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A Berkshire Mumpreneur // Karen Burles, Elite Conditioning

Tell me briefly about your business? 

I am a Level 3 qualified Personal Trainer, my love of all things fitness started through teaching group fitness classes in 2005 and Elite Conditioning Personal Training & Community classes were born.

In 2013 I took my 29 years experience and love of running all distances from sprinting to Ultra Marathons and trained as a running coach to become more specialised and Elite Conditioning Running Bugs was formed – Ladies only running groups from beginners 0-5 km right through every level to marathon training and trail running. I now have a fabulous team of running instructors who help bring a variety of running groups to the schedule including trail running and work with many local runners and virtual runners across the world through my personalised training plans.

I continue to offer group exercises classes through Elite Strong community classes which include Strong by Zumba, PiYo and soon to be added Insanity!

Tell me briefly about yourself and your family? I am a single mum to 3 children, Bradley 15, Jasmine 12 and Jayden 11 who keep me on my toes with their football and running addiction (not sure where they get that from!)

When did you set up your business and why? 

I worked in European Marketing when I was 20-24 and spent alot of time travelling round europe, when I got married I knew I wanted a job that was flexible to work around being a mum so I retrained as an Aerobics Instructor and Personal Trainer. I then followed my passion as a runner to qualify as a Running Instructor in 2012 to expand the Elite Conditioning offering to ladies only running groups, get those mums of Berkshire running and believing they can!

What do you see as the benefits of being self-employed? Definitely the flexibility to work around your children’s need as they grow, I’ve gone from working evenings to mostly daytimes now when they are at school but I’ve very rarely missed a school play, sports day or assembly. They are only young once and I didn’t want to miss out.

How do you manage to run your business and look after your family?  It is tricky at times because as a business owner you can end up feeling like you work 24 hours 7 days week but I have downtime when the children are awake and then if need to I catch up later once they are asleep but it’s a lot about managing your time effectively and I colour code my diary so it’s easy for me to review a week and check over the balance between work commitments, family time and time for me.

What are your top tips to other parents considering setting up their own business? 

1) Speak to other small business owners from the off set, don’t be afraid to learn from others mistakes at the start so you can hit the ground running.

2) Ask for help. Often as business owners we think we have to do it all but I’ve learnt that by having someone look after the more administrative tasks behind the scenes I can focus more on the business, marketing and building a better vision for my company and clients.

3) Ensure your diary includes some downtime for you. It’s all too easy to get swallowed up into your business. Time away from it for you, whether thats a scheduled walk, lunch with friends, a gym session – this really helps you reflect and remain focused.

4) Network! I’ve only just started to bring this into my schedule but wish I had done it earlier. I’ve already met so many wonderful ladies through my monthly networking meeting and they really are behind you and understand the struggles of a small business so can offer some fabulous advice.

What’s next for your business?

That’s a really interesting question. I am currently finishing of building my own Personal Training and massage therapy studio in my garden so that I can open further slots up to my clients and also be at home for my children more as they head through their GCSE exams and college. In term of our Ladies only running groups I forsee much more focused groups into local races but also more casual run and chat groups for those who suffer with mental health issues so working alongside the NHS to get women outside and feeling those benefits of running but also the mental health benefits that come from being outside!

Finally, what are your top three things to do as a family in Berkshire?  

1) One that was a favourite of my children as toddlers and still a popular choice now has to be The Look Out, even my 15 year old loves still loves getting out on the trails.

2) Another favourite is Windsor especially Changing of the Guard.

3) I also love the races at Ascot, the family days are brilliant and give a chance for everyone in the family to enjoy a day at the races.

By Berkshire Mummies

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