A FORMER teacher turned fitness instructor clinched the New Business of the Year title after setting up York's only city centre personal training studio.

Podfit was launched in Market Street, above the former Early Learning Centre, in April last year, after months of planning by founder Neil Owens.

The studio offers three separate personal training zones, each with its only equipment, and is already expecting to outgrow its current premises by the end of next year.

Mr Owens impressed the judges with his passion for the individuals his business works with. They described him as having the foresight to concentrate on working on his business and not just in it, having sought development help and advice from many sources to ensure his business is the best it can be.

Mr Owens said: “It was very clear from the outset that was a sizeable gap in the market. There are no private personal training studios in the city centre and only a few within the York district.

“Personal Training sometimes gets a bad reputation, and I understand why. Gym personal trainers are poorly paid, disaffected and take little or no notice of client goals. We are different for many reasons.

“The first comes down to careful staff selection. As an ex-teacher, I would undergo full day interviews, with a lesson delivery, lunch at the school and a tough interview process. I have followed these protocols in hiring all training staff.

“Furthermore, we went to local universities to advertise for new staff and our latest female recruit was a graduate.

“We look for that extra bit of dedication.”

The judges said: "Mr Owens is not just passionate about fitness, he’s passionate about nutrition, psychology, growth for customers and his business, the use of technology and looking after his staff, all of which makes him a worthy winner."

As a lower back specialist, and with an exercise referral qualification, Mr Owens is putting senior staff through additional training to ensure they can work with clients with a range of conditions from diabetes to obesity and from arthritis to people with high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

Judges in the New Business category also gave special mention to finalist The Yorkshire Wagu Company.