Board Trustee, Sara Gohl
Sara Gohl has been a Trustee and a Member of the Board of Management of Horizon Leisure Centres for just over 18 months. Here she shares with us her personal wellbeing journey and her passion for affordable and accessible health initiatives for all.
Sara, who lives locally in Waterlooville, has a successful career in housing and property development, including social housing and setting up her own consultancy business. She is driven and committed to making a difference in everything she does.
Sara has also been a frequent customer of Horizon Leisure Centres for more than 12 years, enjoying working out with PT’s, using the gym and swimming.
Sara says: “I’ve worked hard throughout my career. I’ve been driven and bold, and enjoy a challenge. I’ve set up my own businesses and I’m a company director too. I always try to do my best to deliver positive outcomes. I have often been the only woman ‘around the boardroom table’ in my career and always try to push for equality and gender empowerment.”
Seven years ago, whilst Sara was running her own company, a shock diagnosis of stage three breast cancer forced her to pause, reflect and change her outlook on life.
Sara says: “I was only 34 when I received my diagnosis. I had a young son at home and cancer made me feel like my whole life was on hold. My normal day-to-day routines were suspended whilst I battled this aggressive cancer. I had two years of active cancer treatment, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and hormone treatment. You name it, I had it! The treatment was grueling and exhausting and it really challenges both your physical and mental health. During this time I didn’t have the ability to give 100% to my consultancy business, and although I kept working in an ad hoc manner, I just didn’t have capacity. I’m very grateful that my cancer treatment was successful and that I am in remission. However it did allow me the space to refocus.
“I now work part time as a company director, giving me the time to be able to give something back to my community through my charitable and voluntary work. During my treatment and recovery I really learnt the value of community, of charity and of kindness, and I bring this approach to my trustee role as the Lead for Business and Community Development at Horizon Leisure Centres.
“After my treatment, I lost body confidence, as well as physical strength and ability. I also had limited movement in my upper body because of my surgery. I understood that exercise would be good for my recovery, but on returning to the gym I felt I was starting all over again. I felt self-conscious, apprehensive and anxious. I worked with personal trainers, especially Ben Coles, who helped through rehab to put me back together again. I started enjoying the training, I got my zest back, I lost the weight I had put on through treatment and started to feel like me.”
In 2021, Sara undertook a physically demanding 100km trek with celebrity crew mates including Giovanna Fletcher, Emma Willis and Gemma Atkinson, through the Scottish Highlands, fundraising for the charity CoppaFeel! CoppaFeel! targets young people to spread awareness about breast cancer and the importance of checking your breasts, chests and pecs
Sara says: “I’ve raised thousands of pounds for various charities, but the CoppaFeel! trek was next level! I prepared for the hike at Waterlooville Leisure Centre, training to be in great health, both physically and mentally. I absolutely loved the challenge and I’m super proud of the money raised and of the support and fitness advice I received from Horizon Leisure Centres in preparation for the hike.”
Sara is enjoying being a Trustee for Horizon Leisure Centres as she can harness her business acumen, as well as bringing her compassionate and emotional intelligence to the boardroom. Sara says: “I’m finding the role very rewarding and I’m committed to making Horizon Leisure the best health and wellbeing provider for our community.
“I’ve experienced first-hand the difference physical activity can make to someone’s overall sense of self. I care about our community and Horizon’s vision in providing meaningful health initiatives for its customers and local residents.
“I love that our leisure centres are charitable trusts, as it means any profits are invested back into our community through the delivery of health programmes and schemes and the improvement of our facilities and services. Wellbeing is for everyone. Health should not discriminate, and I am passionate about developing dynamic partnerships with the local NHS and social enterprises to ensure full community inclusion. Horizon Leisure will continue to remove barriers to access and meet the community where they are.
“I’ve been really proud of the work the board has done to listen and to understand our customers, especially through the Customer Forum Groups I helped initiate. I’m excited for the future of Horizon Leisure and its expansion plans, in developing groundbreaking plans to make stronger ties and partnerships across the South East to make the future even brighter.”