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Owner of Heavenly Fitness in Tovil, celebrates 10 years after initially spending £50,000 and using 25 credit cards to transform fitness studio


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A fitness studio owner in Kent is celebrating 10 years of being open, after she nearly risked financial collapse when starting.

Jane Salida, who runs Heavenly Fitness in Tovil, reflected on how she had to take out 25 credit cards to be able to achieve her dream.

Jane Salida, a fitness studio owner from Maidstone, reflects on how she first started her business. Picture: Jane Salida
Jane Salida, a fitness studio owner from Maidstone, reflects on how she first started her business. Picture: Jane Salida

The 55-year-old says that in 2012, Maidstone Leisure Centre made her redundant from her managing post.

She said: "I worked there for about 13 years, I was so upset and had no clue it was coming - they gave me no warning.

"I loved working there and it was a real shock. I'm still a bit bemused by it all.

"However, it was definitely the kick up the bum I needed to take the step, to get my own place and do it how I wanted to do it.

"The dream has always been to open my own studio, but being a single mum of four at the time, I just didn't think it was possible."

The studio initially didn't have any plumbing or electrics fitted. Picture: Jane Salida
The studio initially didn't have any plumbing or electrics fitted. Picture: Jane Salida
Before renovations at the studio. Picture: Jane Salida
Before renovations at the studio. Picture: Jane Salida

Jane was inspired after taking part in first ever UK teacher training for aerial yoga, and was desperate to bring the fun exercise to Kent.

She added: "Before that I would teach body balance, aerobics, pilates etc. Just by chance I came across aerial yoga on the internet, and never seen anything like it before.

"It was called anti-gravity at the time, and I had to drive to Godalming in Surrey, to complete the course."

Aerial yoga uses a low-hanging, wide aerial sling, which allows you to move and achieve traditional yoga poses in a more relaxed way.

With no background or training in business, Jane began to research potential buildings to host her new idea.

The studio after more than £50,000 in renovations. Picture: Jane Salida
The studio after more than £50,000 in renovations. Picture: Jane Salida
Aerial yoga uses a sling or hammock, to achieve poses with more ease. Picture: Jane Salida
Aerial yoga uses a sling or hammock, to achieve poses with more ease. Picture: Jane Salida

She said: "I saw lots of units in and around Maidstone, but so many of them cost around £20,000 or more a year.

"My estate agent showed me a cheap-as-chips property, it was a state and had been empty for such a long time.

"The floor was concrete and there was no plumbing or electrics, I simply couldn't imagine being there.

"After receiving a small amount of money from my redundancy, we decided just to go for it."

In the end, Jane paid out more than £50,000, investing in new plumbing, electrics, floors, walls, ceilings and specialised rigging to enable people to hang upside down.

Members celebrate 10 years of Heavenly Fitness. Picture: Jane Salida
Members celebrate 10 years of Heavenly Fitness. Picture: Jane Salida

"On paper there was no way I could afford it." She explained: "I couldn't get a bank loan, because I didn't have any credit. I had no savings and no real business plan."

"It was a big commitment, and the credit cards were out of my ears - I never had so many in all my life.

"At one point, I think we had loaded up about 25 cards, some would only let me have £1,000 and others would let me have £3,000.

"I borrowed as much as I could, from anyone I could think of. It just kept mounting up.

"At the time I also had taken out quite a big mortgage too. It did occur to me a few times that I could become homeless, but I always believed it would work."

Heavenly Fitness in Maidstone, is celebrating 10 years of being open. Picture: Jane Salida
Heavenly Fitness in Maidstone, is celebrating 10 years of being open. Picture: Jane Salida

After three months of renovations, the fitness studio opened its doors in May 2012.

She said: "I've never sat there and thought 'I wish I hadn't done this' and I am so grateful for everyone helping me.

"I absolutely love what I do. Many friendships have been made in my studio - we are a real community."

Jane has now been running classes for 10 years at her studio, even through lockdown she carried on teaching online.

She hosts a range of activities that people of all ages can take part in, including Aerial Yoga, Pole, Aerial Hoop, Trapeze, Kids Aerial, Bungee, Yoga, Pilates and more.

Click here to find out more.

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