A fitness company in Bicester with a strong focus on community will feature in a documentary in the United States hosted by actor Dennis Quaid.

FitnessGenes, a fitness and health company making personal recommendations based on DNA testing, have been filming in Bicester and Oxford over the summer ahead of the release of the documentary – being produced by Viewpoint.

The company – co-founded by geneticist couple Dr Samantha Decombel and Dr Stuart Grice – featured in The Times earlier this year in an article about its DNA testing product.

This allows customers to understand more about weight gain, muscle building and even sleep quality.

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Speaking about the upcoming documentary, business and executive support officer at FitnessGenes Hannah Griffin said: “Viewpoint got in touch with us a couple of months ago, and we’ve been working with them over the summer.

“A lot of the filming took place in Bicester. We hired out a nice house here and did a live interview with one of our customers. Some filming took place at the golf club in Chesterton.

“More filming was done in Oxford town hall too. It was nice to keep everything local.”

Co-founder Dr Decombel takes pride in the company’s approach to keeping health data free from paywalls.

She said: “We’ve always been a consumer product. Our DNA kit is a one-off payment, not a subscription-based model.

“We didn’t want to hide people’s health data behind a paywall. That’s one of the things really key to our system.

“We make recommendations on diet, exercise and behaviour which people can adopt and form new healthy habits with.

“To make it easy for customers we’ve negotiated partnerships with companies who offer products and supplements, and work on a commission-based model.

“Rather than charge our customers to have access to their data, we’re putting the financial burden on companies.”

The fitness company is also moving into a business-to-business model.

Dr Decombel shared how she first came up with the idea for FitnessGenes, and what gave her the urge to start it.

She said: “I lost my dad when he was 57 to oesophageal cancer.

"That gave me the desire to want to do something to help individuals live a healthy lifestyle, but it also took the fear out of me around starting up.

“I was working a stable job, saving money for a house. My dad told me if I wanted to do something then I should just go for it.

“That’s when I decided not to buy a house and invest in a business instead. I used the skills I developed during my PhD.”

FitnessGenes has also become a kit sponsor for Bicester Netball Club and Bure Park FC girls football team.


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This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Matthew.norman@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @OxMailMattN1