Making The Podium

Welcome to “Making the Podium” – a fortnightly podcast for ambitious, bold and daring business owners, entrepreneurs and marketing professionals who want to be at the cutting edge of innovation in the sports, health and fitness, and wellness industries. 

Making the Podium
Making the Podium
Making the Podium
Making the Podium

New Episodes Fortnightly

Released Thursdays

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Chris Sharman

With over 25 years experience in the leisure industry, your host, Chris Sharman, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Topodium Group, has been lucky enough to work with businesses across the globe developing innovative products and cutting edge brands for the links of Virgin Active, David Lloyd, Challenger Sports, Thomas Cook & Disney. 

He’s seen plenty of trends and initiatives emerge, though what remains at the core of growth in our sectors is the passion to impact and motivate people. Each episode we’ll get to the heart of topics on all marketeers minds from the development of new technologies such as AI, AR & VR, to the challenging demands of consumer expectations. 

A photo of Chris Sharman

Check out all the episodes!

Latest Episodes

Photo of Guy Griffiths

Series 2 Episode 10

The Best of Series 2 with Topodium Group’s Chris Sharman, Ryan Grimshaw & Charlotte Owen #S2E10

Welcome to the Finale of Making The Podium’s Series 2! We’ve been offered 9 incredible stories and viewpoints, and it’s time to look back at the best tales and insights.

Returning from our previous series review, Topodium Group’s Ryan Grimshaw & Charlotte Owen weigh in on the storytelling, product innovation, and outlooks on Nature vs Nurture that we’ve heard throughout the series.

This episode covers:
  • Our highlights from the 9 fantastic episodes of Series 2
  • An overview of the diverse positions on Nature vs Nurture
  • Riding the line between branding & marketing
  • How we can take steps to professionalise the kids’ care & activities sector

Photo of Guy Griffiths

Series 2 Episode 9

Preserving the Magic from Disney to David Lloyd with Head of Spa, Family & Lifestyle at David Lloyd Clubs, Stephanie Holland – S2E9

Offering superlative experiences to families at health clubs demands the ability to make every experience truly magical, a fact Stephanie Holland channels from her time on Disney Cruises.

Taking forward many key tenets that helped to ‘preserve the magic’, Stephanie’s work at David Lloyd clubs is revolutionising their spa offerings and approach to activities for kids and families.

Join us on Making The Podium to learn how Disney’s ‘guest recovery’ turns complaints into advocates, why it’s essential to foster a community with your members, and how to create experiences that engage all the senses.

This episode covers:


  • The Disney Cruise values that underlie Stephanie’s current ethos, from preserving the magic to guest recovery
  • Creating a more varied offering to keep the community of members engaging with the club
  • How David Lloyd listens to feedback and caters to families’ needs
  • The lasting memories that kids take from activities, and the enthusiasm required to run youth classes

Photo of Guy Griffiths

Series 2 Episode 8

Leading Hampshire FA’s Innovative Growth with Chief Executive, Neil Cassar #S2E8

From setting up football teams aged just 14, you’ll struggle to find a more passionate lover of the game than Neil Cassar, who became the youngest county FA CEO when he took the role with the Hampshire FA in 2006.

The scale and growth of the organisation, with its nation-leading facilities and touchpoints with local stakeholders, is in large part due to Neil’s ability to keep community and sustainability at the heart of everything they do.

With his innovative mindset, this episode of Making The Podium is a masterclass for any sport on thinking outside the box and bringing sporting bodies closer to the community with whom they engage.

This episode covers:


  • The expansion of Hampshire FA’s hubs as some of the country’s leading facilities
  • Neil’s route to becoming the youngest CEO of a county FA
  • Thinking outside the box in creating unique initiatives to help engage the community
  • How FAs around the country are responding to the recent decline in touchline behaviour from parents in the youth game

Photo of Guy Griffiths

Series 2 Episode 7

How a Goalkeeper’s Growth Mindset Catalyses Business Success with Founder of Soccer Parenting, Skye Eddy – S2E7

The parallels between sport and business run deep and broad, and with experience as a goalkeeper and business founder alike, Skye Eddy combines the best of both worlds.

Spurred on with entrepreneurial pursuits by those around her at an early age, it’s fitting that Skye would go on to create Soccer Parenting, a community that’s quite literally changing the game around youth football coaching in the US.

