Katie Rhodes previously worked at Weight Watchers for 16 years until December 2020. She has now decided to go it alone with her own business, The Bubble Venture, based in Huddersfield.
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, Ms Rhodes said: “Speaking from experience, weight is something that I will always struggle with myself. I am in a good position to understand where everyone is coming from.
“When you’re at home, left to your own devices and the cupboards are full, you tend to eat what’s in there. You lose motivation.
“You feel low. Then you tend to eat more if you have got those tendencies.
“Lets just hope there are no more lockdowns. Now that people can get out and about physically and into a room for group support, it is making a massive difference.”
She set up The Bubble Venture in June this year after taking voluntary redundancy at Weight Watchers last year.
Ms Rhodes is currently hosting five meetings a week across Huddersfield with a sixth one being added this month.
With restrictions lifting, The Bubble Venture is preparing for a surge in interest for weight loss and wellness support.
Ms Rhodes added: “There’s a lot of demand for it. People are commenting on posts saying ‘have you got a meeting in this area, have you got a meeting in that area?’.
“It’s about finding suitable venues and getting out there so people know I’m there.”
Group support is invaluable in helping people meet their goals, the founder of The Bubble Venture says.
“Especially after the last year and a half we have had, I know from my years of experience in the industry, that group support really matters,” Ms Rhodes said.
The first half of her sessions focus on one-to-ones before bringing everyone together as a group for the second half.
She said: “People can just sit and listen if they like. It’s about having fun as well.
“You’re not out there on your own. It can be quite lonely if you are around people who don’t understand. It’s being in an environment where everybody gets it.”
Ms Rhodes got involved in the weight loss industry after joining a Weight Watchers group herself.
She said: “I joined a weight loss group after I had my two daughters. This was about 18 years ago.
“I enjoyed the environment there. I succeeded as well with my own personal weight loss.”
While in the group she was approached by one of the coaches about potentially becoming a coach herself.
Ms Rhodes added: “I didn’t know how I would get on with it because it was about speaking in front of people and I’d never done that. I went on the training and got the job there. I worked in that company for 16 years.”
However, she decided to take voluntary redundancy in December as she wanted to continue running both meetings in-person as well as running sessions online.
“This is something that I’ve always wanted to do for myself,” Ms Rhodes said. “It was an opportunity for me to take voluntary redundancy.”
Prior to working in the weight loss industry, she was in hospitality. Ms Rhodes has a degree in hotel and catering management from Huddersfield University.
She said: “I worked in the hospitality industry but I had my children in my early 20s and I wanted to be a full-time mum.
“The role I took on at Weight Watchers helped me just be me outside of being a mum. I only worked three meetings a week at that point. Just to have something to do. Then I grew that to ten as the children got older.”
She says her long-term goal is to expand the firm’s geographical presence.
“Because I’ve got quite a large Instagram network, I’ve had a few people join from other parts of the country.
“I may look at potentially franchising. I do have teams of volunteers helping me, who are members that I’ve known for a while.”
In addition to weight loss, Ms Rhodes also helps people develop positive mindsets through life coaching.
She said: “Lots of people are feeling so low at the moment. One-to-ones are perfect for people who want to discuss things other than weight loss like life goals.
“I have a life coaching qualification so it is based around that. Helping people with their personal life journeys not necessarily revolving around weight.
“It’s to help people get their smile back. That doesn’t necessarily mean with weight, its just life goals in general.”
Self-belief key for founder
Having the self-belief to start her own business was the greatest challenge for Katie Rhodes.
She said: “I don’t feel like I’m particularly business-minded at all. If someone gives me instructions, I’m happy to follow them.
“Actually, it was down to me and having the self-belief that I could do it.
“I’ve really surprised myself with the things that I have achieved setting it up. I’ve done everything myself.”
Ms Rhodes would like it to become her full-time job moving forward.
She added: “I know it will be because I’m expanding all the time.
“I’d like it to be surrounded by lots of other coaches and to expand across the country as well.”
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