My London: Fitness entrepreneur and Padel enthusiast Sara Kroik

Aug 29, 2023 by

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Work: COO at a new Padel centre in Canary Wharf Padium
Live: Battersea Reach/Wandsworth Bridge
Time in London: Since April 2022
Instagram: @sara_kroik


After a successful career building the Barry’s Bootcamp brand in the Nordics, Sara came to London with her fiancé Gustav in 2022 after a British company had acquired his language app Verbling.

Now, she is heading up the new Swedish-founded Padel centre Padium, which opened its doors in Canary Wharf at the end of August.


Hello Sara! Tell us about you and how you ended up in London! 

I moved from Stockholm to London in May 2022 to join my fiancé, who already lived in London. Our plan was never to move to London, as my home has always been Stockholm, a place we love, but we ended up here after his company was acquired by a British company. Now we are thrilled we did!

Little did we know how difficult the process of moving to London could be though. The Visa process after Brexit wasn’t as easy as would have thought. However, everything turned out well!

I actually lived here for a year as a kid with my parents. We moved around a lot, and I’ve also lived in China, UAE, Australia, and the US.


Where do you live, and what do you like about your area?

I live in Battersea Reach and absolutely love the area which is next to the Thames where I take walks along the water several times a week. And it’s not far if you want to nip over to Chelsea or Clapham, where there are several great restaurants and pubs.


Over six years ago, you were part of the team starting Barry’s Bootcamp in Sweden and the Nordics. Tell us about that and your passion for fitness and training:

We started Barry’s in Stockholm in 2017 and now have eight studios across the Nordics. Barry’s is a boutique fitness concept originating in the US. There are several studios in London as well. I would highly recommend popping in for a class if you haven’t already – it’s a true endorphin boost!


Training has been my passion since I found my love for track and field as a kid. I had an amazing journey with Barry’s. I, in my role as COO but also a trainer occasionally, could start my day coaching a class then continue to various tasks around the studio, to end my day doing high-level corporate strategic plans. Most of all I loved the team and community we built over the years. But also the joy of training we got to share with our customers every day.


Sara is a true fitness lover and also one of the founders of the training concept “Barry’s”. 


How do you best motivate yourself when you would rather stay out of the gym? 

I put on my headphones with my favourite music on and let the body get into its rhythm of working out, rep by rep. Also knowing not every workout has to be super long or super tough. Sometimes it’s enough to just get those 30 minutes in to move the body. Motivation (and endorphins) will come back automatically!


You recently went through a rough VISA process to be able to stay and work in the UK. How was that? 

I arrived in London, with a plan to do some freelance consulting while figuring out my next step, just to be faced with the reality that I’d need employment with a company with a license to hire from outside the UK. Or, alternatively apply for a Ph.D. degree (in my case, as I already have an MSc.), to get the visa.

Somehow, fate happened. The week after, I incidentally sat down next to Houman Ashrafzadeh, another Swedish entrepreneur, at a dinner in London. He told me he was building a new concept within Padel – Padium. It didn’t take long before I decided to join his exciting padel journey! We’ve recently launched the first club which have seven indoor courts, a sizable padel shop, and premium facilities. The launch date was Monday 28th of August with the launch party coming up on the 7th and 8th of September.  Padel is in an exciting phase in the UK, and what seems to be at the cusp of a significant boom. We are so excited to have opened the doors this summer and be part of fuelling the growth of the sport in the UK!


At the Padium construction site in Canary Wharf


Can you give some tips to someone who is going through the same process, to move and be able to work in the UK? 

It took us several weeks to prepare for the license required to hire someone outside the UK. And the wait was substantial! Ultimately, I had to leave the country for two months while waiting for the license and visa to process. So it was a huge relief when I finally obtained them six months later. If you’re interested in working for a company in the UK, it’s best to inquire about their Visa license status or plan ahead for the application process.


 Sara is a part of the founding team at Padium  –  a new padel centre launching in Canary Wharf in August 2023. 


If you were to eat out for an entire day, where do you go for: 

Breakfast/brunch: I still haven’t found a more casual breakfast place. But for the more fancy weekend brunch, Bluebird in Chelsea is great!

Fika”: Blåbär in Putney is cosy (I had to throw in a “mysigt” somewhere, that’s my favourite Swedish word!)


Lunch: Urban Greens do tasty and nutritious salads!


Dinner: I have to say two Swedish restaurants here, hah! I love the newly opened Studio Frantzén on top of Harrods. You can start with a cocktail on their rooftop and don’t miss the Rockefeller oysters and their croissant-looking bread. It’s to die for! Also a huge fan of Ekstedts in Scotland Yards.



The croissant bread at Studio Frantzén


And away from food, what are your London favorites?

I love how London has a great selection of boutique fitness. There is always a new fitness class to try and the level is high! My favorites are (obviously) all the Barry’s studios, 1Rebel, KXU, and Crossfit Shapesmith.


What do you miss most about Sweden? 

Family and friends! And occasionally, during rush hour, when I find myself somewhere far down in London’s subway dungeons, I also miss the Stockholm subway. The fact that nothing takes more than 20 minutes to get to the city is truly something extra.


…and what do you love the most about London and the UK? 

Every day can be a new adventure as there is SO much to explore! Fitness studios, concerts, theatres, restaurants, stand-up… It’s all available anytime, anywhere in London!


Which is your best London memory of all time? 

Honestly, it’s not one single memory. Still, rather a blend of happy moments. Like meeting new interesting people, vibing at a cosy gastropub, or enjoying the view of the Thames and the city skyline by night from our terrasse. But also getting lost while biking around the city… I’m looking forward to adding to those London memories in the next couple of years.