East Ham fitness instructor ‘pays it forward’ 20 years after favour

Laurie Small, left, teaching a class

Laurie Small, left, teaching a class - Credit: Archant

When you’re down on your luck and no one’s giving you a hand, it can seem impossible to get ahead.

But sometimes a knight in shining armour appears, and that’s how many a successful business gets its start.

For East Ham’s Laurie Small, that knight was long-time friend Brian Puig – but his generosity came with an unusual condition.

“He told me, ‘Make a success of yourself, then pay it forward to someone else when you can’,” Laurie said. “And now I finally have.”

Brian’s act of kindness was 20 years ago, and with it Laurie was able to buy a fitness instruction course – the first part of her dream to run her own business.

After years of earning a second income from her new skills, Laurie celebrated starting LN Fitness Training Centre – which is based at Newham Leisure Centre in Plaistow – in February last year by paying it forward.

“There’s a woman in my class who’s confided in me about financial problems,” the mum-of-two and grandmother-of-one said. “She’s been coming to classes for aorund 10 years and she’s excellent – moves well, helps a lot – so I offered to give her a course for free.”

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The beneficiary of that course is Temilola Bada, 42, a single parent with three children.

“I’m really, really grateful for this opportunity,” she said.

“I’ve been doing this kind of thing for 22 years and I feel like I could be an instructor.

“But it’s so awesome of Laurie to help me out – I hope to make this my full-time job.”

Temi explained that because she is currently not working, the course could result in her earning a much-needed income and allow her to be more independent.

And as far as the concept of passing on the favour goes, she is very enthusiastic.

“I promised Laurie I would pay it forward,” the Nigerian-born Custom House resident said. “I cannot wait to pay it forward.

“You don’t really get people that nice these days, do you?

“It’s good to carry on the legacy.”

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