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UNITING THE WORLD OF FITNESS
Health Club Management

Health Club Management

features

Letters: Write to reply

Fuel the debate about issues and opportunities across the industry. We’d love to hear from you – email: [email protected]

Published in Health Club Management 2019 issue 6
Plenty of room for Rebels and Virgins
James Balfour, CEO, 1Rebel
1Rebel has builts its business on an experiential offering

Two weeks ago I had dinner with my father, Mike Balfour, founder of Fitness First. We were debating the state of the fitness industry in London and I suggested big box operators should be concerned about the rise of boutique gyms.

He scoffed, saying the likes of Fitness First had been around for a long time and were too big to be concerned by the likes of little old 1Rebel. I responded that there are 400 boutique clubs in London and I felt millennials are leaving big box clubs in in search for more experience-driven offerings.

We agreed to disagree, as is often the case.
A week later my phone started to buzz with screenshots of a paid advertising campaign by Virgin Active. To my horror, but perhaps also a little delight, the Virgin marketing team had taken an ad in the Evening Standard subtly entitled “From One Rebel To Another”.

The cleverly worded ad took a swipe at the pay-as-you-go model, comparing it to their “everything under one roof” offering. Thinking back to the dinner, I immediately felt justified. It was a badge of honor for 1Rebel – a small, London-based boutique chain of just five clubs – to clearly be on the radar of the goliath that is Virgin Active.

Mike tried to persuade me to go on the counter attack, however, that was not how I felt.

I could, for instance, have mobilised my team to point out the various inaccuracies in the ad. How they inflated our top price from £22 to £25. I could have mentioned that they were missing the point and should be talking about ‘experience’ as opposed to price. I could have thrown in a comment such as “Rebels aren’t interested in working out with 40-year-old Virgins.” However, deep down, I was just disappointed they felt the need to do this.

Pulling together
With inactivity rates at their peak, and obesity a national crisis, I want everyone to exercise, wherever they go.

There’s plenty of room for us all to thrive and if I were to pick an opponent to attack, it would be fast food businesses or lack of government support or poor corporate fitness offerings – the list could go on.

"If I were to pick an opponent to attack, it would be fast food businesses, lack of government support or poor corporate fitness offerings"

But Virgin Active’s ad in the Evening Standard isn’t the only example of a lack of support we’re giving one another in the fitness industry. In the same week, a social media influencer, @Aliceliveing_, took a swipe at our new marketing campaign for our Angel club.

The campaign leads with the line ‘Pain is the remedy’.

With 50k Twitter followers, Alice tweeted: “Shitty messaging, has the fitness industry learnt nothing? Pain isn’t the remedy. It’s the surefire way to end up with a lengthy physio bill and injuries. Do better.”

Now, I don’t know Alice. I’m sure she’s a nice person. But I do feel that with a large following come certain responsibilities. Yet I’m not sure she took a second to really consider if a fitness chain was actually advocating injuring its customers. I’m no MBA, but I assume that would be bad for business?

In fact the campaign was inspired by a Karl Marx quote: “The antidote to mental suffering is pain.” The meaning being that in order to build character in the face of adversity we must overcome the mental fears we have.

We launched this campaign during mental health week, but rather than understanding this as a message of inspiration, we were now faced with being called a business which likes to injure customers. We politely pointed this out, but got no response.

So why do I mention this? In my view, if you’re passionate about the industry, you’re hoping to inspire people to move, get active and overcome adversity and the many insecurities that often plague us. Our clubs and our communities can help facilitate that.

Fundamentally, I’m simply ‘pro fitness’, and if you happen to choose 1Rebel, then that’s great, if not, that’s also OK – maybe we just have to work harder to win your custom – but as long as you’re moving, it’s a good thing.

The irony is that if Virgin Active wanted to embarrass 1Rebel, they only have to look at their membership list to find I’m a very happy member of their Kensington club.

I go because I live and breathe 1Rebel and occasionally need some space – and it’s a nice club and a great brand.

There’s plenty of room for both Rebels and Virgins in the market, and as Mike always reminds me, it all started with people wanting ‘fitness first’.

