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Top team: TRIB3: A new boutique HIIT concept

Boutique HIIT concept TRIB3 launched in Sheffield this year and is aiming to build 1,000 clubs through franchising, joint ventures and owner-operation. Kath Hudson talks to the team

By Kath Hudson | Published in Health Club Management 2017 issue 7
TRIB3 aims to be the largest boutique operator outside the US by 2021, passing 150 sites by 2019
TRIB3 aims to be the largest boutique operator outside the US by 2021, passing 150 sites by 2019

ABOUT TRIB3

New gym concept, TRIB3 has been targeted squarely at the Millennial audience, with early facilities opening in student cities such as Sheffield.

In a break from the current trend for glossy, slick gyms, TRIB3 has embraced a more homey vibe, with comfy, rustic fixtures and finishes, a big focus on social spaces, team workouts and regular coaching interventions.

The team behind the concept turned to sports psychologist, Helen Quirk, for advice on concept development and the best way to create the customer journey for this target age group. Read her bio at the end of this feature.

Kevin Yates, Co-founder, TRIB3

Kevin Yates
Kevin Yates

What inspired the idea for TRIB3?
After my involvement with 1Rebel, and seeing the rise of boutique concepts, such as SoulCycle and Barry’s Bootcamp, I felt there was an opportunity to create a high-end boutique concept, with strong programming, which we could take around the world – into provincial areas as well as cities.

I also saw the opportunity to bring a collective of great CEOs together to do this.

What’s the TRIB3 concept?
It has three components: treadmill, resistance and intensive. We go hard on the treadmill, follow on with resistance work and finish with high-intensity floor work.
The customer journey has been curated in partnership with our resident psychologist, Helen Quirk. We’ve looked at every aspect: the programme, lighting, music and content, as well as the towels, fragrances and fabrics. To build a community, we’ll have ‘The Wall’, which will feature photos of every member’s first class.

What’s informed the model?
Budget clubs did well during the recession, but we’re out of that now and it’s time to move forward. Millennials are asking for something different. They’re happy to spend on quality and the right brand.

What expertise do you bring ?
My role is about strategically moving the business forward, bringing the right people together and putting them in the right place, as well as agreeing deals, bringing in new people, dealing with franchisees and making sure systems and procedures are in place for a seamless expansion operation. My co-founder, Daniel Summerson, will manage day-to-day sales.

I’ve been in the industry a long time, having been involved in Fitness First’s expansion to 500 clubs. I was with Esporta until its sale, after which I joined Leisure Connection, taking it through the transition to being a trust. More recently, I’ve had experience of the boutique sector with 1Rebel.

What are you most excited about?
The growth – we want to be the largest boutique operator outside the US by 2021. By the end of this year we’ll have 10 operating facilities, 50 by the end of next year and more than 150 by the end of 2019.

The overall vision is to have 1,000 locations across the world. So far the company has been privately funded, but we’re about to get a large private equity push to drive the business forward.

"So far the company has been privately funded, but we’re about to get a large private equity push to drive the business forward"

David Cross, Co-founder, TRIB3

David Cross
David Cross

How did you get involved?
Kevin and I have been friends for more than 20 years, so I’ve suffered him telling me about new clubs and concepts, which were frankly dull!

However, the emergence of the boutique sector put interiors at the heart of the club for the first time, and it piqued my interest as an architect. We’d seen the US and London models and thought we could make this concept work in the north of England.

What’s exciting about it?
This isn’t just about sexy interiors, it’s about a property- and space-race to ensure TRIB3 can work quickly anywhere. Our different configurations allow us to go anywhere in Europe – from wholly-owned sites to franchises and JVs.

What are the design and architectural elements?
The concept is a curated journey from the moment you enter the club, where you meet red carpet, candle-lit rooms and tactile surfaces.

We didn’t want sharp and shiny, techy and slick. We wanted warm and inviting – a series of spaces that engage the user: from an inviting welcome at the front of house to beautiful changing rooms and a spacious social space to mill around and chat.

The look is created by reclaimed parquet flooring, Belfast sinks, black walls, white walls, distressed leather, subway tiles, exposed concrete and block, reclaimed pallets, corrugated cladding and our feature hand-made copper pipe shower heads.

We soften it with fur throws and cushions, hanging plants and fresh herbs, and feature lighting with filament bulbs. Handwritten notes and menus on glass walls keep it local, fresh and friendly.

What’s your expansion plan?
Behind the design is a matrix of data to ensure each studio has a calculated ROI. In order to scale the business and become the biggest boutique in Europe, we’ve carefully planned every inch of the studio. We’re aiming at provincial towns and cities, so can’t blow budgets.

"We didn’t want sharp and shiny, techy and slick. We wanted warm and inviting – a series of spaces that engage the user"

TRIB3 PROJECTED GROWTH CURVE

Rod Hill, European managing director

Rod Hill
Rod Hill

What appealed to you about the TRIB3 concept?
Kevin has a good insight into the boutique market, and has come up with a model that is scaleable, while being affordably cool.

With the emphasis on motivation and group exercise, this is a game-changer for the industry, shaking up the market, by developing experiences people really want.

Group exercise is huge in southern Europe and people are going to love the quality and social element of our classes, the shake bars and the nightclub-like experience.

