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pure
poland
James Balfour, the son of
Fitness First founder Mike, and
former Fitness First operations
manager Tony Cowen talk to
Andrea Jezovit about launching
their new Pure Health &
Fitness chain in Poland
JAMES BALFOUR & TONY COWEN
Q
HOW DID YOU EACH GET INTO
about it. I’d just fi nished stockbroking and shopping centre, which has been very
THE INDUSTRY?
was going to take a year out to do some successful. Our second club, in Krakow,
JAMES: Fitness First was founded 16 mountain climbing, but in between my has been even more successful, and we
years ago by my father, Mike Balfour, and trips I had nothing to do. My dad knew I have lots of sites in the pipeline.
I worked for them at various times, but was frustrated and that Tony wanted to
I had a career as a stockbroker before start something, so he suggested we meet.
becoming involved in Pure. We got talking and it went from there.
Q
WHERE WILL YOUR NEXT
CLUB BE LOCATED?
TONY: I used to run hotels and had my TONY: Our next club opens at Golden
own restaurant in Stafford; I’ve worked in Terraces in central Warsaw, probably
basically all areas of leisure except casinos.
Q

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE POLAND?
the best shopping centre in central
In 1998, I wanted to get into health and JAMES: We moved here in August 2007 and eastern Europe. There was a lot of
fi tness because it looked like a nice way after doing a study on eastern Europe. competition for the site, so we’re really
to earn a living, and joined Fitness First in Poland came out on top due to its market excited about securing it; it’s going to be
sales. Four weeks later I was promoted to size, demographics and booming economy. beautiful, with a spa and beauty offering,
general manager. I worked my way up to When we came over to Warsaw we also an outdoor terrace, a huge gym and
regional manager, then became one of the saw that there was an opportunity here loads of really cool water features. It
operations directors for the UK. – people wanted to exercise but there opens this summer as our fl agship club.
wasn’t the right offering.
Q
HOW DID YOU GET FROM THERE TO
RUNNING PURE HEALTH & FITNESS?
Q
WHAT’S YOUR VISION FOR PURE
JAMES: Tony and I knew each other from
Q
WHAT CLUBS HAVE YOU
HEALTH & FITNESS?
OPENED SO FAR?
TONY: We’re trying to bring health
Fitness First. He was anxious to do his TONY: We opened our fi rst club in and fi tness to central and eastern
own thing and approached my father Warsaw in July last year, in the Blue City Europe. Only 0.6 per cent of the
population in Poland currently have gym
memberships, but obesity is as much of
a problem here as anywhere else.
Membership in Poland tends to be
expensive, but our clubs offer value
Funky fi tness Pure delivers a vibrant,
welcoming environment with extra
perks like free coffee and DVD rentals
40 Read Health Club Management online july 2009 © cybertrek 2009
healthclubmanagement.co.uk/digital
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