A former warehouse worker, who defied the odds to successfully open his own boxing gym, is hoping to inspire others to try martial arts as well as launching his own sportswear brand.
Today, Charlie Green and his sportswear brand Retro Fitness supplies football kits to clubs across Yorkshire, whilst his range of boxing equipment is used by semi-professional fighters across the world.
Charlie first launched his Wombwell-based gym in 2018 and called upon the Launchpad Business Support Programme to help him transform his dreams of running his own business into a reality. His journey began when he successfully secured the keys to a damp, dilapidated basement at Wombwell Working Men’s Club and turned it into a haven for fitness enthusiasts.
Since that time, Charlie has successfully overcome all the odds, including overcoming a life-threatening illness, as well as navigating his fledgling business through the Covid-19 pandemic, when it was unable to trade due to local and national lockdown restrictions.
Today, Retro Fitness provides a space for people of all ages to take part in boxing, kickboxing and self-defence classes. The busy gym counts children as young as six to individuals enjoying their retirement amongst its regular visitors, who are given the chance to perfect their boxing skills, learn new martial arts as well as shedding the pounds by taking part in a range of intensive bootcamps.
As the business grew, the future of Charlie’s business was plunged into uncertainty when he was diagnosed with sepsis and pneumonia. The experience left him in a coma for three weeks and unable to work for six months; he turned to partner Rebecca, his sister and parents to keep the business ticking over.
During his recuperation, Charlie began to notice a gap in the market for boxing equipment that was capable of meeting the rigorous training demands placed upon it. He decided to take a chance and contact a specialist manufacturer to produce a range of boxing equipment designed to his own specifications. The gamble quickly paid off, and inspired by the success he achieved, he used the experience to launch his own fitness brand.
To help him grow his business, Charlie continued to work closely with Launchpad business adviser Kiran Antcliffe, regularly taking part in one-to-one advice sessions as well as attending workshops designed to help him master the skills needed to build and grow a successful business, from getting to grips with the finances of his business to recruiting staff for the first time.
Today, Retro Fitness sells a range of gloves, protective headgear and specialist shin protectors, used in kickboxing, and employs five people. He is also hoping to add two additional members of staff to his workforce in the near future to meet the growing demand for his specialist sportswear.
Charlie Green, Founder, Retro Fitness, said:
“I’d never really thought about running my own business, but I’ve always been passionate about boxing. It’s not just a great way to keep fit, it can teach youngsters important life skills, from discipline to improving willpower and perseverance. When the space became available I felt it offered a great opportunity to do something for my local community. I didn’t know the first thing about running a business, so I reached out to the Launchpad team for help, half expecting them to laugh at me. They didn’t, they listened to what I had to say and they’ve been incredibly supportive as the business has grown and evolved.
As the gym began to grow, I began to realise that there was a gap in the market for high quality boxing equipment. It appeared to be very easy to purchase budget gloves, or premium ones aimed at professional fighters, but there wasn’t really anything in between. Working with Launchpad taught me to trust my instincts more, but crucially, research your ideas. This proved to be the foundation of the Retro Fitness brand. It’s incredible to think that not only is the gym helping others to stay fit and healthy, but my products are now being used by semi-professional fighters across the world. I couldn’t have achieved that without help from Launchpad.”
Kiran Antcliffe, Business Adviser, Launchpad, said:
“The challenges Charlie has faced since he launched his business would have tested even the most seasoned business owner. The hallmarks of any entrepreneur are being able to spot opportunities when faced with adversity, as well as being unafraid to try new things.
Like many business owners, Charlie was passionate about sharing his love of boxing with others, but he knew very little about running a business. By working with Launchpad over the past few years, Charlie has not only been able to master the skills needed to build a successful business, but the solid foundations he has built have given him a great platform to grow and scale his business further in the future.”
The Launchpad programme combines regular training sessions, designed to give new and aspiring entrepreneurs the best possible start on their business journey, as well as one-to-one sessions, helping them to overcome specific challenges or problems they are facing. When launching any new business, it’s important to spend time researching your idea, and it’s clear from the success he has enjoyed – having grown the business from an idea to one that has seen him build a team of staff – that his business has a bright future ahead of it.”
Launchpad is a business support programme for new businesses. Financially supported by the European Regional Development Fund and delivered by local authorities within South Yorkshire, Bassetlaw and The Prince’s Trust, the programme provides free help and support to budding entrepreneurs who are thinking of starting their own business or looking for help to achieve business growth.