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Personal trainer and mental health advocate delivers knock-out business with boutique boxing gym

Date: 07 Mar 2023

Category: Supporting businesses

Lord Mayor with Jake McBride of Hooked Belfast

Belfast Lord Mayor Councillor Tina Black has met with personal trainer and mental health advocate Jake McBride who has turned his passion for fitness into a ‘knock-out’ business with the launch of his very own boutique boxing gym, Hooked Belfast, thanks to help from the Go For It programme in association with Belfast City Council.

This project is part funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth and Jobs Northern Ireland (2014-2020) programme.

Jake McBride launched Hooked Belfast at the beginning of January 2023. Inspired by different gyms and their styles on a trip to London, he identified a gap in the market for a boutique boxing gym.

Having faced his own mental health struggles, Jake realised that when he was boxing, he felt happy and noticed a significant improvement in his mental health and overall wellbeing as a result.

Jake explains: “I wanted to share my knowledge and passion for boxing by providing a service, so others could also experience the positive mental and physical health benefits that have helped me massively.

“Since launching Hooked Belfast, I’ve enjoyed the freedom of being able to make my own decisions while creating a community of people who want to try something a little bit different from existing gyms across the city.”

Jake launched Hooked Belfast after taking part in the Go For It programme through Belfast City Council.

The Go For It programme is delivered free of charge by a team of experienced business mentors through Northern Ireland’s wide network of enterprise agencies. It provides expert advice and support to develop a business plan that helps entrepreneurs turn their ideas into commercial businesses.

After seeing a Go For It social media post, Jake got in touch with the programme online and from there, began the process through in-person meetings.

Jake continues: “The Go For It programme was amazing. I was matched with a business advisor and their attention to detail and overall professionalism was top notch. My business advisor was so knowledgeable and gave me so many tips on how to run a business.

“My business advisor also helped me to better understand business and its different aspects such as marketing and to develop a business plan. The plan helped me to work through all the ideas I had in my head and put them on paper. This gave me the strategic direction and focus I needed to transform my concept into a viable business.”

Jake encourages anyone with a business idea to take that leap and turn their idea into a reality: “If you’ve got an idea and want to start a business, I think you should go for it! You’ll never know until you try, and if you’re passionate and have ambition, you’ll succeed at whatever you go for.”

Belfast Lord Mayor, Councillor Christina Black, said: “It’s fantastic to see Hooked Belfast successfully up and running after getting our support through the Go For It programme.

“It’s so vital that Belfast based entrepreneurs continue to take that leap of faith and turn their dreams into a reality. New and innovative small businesses continue to be an integral aspect of our local economy.

“Jake should be very proud indeed of his achievements so far. He’s worked to create not only a business, but a positive community of likeminded people who are working to improve their physical and mental health. That’s something that should be commended and I wish him all the best in the future.”

Robbie Jamison, Business Advisor at East Belfast Enterprise said: “Jake is a great example of someone who had a real vision of what he wanted to achieve and worked hard to accomplish it. Since opening in January 2023, Hooked Belfast has been going from strength to strength and that’s a real testament to Jake’s hard-work and determination. I’m delighted to see it doing so well.

“Through the Go For It programme, we supported Jake to develop a comprehensive business plan, allowing him to set achievable goals and milestones for the future. We also offered advice in areas such as market research, financial planning and marketing, which are all key aspects in establishing a successful business.

“The transformation of Jake’s boutique boxing gym is incredible, and I’m delighted to see how far he has come both professionally and personally. I wish him all the very best for the future, and I have no doubt Hooked Belfast will continue to be a huge success!”

If you have a business idea you’d like to develop or if you are thinking about starting a business, contact the Go For It programme on: 0800 027 0639 or visit:

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