Hear why the growth mindset of a goalkeeper is perfect for progress, how Skye’s season in Italy with Tavagnacco Femminile led her to take control of her career path, and why in the sporting world, community is everything.

This episode covers:


  • Skye’s exciting career, and how it demonstrated her ambition to chase her dreams
  • How a goalkeeper’s growth mindset translated into creating the Soccer Parenting community
  • The importance of her reliable network of positive contributors
  • Solving problems by focusing on creating the desired outcome rather than fixing undesirable situations
  • Catalysing a change in the conventional parent-coach relationship

Photo of Guy Griffiths

Series 2 Episode 6

Innovating Events & Connecting Communities with Managing Director of ReesLeisure, Chris Rees #S2E6

When Chris Rees created a feasibility project for a college assignment, it was the humble seed that’s grown into ReesLeisure, where he’s running events for thousands and raising millions for charity.

From the Southampton Marathon to the innovatively named and inclusive ‘Try Tri’, Chris’ prerogative has been to benefit an expanding community with his network of sporting events, involving a city-wide community in an emphatic celebration of the area.

Listen to this week’s Making The Podium for more on how Chris combines confidence and vision to earn buy-in for new ideas, where he lands on entrepreneurialism as nature vs nurture, and the value in coordinating events with local councils & communities.

This episode covers:


  • How Chris composes his innovative, large scale local events
  • Building the confidence & vision to pitch bold, novel ideas
  • Chris’ use of sporting events to bring awareness & footfall to local areas
  • Creating multiple touchpoints with the community

Photo of Guy Griffiths

Series 2 Episode 5

The New Age of Sports Gamification with CEO of LYMB.iO, Markos Kern – S2E5

Very few brand names have been able to hack attention like Fun With Balls. Starting life as a mixed reality console backed on Kickstarter, the company now titled LYMB.iO are accelerating the gamification of sports with their truly unique and innovative experience.

Founder & CEO of LYMB.iO Markos Kern joins Chris this week to break down their ‘ballsy’ approach to marketing & how it all starts with an incredible product, as well as dealing with the complexity of pitching something unlike any existing products, and whether the entrepreneurial spirit is rooted in nature or nurture.

This episode covers:


  • Markos’ tech-focused early career as a visual designer
  • Entrepreneurship: nature or nurture?
  • Obtaining funding while pitching a unique concept
  • Evolving sport for modern attention spans through gamification
  • The trick to attention hacking your target market
Photo of Guy Griffiths

Series 2 Episode 4

Evolving the Family Club Format with Founder of ‘GetSetGo!’, Claire Harrison – S2E4

Creating clubs suitable for the whole family, with no membership and based in dedicated, quality facilities makes perfect sense, yet it’s a space with untapped potential… Enter ‘GetSetGo!’.

With a background in swimming and 12 years as MD of Swimming Rocks under her belt, ‘GetSetGo!’ Co-Founder Claire Harrison is taking ambitious steps to bring an innovative offering to the family activity space in London.

Claire joins Chris on this week’s Making The Podium to share the challenging route to securing funding, the rip roaring successes that Claire and business partner Alina have achieved in spite of pandemic-sized hurdles, and the passionate approach to connecting with kids that permeates their entire team.

This episode covers:
  • How Claire’s early passion for sports and swimming began her incredible career
  • Finding the right facilities and quality coaches with both technical skills and soft skills
  • Launching ‘GetSetGo!’ in the midst of Covid, and the challenge of obtaining funding from the right investors
  • Claire and fellow co-founder Alina’s ambitious expansion plans, within London and further afield
  • The importance of picking appropriate tech solutions to improve engagement with the club
Photo of Guy Griffiths

Series 2 Episode 3

Boosting Retention & Enticing ‘Health Seekers’ with Director of GGFit, Guy Griffiths – S2E3

Health & fitness can be an intimidating world, with terminology and practices that hold clubs back from the kind of retention they’re capable of. Perhaps it’s time to reposition what a health club can do for customers uninterested in the gym itself…

Preaching the innovative idea of a Health Seeker Membership, GGFit’s Director Guy Griffiths sees our sector as a vital asset with the potential to ease up the NHS, and tap in to the 70% of the population who say they want to be more active.

We also discuss the virtual ‘third space’ that’s becoming an imperative part of any service offering, and how retention is playing a greater role in clubs measuring the success of their customer engagement.