Virgin Active’s promotion ran in the London Evening Standard
Boutique operator, 1Rebel, has five clubs in London with more on the way and plans to expand in Australia
Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/imagesX/HCM2019_6reply.jpg
Plenty of room for Rebels and Virgins
James Balfour, CEO, 1Rebel ,James Balfour, 1Rebel, Virgin,
HCM magazine
HCM people

David Beckham

Global partner, F45
This partnership with F45 is an exciting business venture for me
HCM magazine
Running booms when health clubs and gyms are closed. Could this enthusiasm result in treadmill training becoming the new spinning? Kath Hudson reports
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Dr Davina Deniszczyc talks us through the findings of the first Nuffield Healthier Nation Index, which has benchmarked activity levels and attitudes to exercise among the UK population
HCM Magazine
Everyone’s talking about
Booming membership sales, busy suburban clubs and members visiting during the working day. Operators are reporting it’s good to be back. Kath Hudson finds out what business has been like since the re-set button was pressed
HCM Magazine
Sponsored
Les Mills is launching a new digital network called Les Mills Connect to help clubs build back better and emerge from the pandemic with a stronger business
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Sponsored
Active IQ is launching courses to upskill fitness professionals to work in social prescribing, extending the reach of the industry
HCM Magazine
Hybrid
The Gym Group has taken its digital hybrid strategy full circle, piloting in-gym workout pods and studios with its home workout delivery partner, Fiit. HCM talks to the team driving the project
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HCM People
We first started talking to KSL over two years ago, so this was not a rushed partnership
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Research
Changes to DNA which occur during exercise give protection against a wide range of diseases, according to new research from the Univesity of Copenhagen
HCM Magazine
Sponsored
Andy Janes and Jamie Whisken explain the vision behind R1SE Bournemouth, and why Technogym was their choice of partner in delivering their unique fusion boutique
HCM Magazine
Latest News
Peloton has completed the merging of its commercial operations with Precor, the equipment brand it ...
Latest News
Half of UK adults aren't happy with their physical fitness levels, according to a study ...
Latest News
Temporary measures brought in to support businesses in the UK from insolvency during the pandemic ...
Latest News
Nadine Dorries has replaced Oliver Dowden as the Secretary of State for Digital, Media, Culture ...
Latest News
In a major move against the gym market, Apple has revealed a number of upgrades ...
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Physical activity professionals in England will soon be able to access free, one-to-one learning with ...
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An award celebrating outstanding individuals in the fitness sector is to be named in honour ...
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: EMS personal training: shockingly simple
People's fitness goals are extremely diverse – ranging from an elite athlete focused on the next goal to someone who dislikes all activity due to chronic back pain.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Will your business last without digital transformation?
During the pandemic, a digital transformation took off faster than anyone could have predicted with meetings in person cancelled and millions working from home.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: Everyone Active bolsters Everyone on Demand and enters second year with five new partnerships
Everyone Active has signed a number of new deals which will see the operator strengthen its digital product offering, Everyone on Demand.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: Being active helps Parkwood Leisure customers save the NHS £16m
Parkwood Leisure, one of the UK’s leading public leisure facilities operators, helped prevent more than 7,000 cases of stroke, dementia, depression and type 2 diabetes in 2019, saving the NHS £16 million, a new social value report has shown.
Company profiles
Company profile: Magicline GmbH
For more than 30 years, Magicline has been driving the digitalisation of the fitness industry ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Precor
Precor has been a pioneer in delivering fitness experiences for commercial customers for more than ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Skincare
Sothys: Skincare
Management software
Premier Software Solutions: Management software
Red Light Therapy
 Red Light Rising: Red Light Therapy
Lockers/interior design
Safe Space Lockers Ltd: Lockers/interior design
Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Kemitron GmbH: Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Wearable technology solutions
MyZone: Wearable technology solutions
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Whole body cryotherapy
Art of Cryo: Whole body cryotherapy
Independent service & maintenance
Servicesport UK Limited: Independent service & maintenance
Salt therapy products
Himalayan Source: Salt therapy products
Property & Tenders
Welwyn Garden City
Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council
Property & Tenders
Newport, Shropshire
Lilleshall Sports Academy
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
21-24 Sep 2021
Messe Stuttgart, Germany
Diary dates
13-14 Oct 2021
Online,
Diary dates
01-03 Feb 2022
Coventry Building Society Arena, Coventry, United Kingdom
Diary dates
07-10 Apr 2022
Exhibition Centre , Cologne, Germany
Diary dates
15-16 Jun 2022
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
01-07 Dec 2022
tbc, Dunedin, New Zealand
Diary dates

