Want to train like an athlete with a professional athlete? Well, now you can. Somerton Sporting club connects professional sports coaching, and tailor-made sports travel experiences to design the ultimate sporting experience. To tell us more, we caught up with founder Martin Armstrong.
Luxurious Magazine: How did the idea for Somerton Sporting Club come about?
Martin Armstrong: The reason I started Somerton Sporting Club is that my journey into the sport of polo involved a lot of risk and misadventure that I needn’t have experienced.
The people who were teaching me how to play were primarily not operating in my interest; they were just polo players who wanted to play more polo!
As a result, there was minimal planning. I had to sort the logistics out for myself, and unfortunately, there was a lot of learning through making mistakes, unacceptable risks, and I ended up hurting myself a few times. I started Somerton to prevent people from going through the same experience across a variety of sports and bring sports enthusiasts together with qualified coaches.
For the coaches, we are helping them monetise what they do and helping them improve their business and profile, and for members, we’re making their sporting journey transparent, safer and better governed.
LM: What kind of activities and sports can people get involved in?
MA: The range of sports available means that there’s something for everyone, from those who want to take up a sport for the first time to those who are more serious and perhaps taking on their first triathlon, for example. So if you want to improve your tennis, learn to kitesurf, or take on anyone of 40+ sports across the platform, we have over 1,000 coaches ready to guide you on your sporting journey.
The elite side of our business is the other area that’s really exciting, especially as travel resumes in the wake of the pandemic. We have relationships with Olympic and World Champions, record breakers and pioneers, from those who are at the pinnacle of their sports to those pushing the boundaries of their sports, and we’re ready to connect them with our members.
LM: Can you run through how customers can access the sports and wellness experience?
MA: It’s as simple as the click of a button, and there is a huge range of services available to everyone who wants to take part in sport. You can search for a local coach in your sport of choice and book a session seamlessly in seconds. Or we have a dedicated travel team that can help you plan a bespoke adventure with your sporting hero, from cycling with Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas to climbing with Free Solo star Alex Honnold or windsurfing with double world champion Youri Zoon.
We’ll be on hand to arrange the logistics, working alongside the elite athlete to tap into their knowledge of their sport and the best places in the world to take part in it.
LM: What kind of coaches do you have on the books?
MA: We have a meticulous recruitment process that ensures coaches are properly vetted before being accepted onto the platform. This means they have the relevant governing body qualifications for their sports, and you’re safe in the knowledge that things like insurance are covered.
Photograph of Alistair Brownlee courtesy of RBCreate.
As for our elite athletes, they are the absolute cream of the crop in their disciplines. They include Geraint Thomas, Jason and Laura Kenny, Alistair Brownlee, Alex Honnold, Paula Radcliffe, Scott Jurek, Helen Glover, Amy Williams, Darren Clarke, Stan Wawrinka, Nicola Adams, and the list goes on.
LM: Do you think Covid has changed peoples view on keeping fit?
MA: It was sad to see a dip in activity levels nationally during the pandemic – and team sports suffered, of course – but it was telling that the majority of people took full advantage of the daily exercise that was allowed during the full lockdown. It was an important release from the stresses of the pandemic, and that’s the power of sport; it enriches our lives, no matter what else is going on around us.
In fact, I think the pandemic has had a positive effect of reinforcing how important it is to maintain an active lifestyle for our physical as well as our mental health, whether training alone or kicking a ball about with friends. Sport continues to bring us together, and that’s the ethos of Somerton; to create a sporting community that we can all be a part of.
LM: Let’s talk about the pricing for these experiences. What can customers expect for the price they pay for the experience?
MA: Coaching starts at as little as £1 for an online session, and many of our coaches offer their first session free. As for our bespoke travel experiences, these are exclusive to Somerton and provide members with access to private sporting facilities and locations that are ordinarily unavailable to the public, as well as the expertise of our elite athletes.
So these cost more, and there is a great deal of variance in the prices depending on the sport you wish to do and the location you wish to do it in.
We also believe passionately in the importance of the environment in which the sport takes place and supporting causes close to our hearts, and invest in these as part of experiences. It might be reducing plastic in the oceans, protecting marine life, or investing in local community projects; whatever it is, we are conscious of minimising our impact on the world and helping to improve it.
LM: Do you need to be physically fit initially to be able to take up this opportunity?
MA: No, there is something for everyone, whether you’re a complete novice looking to try something new or someone who is serious about the sport they love and maybe wants to refine their technique, get tips from a pro or take things to the next level with an unforgettable experience. Our coaches have the expertise to work with members to design bespoke training regimes geared towards their goals.
For the experiences which might involve a higher level of activity, whether it’s cycling in the Alps or kitesurfing in Patagonia, we will always advise on the fitness level required or level of difficulty.
LM: Once people have had their experience, are they given support and advice via the internet or phone calls?
MA: Yes, we have a dedicated team of specialists that are on hand to handle any follow-up enquiries, and the coaching platform remains open to anyone who wishes to continue their sporting journey once their experience has run its course.
We hope that the experience, and the knowledge and passion of the accompanying athlete, will inspire our members to greater things, whether it’s taking on their first triathlon or simply benefitting from a healthier lifestyle, and we also offer the opportunity for follow-up mentoring from our athletes, to ensure that you’re keeping on track with your goals or for a bit of additional motivation.
LM: How did Somerton react to Covid, and what are the plans going forward?
MA: When the world shut down, we worked hard to adapt to demand, shifting to an online platform and offering a range of sessions across our different sporting disciplines. In fact, that was when we really saw sport come into its own as members sought new ways of keeping active, whether it was yoga classes or personal training sessions.
Our coaching setup was important to many people’s existence through lockdown, also providing a revenue stream for the coaches who struggled with business. As the world reopens, our focus will return to travel, and we are very excited about what 2022 has to offer.
Somerton Sporting Club – Where and How?
For more information on Somerton Club, visit www.somertonsc.com.
Read more exclusive interviews by Sabi Phagura here.