This episode covers:
  • Our sector’s role in the nation’s health journey
  • How we can change our language to appeal to a wider audience
  • The innovative concept of ‘Health Seekers’
  • A focus on retention as a stronger measure of success
  • The growing importance of the virtual space in health & fitness
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Series 2 Episode 2

Inspiring an Authentic Fitness Community with Eyal Booker, Fitness Influencer & Founder of Empower By Eyal #S2E2

Welcome back to Making The Podium, where we’re kicking off an exciting, NEW SERIES of the fortnightly podcast for ambitious, bold and daring business owners at the cutting edge of innovation in sports, health & fitness, and wellness.

Who better to join us for one of two exciting episodes kicking off Series 2 than a man whose employment history includes a pop group, modelling, a lengthy appearance on Love Island, and now leading a personalised, online fitness coaching brand: Empower by Eyal.

Eyal Booker tells us of the persistent role that fitness has played throughout his life, from early childhood right through to his latest coaching endeavours. In this fascinating episode, we discuss the balance of opportunity, hard work and strategy behind Eyal’s decision-making, how the rebirth of Empower capitalises on the lessons from its original launch, and how vanity metrics are making way for the authenticity of a real community.

This episode covers:
  • The vital role of health & fitness throughout Eyal’s life
  • Nurturing a hard working, entrepreneurial mindset
  • Taking lessons from an initial launch to overhaul Empower’s latest iteration
  • Balancing hard work, opportunity, and strategy
  • Curating a real community rather than aiming for likes and vanity
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Series 2 Episode 1

Hybrid Fitness & Leaving a True Legacy with ukactive CEO, Huw Edwards #S2E1

Welcome back to Making The Podium, where we’re kicking off an exciting, NEW SERIES of the fortnightly podcast for ambitious, bold and daring business owners at the cutting edge of innovation in sports, health & fitness, and wellness.

We’re kicking off Series 2 with a man whose positive influence on the sport, health and fitness sectors as CEO of ‘ukactive’ is outweighed only by his passion for getting people more active – Huw Edwards. Having contributed his talents to London 2012 and the LTA, he’s now leading the UK’s leading not-for-profit health body in the physical activity sector.

Huw joins host Chris Sharman on this series premiere to discuss hybrid fitness models, tapping into community inspiration, creating a true legacy, and the importance of opening up the 40% of sports facilities locked behind school gates.

This episode covers:
  • The role of digital technologies in the future of hybrid fitness models
  • Using community inspiration along with influencers to raise the profile of our industry
  • The importance of creating a true legacy
  • Opening up school sports facilities to increase physical activity in young people
Making The Podium Round Up Thumbnail

Episode 10

The Best of Series 1 with Topodium Group’s Chris Sharman, Ryan Grimshaw and Charlotte Owen

This season of Making The Podium has seen us interview some of the FitTech industry’s leading innovators and brightest minds to help us see what makes them tick.

From homegrown companies to Israel and New Zealand’s emerging businesses, these episodes have exposed us to the future of FitTech, and it seems only fitting to wrap up the series with a look at the top takeaways and pertinent points that have stuck with us.

For the series finale, Chris is joined by Topodium Group’s very own Ryan Grimshaw and Charlotte Owen, where we share our own thoughts on the branding strategies and cultures that help businesses in the sector make better partnerships, stronger bonds with customers, and generate world-leading change.

This episode covers:
  • How brand identity extends beyond the logo and visual branding
  • Growing emphasis on audio and podcasting in brand strategy
  • Connecting with audiences uniquely based on each channel’s nuances
  • Modern approaches to demonstrating good culture and ethos
  • Creating more engaging experiences through partnerships


Craig Jones- Episode 9 Making The Podium

Episode 9

Inspiring the UK‘s Sporting Youth with COO of Junior Adventures Group UK, Craig Jones

For parents, those working with children, or childcare professionals, the benefits of sporting activities for kids are plentiful and profound, and there’s never been a more important time for the industry to recover than now. 

With a massive pent-up demand for kids sport, leading wraparound care provider Junior Adventures are gearing up for a year to help the industry as a whole bounce back. 

Junior Adventures Group’s COO, Craig Jones, joins Chris Sharman on Making the Podium, to share the passion for child care that he’s incubated throughout his journey, which has seen him in huge roles at Fit For Sport, and the illustrious Hurlingham Club.


