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Health Club Management

Health Club Management

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Health Club Management

Health Club Management

features

HCM People: Sol GilbertCo-founder: Underground Gym

It’s our goal to launch two more self-funded clubs in the next three years. After that we’re open to anything: mergers or a private equity acquisition

Published in Health Club Management 2019 issue 4
Sol Gilbert
Sol Gilbert

What is your backstory?
I’m an ex-professional MMA fighter and have been in the industry since I was a teenager, first with a gym in Brighton, then Courtney’s in London and Dragons back in Brighton. After that, I went on to launch my own martial arts school.

In 2014, I teamed up with my business partner, Alan McGuinness and we expanded my gym, so members could do their strength and conditioning work with us. At the same time we rebranded to Underground Gym, so we would be perceived as less of a fight school – which was intimidating to some people – and attract a more diverse crowd.

What’s the Underground Gym brand all about?
We have three equal parts. Combat, comprising MMA, boxing, Brazilian Ju Jitsu and Muay Thai. Strength training with free weights and plate loaded equipment and power and Olympic lifting. Finally, we offer conditioning with disciplines like Parkour and calisthenics.

The mix of these three aspects means the gym floor is not as ‘alpha’ as bodybuilding gyms and our members train across a number of disciplines. Our USP is the community we create at each club, which is largely down to our staff, who are all former professional athletes – their personalities create the atmosphere and DNA of the brand.

Do all three sites offer the same?
Each site has been slightly bigger and more costly! Brighton, the original flagship site, offers the core facilities. Newhaven was the second site and is slightly larger, with a sauna and a group exercise studio. Tunbridge Wells is the largest site and has a Fit 3D body scanner, MMA Octagon, a Parkour area and Eat Naked restaurant.

What’s the membership model?
Gym membership is £39 a month, with a £20 joining fee which gets waived for certain groups, such as single parents or service personnel. Gym and fitness classes are £49 a month and gym and the more specific classes, such as Olympic lifting or Parkour, are £59 a month.

There’s also a pay-as-you-go option which costs £9.99. We’ve just developed a small group training package to help people to get better results without the expense of PT. This starts at £12.

Who are your members?
A large proportion are millennials who come before and after work. But we do have more 40-50-year-olds coming mid-morning and there’s about a 60/40 split between males and females.

What have been the main challenges with getting the brand up and running?
We’ve self-funded, so sometimes that’s been stressful. Finding the right sites and the right staff is a challenge.

As we now have multiple locations, the main goal has been to ensure we offer the same experience across all three and that they run efficiently, offering the same quality experience – even if Alan and I are only in the club once a week.

To do this, we’ve created a more formal staff structure, with managers and supervisors, to make sure everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet.

What do you look for in a site?
We look for industrial units in residential areas, with ample parking and supportive councils. Our aim is to own the south coast of the UK, so Tunbridge Wells was further north than we’d originally planned, but it was such a good location that we had to go for it.

Retailers like John Lewis and Marks & Spencer and showrooms for Bentley and BMW are within a kilometre of the club in Tunbridge Wells – it’s such an affluent area, we thought if we can’t make a gym work here, we might as well give up!

It’s an old gymnastics facility, so loads of the infrastructure was already in place, including a foam pit, which has allowed us to create a Parkour, street-running park.

We opened on 23rd November after a 30-day turnaround, adding a restaurant, widening the reception area and bringing in new kit from Core Health and Fitness, Carbon Claw and Xenios.

What are your future plans?
It’s our goal to launch two more self-funded clubs within the next three years and we’re looking for sites in Worthing and Eastbourne. After that, we’re open to anything: mergers with other chains or a private equity acquisition.

What are your predictions for the health and fitness industry?
More focus on boutiques and small group training. I also think people will get fed up of data and technology and want workouts to be more simple. There will be more cross training, but less club hopping – people will get bored of going to different places because they won’t build a community. So, I think we’ll see more ‘clubs within a club’, offering an interesting mix of facilities.

Alan McGuinness
Alan McGuinness
Gilbert and McGuinness look for industrial units in residential areas
Gilbert and McGuinness look for industrial units in residential areas
The Underground Gym offers a combination of combat, strength and Parkour/calisthenics
The Underground Gym offers a combination of combat, strength and Parkour/calisthenics
http://www.leisureopportunities.com/images/imagesX/156873_625136.jpg
Underground Gym's co-founder, Sol Gilbert, talks about breaking the rules with a new gym model
Sol Gilbert, co-founder: Underground Gym ,Sol Gilbert, Underground Gym, combat, strength, Parkour
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features

HCM People: Sol GilbertCo-founder: Underground Gym

It’s our goal to launch two more self-funded clubs in the next three years. After that we’re open to anything: mergers or a private equity acquisition

Published in Health Club Management 2019 issue 4
Sol Gilbert
Sol Gilbert

What is your backstory?
I’m an ex-professional MMA fighter and have been in the industry since I was a teenager, first with a gym in Brighton, then Courtney’s in London and Dragons back in Brighton. After that, I went on to launch my own martial arts school.

In 2014, I teamed up with my business partner, Alan McGuinness and we expanded my gym, so members could do their strength and conditioning work with us. At the same time we rebranded to Underground Gym, so we would be perceived as less of a fight school – which was intimidating to some people – and attract a more diverse crowd.

What’s the Underground Gym brand all about?
We have three equal parts. Combat, comprising MMA, boxing, Brazilian Ju Jitsu and Muay Thai. Strength training with free weights and plate loaded equipment and power and Olympic lifting. Finally, we offer conditioning with disciplines like Parkour and calisthenics.

The mix of these three aspects means the gym floor is not as ‘alpha’ as bodybuilding gyms and our members train across a number of disciplines. Our USP is the community we create at each club, which is largely down to our staff, who are all former professional athletes – their personalities create the atmosphere and DNA of the brand.

