The Business of Fitness: What Does It Mean For The Consumer?

Off the back of last week's post on The Business of Fitness, we wanted to share with you some further trends and what it means for you, as a consumer, going forward.

We’re all a lot more clued up 
It’s no longer about being thin; it’s about being fit and healthy. ‘Strong Not Skinny’ is not just a hashtag. No longer are people who go to the gym first thing on a Saturday considered weird: Millennials (those born no earlier than the late 80’s) are more likely to spend their weekends around health-based activities. Think swapping a drunken Friday night followed by a crippling all-day Saturday hangover with a spinning class followed by a juice-bar meet up with friends and an early night as we’ve got yoga at 8am. We’re all about achingly fashionable gym gear: Sportsluxe and athleisure aren’t just made up fashion words. It’s totally acceptable to social straight from the gym in your ‘coming-from-a-workout’ workout clothes.

Gyms, not spas
Large, budget gyms with more equipment have replaced the ‘health spa’ fitness centres. The LA Fitness I was a member of in a fancy part of London has been replaced with a PureGym, costing less than HALF of my previous membership fee, and I’ve never been happier. The swimming pool, sauna and steam room (all huge costs for gyms from a profit/ loss perspective, and always practically empty) have been replaced by an entire floor dedicated to weights and S&C equipment. And it’s not full of Gym Douchebags… 

… Women are lifting. 
Let’s go back to ‘Strong Not Skinny’. No longer confined to the cardio area and the studio for classes, women have invaded the weights room. Kayla Itsines, Jen Selter, TwoBadBodies (Jennifer Forrester and Kaisa Keranen), Massy Arias and even Tammy Hembrow – I’m sure I’ve missed out your favourite so please post below and let us know who you follow and why – have inspired us to balance our previously cardio-heavy workouts with some weights to get the butts/ abs/ arms/ whatevers of our dreams (or their Instagram feeds). 

Now we know our way around a weight rack, and with online workout programmes available for under £30, no longer are we drawn to a gym because of fluffy towels and sauna. We want to work hard. 

Fitness Pick ‘n’ Mix
Budget gyms offer classes that tend to be – honestly – pretty rubbish. Classes at more high-end gyms such as Gymbox or Virgin tend to be better as the instructors are of a higher quality (they have to be to justify the membership fee). Most no-frills gyms don’t even offer classes. Why? Because we like to mix it up. We don’t like to be tied into a 12-month gym membership, and with many boutique gyms offering reasonable no-contract packages; we can afford the budget gym membership for gym workouts and then visit another studio for far superior yoga/ Pilates/ spinning/ barre classes. 

And then there’s ClassPass, whose entire marketing strategy is built around enticing us away from brand-loyalty (well, except to them, that is) and becoming Lycra-clad studio-hopping exercise-bunnies. “Fitness consumers are becoming more promiscuous”, says Ray Algar, author of a 2015 fitness industry report that identified the change in market. Algar calls it “de-coupling”.

Instagram happened 
Studios and gyms need to bear in mind that growth will only occur if the customer leaves class so jacked up on endorphins that they post about it on social media and tell their friends and colleagues how life-changing it was. 

Ray Algar’s report recommends that fitness businesses cash in on this. It’s hard to culture an experiential workout from traditional marketing and advertising campaigns. With the right blogger – or influencer – posting the right content, you’ve got your product slap bam in front of your next potential customers with the added benefit of it coming from a trusted and admired source. Case in point, how many of you have tried a workout or studio based on Elle’s report or endorsement of it? How many of you have stayed away from something for the same reason? Sponsored content should always be marked as what it is – advertising – but even paid-for posts have more influence than an ad on the side of a bus. 

Inspirational ownership 
We’re more attracted to organisations that seem to care. A boutique offering where the owner is not only visible, but is so bang on brand you actually want to be her (or him) is a ton more inspiring than a chain fronted by bored receptionists and stressed so-not-on-brand Duty Managers. 

