For most entrepreneurs their business is a calling and represents their place in life.
But for Claire Greenwood, her business represents not just her passion, it literally changed her life.
Claire runs Fire & Ice, a start-up therapy centre based in Burley-in-Wharfedale.
Her facility offers both ozone therapy and cryotherapy, allowing the body to be exposed to contrasting extremes of temperature. The ozone therapy helps to oxygenate the body while cryotherapy sees users enter a chamber where the temperature is kept at around -70 degrees.
The treatment improves users immune systems, circulation and musculoskeletal structure and has a wide range of benefits, from weight loss to recovery.
Thought to be the only place in the region to offer both services under one roof, Claire is on a mission to improve people’s health and wellbeing.
But for her, Fire & Ice is not just a business, it represents her recovery from a very dark period which came close to ruining her life.
Ever since childhood Claire suffered with low self-esteem.
She describes how she had a perpetual feeling of not fitting in. She refused to join in with any sports teams or clubs because, as she describes it: “I always thought everyone else was much better than me.”
As is tragically all too common with young people, particularly with young girls, her lack of self-confidence began to manifest itself as an unhealthy relationship with food.
After sitting her GCSEs she undertook extreme measures to lose weight, such as taking laxatives, starving herself of food and even forcing herself to throw up.
After finishing her A Levels she trained as a chef at Tante Marie and would receive a diploma in cordon bleu cookery.
She would eventually go to work as a chef in the Lake District and, while she enjoyed her work, the feeling of not belonging persisted.
Disenchanted she returned to Yorkshire and began work in her family’s business but for Claire she felt like a square peg in a round hole.
She met and fell in love with Sam who would go on to become her husband and they had children. However, her old habits began to return and her mental condition worsened.
After seven years of marriage she suffered a breakdown.
“All I knew was that my husband and children were the only people that made me happy,” she said.
“I wasn’t happy in the person I was. I was so unhappy, I fell into a pit of depression.”
With the support of her husband, Claire began to try and rebuild her life. The family relocated to Burley-in-Wharfedale, she joined a local gym and saw a therapist, beginning a process of finding a pathway to happiness that she was increasingly realising only she could discover.
As Claire put it: ”I just took time out to rest, reset and decide who I was and who I wanted to be.”
That process saw Claire decide that the best thing for her to do was try and help people who had found themselves in a similar situation to her. Like many entrepreneurs she knew she wanted to do something in business but she did not know what.
“I was searching for something to do,” she said.
“I just thought if I can make anybody feel better that would be great. A lot of people get trapped in a mind-set of what people think about them. But none of that matters. It doesn’t matter.
“As long as you have self-love.”
Her focus on healthy lifestyle eventually led to her reading about ozone therapy. Deciding to try it out for herself she immediately began to feel the benefits. Her sleep improved and she began to feel more clarity of mind. As she put it: “I started to feel human again.”
Then she discovered cryotherapy and everything began to fall into place.
She said: “I felt so exhilarated when I got out. It got my endorphins going, I don’t think I had any of them for about 15 years! It was amazing.”
While ozone and cryotherapy treatments were available around the country, including in Yorkshire, there was nowhere that Claire could find that offered both under the same roof.
It was here that the idea for Fire & Ice was born. Determined to establish a place where people could come and feel better she decided to offer a more holistic service to people.
She studied nutrition and gained qualifications. Finally she decided to take the plunge and invest in the equipment itself.
She said: “I wanted to develop a place where people could come and be good to themselves. Everybody has a story. I just have some equipment that can help people with weight loss, depression, fitness and wellbeing.
“It works for everybody.”
Claire initially intended to base Fire & Ice on the Burley-in-Wharfedale high street but Covid intervened. Given that one of the principal benefits of the treatments she offered was to bolster people’s immune system, she decided to press ahead, albeit considerably closer to home.
She converted an annex in the garden of her home into a treatment centre, with one room housing the ozone pods and the other the cryotherapy chamber.
Fire & Ice opened in May and since becoming operational, 80 per cent of her clients have booked to come again. Long term, Claire wants to offer a comprehensive health screening service to people to allow for a total optimisation of their health, nutrition and fitness. She says the long-term goal is to have a wellness retreat, albeit not in her garden.
The treatments Claire offers can help with a range of factors, including muscle recovery, oxygenating the body, reducing fatigue, immunity boosting, improved sleep, the releasing of endorphins and helping to reduce bacteria in the body,
Claire uses the machines regularly herself as part of her lifestyle and wants to spread awareness of their benefits.
She said: “It is very niche and not a lot of people would know about it. It is here for anybody who wants to try. I want people to come and feel that it is discreet; I like to think I am offering a discreet service to people.
“It is a chance to take yourself away from life’s worries for an hour.”
For Claire, the journey has been more than just restorative, but transformational.
She said: “I love it. The reason why I have done it is I never wanted anyone to feel as rubbish as I did. I feel like a different woman to what I was five years ago. I am a changed person.
From the woman that only got out of bed because I had children to doing what I am doing now, I just love it. I wouldn’t change anything for the world.”