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Fitness mantras from the best in the business

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“With more leisure time, gyms are the new social hangout, offering new opportunities”

Kevin Teixeira, Managing Director

Warehouse Gym looks and feels very different from other commercial gyms as you have introduced colour, art and music to the plain gym aesthetic. How has the gym changed since you first started?

The first Warehouse Gym was a back of an envelope idea, drawn up in a lobby. It was a first for Dubai, in look and function. We were ahead of the curve when it came to how the customer started to exercise. The gym was extremely successful, and even today is still the OG. To keep ahead of the curve we’ve brought in award-winning designers, artists, lighting and sound experts to keep enhancing that unique experience and feel of the gym while keeping the original DNA.

What market need are you solving, and how is your approach different from how other players have addressed this need?

The fitness landscape is fragmented, and has polarized views on exercise that has driven up the price for a good product. I wanted to create a proposition that was unbeatable, one membership, multiple experiences.

I look at our gyms as one big gym and each one as a node in the network of gyms, this means I can give the member 11 unique gyms, over 2.000 classes per month, 35 different types of programmes for an affordable price.

There is a lot of talk surrounding the need for businesses to innovate to stay alive and remain relevant. What has surprised you the most about the fitness business during these challenging times?

I wasn’t really surprised by anything. I knew the industry would bounce back bigger and better but what did pleasantly surprise me was the utilisation. Members are staying in gyms for longer and using off-peak times. As we move into a world that gives us more leisure time the gyms become the new social hangout and new opportunities open up.

We know the main problem that many clubs deal with is member retention. Is this an issue for you?

An exercise journey is an emotional one, so you must connect and understand the member. The gym will become your second home, so it’s our job to make you feel like it does. Everyone at Warehouse from ownership and management to staff are passionate and connected to the gym floor.

Going ahead, what sort of changes do you plan on implementing at Warehouse Gym? Where do you want your business/brand to be in the next three years?

We’ve opened five gyms during the pandemic which is a testament to the business strategy, staff and our members. We want to carry on expanding in and out of the UAE and explore a franchising model for the brand.

EMBODY FITNESS

“We guarantee that our clients achieve life-changing results in the most sustainable way possible”

David Crocker, General Manager

David Crocker, General Manager, Embody Fitness
Image Credit: Supplied

Embody Fitness is most well known as a body transformation gym and has been a great success. Have you seen an increase in demand for this after seeing the results of your clients?

Yes, we have seen a huge increase in demand over the years, especially those referred to us by existing clients who have managed to achieve incredible results during their time at Embody. Everything we do is scientifically based and the team are extremely passionate about getting the best possible results for every client.

What are the top five health fitness issues impacting your clients?

We receive clients from all backgrounds and differing levels of experience. The most common health issues we encounter are obesity, diabetes, stress, back pain and joint issues/injuries. A lot of these problems are linked to lack of exercise or general movement, along with poor dietary & lifestyle habits. Our uniquely customised approach and team of highly qualified sports professionals, nutritionists and therapists can guide them every day and guarantee that they achieve life changing results in the most sustainable way possible.

What do you consider to be the major differences and improvements that Embody Fitness offers over other gyms/fitness centres?

We are not a commercial gym that offers monthly memberships for people to train on their own. Embody Fitness is a high performance personal training facility that provides a multi-disciplined team of experts to cover every important part of a clients body transformation programme. Qualified sports nutritionists work alongside our strength and conditioning experts and sports therapists to ensure every client has a tailored programme designed to deliver rapid and sustainable long term results.

REFORM ATHLETICA

“Our USP is taIloring an experience to each client and keeping our classes small”

Dina Elshurafa, Founder

Reform
Dina Elshurafa, Founder, Reform Athletica
Image Credit: Supplied

Creating unique programmes is a big challenge for boutique fitness studios, but it sounds like it’s one of the strengths at Reform Athletica. How do you create your special programmes?

Our unique selling point is tailoring an experience to each client. We have intentionally kept our classes small (7 In the Reform Method Class and a maximum of 10 in all our other classes) to ensure a personal training experience in a group setting environment. Each of our trainers goes through an orientation with clients and indeed trainers are encouraged to get to know their clients personally and follow their fitness journeys in order to help them achieve their aims. Giving this one-on-one attention is only made possible because of our small class sizes, allowing trainers to get to know clients individually and understand when to challenge and push and when to give clients a break. Additionally, we offer nutrition coaching through our RAW programme, which goes hand in hand with our training. This helps each client achieve their fitness goals more easily and be accountable to someone who is invested in their journey. Lastly, our online platform, RAnywhere, which was a brainchild during the pandemic, has continued to serve clients juggling busy travel schedules or who simply prefer to workout in the comfort of their own homes.