Do all three sites offer the same?
Each site has been slightly bigger and more costly! Brighton, the original flagship site, offers the core facilities. Newhaven was the second site and is slightly larger, with a sauna and a group exercise studio. Tunbridge Wells is the largest site and has a Fit 3D body scanner, MMA Octagon, a Parkour area and Eat Naked restaurant.

What’s the membership model?
Gym membership is £39 a month, with a £20 joining fee which gets waived for certain groups, such as single parents or service personnel. Gym and fitness classes are £49 a month and gym and the more specific classes, such as Olympic lifting or Parkour, are £59 a month.

There’s also a pay-as-you-go option which costs £9.99. We’ve just developed a small group training package to help people to get better results without the expense of PT. This starts at £12.

Who are your members?
A large proportion are millennials who come before and after work. But we do have more 40-50-year-olds coming mid-morning and there’s about a 60/40 split between males and females.

What have been the main challenges with getting the brand up and running?
We’ve self-funded, so sometimes that’s been stressful. Finding the right sites and the right staff is a challenge.

As we now have multiple locations, the main goal has been to ensure we offer the same experience across all three and that they run efficiently, offering the same quality experience – even if Alan and I are only in the club once a week.

To do this, we’ve created a more formal staff structure, with managers and supervisors, to make sure everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet.

What do you look for in a site?
We look for industrial units in residential areas, with ample parking and supportive councils. Our aim is to own the south coast of the UK, so Tunbridge Wells was further north than we’d originally planned, but it was such a good location that we had to go for it.

Retailers like John Lewis and Marks & Spencer and showrooms for Bentley and BMW are within a kilometre of the club in Tunbridge Wells – it’s such an affluent area, we thought if we can’t make a gym work here, we might as well give up!

It’s an old gymnastics facility, so loads of the infrastructure was already in place, including a foam pit, which has allowed us to create a Parkour, street-running park.

We opened on 23rd November after a 30-day turnaround, adding a restaurant, widening the reception area and bringing in new kit from Core Health and Fitness, Carbon Claw and Xenios.

What are your future plans?
It’s our goal to launch two more self-funded clubs within the next three years and we’re looking for sites in Worthing and Eastbourne. After that, we’re open to anything: mergers with other chains or a private equity acquisition.

What are your predictions for the health and fitness industry?
More focus on boutiques and small group training. I also think people will get fed up of data and technology and want workouts to be more simple. There will be more cross training, but less club hopping – people will get bored of going to different places because they won’t build a community. So, I think we’ll see more ‘clubs within a club’, offering an interesting mix of facilities.

Alan McGuinness
Alan McGuinness
Gilbert and McGuinness look for industrial units in residential areas
Gilbert and McGuinness look for industrial units in residential areas
The Underground Gym offers a combination of combat, strength and Parkour/calisthenics
The Underground Gym offers a combination of combat, strength and Parkour/calisthenics
http://www.leisureopportunities.com/images/imagesX/156873_625136.jpg
Underground Gym's co-founder, Sol Gilbert, talks about breaking the rules with a new gym model
Sol Gilbert, co-founder: Underground Gym ,Sol Gilbert, Underground Gym, combat, strength, Parkour
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Beachbody – the global fitness brand behind Insanity and P90X – has announced that it ...
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Boutique fitness operator 1Rebel has partnered with Technogym to develop an at-home indoor cycling platform ...
Latest News
Sport England has published an update on its digital strategy, in which the grassroots organisation ...
Latest News
A new all-in-one digital platform will begin offering certified, trainer-led live group fitness classes in ...
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Peloton co-founder and CEO John Foley has admitted that he is baffled as to why ...
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Seattle-based studio Best Practice Architecture has created a new gym with innovative design touches and ...
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A study assessing the impact of physical inactivity on national economies has suggested that if ...
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POST YOUR JOB
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: GLL chooses Ethitec’s Tiara9 system for its exercise-based public health referral schemes
The Tiara9 system has been selected by leisure trust, GLL, to support the nationwide rollout of its Healthwise GP referral programme.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: Crown Sports Lockers to launch sector first at IHS 2019
Crown Sports Locker will launch a waterproof locker that will open the door to facilities demanding a sustainable solution for wet changing areas.
Opinion
promotion
An ever-increasing number of Brits are engaging in sporting events, setting themselves goals and looking to increase their fitness levels....
Opinion: Dr Crionna Tobin on nutritional training for PTs and fitness experts
Company profiles
Company profile: Balanced Body®
Stocked in the UK for fast, costeffective delivery, Balanced Body® delivers versatile and space-saving mind-body ...
Company profiles
Company profile: TRX Training UK
TRX provides world-class functional training by offering quality equipment, effective workouts and world-class education capable ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Skincare
Sothys: Skincare
Management software
GymSales: Management software
Professional services
Deloitte UK: Professional services
Wearable technology solutions
MyZone: Wearable technology solutions
Lockers/interior design
Fitlockers: Lockers/interior design
Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Kemitron GmbH: Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Fitness software
Go Do.Fitness: Fitness software
Spa software
ResortSuite: Spa software
Exercise equipment
Eleiko Sport AB: Exercise equipment
Audio visual
Hutchison Technologies: Audio visual
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
21-22 Nov 2019
JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort, Aventura,
Diary dates
29 Nov 2019
The King’s Fund, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
10-12 Dec 2019
tbc, Fort Lauderdale, United States
Diary dates
29-30 Jan 2020
Holiday Inn San Francisco-Golden Gateway, San Francisco, United States
Diary dates
23-25 Mar 2020
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Diary dates
10-27 Jun 2020
tbc, Pinggu, China
Diary dates
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