Two former PE teachers have skipped over redundancy into a new business with the launch of Skip4fit at primary, middle and high schools through the North East – thanks to help from the North Tyneside Business Factory.
Linda Hall and Liz Belilios worked previously with schools and pupils to run a series of high energy skipping workshops for over eight years. However, as Covid-19 lockdowns closed down schools during the Spring of 2020, ongoing restrictions and uncertainty led to a change in direction that made their previous roles difficult to continue.
Liz Belilios, co-founder of Skip4fit commented: “The uncertainty around restrictions and how long they would last really made our position with our former employer unsustainable and so we were made redundant. As devastating as it was, we believe in skipping as a great form of exercise at any age as it really encourages solo skill development and group training in such a fun environment. We weren’t quite ready to give up our ropes so began looking at ways to launch our own skipping workshops on a self-employed basis, with the business run by both Linda and myself directly.
“It was a risky approach and having never run a business before, we had a lot to learn. However, when you are passionate about what you deliver, the rest really does just fall into place.”
Linda and Liz decided to launch Skip4fit earlier this year, taking the business of skipping for fitness to help schools enhance their PE Curriculum and bring the benefits of the unique exercise activity to new audiences.
Linda Hall, co-founder of Skip4fit continued: “As adults, we have fallen into the trap as seeing skipping as a play activity but it’s actually very challenging from an agility and stamina point of view and therefore offers wonderful benefits to children as a form of regular exercise. We’ve been lucky enough to start new Skip4fit workshops at schools including South Wellfield First School and St Bartholomew’s in North Tyneside and our list is growing as more schools welcome us into the playgrounds to run our high-energy and always fun skipping workshops.
“We offer one-off workshops currently alongside sustained blocks with different year groups but try to incorporate mix of individual and paired skipping as well as more group-centred activities. It’s wonderful for both myself and Liz to see the confidence of pupils grow during a session as it can be quite tiring but incredibly good fun. We have such a good time with the students as they’re always so enthusiastic to learn something new and improve on a skill they know, but in a different and more structured way.
“We enjoy it so much that we’re now also looking to offer skipping sessions for adults in small group sessions. We can’t let the children have all the fun!”
Linda and Liz worked with the North Tyneside Business Factory, the enterprise support programme from North Tyneside Council, which is supported by the ERDF and delivered by TEDCO Business Support. The programme offers one-to-one business advice and support to help new ventures in the Borough get up and running with access to free workshops, consultancy support and guidance.
Linda adds: “Thanks to the help from our business advisor, Paul Brown, we’ve had someone on hand at every stage that can provide the kind of mentoring support that really helped us focus on creating a fit-for-purpose business model. Liz and I enjoy our jobs so much that we’re just so glad we were able to continue offering our skipping workshops in a way that works for both ourselves and our customers.”
Paul Brown, business advisor with Tedco and the Business Factory comments: “Linda and Liz are quite a classic business story in many ways in that they had been doing the job for several years but never for themselves in a self-employed capacity. They knew how to deliver for their customer and what they wanted to achieve, they just needed the push to do it. Redundancy certainly gave them that final boost into self-employment. They have such a brilliant, unique business and their skipping workshops provide the prefect solution to schools looking to supplement physical activity and the PE curriculum with something fun as well as active. I wish them both the very best of luck in their future and look forward to continuing our working relationship.”