What is the most important thing that Reform Athletica does when it comes to the customer experience?

We listen to our clients! We are in a service-based industry so understanding the needs of our clients is foremost in our minds. We always solicit feedback from our clients in order to better understand how to enhance their experience. This begins from the moment a client decides to book a class to well after they’ve attended. We pride ourselves in being among the first to go digital with our booking and payment systems in the UAE and we ensure that client feedback is sought after significant milestones (i.e. booking a class, attending a class etc). We have taken on client suggestions such as new additional class times, ladies-only classes, more class offering etc.

Where do you see Reform Athletica five years from now? What’s the larger vision that you’re working towards?

We see Reform Athletica, a home-grown brand that was created with our clients in mind, growing in the UAE and the Middle East. Expansion is always at the forefront of our minds but it is not just about scaling up operations. It is more importantly about ensuring that when expanding, the client experience and the quality of training remains uncompromised. The name of the game for us is to ensure that clients recognise our name and associate our brand with quality training and a great client experience. We want to be the go-to name for Lagree in the Middle East. We would like to set the standard for sustainability in the fitness industry and be known for setting the bar high for fitness in the region.

PUNCH

“Everyone across all skill and fitness levels will find their comfort zone through our boxing and weights programme”

Oleg Dzyundzyak, Khalifa Safatli, Armeia Edward and Nathan Simpson, Founders

Punch founders
Oleg Dzyundzyak, Khalifa Safatli, Armeia Edward and Nathan Simpson, Founders, Punch
Image Credit: Supplied

How does Punch set itself apart from other boxing and MMA-related offerings in the increasingly competitive health club space?

Punch combines boxing with weights for a straightforward and exciting experience. Everyone across all skill and fitness levels will find their comfort zone and a chance to test their limits. The classes are designed for non-contact workouts with pumping beats and energetic lighting.

Being one of a kind boxing club in Abu Dhabi, we strive to offer the double knockout of achieving high quality boxing training along with ecstatic vibes.

How did you develop Punch’s group fitness programmes? What should a newcomer expect the first time they attend one of the workouts?

Our programmes are designed by our experienced boxing trainers with the specific aim to deliver the finest quality workouts for everyone at all skill levels. First timers can expect a warm welcome and a free pair of hand wraps and boxing gloves. The instructor will then conduct the orientation session to get you familiar with the combinations and rounds that follow.

Can you share any major goals you have set for Punch?

Our main goal is to ensure every individual achieves their fitness potential and goals. Their fitness aspirations, progress and ultimate success are our main drivers. That motivation drives us to share our passion with as many people as we possibly can.

BEST LADIES-ONLY GYMS

FitnGlam

“It’s refreshing to see stereotypes being broken”

Helena Hijazi, CEO and Founder

Helena
Helena Hijazi, CEO and Founder, FlitnGlam
Image Credit: Supplied

Women-only gyms and workout areas now have a devoted and growing clientele. What in your opinion has contributed to this trend?

There are so many contributors – privacy, comfort, safety, preference. I believe the biggest factor is community. I have connected with so many amazing women in this space. We’re all from different backgrounds but understand and support each other. It feels like I’m part of a bigger network and movement, and a lot of others feels the same.

These days, it’s commonplace to see women lifting in the gym and throwing around dumbbells as frequently as men. What do you think triggered this seismic shift in training and attitude?

I think women are starting to feel more comfortable and confident, to challenge themselves or make a change. It’s refreshing to see stereotypes being broken. Women are just as strong, just as capable, and just as deserving.

Finally, what does the future look like for FitnGlam and what channels will you be focused on for growth?

For the future, we are focused on continuing to transform the fitness industry and help more women achieve their goals. We have a lot of exciting things happening already – new locations, partnerships, collaborations, and events. Stay tuned.

TOP FITNESS EQUIPMENT & SOLUTION PROVIDERS

JOHNSON HEALTH TECH

“45 years after our founding we can confidently claim there is no fitness and wellness need that we can’t serve”

Hany Abu Omar, Managing Director

Hani
Hany Abu Omar, Managing Director, Johnson Health Tech
Image Credit: Supplied

Johnson Health Tech has completed 45 years in the industry? Tell us something about your journey so far?

