Susie Black is a personal trainer and Pilates instructor based in Coupar Angus.
As well as Pilates she also teaches aerobics and circuit training and runs training classes
for small groups. She is also developing a property portfolio in the holiday rental market.
Susie started working in the fitness industry after two pregnancies left her with chronic back pain and she was told that the only way to avoid a life of constant back ‘incidents’ was to become as strong as she could.
Knowing that a desk job would be too painful and the only thing that relieved her back was regular exercise, she signed up to a three-month course to learn how to teach aerobics classes.
Susie explains: “Fortunately, since then I have had very successful surgery which has removed most of the pain but the whole experience has taught me the positive impact exercise can have on injury control.
“Equally, understanding how barriers like pain, ill health and weight gain can prevent people from taking the steps they need to improve their health has guided me to working predominantly with clients who really struggle to exercise and need mental support as much as programming.
“I like to help clients find their deep-rooted wants because that's what drives positive change. My best clients are those people who are fed up of failing. Working together we break down the obstacles to better health and discover long term solutions.”
The enterprise journey
Susie studies constantly and applies everything she learns to clients. Initially she spent a lot of time working with small groups and individuals to gain feedback about the training programs she was choosing and to understand peoples' motivations to stick to their exercise and eating plans.
She says: “I learned very early that without 'buy-in' from a client it is near impossible to help them achieve their goals. Many people hope that a once-a-week session will bring them the results they seek but if they don't follow the plan they'll be disappointed. I want to make sure that my clients' expectations fit their efforts and that they have the emotional strength to adhere to my plans for them.”
Her own personal development was fitted in around her responsibilities as a stay-at-home mum.
Susie explains: “I relied heavily on online training courses to increase my knowledge while still being at home. I have also worked – and continue to do so - alongside many other personal trainers and instructors to share experience.”
Early on in her enterprise journey, Susie worked part-time for Live Active Leisure in Blairgowrie who she describes as being “very generous employers” who helped her gain several rehabilitation qualifications and gave her the opportunity to use those skills within their exercise referral program.
Having first heard about community-based enterprise support organisation GrowBiz over ten years ago, Susie says that it is only recently that she has taken more advantage of the services it provides.
She says: “It took me a while to find my business footing and I didn't use GrowBiz properly at all for years. Now I love my relationship with the GrowBiz team and use them as my personal business Google search. If I have a question, I fire it off to them and soak up the experience and help that returns.
“I particularly like that many GrowBiz enterprise facilitators are also business owners themselves which means they understand my perspective better than someone who is fully salaried.
“GrowBiz understands the ebb and flow of business in rural areas and seeks to individualise their support accordingly. In addition, it's a warm and friendly community to be part of and I enjoy their many events.”
Looking to the future
Key to Susie’s motivation is helping people change their mindset about their health.
She says: “I want to inspire people to make positive, healthy changes to their lives. Up to 70% of the conditions we experience as we age are lifestyle-related and can be avoided. I want to encourage people to respect and care for their health and enjoy the benefits that brings.”
An interest in property some years ago led to Susie buying a holiday rental apartment which she manages with the help of a concierge.
Since the first purchase, she has bought subsequent property and plans to build her portfolio over the next few years.
As she points out: “When you're self-employed it's easy to forget about the future but retirement income will be vital for someone like me who has a physical job. Helping guests have their best holiday is a great feeling and knowing this will give me financial security is a bonus.”