If you’ve often wondered how other people structure their freelancing lives and what on earth got them into running their own business in the first place, you are in the right place for a good old snoop.
This Friday, Sarah Matthews, founder of Primal Performance talks to Stir Up Media about her passion for fitness and being self-employed from the age of 19…
So, first of all, give us a mini bio and tell us something we won’t know about you!
Right ok, where to start… I think determined should have been my middle name haha! I have always been driven and passionate about sport, health and nutrition. I started coaching gymnastics aged 15 and I knew from that age that I wanted to do what I loved as a career. I became self-employed at 19 and have been building my business ever since. As a freelance Personal Trainer and Nutritional Advisor I help people to organise their lifestyles and achieve the results they may never have been able to reach before through healthy structured nutrition and good quality, well programmed exercise. I believe that building health sets the foundation of every fitness goal and the amazing results I see with clients reflects this. I love to exercise – my training over the years has included ballet, acrobatics, gymnastics, athletics, weightlifting, obstacle races and yoga. Life is not about where you go but how you get there so look after yourself and enjoy it!!
I set up the company Primal Performance with my boyfriend Bryn just 1 year ago. We wanted to combine our skills and join forces as a team. With my Personal Training, Nutrition and Sports Massage and Bryn’s Athletics and Sports Performance Coaching we have developed a natural business partnership. We are looking forward to opening our first training facility next year and believe that our combined experience and knowledge will create an inspired atmosphere for athletes and non athletes to achieve the best results possible.
Did you launch straight into your business idea or did you spend time planning, training or even worrying before you got kicking?
We have worked together for a few years now – I’m the strength and conditioning coaching for Bryn’s athletes so we knew we could work well together and make a pretty good team. Our business ideas are ever evolving. Every week we have new exciting plans and thoughts!! Between the two of us though Bryn is the ideas man, I’m the planner and organiser and he’s also the sensible one. We balance each other very well as he holds me back from launching into ideas until we’re really ready. As for training, I learn new things every day. I am constantly reading and developing my education and I learn so much from my clients as well. I will never stop learning.
Tell us about your typical working day – Are you an early bird or do you tend to work throughout the night?
I have learnt to be very adaptable as every day is different. I can start work at 7am and not finish until 9pm some days and still have work to do when I get home. Other days I may only have 2 or 3 clients so I just go with the flow really. I’m definitely more focused at night, I prefer to ease in to my day with a nice big healthy breakfast listening to music and drinking green tea.
Probably switching off and giving myself time to rest! I love what I do but my brain never stops planning and thinking about work. I do manage this by going to yoga regularly which really relaxes me. Another challenge is saying no. I’m definitely a yes person and I’ve been guilty in the past of taking on way too much work. A 40-hour working week would feel like a part time job to me now.
And what’s the best element of being your own boss?
Oh, definitely having the freedom to be in control of my own routine – I can literally shape my business to suit me. I can travel, plan fitness holidays, go on courses anywhere in the world. I can challenge myself in so many ways. The sky is the limit and I love the independence.
How do you manage a good work/life balance (or do you struggle with this at all)?
It definitely isn’t easy sometimes. I work long days with early starts and late finishes and it can sometimes become pretty tiring both physically and mentally. I always take Sundays off and I plan fun things to do with friends and family whenever I can. I definitely need to work on this balance a bit more though.
Where do you work from and do you co-work at all?
When I’m not coaching clients I love to work at the Regus Business lounges and in coffee shops. I love to be around people so I struggle to work at home. I’m pretty adaptable though and seem to work in a different place every day!
Do you allow yourself a regular break for coffee, exercise or lunch?
I do a lot of meal prep the night before so that I’m organised no matter where I am. I plan my exercise for the week on a Sunday so I know I’ll fit it in each week. I train at the gym between clients and have an unlimited membership at Camyoga so I can go at different times each week. I do try and keep myself refreshed and fueled throughout the day. Food and exercise are obviously pretty important to me so they are highly prioritised!!
Are there any apps/tools/gadgets/people that you just couldn’t work without?
I’m actually really old school and love my pen and notepad! I write to-do lists every day and hand write all my work before typing it out, I tend to think as I write. My Iphone never leaves my side however and am a bit of an Apple addict. People wise – Bryn is amazing, we really do make such a great team. I feel very lucky to have so many great people in my life, I have huge support from friends, family and clients and I find that motivating in itself.
We would love to hear your thoughts on “networking” – do you go to any regular events or meet ups to meet other freelancers?
I am a member of the Cambridge Alternative Network (CAN). We meet every other Wednesday for a breakfast meeting and I love it. I have made some fantastic contacts, gained lots of business and really enjoy the structured yet relaxed atmosphere of the group despite the 5am alarm! I occasionally attend drop-in meetings at other networks and it’s one of my goals for the next few years to get involved with a few more groups. I have developed my client base mainly through face-to-face networking and client referrals so it really works for me.
What essential advice would you give to anyone thinking of becoming a freelancer?
Do what you love. Focus on doing the best job you can at the thing that you love the most. Work hard, there is no shortcut to success but if you really believe in yourself then other people will believe in you too. In reality though, you really do have to be constantly organized and self motivated. You will have crazy busy weeks and some quiet weeks. It took me 5 years of building up my own business whilst working for other people before I had enough business to go at it completely alone. Totally worth it though, I wouldn’t change a thing!
Anything else you would like to add or share?
Yes!! I really like this quote from every point of view – “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing” – Walt Disney. I look forward to inviting everyone who reads this to the opening of our gym when its here – we have an exciting time ahead.
Personal Trainer, Sports Massage Therapist and Nutrition coach at Primal Performance.
Thanks so much Sarah for taking part in our Freelancer Friday series, if you would like to put yourself (or somebody else worthy of being featured) forward, let’s talk!
Images – Primal Performance