"Before you know it, you have half the class round at your place for dinner." Meet the extraordinary James Dawkins, Studio Co-ordinator at Gymbox Bank - a true Gymbox Original.
You’ve been chosen as a Gymbox Original, how does that make you feel?
Pretty special! I started my Gymbox journey when i was just 16, being a member of Covent Garden. I was blown away by the whole concept of the gym, so to come back many years later and work for Team GB, it’s pretty awesome.
How long have you been working at Gymbox as Studio Co-ordinator?
I have been in the role a year now, and before that I was a full time dance instructor. I originally come from a marketing background, working for the likes of the John Lewis Partnership, which has lent itself very handy in my current role.
In what ways do you think you are original?
Ha! I have no idea, maybe it’s because I am home grown. I started life as a member, then an instructor with just one class. Over the last two years I’ve worked my way up from one class, to my current role for Gymbox as Studio Co-ordinator. And now about to embark on my next new challenge of being a part of the team to launch the sixth gem in the family: Old Street.
Are you and Gymbox a good brand match?
Pretty spot on I think. I’ve worked for big corporate organisations, who suppress your character because it doesn’t fit into a suit and tie. But Gymbox is different, ‘anything goes’ is true. Well, as long as you do a good job!
What have been the highlights for you so far?
Working with the team at Gymbox Bank. I’ve learn’t so much from each and every Bank Gymboxer. We are more like a family with the same vision, to create the best gym experience we can for our members.
What is it about the job that gets you in every day?
Meeting new people - I bloody love it! For me, the opportunity to work with such diverse and creative people every day gets me out of bed.
You were ’turned’ as a dance instructor by chance, tell us about that
One evening I got fed up of pumping iron, you know it: same workout, different day. I heard a load of noise coming from the studio. So I dropped my weights and took a sneak peep. I saw a bunch of people dancing, sweating and having fun. The following week I thought I would try the class, never could I have imagined this would then inspire a new career and passion for dance fitness. Three years on, here I am.
How has dance changed your life?
Dance helped me to boost my confidence, allowed me to let go and move towards reaching my potential. It sounds cheesy, but I didn’t have faith in some of the jobs I’ve had, but having my outlet like dance helped me to find the confidence to realise you can achieve everything you want.
In what ways has dance changed members’ lives?
Fitness is a powerful tool, which is available to everyone in some shape or form. Dance fitness allows people to work on their confidence and really helps to lose their inhibitions or worries. One of the stories I will never forget is when one of my students, came up to me after being in class, at the back, very shy for several weeks, came forward at the end of class to tell me that my classes have been helping her to overcome her depression and she feels confident and happy once again. That stuff is powerful and reminds you that it’s more than just a fitness class we can deliver as instructors, we sometimes can help improve more than just dress sizes.
That’s amazing. What is it about dance that forges such a strong community feeling at Gymbox?
Dance fitness brings people together. Because it allows you to let go and work on building up your confidence. Doing this with a group of people, every week, supports you on this journey, because you think I’m not alone and we’re all here for the same reason, to have fun and get fit. You also meet like-minded people, which you are drawn to and then before you know it, you have half the class round at your place for dinner. Yes. this has happened!
When you’re hiring new instructors, what qualities are you looking for?
I look for something that inspires me. Gymbox instructors don’t just teach, but also inspire, that’s what sets us apart from the competition. You have to show me the passion, make me want to move my ass to burn off that big sharing bag of Daily Milk Chocolate buttons I scoffed earlier that day.
Ha-ha. What’s the funniest anecdote you can recall from your time with us so far?
I think it has to be the time i heard the nightly DJ play my favourite song, so started dancing down the stairs a bit too crazy and ended up falling down the rest. Yes it hurt, but it was comedy gold. That was the last time I decided to walk down stairs and Twerk at the same time.