Business and Innovation Courage and initiative Health

Job loss driving force for new fitness venture

Ross and Nicola Maclaine outside their new boutique gym

In one week, mother of two Nicola Maclaine faced the stress of major surgery, an unexpected job loss managing a gym, and moving house.

But, with incredible support and encouragement from friends and family, Nicola and her husband Ross Maclaine decided to put this behind them, take matters into their own hands, and start a business.

Faced with a long six-week recovery, no job, and a mortgage, Nicola says she was shocked and heart-broken.

The stress was unbelievable. I had no idea how we would pay our bills.”


The following week after her hysterectomy, Nicola was offered interviews for the jobs she had applied for while recovering in her bed.

She asked a friend to drive her to an interview in an office at the top of a flight of stairs.

Stitched up and in pain, she arrived sweating and red-faced.

“I was in no normal mental state with the amount of painkillers I was on, and I was just dripping with sweat. Looking back, it is no surprise I didn’t get the job!” Nicola laughs.

As a few weeks turned into months, Nicola began to feel really low. She describes herself as unmotivated, as having lost all belief in herself and being ‘really down and out.’

“I was so disillusioned with the whole fitness industry that I thought I was truly done.”

Friends rally

However, Nicola’s friends and family rallied around her and told her she would get through it and that these feelings would pass.

Nicola’s friend Leeane was the final push that she needed to use this opportunity to realise her dream of starting her own boutique gym.

“You need to open this gym” Leeane said, “so I have somewhere I can walk in and see you and feel welcome!”

Backed by two friends who invested in Nicola and Ross, they set out to create a facility called ‘Thistle Fit’ in an ode to their Scottish heritage. They planned it would stand apart from the standard gyms that they had both worked in or managed for the past 10 years.

“When we dreamt about what Thistle Fit would be, we always wanted to make sure we could engage with our members.” says Nicola. “We want to have something for everyone and build a community.”

I want people who are perhaps shy or intimidated by standard gyms to walk through the front door and feel welcomed.”


Nicola goes on to say, “It is important to us that everyone feels like they are a part of it.”

As Nicola starts describing her new fitness facility and what they can offer members, her face lights up.

It is something special to see someone so passionate about their job, especially in the face of adversity.

With presales beginning on the 4th December 2021, they are hoping to be up and running and open for business in time for the New Year and the fresh start it offers.

Thistle Fit is having a Christmas party to celebrate their journey and welcome interested members on the 11th December 2021 at their location of 4 Hinge road, Ravenswood, North Canterbury.

It is open for anyone to attend and will offer a BBQ, drinks, a Christmas work out and a Zumba class.

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For more information:

Thistle Fit, please visit


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