Staff from Femme Fitness in Watford are celebrating after being named winners of the Local Business Accelerators Scheme, run by the local newspaper industry and supported by the Watford Observer.

On Monday, January 28, business owner Jodi Pyle received the news that the ladies-only gym had pipped numerous local businesses to the winning post.

Local Business Accelerator provides an invaluable boost to hundreds of promising young companies across the UK through the campaign prize of free advertising in their local newspaper and mentoring from local business leaders.

Organised by the Newspaper Society, the initiative is fronted by national ambassador and Dragons’ Den star Deborah Meaden, and backed by Prime Minster David Cameron, Business Secretary Vince Cable and CBI Director General John Cridland.

Jodi said: “We were over the moon to find out we had won and to be given free advertising in the Watford Observer as a prize is fantastic. I think Femme Fitness won because I’m so enthusiastic about the business.

“I’ve been in charge of Femme Fitness for the past four years, I used to teach bums, legs and tums classes at the gym. Then the gym came up for sale and I thought to myself, I should buy it.

“After speaking to a lot of residents, I saw a huge gap in the market for a female-only gym that caters to all women’s needs.

“It’s a confidence issue, a lot of women go to mixed gyms and either feel uncomfortable about working out because big muscular men or super skinny size eight women are there.

“We want women of all shapes and sizes to feel comfortable in a relaxed, yet fun environment. We like to think of ourselves as more of a sanctuary than a gym, particularly as we have an onsite salon, sauna and steam room.

“Recently we’ve decreased the size of our gym, we’ve still got the cardio and weight equipment, but we’ve moved it aside to give us more floor space for classes. So now we’re doing pole dancing, burlesque, yoga, pilates and more.

“A lot of people say they don’t know where we are as we’re in Queen’s Road, so we really hope this will boost our profile.”

David Cameron congratulated all Local Business Accelerator winners.

He said: “This excellent initiative shows how local papers can support and energise some of the brilliant new British businesses in their area and really help them flourish.

“By fostering entrepreneurship and innovation, these papers are not only nurturing local talent, but also playing a key part in encouraging economic growth from a local level upwards.

“I wish all the young businesses that took part in Local Business Accelerators all the best for the future and hope that they continue to benefit from their participation in the scheme.”