Rhianwen Seiter, a winner of the Physical Activity Innovation Challenge and co-founder of Back 2 School Fitness (B2SF), said she has always wanted to establish her own enterprise.
"Although I’d often thought about starting my own business, I hadn't found anything that sparked my passion. My background is in corporate recruitment and both my partner and I were busy working full time. It wasn’t until my career took a backseat to raise our three young children that the opportunity presented itself in an idea to get parents more active," says Ms Seiter.
Ms Seiter's idea came to her while preparing for an 18 km run in Paris.
"I'd enrolled in a boot camp program to help prepare me for the race. It felt good to be active and be a positive role model for my children. Once I got into it, I was curious about starting a similar exercise program for other parents and friends of our local school, Moreland Primary," said Ms Seiter.
Her initiative to link mums and dads interested in getting fit took off very quickly. After a meeting with the school principal, John Williams, the program was announced at the school sports night. Ten people immediately put their hands up to participate. Mr Williams also introduced Ms Seiter to her business partner, Jamin Heppell, a qualified professional trainer who shared her entrepreneurial spirit and drive.
The benefits of the program extend way beyond physical fitness.
"The sense of community that Moreland has created around the program is incredible. It has united us," said Ms Seiter.
At the heart of its genius is an acknowledgement that most parents want to be fit and healthy but cannot find the time to attend a gym between work and parenting. Furthermore, the motivation to stay fit is much stronger when the activity is social.
"Because all our classes are planned around school class times, parents can converge local to home. It’s simply convenient to get and stay healthy," said Ms Seiter.
With a new name and plenty of momentum, B2SF has since established partnerships with 4 other primary schools. The model combines fitness and fundraising where a percentage of the proceeds go straight to the school. As the participant numbers increase so does the fundraising capacity.
"The Innovation Challenge really forced us to ask the tough questions about the business concept. It helped clarify our message, clarify our business strategy and increase our rate of growth. As they say, ‘build it and they’ll come’. That’s been our experience. Having VicHealth support our business has helped give us credibility when approaching other school councils, principals, and parents. It has opened many more doors for B2SF."
Ms Seiter is passionate about demonstrating to parents that they can fit exercise into their day, have fun in the process and enjoy the positive aspects of being active and healthy role models. She said, "We're doing this because we want to be better parents and better people. It's fun, supportive and sometimes a little competitive! And it is always enjoyable."