Coach’s city passions

Karen Perkins favorite things. showroom cinema
Karen Perkins favorite things. showroom cinema
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Born ‘down south’ - but from Yorkshire stock - life, career and dating coach Karen Perkins, aged 54, has been coaching and managing local teams for over 20 years and runs a thriving business. The mum-of-two is passionate about housing and runs the Sheffield Clandestine Cake Club. Helping her son build a successful global IT business which is funding his way through university has led her to a passion for social media, while around Valentine’s Day she always gets requests for dating coaching. She is also the founder of Sheffield’s only speed dating walking group.

Independent Cinemas

The Showroom Cinema has been my stomping ground for years, even back when it was the Anvil Civic Cinema. I love being able to watch the latest indie films in comfort and enjoy the audience’s commentary on the adverts.

Docfest is Sheffield at its finest. We hosted two female Peruvian film makers a couple of years ago, who were fundraising for their documentary about the Amazon. The IMAX at Centertainment is ‘stop two’, as I love escaping into films in 3D on the massive screen - total relaxation.

Cake and coffee

Running the Clandestine Cake Club, where we bake for fun and share our cakes, means I have to do a lot of agonising background research on the quality of coffee, tea and cakes in local cafés and coffee shops. In Sheffield, it’s a pleasure as café culture is developing apace. We have been hosted by the lovely Fancie, Harley, Martha’s and Thelma’s and have lots more in the pipeline.

Our bakers come from all over Sheffield and we have men who bake too. It’s a great way to meet new people if you have just moved to Sheffield. I also like to do my free coaching tasters over a cuppa and owners always find me a discreet spot.

Kelham Island

Undiscovered gem - until now of course - and great to wander round. Fab for impressing new dates with your good taste. I love the Chimney House, a restored Victorian factory where all the refreshments at meetings come in vintage china. The Fat Cat and the Milestone are great foodie pubs.

Another great restored building is Rutland Works, home of Sheffield fashionistas Drop Dead. I hear it has cutting edge biomass heating technology and a snazzy interior inside.

Graves Gallery and cafe

A great place to escape from work or shopping - it’s an oasis of calm. In coaching I teach mindfulness, a method of managing stress, and having a bolthole in the city is a great way to recharge the batteries over the lunch break.

Its varied exhibitions really open your eyes to new artists and help your ‘creativity’ return ready for the afternoon.


There are no other cities where you can be out in a National Park in 20 minutes, by bus or car. Walking from Hunters Bar to Fox House up the Porter Valley and via Houndkirk is exhilarating. Walking is great for reducing stress and meeting people. My last speed dating walk brought at least three couples together. Take your partner for a romantic walk and picnic for Valentine’s Day - it’s fun and free!

Margery Hill

Hill walking is one of my passions and this amazing wild space is the highest point within the city boundary at 1,791ft high in the Peak District. Getting into wild Sheffield blows the cobwebs away and makes you feel great and ready to face the week ahead.

I always tell my clients about the benefits of walking, even if it’s just round the block. After all, walking plus cake equals zero calories and it costs nothing.