Charlie Bowling

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The closure of gyms and group activities during Covid-19 provided inspiration for Farmer Strong, as Charlie Bowling initially looked for ways to train on-farm.

As an international wrestler representing Team GB, Charlie’s work came to a sudden halt during the pandemic, and he started to search on-farm for suitable equipment to keep up his training regime at home.

He shared his solutions on social media, utilising items from old tractor tyres to sandbags.

As restrictions eased, Charlie started offering training sessions, taking advantage of the allowances for outdoor exercise, and expanded into group sessions once restrictions allowed, establishing Farmer Strong.

The outdoor environment on-farm in Bolton has been transformed into a training area, with views unlike any other gym.

“What sets us apart is the distinctive touch we give to our equipment. Concrete dumbbells, telegraph poles and old tractor tyres form a significant part of our unique training gear,” says Charlie.

There are now 70 members at the gym, who all have subscriptions. Word-of-mouth and social media have been essential recruitment tools for the diversification.

They also host a yearly fitness event called ‘Fittest on the Farm’, which brings local gyms to the farm to compete in fitness challenges.

The business has brought in an additional income stream, while utilising existing resources of land and infrastructure. It has also minimised the need for additional investments, while bringing money back to the farm.

Looking to the future, Charlie was hoping to set up a franchise scheme, looking for other individuals wanting to diversify on-farm and bring Farmer Strong, and its strong brand identity, to more people.

However, there were challenges in the immediate future, with the farm where it is currently located being sold for development. But the business is hopeful to find a new suitable location to help it continue developing.