features

Letters: Write to reply

Fuel the debate about issues and opportunities across the industry. We’d love to hear from you – email: [email protected]

Published in Health Club Management 2019 issue 6
Plenty of room for Rebels and Virgins
James Balfour, CEO, 1Rebel
1Rebel has builts its business on an experiential offering

Two weeks ago I had dinner with my father, Mike Balfour, founder of Fitness First. We were debating the state of the fitness industry in London and I suggested big box operators should be concerned about the rise of boutique gyms.

He scoffed, saying the likes of Fitness First had been around for a long time and were too big to be concerned by the likes of little old 1Rebel. I responded that there are 400 boutique clubs in London and I felt millennials are leaving big box clubs in in search for more experience-driven offerings.

We agreed to disagree, as is often the case.
A week later my phone started to buzz with screenshots of a paid advertising campaign by Virgin Active. To my horror, but perhaps also a little delight, the Virgin marketing team had taken an ad in the Evening Standard subtly entitled “From One Rebel To Another”.

The cleverly worded ad took a swipe at the pay-as-you-go model, comparing it to their “everything under one roof” offering. Thinking back to the dinner, I immediately felt justified. It was a badge of honor for 1Rebel – a small, London-based boutique chain of just five clubs – to clearly be on the radar of the goliath that is Virgin Active.

Mike tried to persuade me to go on the counter attack, however, that was not how I felt.

I could, for instance, have mobilised my team to point out the various inaccuracies in the ad. How they inflated our top price from £22 to £25. I could have mentioned that they were missing the point and should be talking about ‘experience’ as opposed to price. I could have thrown in a comment such as “Rebels aren’t interested in working out with 40-year-old Virgins.” However, deep down, I was just disappointed they felt the need to do this.

Pulling together
With inactivity rates at their peak, and obesity a national crisis, I want everyone to exercise, wherever they go.

There’s plenty of room for us all to thrive and if I were to pick an opponent to attack, it would be fast food businesses or lack of government support or poor corporate fitness offerings – the list could go on.

"If I were to pick an opponent to attack, it would be fast food businesses, lack of government support or poor corporate fitness offerings"

But Virgin Active’s ad in the Evening Standard isn’t the only example of a lack of support we’re giving one another in the fitness industry. In the same week, a social media influencer, @Aliceliveing_, took a swipe at our new marketing campaign for our Angel club.

The campaign leads with the line ‘Pain is the remedy’.

With 50k Twitter followers, Alice tweeted: “Shitty messaging, has the fitness industry learnt nothing? Pain isn’t the remedy. It’s the surefire way to end up with a lengthy physio bill and injuries. Do better.”

Now, I don’t know Alice. I’m sure she’s a nice person. But I do feel that with a large following come certain responsibilities. Yet I’m not sure she took a second to really consider if a fitness chain was actually advocating injuring its customers. I’m no MBA, but I assume that would be bad for business?

In fact the campaign was inspired by a Karl Marx quote: “The antidote to mental suffering is pain.” The meaning being that in order to build character in the face of adversity we must overcome the mental fears we have.

We launched this campaign during mental health week, but rather than understanding this as a message of inspiration, we were now faced with being called a business which likes to injure customers. We politely pointed this out, but got no response.

So why do I mention this? In my view, if you’re passionate about the industry, you’re hoping to inspire people to move, get active and overcome adversity and the many insecurities that often plague us. Our clubs and our communities can help facilitate that.

