We spoken to Leicester Tigers & England hooker Nic Dolly about his business Build U Fitness and how it came around...
First of all, how is the injury?
Yeah, it’s going pretty well. I’m making good progress and I just need to make sure to work hard now to get back.
Tell us about your business, “Build U Fitness” how did it come around?
It started when I lost my contract at Sale. I found out the hard way that rugby isn’t everything and you need to have a few different avenues or at least have an idea of what you want to do. From that I had to make an income, because it was during that COVID period, so it was quite hard to get a contract. It was a way of me being able to have an income but also, I was always into my training, and enjoyed the helping people side of it, so I ended up starting it.
Have you always envisaged going into that industry?
Now I look back on it, I probably was. I have always been into my training and always took the lead if me and my mates were going to the gym, planning what to do and taking the lead on that. I was always going to find myself in that industry, not particularly coaching or training people, but opening a gym and facilitating its use, but now it’s worked into training people.
What is your long-term plan for the business?
Since I’ve been injured, I’ve been able to push it a bit more. From a selfish point of view, it’s not a bad thing having more clients. Obviously, it's more income and I'm able to help more people. In an ideal world, five years down the line, I'd like to hope to have my own gym set up somewhere that I can base myself out of. Obviously, with rugby it's hard though because you don’t know your future. You’re on two/three-year contracts, or whatever it might be, so it’s hard really to say, but ideally, I’d like to have my own set up where I can base out of and expand, having staff so I can take more of a back seat and let others look after it.
Have any of your teammates at club or country come to you asking for advice on how to do stuff in the gym?!
I get more stick for it than ever to be honest! But I think the boys respect what I’m doing as much as they take the rip out of it and throw digs here and there because I’m quite active on social media. I think more boys respect and see I’m able to run a decent business on the side to playing.
I think a lot of boys would look to do stuff outside of rugby, and I always try and tell them they probably should, because as I mentioned earlier, you just don’t know what’s around the corner do you? One day you could be on a five-year deal, the next you may have nothing.
How important has your support network been in helping set this up?
They’ve been massive. Because the way things panned out with Sale and stuff, I was left in a pretty strange predicament where I didn't really have any income and I wasn't particularly on much at Sale anyway, so it wasn't like I had a whole lot of savings that I could rely on. Having that support like I did and during COVID, it was massive because I ended up starting with a gazebo out the back of my partner’s parents place and just started training people out there just to try and get stuff on.
So, I was incredibly lucky to have a good support network in that I wasn't having to pay rent or worry about food, so I could just try and focus on building something and keep my mind busy rather than worrying about contracts and things.
Since the sad case of Wasps and Worcester with players losing their jobs, has it become clear to you and your teammates that you just don’t know what’s going to happened around the corner?
I’d like to say it has. I think it’s extremely hard, like when you’re in the moment. If you had told me at Sale, I was going to lose my contract, and so on... I probably wouldn’t have cared. I wouldn't have gone and sorted something out. I remember speaking to Jono Ross, and he were like “You doing anything outside of rugby?” and I said I was doing this PT course and he said “If I were you, I’d start doing this or start saving money”. I just went whatever mate, as you did as an 18-year-old. You think rugby is everything, you’re in that bubble but now, having seen It first hand, and realising that when I came to Leicester, I was able to continue to have it. It’s nice to have a balance of rugby and running the business, replying to messages or setting up programmes.
If you had one bit of advice to any playing wanting to start up their own business like this, or anything else, what would it be?
I’d just say go for it. There’s no harm in trying, if it fails at least, you learned a lesson and then the next time you got to set it up, or try to, you’ll be better for it. It’s going to take a bit of time, it’s not going to blossom overnight, but if you spend a bit of time on it each day, trying to make it better then hopefully you’ll be able do it in the long run.
Visit Build U Fitness' instagram page here