Foxley Kingham

Foxley Kingham Medical


Building a successful business during a pandemic

Gavin Denning, owner of GWD Performance, and fitness coaching expert opened a members’ gym right in the middle of lockdown, with incredible success. But what was it about Gavin’s approach that made his business so successful?

We spoke to Gavin, and Paul Bithrey, Director at Foxley Kingham, who has supported Gavin and GWD Performance with tax strategy and financial management throughout the pandemic and beyond.


“Gavin has ambition, vision and drive. He has created a terrific brand that speaks to people’s need for something, coming out of this pandemic. This isn’t a gym that’s about the drudgery of forcing yourself to train, GWD Performance is about health, enjoyment and socialising. It’s a welcoming place people want to go. The concept is perfect for the time we are in, and the financial model is right. Gavin has invested in his belief and put himself out there to establish himself as an authority in his field, including giving a talk at Anfield to 160 other gym owners.”

Gavin already had extensive experience as a trainer and fitness coach, with a degree in Sports Science, as well as a successful business providing corporate gym facilities and coaching to firms within the construction sector. We asked Gavin how his business evolved, and how he came to open a members’ gym in the middle of lockdown.


“I had been after my own gym premises for some time. We were sharing a facility and although that was fine, and the corporate training side of the business was going well, I really wanted my own gym. And I found the ideal place. Yes, the pandemic hit, and I had a moment of doubt, but I had what I wanted within reach and just couldn’t go back. I knew the risks, but I thought, ‘I’m going for this’ and took the plunge.”

Gavin’s vision for the gym has made it a particularly successful model, and quite unique in its offer to members. We asked him to tell us more.


“I wanted to offer something that no one else in the area does, a true community gym with personal, proactive coaching that goes above and beyond. The fees are higher than your average gym, but if you’re a member at our gym, you will get looked after even after you’ve walked out of the door; our accountability coaches will call to see how you’re getting on, they will be with you every step of the way, and you’ll have the chance to be involved in the community, with social events that help others. In the last two months alone, we’ve raised £12,000 for cancer charities, including the Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group. We want to welcome and help people and bring them closer to achieving their goals. Through this model, we can do that. We are not a gym with thousands of members who never even speak to a coach – we are the opposite of that.”

Apart from Gavin’s own personal qualities of drive and determination, as well as his obvious business development skills, we asked him, if there were any other factors he considered fundamental to GWD Performance’s success.


“I niched with the construction industry early on; when I saw what an opportunity there was in this sector to provide onsite corporate training. The networks I made here were, and are, invaluable. One particular contact helped me significantly with the physical building work and development of the premises, and I’m very grateful for that. And, of course, the support of other business specialists. Paul has helped me throughout the move, making sure we’re tax-efficient across the companies, as we have yoga and educational elements, and now a new massage treatment offer.”

And what would be Paul and Gavin’s advice to business owners, and potential business owners, when it comes to developing their own thriving business during challenging times?


“Have a good concept and the grit and dedication to seeing it through. And be very well-organised, with clear direction, and the right strategic advice when it comes to finance – you need to make sure income and tax are working to best effect.”


“I think that anyone thinking about moving their business on, whatever the circumstances, as long as they are passionate about their goal and put the work in, will be successful. It’s just like the gym: do the basics first and foremost, but put the hard work in, consistently, and you’ll see results.”