Algar’s report features a case study on SoulCycle founded by Julie Rice and Elizabeth Cutler, who were dissatisfied with the spinning studios on offer, so they opened their own… And the rest is history. SoulCycle isn’t solely responsible for steering the fitness industry towards a boutique-style market, but it showed many people who’d dreamt of opening their own studio that it was possible without selling out to a chain (which they did eventually, to Equinox, but hey; no judgement. Fitness is business).  

In a lot of boutique studios, the owner teaches classes, takes part in classes and can often be found behind the reception desk. It’s hard to believe that 10 years ago, giving feedback to your gym was unheard of. Got a complaint? Call head office and be put on hold. In 2016, if we want the coffee bar in our Pilates studio to stock coconut milk (As if it wouldn’t already!), we can catch the owner after class or drop a note via Twitter.  

What are your thoughts on the fitness industry? What do you think will be the ‘next big thing’ ? How have your fitness habits changed over the last few years? 

I'd would love to hear your thoughts, so please comment below or tweet at @X_eLle_S


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All photos taken by Lolograpghy


5 Fun Days Out That Will Give You A Workout!

Not everyone is interested in the latest museum exhibitions and sometimes we’d rather not spend our day off exploring yet another 400 year old building. If you are an avid reader of this blog no doubt you would occasionally prefer a weekend activity where you get your heart pumping, have some fun and keep fit at the same time. London is surprisingly well catered for active days out and there are a number of activities that could easily quality for a workout, but are so fun they really don’t feel like it (till the next day of course).

Photo Credit: Corey

Chelsea Clip’n Climb
You may have climbed before, but not like this. Chelsea Clip’n Climb is like a climbing wall on steroids. In fact the centre has over a dozen colourful, crazy climbing walls that are all over 30 feet high. Each wall provides a slightly different challenge and you must quickly learn how to climb each one. Should you get stuck you’ll be able to abseil down or let the safety harness glide you back to earth. There are also a range of added extras like a giant vertical slide and a ‘Stairway to Heaven’. Often filled with excitable children, there are adult only days if you would prefer to not be out-climbed by an 8 year old.

Oxygen Free Jumping Acton
Probably the most fun I’ve ever had in London, and also the biggest workout. Oxygen Free Jumping is a trampoline and free jumping park in a quiet corner of Acton, just a short walk from West Acton station. The two floors of giant trampolines and free jumping courses allow you to bounce and flip your way around the massive warehouse for an hour. After 10 minutes you’ll probably need a break, after an hour you will feel like you’re near death. Who knew trampolining was so exhausting, but also so utterly fun?! If you happen to live nearby they also do a weekly Oxygen Fitness session which would do absolute wonders for anyone’s fitness regime.

2020 Archery
Not the most exhausting of activities, but entertaining and still technically a sport. 2020 archery offers ‘have a go’ sessions that allow you to try out your archery skills in a welcoming and helpful environment. Even if you’ve never fired an arrow in your life it doesn’t matter, the tutors teach everyone the basics before letting you have a few practise sessions. At the end there is a small friendly competition and by this point you should at least be able to hit the board, if not score a bullseye. Whilst archery isn’t exhausting it does require a fair bit of upper body strength to really master, not to mention laser accuracy. 2020 archery is located in the Downside Centre a short walk from Bermondsey Station.

This is another climbing centre, but this time of a more professional nature. The centre is usually packed full of professional climbers and enthusiasts who recognise that climbing is a brilliant way to build strength and burn fat. Even if you rarely or never climb, Vauxwall hosts regular sessions for beginners were they will teach you the basics and let you climb at your own pace. The centre is absolutely huge and feels like a maze of climbing walls; some going up, to the side, over your head. Located almost opposite Vauxhall station, the centre is central and easy to find.

