Mini Athletics is a completely unique business which makes a difference to the lives of children and franchisees. Through a structured, yet fun format, Mini Athletics enhance athleticism of 2 to 7 year olds. These skills can then be used in a wide range of sports, promoting a healthy and active lifestyle.
Mini Athletics was created by Kirk Bowyer, a strength and conditioning coach for elite athletes and Clare Bowyer, a primary school teacher (PE specialist).
Kirk has worked with many professional athletes from tennis players to formula one racing drivers. He has also worked with some of Great Britain’s most talented sporting juniors (in a wide range of sports, including athletics) to improve performance through physical training.
Clare has a wealth of experience as a primary school teacher. As well as being a physical education specialist, she has spent much of her career educating the early years.
When we had our first child, I was keen to enhance athleticism/sporting participation and Clare wanted to build my confidence, social and cognitive skills. Unfortunately, we did not find a class that met these goals so we co-created Mini Athletics!
In June 2016
It took around 6 months to design the very first lesson plans and initial branding. This was a new concept so we were unsure whether we would get any success.
There were many classes in football, rugby and dance etc but none in athletics. We did some advertising through facebook and we were absolutely inundated with enquiries for our first class.
Initially through facebook. Firstly we had friends with children of similar age. This was handy for our launch because they told their friends and so on. We also used the old fashioned leaflets and posters.
We are now becoming a national brand so franchisees are finding marketing easier and easier.
Mini Athletics is a product for both children and business owners. When Clare was working full time as a primary school teacher, the hours were significantly high.
For example, she would get to school at 8am and return at 5pm. She would then make dinner, put the children to bed and then continue with planning and marking in the evening.
I was also working considerable hours and travelling a lot too. Therefore, we wanted to create a business that worked for parents. Something that allowed them to work around their family commitments as opposed to fitting their family commitments around their work.
The main reason we chose to franchise was to ensure the quality of the product and service was maintained throughout the UK and Ireland and eventually internationally.
We wanted to give ownership away to people who shared our ethos and therefore cared about the product and its delivery.
How did you go about creating Mini Athletics’ franchise model?
We wanted to create an ethical franchise model. Therefore, it was important that Clare and I proved the business.
To that extent, we ran a pilot franchise in Cambridge and Saffron Walden from 2016-2017. We wanted to see if the business worked i.e. whether it was profitable, popular and a business that would work for others. The year went fantastically well and we surpassed our goals.
Around one year following the launch of our pilot, one of the Mini Athlete’s mothers, Hayley Jackson, came to speak with me after the class.
She said that she was due to return to teaching after maternity leave but did not want to go back.
She asked whether there were any opportunities. Obviously our answer was yes and she bought the pilot franchise. Hayley continues to run a very successful business.
We currently have 22 franchisees but this will increase to 23 in September when our next 4 regions launch.
We hope to expand across the UK and Ireland over the next year. We also have plans to expand internationally.
Our franchisees are incredibly enthusiastic about enhancing athleticism and helping children achieve their early learning goals.
Franchisees come from a wide range of backgrounds eg HR, teaching, marketing, PR. We do not look for a coaching background or experience of running business.
The most important quality is being enthusiastic about enhancing athleticism and helping children achieve their early learning goals.
We want to inspire children across the world.