – exercise while helping others get fit. Although she undertook a range of business courses before leaving the Army, our help ensured she’d ticked all the legal and tax requirements before launching. Additional support this year has helped her become comfortable doing her own accounts while putting her in touch with Ceteris allowed her find a base where her business can grow further.”

Dawn’s first client came after another instructor on her PT course gave her name to a friend who lived in Alloa. From there happy clients of all fitness and experience levels have recommended her services to friends, family and colleagues, and social media has also helped attract men and women of all ages to her door. 

She said: “I’m really enjoying running my own business and helping my clients reach their goals. My own interest in fitness came from being an active child and being a boxer. When I left school at 16 I didn’t want a normal job so fell into joining the Army. I loved my time in the forces – the friendships you make, the fitness you achieve, and the travel. Since leaving it has felt strange at times, as I don’t have to answer to anyone apart from myself, and it sometimes feels like I am still on leave. But having the military background is a real advantage, it has made me more professional, determined and honest. It does take time to adjust to Civvy Street but running my own business and working with my clients is definitely making the transition easier.”

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