Velodrome Taster
If team GB’s performance at the Rio Olympics has shown us anything, it’s that us Brit’s love to cycle. Why not test your own abilities on the fastest cycling track in the world? The London Velopark, built for the 2012 Olympics, offers taster sessions to anyone who wants to try their hand at track cycling. Either bring your own bike or hire one, either way you’ll be zooming along the track that helped team GB achieve greatness. Anyone who cycles to work will tell you how cycling is great for fitness, well this is cycling on a whole other level. If after one session you find you love track cycling, the VeloPark offers a structured course that allows you to get accreditation to enter races; who knows, you could be booking a trip to Tokyo in under 4 years.


This post was written by Daniel; he's a London based writer who created Day Out in London to help people explore the best parts of the city. You can catch up with Daniel on Twitter too! 


5 Changes I Made To My Nutrition Based On My DNA

A couple months ago, I attended an event where I had the opportunity to speak to a few specialists in health, beauty and wellness. One particular conversation with a facialist made me really curious about the food that we eat; more particularly the fact that (once again we all know this but) there is no one size fits all for "dieting". And truth be told, it really isn't a one size fits all for exercise either. She told me how our heritage plays a large part in how we should eat as individuals and this really got me thinking.

There is so much conflicting information out there from a variety of sources (qualified and unqualified) about what's healthy and what's not, so I decided to contact FitnessGenes to do a DNA test which checks for 40+ genes that are related to fitness, health and nutrition.

"Structuring and sticking to your diet can be hard work. We look at genes that influence how you respond to particular foods and ingredients, that may cause you to put on weight, or which affect whether you feel full after meals. We use this genetic information to create a nutrition plan tailored to your needs" FitnessGenes

My Daily Calorie Intake Was Much Higher Than I Imagined
Based on medium activity levels, and taking into account my measurements (weight, height, age, body type) the FitnessGenes nutritional calculator estimated my daily calorie intake to be 2142kcal. Adjusting this to -10% (just incase, as I'm not looking to put on weight), that equals to 1946kcal per day. FitnessGenes recommend that I split this into 4 meals plus one snack each day for optimal results.

I Quit Whole30 (Again)
I was about ten days into a whole30 when my results came back and they suggested that I should ensure that saturated fat makes up no more than around 12% of my total daily calories. Typical on whole30 I end up eating a high fat, high protein, low carb diet. My nutritional recommendations also suggest my macronutrient breakdown should be 48% carbohydrates, 27% fat and 24% protein. When I tracked my calories and macros on MyFitnessPal on whole30, I was finding it difficult to hit my protein and carb goals whilst massively going over on fats.

According to FitnessGenes, my insulin efficiency is average and as long as I am getting the majority of carbohydrates from healthy sources then I do not need to overly worry about the amount of carbohydrates I am consuming. Then they stated that, if legumes (beans, lentils, peas and peanuts) don’t make up a significant part of my current diet, I should consider adding or increasing them as these are a great source of carbohydrates and also a great source of protein (especially for vegans, vegetarians and those of you who don't enjoy eating meat, fish or protein supplements). So that was another blow for whole30 as legumes are not allowed on the programme.

I've significantly cut down on the amount of coconut oil I use as well as consuming less red meat, or even meat in general.

I Cut Down On Snacking
FitnessGenes recommended that I should avoid snacking between meals as much as possible; my genetic variation makes it very likely that I feel hungry very quickly so one way to help manage my hunger would be by consuming lots of water. Increased hydration is always a good thing anyway and has been a goal of mine for quite a while.

In situations where I work out and can't consume a full meal in the few hours following, then a snack can be great for recovery and to keep me until I do eat my next meal so I am still recommended at least one snack a day. Considering my gene variations it should contain at least 20-30 grams (80-120kcal) protein along with some carbohydrates. It's ok to have some fat in there too.

...And Then I Updated My Supplements
In relation to the whole hunger thing, they suggested mixing 1-5g of glutamine with water which can help curb hunger. I picked up a bag of L-glutamine from MyProtein which I usually add to my glass of water each morning / evening. In the first two weeks of taking this supplement, not only did it curb my cravings, it basically curbed my appetite all together. I didn't even put two and two together for ages and for a short time thought there was something seriously wrong with me! I continued supplementing with glutamine and my appetite has improved somewhat. I'm generally sticking to three meals a day and a snack when needed and my hanger has reduced to almost non existent! Just last week, I forgot (yes, forgot!) to have lunch and ended up grabbing a salad from Vital Ingredient at about 345pm!

