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interview
Building a team: Soho Gyms organises regular staff events, The cardio zone at Soho Gyms’ Waterloo club – an
including days out in the Solent on the company boat example of the brand’s funky, urban design philosophy
years, but we feel there’s a gap in the delivery of qualifi cations differ from “I’d like to try a larger club, too, with a
market: we see too many qualifi ed other training providers? swimming pool; none of our clubs have
personal trainers, rather than quality “You have the core syllabus to follow, a pool at the moment. I also think we
personal trainers. There are some very but you can add to it, put your edge on could go outside London one day – to
good personal trainers out there, don’t it. Soho Gyms has a good reputation for Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool,
get me wrong, but unfortunately there both fi tness and service – there’s a lot of Brighton – but for now we’re just
are also a lot of bad ones. energy in our gyms and the people who consolidating things here.
“Part of the issue is that they don’t work within them, which I think rubs off. “So we have all sorts of things going
understand service. Maybe they haven’t “Qualifi cations won’t take longer with us, on, but it’s important to have time to
had enough time in the industry, or but I think we can add more practicality enjoy it as well. Every penny’s important,
between Levels 2 and 3. Whatever the to the training. We’ll add extra sessions, but it’s not the be-all and end-all of
reason, they need to realise that having perhaps bolt-on modules that students everything. We just want a product that
a qualifi cation doesn’t automatically can do, both as part of the qualifi cation people aspire to be part of.”
make them a good personal trainer. and afterwards to keep progressing.
“We want the Academy to act almost “They’ll also get a chance to work – united we stand?
like a fi nishing school that raises the under supervision – with clients, rather What, then, are Crockett’s thoughts on
game, ensuring that, when our students than simply using each other in role the wider industry?
come out into the industry, they’re play situations. This will help them “We’re not supporting each other
polished fi tness professionals.” understand the reality of working with properly,” he says. “There are a lot of
So, if the idea is that graduation from actual members so that, when they’re organisations that, to me, don’t seem to
the Soho Gyms Academy acts as a seal on their own in their fi rst job, putting be working to the same blueprint.
of approval – a sign to employers that together a programme for someone on “Standards and unity are key, and we
their new recruit can really hit the the gym fl oor, they won’t freeze. need to work together on these. For
ground running – how does Soho Gyms’ “Our fi rst Level 2 and Level 3 courses example, we could look at how to enforce
will start in January, and training standards. Could we do this through
professionals have proactively approached insurance, perhaps – if you don’t meet the
us to be involved in the Academy – they agreed standards, you can’t get insurance?
SOHO GYMS
COMPANY
really like the ethos at Soho Gyms and “I also think we need more role models,
HISTORY
can clearly see the difference between but not just athletes, because that’s
Soho Gyms was set up in 1994 by Jeremy our staff and those in other clubs, so they quite elitist. It’s glamour that tends to
Norman, Derek Frost and Richard Taylor. understand what we’re trying to do.” reach people, whether we like it or not.
Norman had previously been involved in If Cheryl Cole were to promote going
the world of nightclubs, setting up venues balancing act down the gym, for example, I guarantee it
including Embassy, Heaven and Leopard That would seem more than enough to would get people’s attention and, I think,
Lounge, and saw the opportunity to keep someone busy, but Crockett has help persuade today’s youngsters to make
merge gym with nightclub, creating a more plans up his sleeve. “We’re going the gym part of their everyday life.
modern, urban environment with DJs etc. to try to open a new club late next year, “Paying for people like this to endorse
1994: Opening of the first Soho Gyms but these are strange times and we need our industry would be expensive. But
club in Covent Garden to be a bit cautious. We also have to if we all shared the cost between us, it
1997-8: Opening of the Earls Court and find the right location. It doesn’t matter would become more affordable – and it
Camden clubs, the former an acquisition how good we are, or how good any club really would be in all of our interests.
and the latter a new build is, if the location isn’t right. “In the end, the industry as a whole
2000: Clapham club opens “I’m not interested in growing too is a business, and we need to learn to
2006: Opening of the Waterloo club big, but 10 to 12 gyms would be nice. think longer term. We all need to work
2008: Borough club opens If we’re going to self-fund it, we can together to invest in helping to bring
There are now four directors: Norman, probably open a club every two to three more people into exercise.”
Frost, Taylor and Mike Crockett. years; we’re not going to borrow loads
of cash, so we’re quite happy to pick and kate cracknell
choose as it suits us. healthclub@leisuremedia.com
28 Read Health Club Management online november/december 2009 © cybertrek 2009
healthclubmanagement.co.uk/digital
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