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interview


DiR is linked to the people of Barcelona – everyone’s been to a DiR club or knows someone who has


clubs is fun, varied and brings results, whether you’re new to exercise or an experienced gym-goer. We’re always thinking of what more we can do to ensure


the best possible experience for our members. We believe our key opportunity is customer knowledge – really understanding what our clients need – so we can continually surprise them with new ideas that will keep them coming back. We recently introduced Kranking – we were the fi rst


operator in Spain to do so – and have incorporated AntiGravity Yoga (see HCM May 10, p52) into our yoga offering. We’re also involved in the virtual world: we’ve created the fi rst ‘virtual’ DiR gym, which people can access from anywhere at any time, and we offer virtual classes in our clubs – group cycling sessions, for example – when instructors aren’t available. Another important element at DiR is recruitment and staff


training. I fi rmly believe that people are what differentiate your business from another, and it’s been a priority for me to recruit the best people in each of the key disciplines of my business, as well as investing heavily in training each year.


You do a lot of charity work. How does this tie in with the chain’s philosophy? The aims of our charitable foundation are the same as those of the DiR health clubs: to improve the quality of people’s lives. In the case of our charity, we work with underprivileged groups, disabled people, and people with illnesses whose symptoms can be relieved through exercise.


26


You’re doing well in spite of the global recession. What’s the secret of DiR’s success? DiR is inextricably linked to the people of Barcelona – everyone’s been to a DiR club or knows someone who has, and there are many people out there who feel genuinely better as a result of coming to us. Our members also see us constantly evolving and innovating, and I think this positive attitude rubs off on them, encouraging them to keep pushing themselves towards self-improvement. When times are hard, joining a DiR club represents a


way of looking after yourself and strengthening yourself to confront the challenges. Local people know that physical activity is a way to be healthier, feel better and see life more positively, as these are messages we focus on heavily in all our communications, from advertising campaigns to our monthly members’ magazine. In these tough times, I think we’re reaping the rewards of that message.


According to IHRSA research, the Spanish fi tness market has suddenly grown in terms of penetration levels. What do you think has driven this? The culture of sport and physical activity is gathering pace in our country, boosted by the strong performance of the local authority sector. Other factors include the climate, which encourages people to get outside and be active, and the emergence of Spanish athletes on the world stage over recent years – the likes of Rafael Nadal, Gemma Mengual and Jorge


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