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Health club chain The Gym may be short on frills but it’s rich in opportunities for ambitious, entrepreneurial managers looking for an exciting career move. John Treharne explains why you should apply

great expectatiOns


former accountant and England squash player, John Treharne made his name in the health and fitness industry 21 years ago

when he founded the Dragons health club chain. Te business was floated on the stock market in 1997, before being sold to Crown Sports four years later. Following a short stint as sports director at Esporta, Treharne has channelled his energy into developing the UK’s first budget health club concept: Te Gym. Te group currently has 23 sites open or under construction and is planning to open a further 80 over the next four years.

You launched The Gym Group in 2007. What inspired you? I looked at low-cost models such as Planet Fitness in the US and McFit in Germany, and saw a very definite demand for bud- get operations. Te UK, at that time, was the most expensive health club market in the world, which created a perfect opportunity to launch a similar offering here. However, none of the operations I’d seen abroad had really embraced modern technology. To my mind, budget businesses – from hotels to air- lines – really lend themselves to a web-based

our general managers are responsible for turnovers in excess of £1m a year


environment, so right from the start we put a lot of emphasis on developing innovative IT processes, such as our online joining system and streamlined reporting structure. Tis still sets us apart today.

How would you sum up your offering? For £15.99 a month, with no contract, we offer extremely clean, safe, well-maintained gyms with more than 200 pieces of quality equipment, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Every facility has a reception area and changing rooms, but we don’t do frills – there are no fluffy towels, saunas or steamrooms, swimming pools or bars. In the current cli- mate, we believe people want both quality and value for money, so our focus is on giving our members a great gym and cutting out the expensive, potentially loss-making facilities that many people don’t use anyway.

What about group exercise? All our sites offer 40-50 group activities a week, from running clubs to circuits. We’ve also recently introduced a virtual group cycling concept called MyRide in a dedicated area of the gym. We’re now trialling a sepa- rate yoga and pilates studio in four of our sites, using virtual technology to stream in hourly classes from some of the world’s top teachers.

What are some of the biggest myths about low-cost gyms? Because we have a low price point, people are sometimes surprised by the high calibre of our facilities. Another misconception is that our

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CEO John Treharne is seeking high achievers to work in his business

Each site offers 200 pieces of the latest fitness equipment

members don’t get much personal attention, which simply isn’t true – our gyms typically have 180 hours a week of floor cover, which is something few of the premium brands could claim. Our pared-back model, combined with our IT capability, means our staff don’t have to spend hours writing reports, stocking bars or doing pool maintenance, so they can spend more time with our members.

What about suggestions that low-cost gyms aren’t safe? Tat’s nonsense. Our gyms are staffed from 8am-8pm Monday to Friday and from 10am-5pm at weekends. In addition, they’re closely monitored at all times via extensive CCTV coverage with direct links to emer- gency services.

How are you funding your rollout strategy? With a mixture of debt from HSBC and equity from venture capital firm Bridges Ventures – we’re fully funded to open 20 clubs a year for the next four years.

How would you describe your membership base? Our price point and no-contract policy makes our offering accessible to people who traditionally wouldn’t have been able to afford the fee at the local leisure centre, let

Twitter: @leisureopps © CYBERTREK 2012

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