FINDING FITNESS FREEDOM by Martin Colegate, SWELL Fitness Founder & CEO

FINDING FITNESS FREEDOM by Martin Colegate, SWELL Fitness Founder & CEO


Change happens. Sometimes life shifts and then everything has a before and after. Covid 19 brought so many changes in our lives. Work changed, dating changed, travel changed. We tried to navigate staying healthy around a 'new normal.’    

Fitness became our break from the angst of C19. We created new routines, tried new kit, and created home gyms we never knew we needed. We filled our homes with ever increasing weights of dumbbells and zoomed sitting on our workout benches (smart top, gym kit bottom!). 

But in the context of the Covid marathon, even this became stale. After years of climbing on, then falling off, the fitness band-wagon due to a long recovery from a crash, I recognized the importance of exercise for mental health and the need to find a way to make it fun, simple and effective. But, this was easier said than done. 

Living in a massive social bubble, with twenty of us shacked up together in a North London warehouse, somehow amplified the subhuman nature of social-distancing, and its impact on us as individuals and social beings. 

Gym kit began to sell out and prices skyrocketed. The only safe way to workout together was the outdoors, so we shared our knowledge and experience and made up our own group workouts. But we soon became bored of body weight work and needed more. 

Like so many inventions that improve our lives, the SWELL FIT Bag was born out of wondering how all this could be better. How could I drop the clutter, cost and complexity of getting fit whilst staying sane? 

Looking at the debris of the 20 different fitness routines around me, I decided my invention had to be fast to pack and store. My doodles charted fast-folding and, whilst my studio creaked with the number of prototypes, at just 42 X 32 CM they were super easy to stash away, so I knew I was onto something. 

Another great side effect was the sound of almost silence; no more thud of weights being swung around to annoy my neighbours. 

Our homes were never meant to be full-time offices or part time gyms/play pens. They should be a place of rest, where we find refuge to recharge after our ever more complex days. A place we can put our feet up with our loved ones and just feel safe. The SWELL Fit bag was designed to respect your sanctuary – leaving it clear, tidy, and homely as it should be – and be ever ready to travel with you back to nature. 

Coming from Wales, I have always had a love / loathe relationship with the city. I drink in the energy on the streets, and yet it’s easy to get frustrated trying to find a personal space. My workout tool had to empower the re-wilding and wild workouts of my lockdown dreams. 

There is something about Covid that dialled us into the things we always took for granted. Being able to head out and spontaneously connect with nature had never felt so good. The SWELL Fit bag was inspired by this feeling. Of being by the SWELL, and the energy of all our best outdoor spaces – our London parks, our national parks, our seafronts and beaches and the shared secret gardens that punctuate our concrete jungles. The SWELL Fit Bag was designed to take you back to nature and allow workouts wherever, and whenever, you want. 

The SWELL FIT bag also harnesses one of nature’s most awesome elements – water. It fills and empties in seconds so if you have a tap, a bottle of water, or you are by the sea or a lake, you can work out, and design progressive weight development at your own pace. But, watch out! You will be surprised how little weight you need to get your SWELL-ON as the SWELL FIT BAG prompts instability training, which makes your core and supporting muscles work harder! 

But the good news is my SWELL Fit Bag can be adjusted in tiny increments, empowering “Swell-beings” of all levels, ages and abilities to work out – I wanted to literally liberate fitness. Blow the dusty doors off our gyms and get us back to the wild! 

I spent over a year developing and testing our SWELL Fit Bag and it’s been surprising how many times I have been able find and integrate new benefits.  But the most important one extends beyond me. SWELL Fitness’s focus has always been about helping people reach their potential in a sustainable way, focusing on the joys of movement and our connection with water (we are 60% water, so no wonder it feels great to train with it and beside it!) 

I also observed friends using the SWELL Fit Bag in other mindful practices such as yoga and meditation. It made for a great bolster.  

Post workout, or between reps, we were not only nurturing ourselves (working on the mind muscle connections) but we were also nurturing the plants around us. Resetting the bag for a new housemate’s strength saw us start to use the excess water to water our previously neglected plants. Suddenly, they started to thrive! A happy side benefit. 

In switching the weight up between users, I quickly realized the speed and ease of transfer was offering something extra – people didn’t have to buy their own bag; they could share. I then set about enhancing the strength of the materials to further support this – our founder launch edition leverages ballistic strength materials, including the handles, to enhance quality and provide a lifetime of shared training possibilities.   

It’s often easier to be clear on your purpose in hindsight. Or maybe your purpose grows through creativity, to help you realise its full potential. From the darkness of my windowless studio flat, I now hope to throw light on new possibilities for everyone’s fitness and wellbeing. My SWELL FIT Bag was born from where I was stuck, and perhaps we were all a little stuck with our fitness thanks to the pandemic. 

So, go wild! Workout on the beach, in the forest, on your nearest mountain top. The only limit is your imagination! My dream was that we can all return to nature to find our form of fitness – I hope it helps you find yours and I can’t wait to hear from more of you about your adventures in fitness freedom with the SWELL Fit Bag. 

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