What expertise do you bring?
I joined the industry in 1992, at Fitness First in Bournemouth, with Mike Balfour and Kevin Yates. I was involved with growing the European business and since then have been the master franchiser for Anytime Fitness in Spain. So I know the franchise model, the European market and working with local cultures. I also have a background in hospitality, so bring that mindset to the business.

What are the plans for Spain?
The first club opens in Barcelona in September, followed by Madrid in October. I’m seeking partners and locations, putting together the franchise back office and finding different ways of financing and working with suppliers across borders.

"People are going to love the quality and social element of our classes, the shake bars and the nightclub-like experience"

Michel Parada, Managing director, France

Michel Parada
Michel Parada

How did you get involved?
I was managing director of the French subsidiary of Fitness First and took the chain from zero to 13 clubs. While there, I met Rod Hill who introduced me to Kevin and David. We share similar values, including the importance of the fun factor in exercise. I was introduced to TRIB3 in Sheffield and instantly loved it.

What excites you about TRIB3?
Coaches are key to success and they’re integral to this concept. You can have the best machines in the world, but without the people to share, give feedback and motivate, you’ll struggle to retain members.

The quality of the exercise is so good at TRIB3, it really pushes people to their limits, which you can’t do if exercising alone. Being part of a group and being pushed creates a great energy and will make people book again. There’s a feeling of having done a fantastic workout. The quality of the product will make people return.

Will you change the concept for the French market?
The look, feel and design will be the same – there’s no need to reinvent it. The main challenge of bringing the concept to France is finding the right sites and the right staff to ensure the same quality product. You can give training and education, but what you have to find in people is the right attitude.

My current focus is on finding sites in Paris that will be the best showcase for the brand in France. I’m hoping to have one facility up and running by September. There’s no real target on the number of clubs in France, our first focus is to get it right.

"Coaches are the key to success. You can have the best kit, but without people to motivate, you’ll struggle to retain members"

Alexei Drobot, Partner in Russia

Alexei Drobot
Alexei Drobot

How did you get involved?
I got in touch with Kevin, as I found TRIB3 a very interesting concept. My background is in business turnarounds for a variety of industries but, as the former CEO of a Russian fitness group, I wanted to go back to health and fitness, and was looking for an innovative concept I could import.

Currently Russia has predominantly big box operators and the boutique concept is very much in its infancy, so I was monitoring international launches looking for a concept to bring in. Kevin Yates is a prominent name in the fitness community and I liked TRIB3, because it does the base things extremely well: programming and design. Also it has a very strong team with a lot of operational expertise.

What is the plan for Russia?
The first club is due to open late summer, in a high end business district and we have another in the pipeline in an upscale residential area. We’re currently on the hunt for more sites – there is enormous potential, but we’ll see how the first sites perform before deciding on how many to open.

The concept is an experiment in this market. No one has tried a high intensity club in Russia before, or running a club on a pay-as-you-go basis, so we’re not sure how it will fly. However, I’ve done a lot of concept importing and exporting with international companies and brands, so I have a good feel for what will work.

"No one has tried a high intensity club in Russia before, or running a club on a pay-as-you-go basis, so we’re not sure how it will fly"

About Helen Quirk

Helen Quirk
Helen Quirk

Helen Quirk, who advised the TRIB3 team on their concept development is a chartered psychologist with an interest in the promotion of physical activity, exercise, health and wellbeing in clinical and non-clinical populations.

Quirk has a background in psychology, with a BSc from the University of Sheffield and a MSc in sport and exercise psychology from Sheffield Hallam University.

She joined Sheffield Hallam as an exercise psychology researcher in September 2016 from the University of Nottingham, where she studied for a PhD exploring the promotion of physical activity in children with type 1 diabetes.

TRIB3 has three fitness components: treadmill, floor and intensive
TRIB3 has three fitness components: treadmill, floor and intensive
The clubs have a strong, Millennial-focused design ethos throughout
The clubs have a strong, Millennial-focused design ethos throughout
The clubs have a strong, Millennial-focused design ethos throughout
The clubs have a strong, Millennial-focused design ethos throughout
High intensity floor work is one of the main exercise components within the clubs
High intensity floor work is one of the main exercise components within the clubs
TRIB3 interiors offer a relaxed urban feel that’s warm, familiar and inviting rather than ‘slick and shiny’
TRIB3 interiors offer a relaxed urban feel that’s warm, familiar and inviting rather than ‘slick and shiny’
TRIB3 interiors offer a relaxed urban feel that’s warm, familiar and inviting rather than ‘slick and shiny’
TRIB3 interiors offer a relaxed urban feel that’s warm, familiar and inviting rather than ‘slick and shiny’
TRIB3 interiors offer a relaxed urban feel that’s warm, familiar and inviting rather than ‘slick and shiny’
TRIB3 interiors offer a relaxed urban feel that’s warm, familiar and inviting rather than ‘slick and shiny’
The company sees coaching as the best way to engage members
The company sees coaching as the best way to engage members
http://www.leisureopportunities.com/images/329149_706992.jpg
"We want to be the biggest operator outside the US by 2021" says Kevin Yates, co-founder of boutique HIIT concept TRIB3.
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