On Jan. 30, Natalee Barnett tweeted “I’m only 21 and I’m about to build a women’s-only gym.” Not even 24 hours later, the tweet had gone viral and currently has almost 500 thousand likes and 30 thousand retweets. It’s safe to say that a women’s-only gym is not only a want, but a necessity in today’s society.
Natalee could not have predicted how popular her idea would become. Despite still being in the very early stages of building a business, Natalee has already been reached out to by media outlets, investors and personal trainers who are interested in working at her gym. Based in London, England, Natalee currently plans on opening her gym in Birmingham, England, though she is still in the process of securing a definite location.
With tentative plans to open by 2022, Natalee has big ideas for the sort of safe space her gym will provide within the community. Until then, here’s everything you need to know about the highly-anticipated women’s-only gym:
What is your background in health & fitness and what drew you to the industry?
I’m currently in training to become a personal trainer, so I’m doing my studies and my PT course right now. But, I think my approach to fitness is very laid back, I can build a really good relationship with clients in terms of training. So, I know that I can impact change for them not only physically, but mentally as well. I want to help girls reach their goals, but also allow it to be very laid back at the same time.
What is your background in entrepreneurship?
I’ve been running a fitness business for three years. I sell merchandise and workout guides, but everything has always been a one-man job. So, that’s the only entrepreneurship I’ve ever been involved with. I’ve never run a whole entire company or business or anything like that, so it will be a new thing, and I’m excited to work with a team and investors for this.
Why is having a women’s-only gym so important?
The key word is that it’s necessary; it’s even beyond necessary. Women deserve this safe space because safety is the issue here because a lot of women don’t feel safe. I held a Clubhouse room the other day and so many of the women shared stories like they’d be followed to their car from the gym, and the simple fact that they followed her from the gym means that they were also inside the gym with her. So, I see a need to build a space so that women have a safe space where they can just train comfortably.
What training style will your gym be focused around?
I want it to be a little bit of everything because again, I want to allow women interested in different things to train how they want. So, if you want to do CrossFit, you can do CrossFit, but I do want it to kind of be similar to just commercial gyms with squat racks, deadlifts and all that stuff. Also, one thing I want in the gym is to have self defense classes. The reason why I’m doing this is because women don’t feel safe so this space can allow them to learn how to defend themselves. Overall, I just want it to be really aesthetically pleasing, really enticing and for women to feel that they want to come to the gym and train and meet other people.
How do you hope to make women who are new to fitness feel comfortable at your gym?
I think some people think they keep looking at me, and I don’t know what to do, I don’t know how to use the machines. The more you sit at home and think about things like that, the harder it is. So, one aspect of my gym is a welcoming hour. So maybe an hour before the gym opens, or an hour a day, any woman that is skeptical about the gym and has anxiety about it can come in and I’ll show them how to use all the machines and they can get used to it. I think that would take that anxiety away because that’s what those thoughts are, it’s just pent up anxiety that you’ve got in your head.
What sort of impact do you hope your gym makes on the lives of your clients?
Well, one thing I have to say is that my gym isn’t just a gym. That’s definitely the main aspect, but I have so many other things in mind to make it a place that’s just for women, by women. Things as small as the fact that when we go to the gym, we love to take a picture in the mirror but we don’t because we get scared of what other people are going to say. So, I want a whole selfie section with a nice aesthetic that encourages you to take a picture. I want to create a Facebook page where you can join and meet people and come to the gym and train with them. I just want it to be such a community.