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Q&A

Paul McManus designed and built Studio17 with his business partner Glenn Flinter after being inspired by their daughters’ love of dance and fitness. Here Paul talks about the highs and lows of the Studio17 journey.

Q. How did you come up with the idea to build Studio17?
I was watching my daughter Eva dance and the idea just came to me. She was taking part in a rehearsal at a leisure centre. The floor was old, dusty and to be honest pretty dirty and the other facilities were not much better. I thought to myself ‘wouldn’t it be great to build a specialist dance studio that was built to a high specification and available to anyone who wanted to use it.’ And so Studio17 was born.

Q. Your daughter Eva, and Glenn’s daughter Violet both love to dance. How have they inspired you?
Dancing has brought so much joy to both Eva and Violet. It has enabled them to express themselves, push themselves and to strive for something. To see how happy they are when they dance gives not only me inspiration but other members of our family.

But it isn’t just dancing. Eva is also really keen on other forms of fitness such as gymnastics and running. She completed a 10k, every day, for seven days, to raise money for charity, which is an amazing achievement. Her enthusiasm and passion inspires me to do more.

Q. How did you find the process of building Studio17?
I enjoyed the experience of building the studio. We put a lot of work into the designs and then Glenn and I hired a team of builders to convert the unit in Southampton into a fully-fledged dance studio. The dance floor is top of the range and was fitted by a company called Harlequin – sometimes it’s best to leave it to the experts.

Q. How did you find time to do this around your job and personal life?
I run my own manufacturing company, and when you run your own business, you get used to working at strange hours and trying to fit things in around your home and family life. You learn very quickly, that unless you are very proactive, you will not succeed. I knew that designing and building Studio17 was going to be no different and we knew it was going to be a challenge, so we just had to find the time.

Q. What parts of the studio were the most challenging to build or fit?
I would say the floor. It was a very difficult decision to make in regards to what type of floor to use. I really wanted to use a floor to cater for all forms of dance as well as fitness classes and performance rehearsals. We wanted it to be a space for everyone and there are a lot of quality products out there. But I am really pleased with our Harlequin sprung floor. It looks great and the feedback we’ve had from people who have already used the studio has been really positive so I’m confident we made the right decision.

Q. Is there any meaning behind the name?
To be honest – no. The unit is number 17. So it became Studio17. Very simple.

Q. How do you feel now Studio17 is completed and open?
Excited! It’s been fantastic to watch the Studio grow from the initial concept and designs to it being finished and now open and people using it. The feedback we’ve received has been great. Everyone is amazed at how professional the studio looks, how comfortable it feels when you’re in there and how convenient is to get to. We hope that many people get to experience it; we want it to be a great asset to the community and the wider city of Southampton.

Q. How important do you believe dance and physical fitness to be?
Keeping fit is really important no matter how old you are, what your ability is or what activity you’re doing. It’s proven that physical activity will not only reduce your risk of things like obesity, cardiovascular disease or Type II diabetes but it will also help improve your mental health and wellbeing. We all have busy schedules, be it at work, school or at home, but I believe that there is always time to do something active. We hope that Studio17 will give people of Southampton and surrounding areas the space and environment to take part in physical activity no matter what their age is or their ability.

Studio17 is now open and available to hire. Contact Paul or Glenn via email: hello@dancestudio17.co.uk to find out more.