I also started taking Perfect7 capsules again for the omega-3 supplementation. Although there is no scientific association between my gene variations and polyunsaturated omega-6 fat intake most of us don't consume enough omega-3 which is an important polyunsaturated fat. Typically, I eat salmon which is rich in omega-3 twice a week but no other foods such as sardines, mackerel, fresh tuna, herring, halibut, flax seed oil, walnuts or chia seeds) so I chose to supplement daily with fish oil through the Perfect7 range. I tried buying mackerel one week but I was still suffering from appetite issues so ended up not eating it. I have been adding chia seeds to my weetabix / porridge breakfasts over the past few weeks though.

My results also identified that I have a greater risk of Vitamin D deficiency so I ensuring I include adequate amounts within my diet is particularly important. Supplementation was also recommended to help achieve this which is covered in my Perfect7 capsules.

Photo Credit: Lolography

My Caffeine Intake Is Now Strategic
My results determined that I was classified as a slow metabolizer of caffeine but this isn't all bad! It means though that I might benefit from caffeine pre-workout and from my experience I think this is accurate. I remember the first time I used a pre-workout before spin class; my legs have never moved so fast!

What I do need to remember though, is that as a slow caffeine metaboliser,  it can take up to 11 hours to clear my system. So to avoid it disrupting my sleep, I now either have a matcha latte in the morning with breakfast and / or any other caffeinated drinks before 3 or 4pm.

All of this barely scrapes the surface of the amount of information I got back from my test results! I also got a lot of information regarding my DNA and fitness, how to train etc which I will slowly work through and apply to my training on a day to day basis.

Tests start from £129 - to find out more, visit their website.

Are you curious to know what your DNA says about your nutrition and training?! 

Elle :) 

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p.s please note that I was gifted my FitnessGenes test after I reached out to them, in return for sharing my experience and results. As ever, all opinions, are my very own ;) 


Elle About Town: Winter Run Club { + GIVEAWAY }

Okay, so it's kind of official now - Summer is over (sorry!) and there's a distinct chill in the air. Now usually, this would have me running to my wardrobe to dig out my cosiest jumpers but for some reason, this year, I'm doing the direct opposite.

It's time to get back into running. And I don't plan on doing it alone.

On Thursday 27th October, I'm bringing my latest idea to life. I'll be launching the newest run club on the block - Winter Run Club - hosted by TinyTY (tiny Timberyard) which opened just a few weeks ago in Boxpark Shoreditch (easily accessible from Liverpool Street, Old Street and surrounding). Each and every Thursday evening we'll be meeting at TinyTY to set off at 630pm sharp.

We've all read a million articles about how to stay motivated to exercise right?! They always remind us that accountability and training with friends is one way (check). Next? Set yourself a goal (check). We sorted that one too! ...The TinyTY pop up is gonna be sticking in this location for 6 months, so that gives us more than enough time to get in shape for the London Winter Run which will be taking place on Sunday 5th February 2017 (and then leave us a few weeks at least to celebrate!).

The 2016 Cancer Research UK London Winter Run saw over 15,000 of us runners hit the closed winter streets of London raising over £600,000 for Cancer Research UK and now for 2017 the race is set to be bigger and better than ever before. This event is too much fun and includes (optional) Polar Bear hugs, Penguin high-fives and winter themed zones; all set against the backdrop of our favourite London landmarks { find out more here }

Winter Run Club - Know It Nows


Launch Date:
Thursday 27th October

Location: TinyTY, Unit 27, Boxpark Shoreditch, 2-10 Bethnal Green Road, E1 6GY

Distance: Starting between 4-6km for launch, week by week, we'll be building up our running fitness, chatting all things running and getting social.

