The First Year In Review
By Neil Perkins
A year into life at Henrietta Street Gym and we are learning all the time. Anyone will tell you that the first twelve months in business are the hardest. With my prior experience of running a gym, I wouldn’t have forecast such a challenging first year, but like Elton John – I’m still standing.
Staff, have been a major factor in the first 12 months. With a premium facility, I got a little wrapped up in the hype of this new premium space. I’d assume top trainers would find their way to me – how wrong I was. I’ve learnt that a better looking facility doesn’t attract better coaches, just more of them….and more bad ones.
Our service, like it always has been the key to our success. The current team that is forming has all the nucleus for success. We still have experienced trainers overseeing operations and a now offer additional diverse services such as Core classes and mobility classes. Our specialist menu of HIIT, LIFT and BOX still dominates that timetable.
I have learnt from my journey and although we are ‘more than a boxing gym’ I’ve also had a realisation that Boxing is still the major driving force behind the brand. Yes, our morning and lunchtime HIIT users may never want to lace up a pair of gloves and box, but the training methodology used by boxing gives them a second to none calorie burning session and offers some variety to the squats, kettlebell swings and box jumps that dominate our bootcamps.
As we re-focus for our second year, I realise that despite my new venture having the best gym showers in thenUK, air con and cardio equipment, we still can’t compete with the budget gym crew. We are moving away from focusing on the masses and specialising more in delivering results and focusing on people that trust the brand. Our results and coaching make us competitive, not our equipment, cost and opening times. We still offer a variety of membership packages, yet have found our average gym member pays £62 per month – that is a high proportion signing up for the more expensive (and value added) elite membership.
Trying to deliver results, can cause confusion with members. Their expectations and goals do not always line up with the best way to achieve them. This approach has always got to be bespoke to the individual, but there are some common goals that people seem unable to plan the best route of attack for and more importantly are misguided on how to achieve their results.
People still fail to realise that fitness is not an absolute. The training methodology whether it be HIIT, BOX, LIFT, Mobility of Core all inter relate and you can mix and match them to achieve your goal.
A ‘Bootcamper’ may want to lose weight, but double HIIT every day will smash your adrenal system and if you are not nourishing your body appropriately and resting that you will not get your desired results, on the contrary you may damage your body.
Equally our Lifters can get a little confused when they attempt to hit new one rep max scores on major lifts and we are prescribing mobility, core and yoga sessions. It is a regular occurrence to see a yoga session at Yoga Haven been full of ‘lifters’ from Henrietta Street Gym. Yoga Haven have certainly benefited from our expansion into lifting and forced us to putting on more mobility classes to cater for the demand.
Managing the staff re-enforce our brand ethos and communicate the right message has led to a major change in shift with us going back to grass roots and employing apprentice trainers. Our initial intake has seen three new members join the team and we are confident that they will flourish into good trainers. This process can’t be rushed and with the right trainers nurturing them, they have the opportunity to learn from the best. This coupled with the right attitude and willingness to learn will see them succeed. We are looking forward to getting them up to speed before adding a further two members to this team ready to start in January.
Since opening my first gym in 2007 the market place has changed. The mid-range gyms that dominated the market have all but gone. Fitness First and LA Fitness are obsolete, Virgin and David Lloyd have shifted more to family orientated approach and then there is the wave of budget gyms. I must say having held a membership at both Easy Gym and Pure Gym and I detest them! They seem to breed an uneducated user and as a consequence facilitate Personal Trainers who are clueless to delivering results. The old gym induction route (now I am showing my age) with standard programme admittedly did little to engage gym users but with the old-style fitness instructor working the gym floor at least there was some education to proper form and execution of safe and effective exercise. Budget gyms tend to have un-inducted gym users and in many cases less educated trainers attempting to put together the latest workout they’ve seen on Instagram.
Training at various locations as enabled me to re-focus on Henrietta Street Gym’s strong points. Our boxing coaching still is second to none, we’ve also managed to balance this with making the gym friendly and open to all. Our HIIT sessions are effective and based on basics, our ‘HIIT Bible’ training with new staff running classes ensures that protocol’s of tactical conditioning are used to increase the intensity or our sessions, we still occasionally get a member in through the door who are adamant they need to double up on classes – this is normally until they complete the first class. We have a strong focus on offering specialist coaching that is based on results, this is delivered in a nurturing environment for our group led training. Lifting sessions have become more focused on big powerlifing moves which not only empowers members to achieve new personal bests but as a calorie burn (I am aware that I tell you that you should never lift weights to burn calories but to get stronger) it is second to none. The recent Pure Core and Mobility sessions look more into injury prevention, we are now offering the pretty much the complete package….and doing it well.
We are not looking to aggressively grow and spend fortunes on marketing, we are only 80 or so members off capacity. We are focusing on improving our service and the education of our trainers to deliver results – the membership numbers will take care of themselves.
Here is to another 12 months, hopefully a little less stressful. I may put some actions in place to eliminate the dad bod…or have another comeback!
Henrietta Street Gym