Getting to Know Bath - Zita Alves at Zest BootcampPosted on: 17 Mar 2017
Zita Alves is the founder of Zest Bootcamp which has helped hundreds of people get into shape and feel great. Her fitness programme has won multiple awards including Best Fitness Business from the Bath Independent Business Awards. Zita also has a regular column in Bath Weekend where she shows you some exercises you can do at home. But how did it all come about and why is she so passionate about health and fitness? We asked her exactly that...
When did you set up Zest Bootcamp and why did you decide to do it?
I set up Zest Bootcamp in 2009 having worked for over 10 years in Bath as a personal trainer, mostly at The Bath Spa Hotel. The recession had hit and I was looking at a way of making exercise more affordable for more people as my passion is to help people feel better. Bootcamps had come over from the USA and were starting to become popular in London so I thought maybe I should give it a go in Bath!
Are you from Bath?
I grew up in Berkshire and moved to the South West to go to Bristol Polytechnic, as it used to be called before changing to the University of the West of England. I actually studied Business and Marketing and that was my previous career for 5 years before I retrained in fitness in 1998.
How well has the bootcamp been received by the people of Bath?
Bath Bootcamp, as I originally named it, has been very well received by the people of Bath and I actually rebranded to Zest several years ago when we were also running classes in Marshfield, Peasedown St John, Midsomer Noton and Chilcompton. A few years ago I decided to just focus on Bath which is the only place we run classes now but I kept the name as it sums up what I/we are about - a Zest for life.
Why did you choose to set up the business here?
Little did I know almost 20 years ago when I worked in Bear Flat at a Direct Marketing agency that I’d be running an outdoor exercise class in Alexandra Park one day. Back then I was an overweight, asthmatic, non-exerciser who was known as the “cake monster” because I was always first in the queue when it was someones birthday so I could get a cake - maybe a second one too! In the 4 years I was at the agency I think I walked to the park just once or twice - it is a steep hill to get there that back then would have left me huffing and puffing. Anyway fast forward, 10 years after retraining to become a personal trainer and having worked in Bath before I changed careers and then as a personal trainer, it seemed the perfect place to start a bootcamp. Ironically I lived in Bristol at the time and now I live near Wells in Somerset but I spend so much time in Bath I feel like I live in the city.
How do you manage your time between your business and writing for Bath Weekend?
Ah time management - that’s one of the hardest things for everyone, and especially for me as I always try and do too much! My work is very much about set times and appointments as I generally have personal training clients between the bootcamp classes but there are some times/days I have gaps so that’s when I can be seen in various cafes in Bath with my headphones on writing my articles for Bath Magazine. This can however lead to me drinking far too much coffee! (Well I am half Portuguese)
Who are your idols in the health and fitness industry?
Probably when I started out as an unfit newbie in the industry Jane Wake was one of them - I loved her passion and authenticity. Since then I’ve trained with numerous people including Dax Moy and Phil Richards who I doubt anyone has heard of much outside my industry, again they are both passionate and authentic - what you see is what you get. Also several years ago I had a fitness equipment product called the Ztrainer and Charlotte Ord, who was the female coach on The Biggest Loser, was our female ambassador because I respected her knowledge and passion.
Where do you like to eat or drink in Bath?
There are just so many fab places in Bath it’s always hard to narrow it down. I spend a fair bit of time at The Bear in Bear Flat, it’s a great place for coffee or a drink if you don’t want to be in town. You can’t beat Le Bistrot Pierre for lunch, and for dinner The Mint Room is great. For a special occasion afternoon tea at The Royal Crescent takes some beating.
What’s your favourite thing about Bath?
Its beauty - almost everywhere you go you get a fantastic view, architecture, nature or water in some form. Being so hilly lends itself well to this and despite looking at the view of Bath from Alexandra Park for 8 years now I never get bored of it.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
I’m looking to work with more women over 50 (as I will be in that age category then) and there’s no reason that as we get older we can’t maintain or increase our levels of fitness. I hope to be doing more workshops, retreats and online programmes in the future.
If you were Mayor of Bath for a day what would you change?
Probably the bus gates as I know how hard it is to navigate through them as someone working in the city let alone visitors to the city. My parents were fined as they unknowingly drove through so I’m sure many others have been fined due to an innocent mistake.
Born in Bath, Safia has lived on the outskirts of the city her whole life. After studying journalism in Bristol she now spends a lot of her time searching for new things to see in Bath and soaking up the beautiful culture. You're most likely to find her sipping a soya latte in a lovely little independent cafe! Call Safia on 07468 516375 or email editor@365Bath.com.