“Just do it. Do it like Nike.”
That’s the advice Samantha Nicholls, owner of Gymnastics 21, had for start-ups thinking of throwing their hat into the ring for this year’s Hunter Business Awards.
Gymnastics 21 took out top honours in the Start-Up Superstar category in 2018 and Samantha said she had been blown away with the fruits just entering the awards bore.
“When you’re doing the award entry, there’s a lot of reflection time. When you’re caught up in a business, it’s easy to forget the achievements. When you start listing the achievements you have made and writing your goals and where you want to be you can kind of sit back with appreciation and go ‘I’m Awesome,’ Samantha laughed.
“And even if you don’t win you still get that from it. It’s good to just get out there and meet new people at the awards night and it’s also a great way to network with other businesses.”
Samantha, who has been passionate about gymnastics since witnessing the 2000 Sydney Olympics from her lounge room, parlayed that passion into a career which eventually led the self-confessed dreamer” to strike out on her own to start the mobile, community-based gym.
I’ve got these ideas and dreams and I know how to put them in place. I’m just going to do it.Samantha Nicholls
“For me growing up, gymnastics was my outlet – it was a safe place for me,” she said.
“When I became a teenager and started looking for jobs, I couldn’t do mainstream jobs like retail or hospitality and my gym coach said that I should start coaching gym which hadn’t ever crossed my mind.”
After working at different clubs throughout the Hunter region, Samantha decided in 2016 to start Gymnastics 21 – and hasn’t looked back since.
“Im a bit of a dreamer. I get told I’m a dreamer and a lot of managers weren’t too happy with my dreaming because it was kind of too big for them. I got told a lot ‘great ideas Sam but we’re not going to go there.’
“So I thought ‘you know what, I can do it myself’. I’ve got these ideas and dreams and I know how to put them in place. I’m just going to do it.”
And so, in 2016 Samantha made her dream a reality, established Gymnastics 21 at Thornton’s Pat Hughes Community Centre with 20 members.
The concept of a mobile gym aimed at developing gymnastics fundamentals in children aged one to 16, quickly snowballed.
“Around three months after we started, I just decided to go nuts with it and open up at three locations – Thornton Rutherford and Salt Ash,” Samantha said.
“Then, three months later, we hit 100 members and today we have 250.”
She added that aside from recreation programs for under fives, primary school aged programs and competition groups, Gymnastics 21 also offers birthday parties school holiday programs and workshops for local schools and dance studios.
“Gymnastics 21 for us is about more than just gymnastics for kids,” she said.
“It’s about building the child inside out – building that resilience, that confidence and getting that sense of achievement.”
So where does Samantha see Gymnastics 21 in the next three years?
“The dream is to get a permanent facility in the Rutherford and Thornton area and potentially go nationwide,” she said.
“I have this weird thing were I cant settle – I just keep dreaming as soon as a goal is reached I’m like, ‘next thing'”
Head here for more information on Gymnastics 21.
Applications are open now for the 2019 Hunter Business Awards. For more information and to apply, head here.