When Sheffield firefighters Dennis Roebuck and Rob McGuigan trained for their life-saving roles, standard gym equipment just wasn’t up to the job.
The pair switched from treadmills to tyres and from dumbbells to fire hoses to improve their fitness – and soon realised their in-station training sessions had business potential.
Now the pals are training others in their technique, running high-impact fitness classes that burn up to 800 calories an hour as well as one-to-one sessions at their gym centre in Halfway.
“People are on the floor afterwards – but they always come back,” said Dennis, aged 36.
“They absolutely love it and their eyes do pop out of their head when they see the kind of things that we do because they just don’t expect it. It’s the variety which people can’t get enough of.”
The pair, both from Gleadless, met while on duty at the now-closed Darnall Road fire station and are still serving firefighters.
But they also work many hours on their Firehouse Fitness concept, which started with sessions on a rugby field and is thought to be the only one of its kind in the country.
More than 220 people have joined as members and now the centre has taken on three staff, is forging partnerships with schools and looking to provide in-house training so other people can get into the industry.
Business Sheffield – part of Creative Sheffield, which is the economic development arm of Sheffield Council – provided free support for the firefighters to start blazing a trail in fitness, and has encouraged them to run a workshop in the countdown to Small Business Saturday this weekend.
Dennis, who along with 34-year-old Rob holds fitness qualifications, said: “We want to make people aware that anybody can do it really – we got off the ground with no business background and people just do not know what help there is out there.”
Doug Johnson from Business Sheffield helped Rob and Dennis put together a business plan so they could secure funding for the project through a loan.
He said Firehouse Fitness was a good example of the entrepreneurial spirit in the city.
He said: “They definitely are an inspiration. It is the importance of entrepreneurship and innovation which is key to sustaining economic growth and that is what they have done.
“They have had an idea and they’ve made it happen,”
Sheffield councillors have been visiting firms in the build up to Small Business Saturday.
A log cabin run by Business Sheffield and the Federation of Small Businesses will be in the city centre tomorrow to promote the campaign.
For support from Business Sheffield, which won a highly commended prize at the recent National Enterprise Network awards, call 0800 0435522.