Sarah Cowburn, Bodeeworx

Sarah Cowburn, founder of Bodeeworx, is timing another woman in plank position

In a nutshell

  • Founder: Sarah Cowburn
  • Organisation: Bodeeworx brings mobile and bespoke health and fitness classes to rural communities, inspiring and encouraging people with all levels of fitness to get involved and get fit.
  • SSE programme: Lloyds Bank Social Entrepreneurs Start Up Programme 2015-16
  • Business model: A 60/40 split of revenue to grant-funded respectively, with a view to increase revenue and decrease grant-funding in 2018.
  • SSE school: Cornwall
  • Regions: Cornwall

The beginning

Sarah Cowburn was running alongside the Olympic Torch when it happened. “It was my 39th birthday and the London 2012 Olympics,” recalls Sarah, who worked for the local council at the time. “The relay was going right past my house but I couldn’t keep up – I was completely out of breath!”

It was the wake-up call she needed. The former county netball player joined her local gym, got back into shape and spent her evenings training to become a fitness instructor. “My health improved and people noticed, so I was asked to put on a couple of fitness sessions in my local village hall. I started with circuit training and kettle bells.”

A group of people doing various exercises as part of a Bodeeworx session

The programme

A couple of years later Sarah joined the Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland Social Entrepreneurs Start Up Programme with Bodeeworx, the limited company she’d set up to run the fitness classes in her spare time.

Once on the course, she set about changing Bodeeworx to a community interest company (a common legal structure for social enterprises), having been ill advised about company structures beforehand.

“The Start Up course confirmed what I wanted to do with the business,” says Sarah, who still worked for the council and has a business management degree. “It opened my eyes to possible new ways to do business and new income streams. It gave me more confidence and confirmed I was doing the right thing. I don’t think I would have achieved CIC status without doing it.”

“It opened my eyes to possible new ways to do business and new income streams. It gave me more confidence and confirmed I was doing the right thing.”

Sarah found the interactions with her peers equally transformative. “Meeting people from different backgrounds, who had travelled the world – the conversations I had with them, it was so thought-provoking. It helped me challenge the way I do things.”

A group of people stretching as part of a Bodeeworx session

The impact

Sarah now works full time as a fitness instructor for Bodeeworx, delivering bespoke sessions one-to-one with clients, in village halls and within specialist community organisations. Classes are subsidised and kept as inclusive as possible, to ensure that people from all backgrounds and with all levels of fitness are given opportunities to improve their health.

“With Bodeeworx volunteers, we organise community walks, jogs and runs too, as well as the classes,” says Sarah. “I love what I do and want to help people turn their lives around like I have – I’m running ultra-marathons now!”

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