This episode covers:
  • The pent up demand for kids sport following lockdowns
  • A growing consolidation of kids activity services
  • Embedding culture to maintain quality at scale
  • Battling bias against men in childcare
  • Craig’s long standing belief in involving everyone in team environments


Featured Image- Natalia Karbasova

Episode 8

Launching a global FitTech community with Founder of FitTech Summit, Natalia Karbasova

2020 saw an 80% growth in demand for fitness apps, cementing FitTech as a compelling space to enter. Making the connections to do so can be an intimidating task, one that Natalia Karbasova has been helping countless businesses to achieve as Founder of the FitTech Summit. 

With a vision of a future that combines preventative health benefits with unique fitness solutions, Natalia joins us on Making The Podium to share the value she places on storytelling in business, how to find the right people to work with, and enforcing a “No asshole” policy…

This episode covers:
  • The future of gyms, and combining health with fitness
  • Massively increased demand on fitness apps in 2020
  • Growing the profile of the incredible FitTech Summit
  • Working with the right people, and Natalia’s “No asshole” policy
  • Natalia’s focus on storytelling as the most important thing in marketing


Yaniv Shneiderman- Main Image

Episode 7

Developing the World’s Leading Reaction Training Startup with Founder & CEO of BlazePod, Yaniv Shneiderman

It may come as a surprise to many that one of the key tools for today’s top athletes started life as a smart children’s toy. However, BlazePod’s shift away from kids fitness and into serving various sports from football to F1 has unlocked a valuable market, and helped grow a dedicated community.

BlazePod’s Founder & CEO, Yaniv Shneiderman, has been able to steer the company from prototype to professional use with his passion for constructing innovative software and hardware alike. Hear how BlazePod amassed a user base over 100k strong, the patience and luck needed to enter physical production, and Yaniv’s outlook on the investment that’s been focused on innovative startups in Israel.

This episode covers:
  • Yaniv’s affinity for building both software and hardware from a young age
  • Satisfying high demand from crowdfunding campaigns
  • Recent growing investment in Israel’s technology companies
  • The role of patience, attention, and luck in hardware production
  • Encouraging growth within the BlazePod community
Christine Kelly Little Kickers Making the Podium Podcast

Episode 6

Growing a globally-acclaimed franchise from scratch with Founder & Chairman of Little Kickers, Christine Kelly

From a local, high demand class for toddlers to scooping up the Global Franchise Champion award last year, the meteoric rise of Little Kickers is one of international development and incredible demand from franchisees-to-be. Leading this impressive expansion as their Founder and Chairman is Christine Kelly.

Joining Chris on this episode of Making The Podium, Christine delves into the continuation of her franchise’s culture and business model in overseas markets, the pros and cons of a franchise model, and how the past year’s troubles have generated a pent-up demand for classes like never before.

This episode covers:
  • Building Little Kickers from a desire for activities for young children
  • Encouraging a focus on football as a vehicle for learning
  • Adjusting to cultural differences in international markets
  • Taking advantage of a natural demand from franchisees
  • The legal pain-points of franchising
  • Little Kickers’ philanthropic future endeavours
Photo of Tammy Parlour

Episode 5

Making Women’s sport visible, viable and unstoppable with Women’s Sport Trust Co-Founder, Tammy Parlour MBE

Women’s sport is rightfully receiving increased support in recent years, much of this can be attributed to the incredible work of Women’s Sport Trust – a charity committed to increasing the profile of female athletes. Not only are they a force for good, but they are an exemplary case study on achieving large scale change with limited resources.

From high level cultural shifts, to her consideration for grassroots businesses like her own Hapkido and meditation school, WST’s Co-Founder Tammy Parlour joins us this week to share the importance of internal motivation to accomplish her business goals, advice for businesses looking to combat unconscious bias, and the beneficial impact of female representation in high level sporting events.

This episode covers:
  • Tammy’s early start in martial arts, and the unique challenges of Hapkido
  •  Lessons from setting up her Hapkido school which feed into other business scenarios
  •  Being driven by internal motivations more than external pressures
  •  The inception and early success of Women’s Sport Trust
  •  Achieving large scale impact with limited resources
  •  Advice for businesses to address unconscious biases
Photo of Paul Bowman

Episode 4

Revolutionising Fitness Clubs with Virtual Innovation with CEO of Wexer, Paul Bowman

We were delighted to be joined by Paul Bowman, CEO of Wexer – a provider of digital solutions for gym-goers to access workouts anywhere, anytime.

