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Personal trainer rubs shoulders with former Dragons’ Den legend Theo Paphitis


A personal trainer based in Stroud recently met renowned entrepreneur Theo Paphitis, the former Dragon and founder of Small Business Sunday. 

In 2023, James Hilton was one of six weekly winners to gain a retweet or repost by Theo to his over half a million Twitter and Instagram followers in 2023. The weekly initiative, set up by Theo in 2010, now has over 4,000 #SBS winners and supports small businesses in the UK.

The #SBS initiative, started over a decade ago by former Dragon and businessman Theo Paphitis, supports a vibrant network of small business owners across the UK. Every Sunday, entrepreneurs take to X or Instagram, showcasing their businesses in hopes of catching Theo’s eye. With over 4,000 members and growing, #SBS offers a platform for entrepreneurs to connect, share expertise, and amplify their brands.

James’ initial scepticism about the relevance of #SBS to his service-oriented business quickly dissolved when he attended the #sbsevent2024 in Birmingham. Surrounded by over a thousand like-minded entrepreneurs, James recognised the opportunities present in the room. 

“The event was an eye-opener,” James said. “From engaging with representatives of the NatWest accelerator program to networking with fellow service-based entrepreneurs, the value was undeniable.”

Among the highlights was James’ meeting with the NatWest business accelerator scheme and he’s been invited to apply for their programme which starts in the summer.  

“Running your own business can be isolating,” he said. “But meeting others at different stages of their journey reminds us that we’re not alone. We’re here to support and uplift each other.”

The event wrapped up with a sincere exchange as James received his certificate from Theo Paphitis. Reflecting on a challenging week, James found comfort in Theo’s words of encouragement, reaffirming the community’s ethos of support and resilience.

“He pulled me aside after the photo and said sincerely that this is exactly what both the event and the #sbs community are for, to support one another through the inevitable wobbles and hope it had help me see beyond a tricky patch.”

James now proudly displays his #SBS certificate in his studio where he trains clients on a 1-2-1 basis, and continues to grow his virtual gym & community  ‘Jim’s Gym’, offering a fitness solution for older adults to stay active easily, from home. 

To learn more about Jim’s Gym visit https://www.jameshilton.fitness.

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