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Leisure Management - Stuart Perrin

HCM People

Stuart Perrin

I’m Confident we can deliver 50 coach gyms in the uk, however, I feel the opportunity is really much larger

Stuart Perrin, CEO of Coach Gyms
The first Coach Gyms site has just opened in Leeds

What’s the vision and ambition for Coach Gyms?
Coach has created the UK’s first affordable boutique gyms. We’re redefining affordable luxury.

We aim to not just deliver, but also to excel in member experience and support and create a fitness revolution. Our members’ goals are our goals.

Your first club has opened in Leeds. What are your roll-out plans?
We have plans for growth. Our next three sites have already been identified and we’re looking to have another, which is currently in the design stages, open by the end of the year, despite the pandemic.

The aim is to have between four and six clubs in every metropolitan area in the UK, outside London.

Target locations are inner ring roads, with good visibility and generous parking. We’ll follow a ‘city takeover’ approach, with three miles between each.

Why the name?
When reviewing brands and what they stand for, most try too hard to be cool. Coach Gyms is about love – we love our community and are enabling members to achieve improvements in both their physical and mental health. Most importantly, the member experience comes first in every thought we have.

How would you describe the clubs?
All clubs will have total floor areas of between 10-15,000sq ft, with four studios and a full gym floor with 200 pieces of equipment – including cardio, functional, sectorised and free weights.

We run over 200 classes per month, with Les Mills as a key partner. Equipment is by Nautilus, Star Track, Schwinn, Stairmaster, Concept, Hatton and a number of functional items from Origin, Exigo and Jordan, while the changing rooms will have 50-100 lockers, brass surround mirrors and solid oak beauty benches.

Gyms will open 6.00am to 10.00pm on weekdays and 8.00am to 8.00pm at weekends/bank holiday.

Our member app is powered by Virtuagym and enables members to engage with their community, talk to our team, book and buy.

Tell us about the concept
We’re an 18-years-and-over club – our target audience is 25-55 year old females and currently, around 90 per cent of our members are women.

We have a great community here – it’s female focused, but men who don’t want a huge free weights area and are after an amazing boutique experience join, because we provide that extra bit of luxury.

We’re investing £750k per club in fit-out to achieve the look and feel of a bar, while delivering an exceptional training experience for everyone.

Why have you chosen to focus on women?
After working in the premium, mid-market and budget sectors I felt female fitness was often an afterthought and a huge opportunity missed.

Coach isn’t ‘ladies-only’ but female focused. We’ve created an environment that’s non-intimidating, soft in approach and relaxed in terms of things such as communication to ensure the best experience possible for the women who make this their choice.

Lengthy consideration has gone into things such as the lighting, luxury finishes in the changing rooms, equipment selection, even the specially crafted playlists in the club. None of this has happened by chance, our community has a voice and we listen!

How did lockdown impact your plans?
It was a challenge but the team rose to it. We used the time to ensure we engaged fully with our community, keeping communications clear.

As we were in pre-sale when we went into lockdown, I took the decision to open the sales office as essential retail, which saw us double the size of our business in the following four weeks, while the industry was asleep and fearing the worst. We came out of it fully prepared for any eventuality.

Tell us about your background
As COO of Xercise4Less, I was part of the team that took the company from a single site to a 52-club estate with over 340,000 members in 10 years.

I learned a lot, but my main takeaways were; listen to your members, they hold the key to your success; invest as much time and effort into your team as you do in yourself, and; always be the hardest worker in the room – this goes without saying!

Investment in people, product and process is critical to the growth and long-term survival of any business.

What are your views on the market?
This is a great time for the industry, with opportunities everywhere – especially for us as a business looking to expand nationally very quickly.

Members should be benefiting as well, because everyone should be bringing their A Game right now and that can only mean better service, better results and more people getting physically active than ever before.

What are your thoughts on JD buying Xercise4Less?
This can only be a positive. A huge brand like JD will bring the investment required back to Xercise4Less and wake the sleeping giant that once was.

I wish the team there every success and look forward to seeing how the product and brand develops over the coming months and years.

How will COVID-19 change the industry?
It will make professionals in the industry more considerate – sharper around processes and more agile when trading is tough and they need to pivot to other revenue streams to continue trading.

Of course, there will be casualties, but as long as you’re member-facing, and you listen, there will be growth opportunities everywhere.

Can you share some numbers?
Our first site is approaching the 2k member mark by the end of the first month’s trading. We’ll see this grow over the next 14 months to 4,500 members.

In terms of usage, we’re currently logging 600 unique visits a day at the first location and expect this to grow to closer to 1k visits a day at maturity.

I’m confident we can deliver 50 Coach Gyms in the UK over the next few years, however, I feel the opportunity is really much larger than that.

Originally published in Health Club Management 2020 issue 7
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06 Apr 2020 issue 153

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