Wolverhampton entrepreneur kicks himself into shape thanks to the ICT Cluster's high-tech expertise
Kirkwood Walker, 40, proprietor of Firewalker Leisure, dropped from 21 stones to 15 stones after health consultants at his gym advised him to seek medical attention for his dangerously high blood pressure.
Shocked by his poor state of health, the former Thai kick-boxing champion adopted a low fat, high fibre diet, together with a strict exercise regime. His motivation to shed the pounds was boosted further by an online slimming forum his health club runs online at www.fwc.uk.com.
The site was developed by the IT Futures team at the University of Wolverhampton's IT Futures Centre in 2005.
In-house developers continue to maintain the site and forum on behalf of Firewalker Leisure, and has proven to be a big hit with slimmers keen to share dieting tips and success stories.Established by regional development agency, Advantage West Midlands, IT Futures is one of nine ICT Cluster (Information Communication Technology) projects set up to strengthen the region's economic growth by providing high-tech advice, consultancy and support for small to medium sized businesses.Kirkwood's Sailsbury Street health club is one of many businesses in the region benefiting from the ICT Cluster's expertise. The IT Futures team ensures his site is attractive, easy to navigate and continually updated with the club's latest offers and events.Closer to his goal of becoming fighting fit, Kirkwood is encouraging his clients to take advantage of support available through the online forum.
He said: "We introduced the forum with IT Futures to help our clients share their health and fitness concerns and I had no idea how effective it was until I used it as a tool to battle my own weight.
"I can see more than ever why it's been so well received by clients and how much it's helped expand our business."
He added: "Before opening the gym I was working 12 hour days as a social worker and not fitting in any exercise and it was then I piled on the weight. There I was, Kirkwood Walker, five times Thai boxing champion, obese in hospital."Kirkwood is now planning to knock his business into even better shape by expanding his club's web site to include a facility which will allow him to sell tickets to kick-boxing matches online.
"The gym has changed dramatically since IT Futures came on board and that's something we want to continue. In this day and age it's increasingly obvious an attractive and easy to use website is crucial to a successful business," he added.
Notes to Editors:
About ICT Cluster
The ICT Cluster is one of 13 clusters established by Advantage West Midlands as part of an economic development strategy. These clusters have been chosen on the basis of their current strength in the region and their potential to create jobs and economic growth.
The ICT Cluster hosts the Annual West Midlands ICT Cluster Conference and Awards (22 November 2007). Advantage West Midlands is one of nine Regional Development Agencies in England whose role is to provide leadership and action to create more, better jobs and in improve the quality of life for all in the West Midlands.
About IT Futures
IT Futures is an Advantage West Midlands-funded project, bringing the expertise of the University's School of Computing and IT to small and medium-sized enterprises in the region.IT Futures gives practical assistance on the evaluation of the latest technologies for use in business, advice on bespoke and off-the-shelf solutions, access to staff training, and website development services.The in-house team of developers enables the development of applications and web sites without having to outsource work. This gives our consultants a better understanding of the development and implementation processes, which in turn delivers the quickest results and the most cost-effective solutions. Areas of expertise include; web site building, E-commerce, ADIC / RFID, management information, financial spreadsheets, networking, systems integration, mobile and wireless computing andcommunications. IT Futures are independent from any supplier, and offer free equipment loans and five days' free consultancy to firms employing less than 250 people (subject to eligibility).