Fundamentally, I’m simply ‘pro fitness’, and if you happen to choose 1Rebel, then that’s great, if not, that’s also OK – maybe we just have to work harder to win your custom – but as long as you’re moving, it’s a good thing.

The irony is that if Virgin Active wanted to embarrass 1Rebel, they only have to look at their membership list to find I’m a very happy member of their Kensington club.

I go because I live and breathe 1Rebel and occasionally need some space – and it’s a nice club and a great brand.

There’s plenty of room for both Rebels and Virgins in the market, and as Mike always reminds me, it all started with people wanting ‘fitness first’.

Virgin Active’s promotion ran in the London Evening Standard
Boutique operator, 1Rebel, has five clubs in London with more on the way and plans to expand in Australia
Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/imagesX/HCM2019_6reply.jpg
Plenty of room for Rebels and Virgins
James Balfour, CEO, 1Rebel ,James Balfour, 1Rebel, Virgin,
Latest News
Peloton has completed the merging of its commercial operations with Precor, the equipment brand it ...
Latest News
Half of UK adults aren't happy with their physical fitness levels, according to a study ...
Latest News
Temporary measures brought in to support businesses in the UK from insolvency during the pandemic ...
Latest News
Nadine Dorries has replaced Oliver Dowden as the Secretary of State for Digital, Media, Culture ...
Latest News
In a major move against the gym market, Apple has revealed a number of upgrades ...
Latest News
Physical activity professionals in England will soon be able to access free, one-to-one learning with ...
Latest News
Fitness equipment giant Nautilus has acquired VAY, a firm specialising in AI and motion technology. ...
Latest News
An award celebrating outstanding individuals in the fitness sector is to be named in honour ...
Latest News
David Lloyd Leisure (DLL) has reorganised its top team in order to expand its estate ...
Latest News
Downtown Miami’s upcoming mixed-use development Legacy Hotel & Residences has signed a joint venture deal ...
Latest News
Colin Waggett has revealed that the recent deal, which saw KSL Capital Partners acquire a ...
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: EMS personal training: shockingly simple
People's fitness goals are extremely diverse – ranging from an elite athlete focused on the next goal to someone who dislikes all activity due to chronic back pain.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Will your business last without digital transformation?
During the pandemic, a digital transformation took off faster than anyone could have predicted with meetings in person cancelled and millions working from home.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: Everyone Active bolsters Everyone on Demand and enters second year with five new partnerships
Everyone Active has signed a number of new deals which will see the operator strengthen its digital product offering, Everyone on Demand.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: Being active helps Parkwood Leisure customers save the NHS £16m
Parkwood Leisure, one of the UK’s leading public leisure facilities operators, helped prevent more than 7,000 cases of stroke, dementia, depression and type 2 diabetes in 2019, saving the NHS £16 million, a new social value report has shown.
Company profiles
Company profile: Magicline GmbH
For more than 30 years, Magicline has been driving the digitalisation of the fitness industry ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Precor
Precor has been a pioneer in delivering fitness experiences for commercial customers for more than ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Skincare
Sothys: Skincare
Management software
Premier Software Solutions: Management software
Red Light Therapy
 Red Light Rising: Red Light Therapy
Lockers/interior design
Safe Space Lockers Ltd: Lockers/interior design
Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Kemitron GmbH: Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Wearable technology solutions
MyZone: Wearable technology solutions
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Whole body cryotherapy
Art of Cryo: Whole body cryotherapy
Independent service & maintenance
Servicesport UK Limited: Independent service & maintenance
Salt therapy products
Himalayan Source: Salt therapy products
Property & Tenders
Welwyn Garden City
Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council
Property & Tenders
Newport, Shropshire
Lilleshall Sports Academy
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
21-24 Sep 2021
Messe Stuttgart, Germany
Diary dates
13-14 Oct 2021
Online,
Diary dates
01-03 Feb 2022
Coventry Building Society Arena, Coventry, United Kingdom
Diary dates
07-10 Apr 2022
Exhibition Centre , Cologne, Germany
Diary dates
15-16 Jun 2022
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
01-07 Dec 2022
tbc, Dunedin, New Zealand
Diary dates
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