First Step Fitness
Davey Hoops, First Step Group's founder and managing director, with Andrew Skelton, director at SOS Group.
Rebecca Wayman

Tyneside entrepreneur smashes poor mental health with new fitness venture creating regional jobs

A young North Tyneside entrepreneur has coupled his passion for physical activity with his experience of managing depression through building his own health and wellbeing business.

Davey Hoops opened the First Step Health Fitness and Wellbeing Centre in April this year, as a way of making a positive impact on people with social anxiety issues, eating disorders or mental health issues in the region.

Six new jobs have now been created at the centre on the North Tyne Industrial Estate near Holystone, which offers quality gym equipment, classes and personal training, all with an emphasis on building confidence in a supportive environment.

Over 40 members have been recruited in the centre’s first three months, a figure which Davey is hoping will reach three figures within the next six months.

Davey is now planning to expand the concept to other locations around the region, and eventually further afield.

The business is being supported with technology and digital equipment provided by Team Valley-based copy, print and scan management company SOS Group, which works with sports and fitness industry clients.

28-year-old Davey, who is from Morpeth, was diagnosed with depression in 2017 and ended up putting on around 70 pounds in weight in just eight months as a result.

He said: “I was sad, lethargic and had no direction in life after my diagnosis, and used food to comfort myself, but within six months of improving my physical activity levels and diet, I managed to lose all the weight I’d put on.

“[Then, I] started First Step and regained a real purpose and happiness in my life. The role of being physically active is so important when developing physical attributes such as losing body fat, developing muscle mass or increasing fitness.

“Being more active can reduce stress, depression and anxiety while increasing confidence and self-esteem, and being able to apply my own knowledge has helped us get the business up and running quickly.

SOS Group also works with selected new businesses to supply a multifunction device, which provides combines printer, scanner and copier capabilities, via a simplified contract and providing all servicing and technical support.

Andrew Skelton, director at SOS Group, concluded: “We’ve always enjoyed working with new companies and helping them flourish, whatever size they are, and see supporting startup with strong growth potential for as an investment in our future as well as theirs.

“Essentially, for these new clients, this means no capital expenditure or personal guarantees required and ensures they have the most energy and cost-efficient technology to keep their business up-to-date.

“Davey and his team are making excellent use of the technologies we provide and it’s giving them a firm base from which to safely and securely build their operations.”

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