Money & Me: 'My financial goals are based on living a happy life'

Former British Olympian Sarah Lindsay, owner of personal fitness training centre Roar, relied on funding to train but says it is a luxury to now be free of money worries

Sarah Lindsay, owner of the Roar fitness training centre in Dubai, believes in saving to do something specific, but not for a rainy day. Pawan Singh / The National
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Former British speed skater Sarah Lindsay competed in three Winter Olympics before becoming the UK’s leading body transformation specialist and a BBC pundit.

Now 42, she recently brought Roar — her personal training business — to Dubai following success with three London gyms where celebrity clients have included Love Island presenter Caroline Flack.

Ms Lindsay, who lives in Jumeirah Golf Estates with her husband, opened Roar DXB in Downtown Dubai in January.

Was there wealth in your childhood?

I grew up in a fairly middle-class area. My mum was a secretary and my dad, an engineer for British Aerospace, was made redundant and ended up being a driving instructor.

My parents put so much into us as kids. We had no luxury, no silly spending, everything went into providing opportunities that mostly revolved around sport.

We would go to international competitions, drive to Holland or Belgium at weekends, on a budget. They went without, sacrificed their dreams and career ideas to fund what we were doing.

That’s pretty special. I was aware we didn’t have money, so would never ask for anything.

Did you earn growing up?

I didn’t get pocket money. I did a paper round when I was 10. Mum encouraged me and did it with me. I split the money with her; £8 (Dh36) a week, which was huge money.

I finished school and moved out at 16. I wanted to skate, so had to get a job in a shop to pay rent in a house with seven other people.

I wasn’t encouraged to get sponsorship or endorsements because it was a distraction. You have to do something in return or there’s time away when all they want you to do is train and focus.

Why speed skating?

I didn’t want "things" (growing up). I did different sports, including figure skating.

I got talent spotted, was asked to try speed skating and loved it. My parents made me speed skate in figure skates for about two years; they didn’t want to spend money on specialist speed skates (in case) I didn’t want to do it; it was so much money to them.

I had to become the best junior in the country, prove myself and then they bought them.

Did you make a living from skating?

You can’t. All I needed was my expenses covered. I skated for 20 years, got three weeks off a year.

As long as you can pay your rent, you’ve got transport, and your equipment and training is funded, that’s all you need.

You’re not trying to make money, you do it because you love it.

And there’s no plan B. I didn’t think: “What am I going to do afterwards or do I need to save for the future?”

How did you become a fitness entrepreneur?

I retired at 29. I qualified as a personal trainer when I was about 20; my coach said I should.

I did the strength and conditioning programme for the national figure skating team and our Olympic ice dancers, some coaching.

Somebody who owned a gym said, “Come work for me”. I did, then started to think, “I can do this better”.

Use money to make more money, that’s got to be the point of it. If it’s just sitting there, you’re losing on it every day
Sarah Lindsay, owner, Roar

My husband and I launched Roar in 2015 in London. We borrowed, got investment, we did it on a real budget and it went brilliantly well.

The profile of people that came in, people in fashion and (on) telly, really helped.

We bought the investor out last year, which was a really proud moment.

Why open in Dubai?

Because of Covid. We always said we would move and open abroad and were thinking about where we would expand.

I’d been to Dubai a few times for different things, business and girls’ holidays, and this was one of the only places you could get to during (UK) lockdown. We came and fell in love with it.

Is fitness not a crowded sector here?

I don’t see it as competition. I’m an Olympian, I’m not scared of that.

If there are lots of businesses here, there are lots of people into fitness and want to train, otherwise that landscape wouldn’t be here.

And I know how good we are; we’re known for our results, the celebrity training and the type of clients we attract.

Do you save?

What is the point of saving? I understand if you’re saving to do something specific, but not for a rainy day … what does that mean?

Use money to make more money, that’s got to be the point of it. If it’s just sitting there, you’re losing on it every day.

So, I don’t stash money, I buy a few nice things, I’m reinvesting, it goes back into the business, not just to expand but to make sure we’re rewarding our staff, getting the right people through the door and improving our service.

That seems the smartest place to put it, nothing else gives me the same returns.

If your money is not making money, then it’s just going backwards.

Any cherished splurges?

I flew my mum and little sister out here for my brother’s 40th birthday to surprise him. Being able to do things like that … it’s priceless.

Also my 488 Ferrari. It’s not an investment, it’s an experience and an amazing car.

What is your money philosophy?

Money buys you some security and freedom. To be able to travel and explore the world is an amazing thing, but if you spend the time scared that if you get stuck somewhere, you can’t afford a taxi or a flight home, that takes away from the experience.

Money doesn’t actually make you happy, the peace of mind does. Not having the money worries my parents had when I was growing up … that is a real luxury.

Are you wise with money?

What we’ve done (with Roar) makes sense. I’m not risk-adverse, I’m all in, always.

So I might say “yes”, because it’s paying off at the moment.

But if it had gone the other way … it’s always end result-based, really. If you have a good result, that was a smart choice. It goes another way, all of a sudden you’re an idiot.

Any luxuries in your life?

I’m happy to spend almost anything on food … it’s one of life’s biggest pleasures. Quality is very important to me because I’m thinking of optimal health, nourishing my body properly.

Also I love nice restaurants, trying different things and being able to travel. Food is always a big decider in where I’m going.

I fly fancy (turning) very left. It’s the start of the holiday and makes me excited, so that’s something I don’t mind spending on, even though you don’t really need it.

Any future goals?

I work towards putting things in place in the business (and) a lot of that is to do with being able to facilitate a life that keeps me stress-free and feeling good.

My financial goals are always based around my living goals. How do I want to live? Where do I want to be? What do I want in my life to keep me happy?

And then, what do I need to earn to facilitate that? That’s always the way it goes, rather than wanting “this amount” in my account.

I know the things that are important to me, so I want enough to do them.

Updated: February 06, 2023, 4:32 AM