From humble beginnings to becoming a worldwide fitness manufacturer, it has been a journey filled with innovation, attention to details, and a focused balance of product and customer-service excellence. Today, we are an industry-leading fitness equipment provider with 6 brands, over 500 products, presence in more than 30 countries, and our own factories to control manufacturing from raw materials to finished products. We can confidently claim that there is no fitness and wellness need that we can’t serve. Also, our premium Matrix Brand completed 20 years. We have lots to celebrate!

Hotels are scrambling to find the best way to provide fitness options as guests place an ever-increasing value on wellness when they travel. You have a great presence in the hospitality industry too, how is catering to the hospitality industry different?

Value is the answer, we offer unmatched products guaranteeing premium performance, durability, technology and user interface, backed with second-to-none after-sales support, alongwith tailored financial solutions. We are proud to announce our two newly installed hotel facilities for 2022, the Le Meridien AUH and Sheraton AUH.

You’ve recently announced your Saudi expansion. Tell us about it?

The Saudi lifestyle is changing rapidly, putting emphasis on health and wellness. We partnered with Elesayi, one of Saudi’s prominent business groups. We will have more than 80 employees on ground this year. This focus and drive enabled us to win the trust of local and global gym brands such as Pure Gym, B-IT & Snap Fitness.

MEFITPRO

“With decades of experience in the ME, we are an award-winning fitness solutions provider”

Greg Boucher, CEO, Mefitpro

Greg
Greg Boucher, CEO
Image Credit: Supplied

What are the trends driving innovation in fitness in the UAE? How is Echelon Fitness in the Middle East contributing to these trends?

Fitness technology has been growing rapidly since the world continues to go in and out of lockdown. It’s no surprise that technology continues to find a way into people’s fitness routines as they try to stay on top of their fitness and wellness game.

The buzzwords in the fitness industry, motivation, wellness and recovery, come in all shapes but being able to track everything from sleep patterns, to steps, to calories burned and being mindful of what you are eating are all areas where technology is playing a part.

Fitness apps, wearable technology, digital fitness platforms and the latest equipment with built-in monitors are all on-trend in the fitness world right now. They are all convenient, accessible and affordable for everyone with new advances coming out every month.

Echelon is at the heart of this technology shift with LIVE streaming and on-demand classes being streamed into your home or fitness club. No matter your fitness level, Echelon’s motivating instructors and the large variety of classes will help you achieve the results you want — all in one workout app.

How is Mefitpro providing unique solutions to address the challenges in the fitness industry today?

As fitness industry experts in the Middle East we’ve been providing world-class fitness solutions since 2003. We are in the business of fitness:

* Gym fit-out designs and Installations for gyms, homes, hotels, schools, corporates and sporting clubs

* Providing the best in class fitness equipment and sports nutrition products

* Train and educate over 3,000 fitness trainers each year with personal training certifications or continuing education credits

* Help fitness clubs recruit the best fitness industry talent within the region

* We also provide consultation on all things fitness & wellness

With decades of experience in the Middle East we are an award winning solution provider. We have been supporting the fitness industry for many years.

What are some of the targets Echelon Fitness to the Middle East is planning to achieve over the next 3–6 months?

Echelon Fitness products will be available in electronic stores, through telecom, sporting goods retailers and online. Some of the leading gyms in the Middle East will also have Echelon experience zones inside their clubs. Leading property developers have also shown interest in having Echelon Fitness products in their properties.

Tell us more about bringing Echelon Fitness to the Middle East.

Travel the world with scenic classes – Echelon scenic rides, rows, and runs transport you instantly to locations all around the world. Ride through the streets of Rome, sprint through an art park in Hong Kong, or row down Red Lotus Lake in Thailand — with scenic classes, there is always a new place to explore to keep fitness from ever feeling routine.

Your workouts should fit your life – No matter your fitness level, Echelon’s motivating instructors and the large variety of classes will help you achieve the results you want — all in one workout app.

An instructor for everyone – With a growing roster of more than 50 instructors, everyone can find the perfect person to help them reach their healthiest self. Ride to the rhythm with Reed, push yourself with Nicole’s positivity, or calm your mind with Ryn’s soothing encouragement — now is the time to find YOUR instructor.

Real music from real artists – Music can make or break a workout. That is why we work with top record labels to get you the latest hits from artists like Pitbull, Lady Gaga, Jessie J., Daddy Yankee, and more.

