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interview


Members are split into ability groups: blue for beginners, red for intermediate, green for advanced


feel they’ve achieved something, so the instructor must strike a balance between making it fun – fun is a large part of what we do – and ensuring people have been made to work. “Motivation is also key. We only have


about 15 people in each class, so they get almost one-on-one attention. If I had a gym, I wouldn’t allow people to come unless they did classes – with the right instructors, that gives you all the motivation you need. I don’t think you even have to pay for PT. But without that sort of motivation, you get bored. “There’s also no judgement at BMF.


Everyone’s given a bib with a number on it, and during the class you’re referred to by that number. It avoids the cliqueyness you get in some fi tness environments, with all the fabulous people who know the instructor and everyone else left out on the sidelines. But after the class it’s back to names, with a lot of socialising among both members and staff. “I think people imagine we’re some


sort of military boot camp where instructors will scream at them and humiliate them, but it’s not like that. We cater for all abilities – we have three 72- year-old ladies who do BMF in Aberdeen, for example. You don’t have to be fi t to do our sessions. You come to us to get fi t, so you can get more from your life. “We already split people into ability


groups, but we may also bring on new products in the future – walking-based


sessions, for example – to encourage even more people to give it a go. “I wish people would understand the


benefi ts of how they’ll feel. Once they start with us, their dress size becomes irrelevant because they suddenly realise how much better they’re feeling. “Even though we have the winter


to contend with, our average is about 13.5 months of active membership, coming 2.1 times a week.”


competition or partnership? Cope continues: “The big difference between us and a gym is that the gym is a facility provider, whereas we’re a fitness company: you come to us to get fit; if you go to a gym, you may not. “There are of course things a gym


offers that we don’t, and vice versa. Gyms have comfortable facilities, which might appeal to new exercisers; with us, you’re sometimes going to get wet, cold and muddy. And of course they’re open all the time, which we’re


not. But if you look at Change4Life for example, the website talks about going swimming, cycling or running – all in a gym near you. I’d have to disagree with that. Go run in a park, go cycle in Richmond, go swimming in a lake. “We’re not out to poach members


from gyms, though, because I believe we can run in tandem – most people who come to us have been a gym member at some point, and a number still have both gym and BMF memberships. “There might even be the potential


for a joint membership package in the future: someone could pay £x to become a member of both BMF and a health club at the same time. I don’t know if any of the chains would be willing to do something like that, but I think it would be a great way forward. “Ultimately, the industry needs to


fi nd ways to get more people involved, because at the moment we’re in trouble, and that will only get worse as obesity continues to grow. I think the


Groups tend to be no more than 15 people,


ensuring a personalised level of attention


30


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august 2010 © cybertrek 2010


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