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I wanted to try a different sport after being in another for 13 years. I’ve always wanted to lift weights and build my strength up. At Charnwood Barbell I get more individualized coaching, I was used to being taught in a class of 30 with 1 instructor.

It has such a great atmosphere, everyone is super friendly. I was very shy and in my shell but coming to the club has helped me with my confidence. I like the community that has been created, everyone looks out for each other. I also love the individual training plans, the feedback and the flexibility of training, means it can adapt to my plans that week. Like I said, everyone is so nice, always helping and encouraging each other, makes you feel welcomed and cared about. I have come so far in such a short space of time.

Looking back from where I was to where I am now I am so much stronger but also more confident in my ability and come home buzzing from the gym. James, You’re doing an amazing job. So grateful to have you as my coach!!


I joined Charnwood Barbell through a referral – I was looking for a new way to challenge myself. I’d been in the gym for 1.5 years, bored of the same routine, and bored of the environment. I was attracted to Oly lifting for a while, especially the strength, discipline and power (including muscle tone!) of the athletes. Lewis, who referred me in, said the club would be perfect for me – the community especially.

I wanted to take my training to another level, feel motivated again, and test my ability. I was ready to jump two feet in the deep end. I’ve never found something before that I could truly say is ‘my place’, or a sport/hobby I could be proud of.

What makes the club unique: the community. Most gyms claim to be a ‘community’, but it’s bollocks. Commercial gyms are clique-y, and if you’re not ‘one of them’ you’re treated like you don’t exist. Me being autistic, I never thought I would be one of them anyway. They weren’t people I could connect with, laugh with, and be comfortable training with. In commercial gyms it’s a fight to the equipment – who can get there first? At the club, the whole atmosphere is one of support, sharing, and care for each other. The day I stepped in there I knew I was ‘home’. I was welcomed in by everyone – and made to feel comfortable. There was no competition, no “I’m better than you cause I lift more”. No ego lifting. The sport in general is about leaving your ego at the door (cause it really is a fickle bitch), but we’re all in the same boat and there to support each other.

The coaching itself is very different from other PTs and coaches because the focus is on you. James will show you and teach you and guide you through the movements, but tailors the experience to *you* – how you best learn, how you’re feeling that day, your cycle (as a woman), and your goals. And when his focus is on you, it’s on you… and he’ll give you his full attention. 

From Day 1 up to now, I surprise myself daily on my progress. My lifts have improved weekly, and I’m hitting numbers 3 weeks ago I’d have found impossible. 

What I like most is how safe I feel there. It’s a place of no judgement, no criticism – only support and growth. I can walk in there in the worst mood, and come out feeling like a new woman.


I joined Charnwood barbell when I was 13 as no one else other than James wanted to coach me.

The unique thing about Charnwood barbell is the community. Everyone is really friendly, supportive and welcoming no matter what your knowledge and skills are. People will always help you in your training if you look like you’re struggling, they will suggest ways that you could improve your lifts.

Another thing that I think makes Charnwood barbell unique to other gyms is that James will always support your needs no matter if this is when training or outside of the gym. He always notices when things are bothering you mentally or physically as this will have a massive effect on your lifting so he will always offer his support in anything you need. 

I have been with Charnwood barbell for over 5 years and have never thought of leaving. The results that have come from training at Charnwood barbell are feeling mentally and physically stronger in my lifting, hitting lots of new PBs and developing my lifting technique massively.

As a woman, I have always felt safe lifting at Charnwood barbell and I know it will always be a safe environment to be in which I think is so important especially in gyms. 

Being a part of the community at Charnwood barbell makes me feel a lot happier not only because of the exercise but because of the progress I have made whilst being a part of the community.

Amazing place to be and the most supportive coaching!! 


I joined Charnwood Barbell to improve my technique on Oly lifts. I had come over for a workshop and James directed me on a couple of points in the snatch and I jumped under a 15kg bar for the very first time! Previous to this I could not work with more than a 10 kg bar. I wanted to be coached specially on the Oly lifts! 

Firstly the beginners course is capped at a certain number of people therefore the attention given in this 1 hour per week is fair and equal. This is followed by a basic programme of 4 weeks and then max out. There is individual Coaching time and attention given. In my opinion this is unique from other clubs. I’ve been a member of clubs in London where a membership is first then the service! This differs massively. It’s a big chunk of taster and I love that! 

