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q&a
mrs sporty
The brainchild of husband and wife team Valerie and Niclas Bönström, and tennis legend Steffi
Graf, the German fitness concept Mrs Sporty targets women who believe gyms aren’t for
them. Kath Hudson talks to MD Valerie Bönström about the secret of the company’s success
what is mrs sporty? how does it work?
It’s a health and fitness club for women We offer a 30-minute circuit using 16
only. When we were researching the pieces of Technogym hydraulic
market, we found that only 10 per cent equipment. But it’s not really about the
of women in Europe reached the equipment – it’s more about the group
minimum recommended levels of feeling and the trainer who gives
activity. We looked at reasons for this everyone individual exercises.
and found that accessibility was an issue
– a lack of sport at school, for example, when did the idea for the
and the fact that physical activity is not concept first come about?
yet a natural part of our lives in Europe. We first started talking about it in late
We therefore set about coming up 2003 and opened the first club in Berlin
with a concept that was easy to get to, in May 2004 – we felt the best way to
comfortable to spend time in, and with develop the concept would be to
maximum effect in only 30 minutes. We Valerie Bönström (above) and her actually test it with members.
wanted to create a neighbourhood club, husband Niclas opened the fi rst
allowing women to combine a visit with Mrs Sporty in Berlin in May 2004 how successful has mrs
a trip to the supermarket or bakery, or sporty been to date?
meeting up with friends. what’s the usp? From that pilot club in 2004, we’ve
We see ourselves as a Starbucks with The trainers know the members by grown rapidly through franchising the
a good conscience – a place to meet name and really care about motivating concept and now have 340–350 clubs.
friends while working out. Equipment them to achieve their goals. We have a Most are in Germany, but we have 20
is arranged in a circle so members can maximum of 600–700 members per in Austria, five in Switzerland and five
chat and laugh while they work out, club, which enables the trainers to give in Italy, where we’re building another
while the trainer in the middle is on- a level of attention that’s almost like administrative office. Franchising isn’t
hand to correct and motivate. personal training. popular in Germany, but we felt this
steffi graf
what’s your involvement movement and nutrition and create an
with mrs sporty? atmosphere where workouts are fun
I was involved from the beginning and the women feel comfortable.
through a business colleague of my In contrast to many other gyms,
husband [Andre Agassi]. women at Mrs Sporty clubs don’t feel
I liked the concept because I believe as though they’re being watched – our
many women want personal assistance clubs are modestly-sized and there are
during workouts. In addition, I liked no men. The workout concept doesn’t
the combination of physical activity require any previous knowledge or
and nutrition, and contributed a great use of complicated equipment. And
deal of my own personal experience women appreciate the opportunity
to the nutritional aspect. to get individual assistance on-site,
I see myself as an ambassador, especially as many are working out for
and would like to pass on my own the fi rst time in their lives.
experiences and inspire as many In 2004, we started with two
women as possible to exercise. clubs in Germany and, when they
proved to be a success, we expanded
what do you think mrs into Switzerland, Austria and Italy.
sporty offers that other In November 2009, we celebrated
clubs don’t? the opening of our 333rd club and
At Mrs Sporty, we address women’s are happy to report a grand total of
individual needs in the areas of around 100,000 members.
62 Read Health Club Management online march 2010 © cybertrek 2010
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