Rural and real

Injury-enforced down-time inspired Kate Ivey to set up her online business. By Lynda Gray.

In Community6 Minutes
Kate Ivey: ‘I knew I could do better than that.'

Injury-enforced down-time inspired Kate Ivey to set up her online business. By Lynda Gray.

AN OFF-THE-CUFF COMMENT SIX years ago by husband Mark was a grating but significant turning point in the development of Kate Ivey’s online fitness and wellness business.

“He suggested I get an ice-cream truck and open for business near the Lake Pukaki visitor centre….it really rocked me because I knew I could do better than that,” Kate (37) says.

The well-meaning advice made her literally step up and out of the confidence crisis she was battling.

The physical education and psychology graduate with additional qualifications in nutrition and exercise prescription had enjoyed a rewarding New Zealand and overseas career in health promotion. But marriage to Mark and moving to the relative isolation of the family-owned Glentanner Station, followed by motherhood and the demands of three pre-schoolers derailed hopes of a traditional urban-based health and fitness related career. But Kate rolled with the changes drawing on the idyllic setting of Glentanner, situated just off State Highway 80 on the way to Mt Cook.

“I used to do training programmes with neighbours and run boot camps on the lawn when the kids were asleep.”

However, an unexpected tipping point was rupturing her achilles not long after the birth of youngest daughter Imogen. It brought enforced down-time and a light-bulb moment.

“It sort of clicked all of a sudden. I knew I wanted a business that would help people like me – busy and mostly rural women who had a limited time for fitness and workouts.”

She borrowed $3000 to develop online downloadable PDF e-books with short and achievable exercise and fitness workouts and launched Kate Ivey Fitness in July 2016. It attracted loyal followers who soon started asking for more, leading Kate to change the business to a subscription basis and add new workouts weekly, along with some nutritional advice and recipes.

By lockdown 2020 the business was frantically busy, at which point Kate brought on board Anna McDermid to help lead the workouts.

The business further evolved and in 2021 it was a comprehensive programme called DediKate offering HIIT (high intensity interval training); weights; low impact, Pilates, yoga, pregnancy, and post-partum workouts as well as stretching and nutrition advice. In mid-2021 she launched in Australia, taking on board some Australian trainers.

DediKate has about 1600 subscription members of which about 45% live in rural areas. The business employs three people and has contract arrangements with seven trainers.

“Most of them have rural or what I call regional values and that’s the big point of difference of DediKate from the many other online fitness options; it’s about fitness, health, and well-being in a rural or down-to-earth environment.”

Kate’s grown the business with the backing of a support team, many of whom are friends or were recommended by friends. A good example was a university friend and business coach James McDonald, who was a big help at the start and helped her transition to a subscription-based business. Another is her head trainer, Anna McDermid, a qualified fitness trainer and wife of a university friend.

Kate says it’s been a rollercoaster six years with the launching of an online business around family life with Mark and children Olivia (11), Angus (9) and Imogen (7), as well as shifting from Glentanner Station to develop a new farming enterprise at Lake Pukaki.

There’s been lots of learning along the way and she has words of advice for other rural woman embarking on business.

“Don’t sell yourself short. Give it everything it takes and needs to be a fully fledged business rather than a hobby.”

Also, don’t expect or wait for everything to be sorted before you launch.

“Just get started and be prepared to learn and adapt along the way.”

And never underestimate the time and effort it will take.

“It’s great being my own boss but looking back I was naive as to how much work it would take. I love my work and it’s still busy but now I set boundaries and make time for myself and my family.”

Not surprisingly her time-out pursuits are fitness-based, “I play golf once a week and am going to play basketball again… I’m an active relaxer, exercise and sport is part of my self-identity.”