PT’s operate differently altogether so I don’t feel there would be a comparison.

Individual programming has to be the biggest asset here in my opinion!! It is so unique! 

I can honestly say that I have not developed in any other club quite like I have at CB!! This is because of the above, plus the coaching. Coaching time and attention both in and out of coaching hours! 

In hours- It’s not class specific so there is no requirement to adhere to set time of attendance. The coach will review videos & provide feedback outside of coaching hours. This has allowed me personally to improve due to work commitments on a Mon – Fri. I can go on weekends and get feedback. This encourages me to continue…whereas it may hinder or put me off if it wasn’t the case. 

As a sportsperson – well I would never have considered competing before now! 

It’s absolutely incredible. It makes me wanna get along with my peers in the sport, learn from each other. Fail, get up and go again. 

James is a fantastic coach! I like that he and his wife Joana train alongside us. They pay attention to small details and always check in on you and try to help even if it’s a personal matter.


The first time I joined Charnwood Barbell was to get away from the normal gym scene. Every time I have re-joined since then was because I loved the sport, guidance, laughs, knowledge, problem solving and of course family feel. CB has helped me develop confidence,  a sense of achievement and helped my mental health. I’m slowly becoming the person I envision myself to be. 

The community at the club is varied, there are people from all walks of life. I feel like this makes the club inclusive of everyone regardless of your ethnicity, age, religion or gender. 

James has an extensive knowledge of the sport. He is friendly, fun, supportive, and has a genuine interest in seeing you do well. You have access to an individual personalized training plan with a coach who actually takes the time to understand you and your life (health/family life/work life/ sleep/food).

 I love the fact that the club does not look like a conventional gym, it is a proper weightlifting gym where people actually go to work out and better themselves.  

i’m the type of person that hates a normal gym routine, so this space that James and Joana have created is anything but boring and mundane, IT’S FANTASTIC 

I have been to comp and won medals 🏅 after working hard alongside my coach to hit my numbers at competition.


I joined Charnwood barbell as I wanted to try weightlifting but never had the courage to. I saw your instagram and you looked fairly approachable so I gave it a go, not realising how lovely everyone was.  

The enthusiasm! I’ve never had a coach/pt who is so invested and encouraging. Especially when I first joined, I felt instantly at ease, and cheering me on for the smallest improvements in a lift was genuinely lovely and gave me so much confidence. 

 I definitely push myself more since I’ve been here. I think it’s because I’m not worried about being judged (e.g. if I fail a squat). I now just give it a go, whereas I probably wouldn’t have tried so hard at a commercial gym. 

Being part of a community that accepts everyone for who they are is rare. The encouragement during the lifts is absolutely amazing and the programming is very personalised, always challenging but fun.

It’s brilliant, I love coming to the gym and I didn’t ever expect to lift the weights I’m lifting. I’ve ever felt so strong.


I wanted to lift heavy shit. I was getting a bit bored of KB. Wanted to get strong AF and fight old age. Didn’t want to go to a chain gym  because they suck- That simple. 

You guys are awesome. The difference is you are small, you know your shit, and you are all so, so encouraging and lovely. There’s always coaching and attention if you need it. There’s no egos or dickheads. The programming is specific and well thought out, and flexible which is great. It’s also very focussed. 

 I’m already stronger and my technique has improved exponentially. I also feel like I could possibly compete in something again which is quite a feat after previous experiences. 

Community, strength, commitment. You have that in spades. I love the community- everyone is welcoming, friendly, encouraging, everyone works hard and is doing their best. It’s amazing to be surrounded by so many strong people. It’s a very different community too, (different from the usual gym shit) we all grow together not in competition. We lift each other up. We’re all a bit weird and I love that.

 I love it. I feel part of something, I feel strong, I feel like I’ve accomplished loads, I can see how far I’ve come which is very confidence building. The programme makes sense and gives me confidence in my abilities. I often come in feeling like shit and leave feeling amazing- both from the fact I’ve lifted heavy shit and achieved, and from the lovely people who are there. 

Please don’t go away. I will cry!