Wendy Powell qualified with a personal training Diploma in 2001, having spent the previous ten years working in media and advertising. She is founder of the unique MuTu® System, born from a passion for pre and postpartum health and truly effective exercise for all mums. Wendy has two young children and believes her understanding of the realities of pregnancy, childbirth and postnatal recovery has helped her buisness take off.
Q: Having spent the previous ten years working within the media and advertising industry what made you decide to pursue a career in health and fitness?
A: A combination of the novelty of business lunches and the media high life wearing off as well as 9/11 actually. I was working for a company based in New York at the time; my friends and colleagues watched the towers come down. I didn’t realise it right away, but I think I wanted to look after myself and everyone else a little more after that.
Q: What inspired you to create the MuTu® System?
A: I knew women (mums particularly) simply weren’t getting the answers they needed from the mainstream fitness and diet industries. There is so much conflicting advice about exercise from best friends, doctors, magazines or gyms. The media jumping on the next exercise craze bandwagon confuses us still further.
The mums I worked with all had the same questions and concerns. These included '‘how do I get my stomach back?’' '‘How do I fit exercise into my life?’', '‘do I really have to ‘just accept’ the saggy tummy or the weak pelvic floor?’' No one was giving them clear answers, so I created the MuTu® system.
Q: When first starting up pregnancy and postnatal personal training specialists No More Excuses (later rebranded as the MuTu® System) did you have any major concerns or were you always confident that you could be successful?
A: I had no idea what I was doing! The MuTu System is the result of organic growth for both me personally and the business over a decade. I always knew I wanted to make people not just look better, but to feel good about themselves. I also knew that I wanted to serve and inspire women.
I became interested in pregnancy and the postnatal as an exercise professional, and then became a mum twice. Since then, it has just continued to evolve. I’m always learning and being inspired by women that come into my life or my business and keep trying to make MuTu® better.
Although there is more of a ‘business plan’ now than in the early years, because we’re juggling so many facets of the business now (personal training, licensees, an online business) it’s always work in progress.
But what I do know is that women want the information and the inspiration I can offer. That part I have absolute confidence in.
Q: How difficult was it to transform your idea into a business?
A: As a personal trainer starting out all those years ago, you say yes to everyone and run yourself ragged fitting in with everyone else’s timetable. A personal trainer’s schedule is a constant juggle of writing programmes, food diaries, session plans and transporting equipment from one client to the next – I’m sure any trainers reading this can relate to this. The hourly rate might appear lucrative but an awful lot of work goes into that hour’s personalised workout.
But I always knew I wanted to create something bigger than just me, going from house to house. I had a concept and knew I could train a team to offer something more than the ‘average personal trainer’ to mums.
The online business is relatively recent, but has exploded through the use of social media and blogging. Writing a blog has helped me to not only grow my profile and business but also to clarify my own philosophy as well as brand.
Q: Can you explain how the affiliate program works in practice?
A: It’s very simple – you sign up, then choose the badges or banners to put on your website or blog. You have to be familiar with some very simple HTML to drop the code in, but we can help you with that if you need us to.
When a visitor to your site clicks on the ‘ad’ and goes on to buy an online programme from us, you receive 33 percent of the price. They don’t even have to buy on that visit – the system remembers that your website sent them and if they come back to buy later you still get your commission.
Q: How is the MuTu® System different from other fitness solutions available to women in the market? What is its USP?
A: MuTu® System puts your body back together again after having a baby, how ever long ago you had your baby.
Crunches and boot camp will not give a mum a flat stomach. MuTu gives you the definitive combination of techniques that will get you the post-baby stomach and body you want. It's been made for mums, by a mum.
Q: What do you enjoy most about working in the health and fitness industry?
A: I get to help other women look good and feel good about themselves.
Q: What is it like being your own boss? Are there any downsides?
A: Of course, the hours are long, it's almost impossible to ever ‘shut off’ from your work, you have to be accountant, marketer and secretary as well as trainer or boss (at least at first). But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m completely responsible for my own success. I work from home, at the hours that suit me and my family and I do what I love.
Q: What are your business plans for the future?
A: To reach more and more mums with MuTu®. The licensed personal training business is growing in the UK and the online business is global.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you believe entrepreneurs face when starting a business?
- Fear of the unknown, of no pay cheque, or of failure. The fear is human but don’t let it hold you back.
- Well meaning and concerned, but negative support from the people that love you.
- The curse of having a 'Plan B'. Many business advisors will disagree with me on this one but I believe if you have a 'Plan B', you’re setting yourself up for 'Plan B'. Set your sights, have a plan and set about making it happen. No half measures.
Q: What three pieces of advice can you offer to entrepreneurs?
- Choose your business mentors or advisors carefully. Your family and friends may mean well and want you to succeed but have they done what you want to do? Take business guidance from an entrepreneur who is more successful than you, not a friend who values a steady job and ‘safe’ employment.
- If you want to be an entrepreneur, you have to do what most people don’t do. That doesn’t make you better or cleverer, but it does mean you have to do things differently. Dream big, be brave, keep learning and don’t give up.
- You have to believe in yourself and in your business, but never take it so personally that you make poor business decisions (this is easier said that done sometimes).