When Mother Nature struck on the 4th September 2010, Catherine Grace was working part time in her own business and part time for the Ministry of Social Development. Her plans to run a successful personal training business for people with chronic health conditions seemed a distant pipe dream. She worked amongst some of the greatest effected in from Dallington, Avonside, Bexley and Shirley. After long stressful days she sought solace and relief in exercising and offering exercise to others to cope with the aftermath. She had survived a major earthquake so with trepidation she took the plunge and started full time in her business the end of September.
Many called her mad, and business was building slowly. But Cate developed a family friendly place where clients felt safe and supported, through word of mouth others turned to exercise for stress relief. Leap2it’s looked brighter but then came February 22, 2011 a day that will never be forgotten in the heart and mind of many of us. Cate was attending a lunch meeting and preparing to head into the CBD when the Earthquake struck. It was very evident soon after that things would not be the same for her fitness and motivation business for a very for a long time. The city had changed forever and once again her dream looked buried deep amongst the chaos that had once been her home town, her CBD Gym that Cate and her clients called home was now in the Red Zone.
Cate drew on her inner strength from managing physical pain with her Rheumatoid Arthritis, Asthma and Endometriosis and came out fighting, “I had two options, give up or keep going, to me it was that simple but not that simple to implement. I took four weeks off and headed to a very special place in Gore Bay where I made the decision to stay in my hometown and make the very best of it. My LeapStars (clients) needed me too, and if I could give one person hope and once person a reason to carry on then I had to open my doors.” In the early days she used Social Media to keep in touch with her clients. This online presence is a major part of the LeapStar community today and helps her LeapStars stay connected and in touch with what is happening.
Another significant turning point for Cate and Leap2it was applying a true element of marketing to her business. She went direct to her clients and asked what they needed following their traumatic experiences. She found out what was going to keep them coming back and changed her service delivery to meet those needs. Cate focuses on a holistic approach to health and wellbeing. She combines lifestyle, exercise, alone time & positivity into an achievable and fun plan for her clients and their families. Being healthy and happy is a team effort and Cate encourages everyone from children, partners, family, neighbours and friends to support and train together. Her motto since the earthquakes is never never give up. "If you want it, you'll find a way. If you don't, you'll find an excuse. A year from now, you'll be glad you started today!”
Cate also reached out to Recover Canterbury for assistance, she was appointed a business mentor, developed a mastermind team which included accountant, lawyer, business banker, marketing and social media support. She shared her challenges with friends and other business women to come up with creative ideas to move forward. Leap2it was offered temporary space with Form Fitness in Beckenham and is still there today, also running mobile groups around the city and Cate continues with Operations Suburbs twice a week where she heads out to Templeton and Swannanoa continuing to meet her clients’ needs.
Cate’s biggest advice is do not be afraid to ask for help and although her original business 2011 plan went out the window she has been able to keep her doors open and able to grow her business to what it is today. She has a loyal and supportive client base with new clients coming on board every month, she continues her positive online following, speaks to groups about managing pain and finding opportunities through adversity. She was awarded the prestigious 2011 NZ Fitness HQH Up and Coming PT at the National Industry Awards held at the Auckland Langham in November last year. She features this month as PT of the Month in NZ Fitness Magazine. 18 months on this resilient business woman is loving her business, positively managing her own health, her life and living in her home town. She sees that there is an abundance of opportunities for Christchurch.
“This is one of the greatest cities of the world, we have experienced an historic event, we all now have the resilience and skills to achieve anything we want to in our own life. We are survivors and have all shared in something that may seem unexplainable and if we take a breath, acknowledge how far we have come, find the positive even when it seems buried and give away your smiles, we will live most extraordinary lives!”