TECHNOGYM

“We developed the first software for the fitness industry 25 years ago”

Technogym spokesperson

Technogym

Image Credit: Supplied

Technogym has been in the fitness business for a little less than four decades. How has the business environment changed during this time, especially in the UAE?

I believe that the crisis we have been going through in the last two years has accelerated some trends that were already happening. In terms of digitalisation, probably in a few months we witnessed a step forward that would possibly only have happened over the course of a few years in normal conditions. At Technogym we have believed in the power of since the beginning. We developed the first software in the fitness industry 25 years ago, and today we feature a complete ecosystem made of connected smart equipment and our Mywellness cloud platform to allow people to connect with their personal training experience anytime and anywhere: at home, at the gym, at hotels, at work and outdoor.

Starting from our connected Ecosystem, last year we launched Technogym Live, a sort of Netflix of fitness, allowing people to choose from our connected consoles, a variety of training experience videos based on their personal passions, needs or aspirations: from trainer-led one-to-one sessions, to athletic training oriented routines, to outdoor immersive training scenarios.

In the last two years the business has kept changing at an unprecedented speed and digital innovation has accelerated dramatically. In few months we have seen changes in people’s attitude and lifestyle that would have taken years in the pre-pandemic scenario. This means that business fundamentals – such as product quality, customer centricity, brand positioning, service excellence, etc – are still valid but speed and capability to quickly adapt organisation and processes to new scenarios has become key.

Technogym’s business strategy is based on an ecosystem approach that includes connected smart fitness equipment, digital services and on-demand training content to offer people personalised wellness experiences anytime and anywhere: at home, the gym, at hotels, at work and outdoor. This strategy has allowed us to adapt quickly to different conditions during the pandemic. During lockdown we have been reaching our customers at home and helped, thanks to our digital platform, fitness clubs to provide their classes and programmes to members at home.

The Technogym App, launched in 2022 is available for everyone to download, providing personalized workouts with on-demand videos from top trainers to train at home, in the gym, at work, when traveling and outdoor, thanks to the smart coach.

You’ve collaborated with Bridge Lifestyle Hub to work on all forms of health and fitness. Previously, you partnered with Troon Abu Dhabi to supply specialised golf fitness machines to Yas. What does this mean for Technogym?

The fitness industry is going through a strong innovation and evolution process… the key point for all of us working is the industry is to be able to convey people not only products or training programmes, but a truly engaging and on-the-go experience. We strongly believe that in future we will not be talking anymore about fitness clubs or home fitness, but about fitness club + home fitness. All type of fitness clubs will remain central as hubs in which people will find professional counselling, define their programmes, engage in socialising and fun activities, while also training from the convenience of their homes when being unable to step out. At Technogym, our goal is to engage everyone to be active, we want to partner with everyone in the UAE and around the world and make sure everyone keeps active and achieves a healthy life.

TOP HEALTHY MEAL PLAN PROVIDERS

FITLAB

“Our goal is to have the #1 customer satisfaction rating in the industry”

Tamer Shraira, Co-Founder

Tamer
Tamer Shraira, Co-Founder, Fitlab
Image Credit: Supplied

Can you tell us more about Fitlab?

Eating clean does not have to come at the cost of taste or breaking your budget. Fitlab is a calorie-controlled meal plan provider for those who want to eat nutritious and tasty food while saving time and energy. We deliver fresh, healthy, and flavourful meals directly to your doorsteps across the UAE.

Why do you think home delivered meals are so popular nowadays? Do you believe consumers are more focused on healthy diets than in the past?

Our customers’ biggest challenge is the lack of time and energy to cook healthy meals during the week. By ordering from Fitlab they have a simple, efficient and affordable way to nourish themselves and family during the busy workweek with healthy meals.

Yes, people are more aware of healthy diets due to easily accessible information. However, it is harder to digest this information and stick to these diets since they are too restrictive and not flavourful. We try to address both of these issues here at Fitlab.

What trends are you seeing and responding to right now in the food industry?

As consumers begin to feel more comfortable ordering food and groceries online, we must put more focus on having a digital presence, especially in moments of crisis – like a global pandemic.

How did you grow Fitlab into one of the popular healthy meal delivery companies in the country? What are you planning ahead?

We took a different approach to grow and moved fast by offering various options of multinational cuisine in order to cater to all nationalities, different lifestyles and goals, with affordable prices and flexible plans.

We continue to listen and learn from our customers to plan ahead. We will continue to refine our existing meals and introduce new meals to cater to our customer needs. Our goal is to have the #1 customer satisfaction rating in the industry.