Sharing lessons and tips from his time in Virgin Active and Gymbox, Paul joins Topodium Group’s Co-Founder and CMO Chris Sharman to detail Wexer’s journey to prevalence in the health and fitness sector, and the technological advancements that have helped them achieve their international success.

Paul recounts some of the key business decisions that he’s taken to position the brand in a more specialised vertical than their competitors, the challenges of offering a new, conceptual service to clubs with longstanding processes, and how the relationship between clubs and influencers could become a symbiotic success if harnessed correctly.

This episode covers:
  • Lessons learned from being a PT that transfer to business
  • The evolution of technology that made Wexer’s service possible
  • Positioning a brand around futuristic concepts
  • The effect of 2020 on exacerbating digital fitness tech
  • The relationship between influencers and fitness clubs
Making the Podium

Episode 3

Creating authentic, engaging content to upscale your audience with Food Blogger and Influencer James Wythe

Suffering a sudden illness that keeps you housebound for over half a decade is a truly life-altering event. To bounce back from it to create a community around cooking the recipes that catalysed an incredible recovery shows true determination, adaptability, and an authenticity that translates across multiple social platforms.

Turning what initially started as a dietary necessity for his recovery into a social media success amassing over 170k followers on Instagram alone, James Wythe joins Chris Sharman on this episode of Making The Podium to share how his unsuspecting hobby found traction, the consistency and experimentation that keeps his social media presence prominent, and favouring a smaller, more engaged following over achieving a single, viral hit.

This episode covers:
  • Combatting sudden illness through lifestyle changes
  • Turning a health habit and a hobby into a business
  • Finding success through relatability and simplicity
  • Retaining authentic engagement with your audience
  • Keeping followers’ trust when working with brands
  • Being flexible when using new social platforms
Making the Podium

Episode 2

Starting a leisure revolution with Gravity Co-Founder & COO Michael Harrison

At first glance, the concept of single-handedly increasing footfall to a shopping centre by 22% is a daunting prospect. Compound that with the strategy to entice people to “go trampolining by accident”, and you’ll confuse many entrepreneurs. But locating Gravity’s first trampoline park in a shopping centre was no accident – it was the start of a leisure revolution.

Gravity’s Co-Founder Michael Harrison joins Chris Sharman on the next episode of Making The Podium to explain how their unique service offering led to an initial influx of visitors, and initiated collaboration with Nandos, Pizza Express and many other food vendors. With a new centre in London imminent, boasting state-of-the-art, multi-faceted facilities, Michael shares the values and decisions that set Gravity on a stellar trajectory.

This episode covers:
  • Entering an untapped market
  • Positioning yourself to brace for an influx of competitors
  • The importance of location and footfall
  • Collaborating with other operators to improve service offerings
  • Creating a first-of-its-kind leisure venue
  • Sending a rounded marketing message across all platform
Making the Podium

Episode 1

Futuristic fitness at your fingertips with Co-Founder of Refine With Alfi, Zoe Bertali

Welcome to the first episode of ‘Making The Podium’ – a fortnightly podcast for ambitious, bold & daring business owners, entrepreneurs and marketing professionals who want to be at the cutting edge of innovation in the sports, health & wellbeing industries.

What better way to kick off the podcast than taking a look at the revolutionary technology that’s bringing boutique fitness beyond the four walls behind which they’re traditionally confined. ALFI, the titular AI behind the avatar-led fitness app Refine With ALFI, demonstrates the scalable potential of tech to teach fitness skills from our own mobile devices!

As Co-Founder of The Refinery and Refine With ALFI, Zoe Bertali has led a revolution in boutique fitness which has seen a shift towards more accessible, less intimidating, and fully comprehensive service offering. Looking towards the future, Zoe joins host Chris Sharman to consider how The Refinery stayed prominent in an increasingly saturated market, and how ALFI promises to become part of people’s fitness journey for the foreseeable future…

This episode covers:
  • Utilising a fascination with marketing and branding
  • Lessons from working both sides of the client-agency equation
  • Making a less intimidating experience for customers
  • Communicating accessibility throughout your marketing
  • Differentiating in a saturated market
  • Creating revolutionary tech to supplement the physical experience
  • Staying a part of people’s long term fitness journey

We’d love to hear from you!

Loving the podcast, but have some feedback? Want to suggest a guest to have on the show? Want to talk with us about a specific project? Fill out the form and we’ll get back to you!