Harold Hill salon owner’s gym plan working out

Maria Hayllar and sister Karen Baker outside their womens gym

Maria Hayllar and sister Karen Baker outside their womens gym - Credit: Archant

A former benefits claimant who is now a self-made entrepreneur has opened a ladies gym next to her beauty salon.

Maria Hayllar on the treadmill

Maria Hayllar on the treadmill - Credit: Archant

Maria Hayllar, 41, enrolled on a Havering College beauty course after her husband fell ill in 2005 and opened Heavenly Beauty in 2011 after initially hiring a room in a hairdressers.

She already had bigger ambitions, and eyed up the empty shop next door to hers in Petersfield Avenue, Harold Hill, dreaming of one day opening a gym.

So when she heard it was due to become an Indian takeaway, she knew she had to act fast.

“I always said if it was vacant after two years I would apply for it,” explained mum-of-two Maria, who is running it with her sister Karen Baker. “So I applied for it and the council gave it to me.”

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The gym will be open to 200 people, with 100 already signed up, and Maria says she couldn’t have done it without the salon.

“A lot of the women who come to the salon are too intimidated to go elsewhere. They will join – people who’ve never used a gym before.

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Maria and Karen are now both qualified gym instructors, and are training to become personal trainers – a far cry from her position just five years ago.

“If you believe in yourself you can do anything”, she stated.

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