Time: meet 6.15pm for 6.30pm departure

Run Club Leads: Elle Linton along with Running Blogger & Iron(wo)Man in training, Helen Garcia.

Bag Drop: Yes; however space is limited so please try not to bring more than one bag

Rules: Everyone is welcome, no one gets left behind, okay?! (That's the first rule of run club).

Everyone who comes along on launch night will be entered into a prize draw to win one of two complimentary places in the London Winter Run. But I realise not everyone will be able to make it and I don't want anyone to miss out on the fun! So I have one extra place to giveaway to you...

Here's how you can enter:

1. Share the image below on Instagram and / or Twitter along with the following hashtags (so I can find all entries) #TinyTYRunClub #WinterRunClub (each share is equal to one entry) 

2. Share the Facebook event on Facebook and / or Twitter along with the following hashtags  #TinyTYRunClub #WinterRunClub (each share is equal to one entry) 

You have until the end of Wednesday 26th October to get your entries in! I'll be picking a winner on Friday 28th October 2016 so keep an eye out to find out if you are one of the lucky winners!

(Other terms & conditions: Open to entrants based in the United Kingdom only. The winner will be contacted upon being picked and will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen. There is no entry fee to enter this competition. No responsibility can be accepted for entries not received for whatever reason. No cash alternative to the prize will be offered. Entry into the competition will be deemed as acceptance of these terms and conditions)

Cannot wait to get running again; hopefully see as many of you as possible at Winter Run Club!

What race are you training for next?! Are you gonna make it down to Winter Run Club?! 

Elle :) 

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The Business of Fitness: The State of Boutique Fitness in London

On Tuesday 4th October, I attended the launch of the latest Courier Paper whose front cover story was all about the business of fitness. Myself, and quite a trendy bunch if I may say so, sat down to listen to the panel of boutique fitness studio owners including the likes of Bootcamp Pilates, 1Rebel and FRAME.

Image Credit: Courier Paper

It was a very interesting discussion and coming from the personal angle of being an instructor, a customer, a small business owner and also currently pursuing higher education in management and business innovation I was intrigued to hear insights from those who have been in the business for a decent amount of time and I wanted to share a few things I picked up from the evening with you all.

What Is Boutique Fitness?
On the night, Boutique Fitness was described as personalisation, the ability to pay as you go, based around classes. All customer touch points are considered and used to make the studio unique such as chilled towels, nice soaps and great instructor.

The Bricks and Mortar
When I worked in retail I found all the behind the scenes conversations eye opening. Renting a property for business shares many similarities with renting a home but then there are some distinct differences. Firstly, it seems that convincing a landlord to even allow your fitness business to use the premises (classified as D2) is the first hurdle. In times gone by, landlords were more swayed by retail and restaurants who could pay higher rents to occupy the space. Once you're in, you then have to consider other costs (above rent) such as service charge, business rates, waste / rubbish disposal before you even think about choosing a mains gas supplier along with other amenities like water and electricity.

What's Acceptable In London These Days? 
We spent a fair proportion of the evening talking about rents and rates in the capital. Some sage advice given was that your business rent and rates should never equate to more than 18% of the projected revenue. The panel also shared that when looking for new locations they try to seek out ones that maybe have more potential just off the beaten path (Bootcamp Pilates) and try to stick to under £30 per square foot for property (FRAME Fitness).

Did you know that 17% of the UK population have a gym membership? And that statistic is even higher for London by itself.
Image Credit: Courier Paper
If you're into fitness and live in a big city then Classpass has probably been the topic of conversation a few times. Launched in london back in March 2015, Classpass can essentially be described as a "fitness passport". Customers pay a monthly membership and then have access to a large array of studios and facilities in their city. Sounds perfect, right?! But of course it does come with its limitations. Having experienced Classpass from both the studio and client point of view it's interesting to listen to the conversations that come up. For the studios, many believe they are not paid enough to warrant having Classpass members in; James Balfour of 1Rebel even spoke about that time he led a revolt against Classpass (but then essentially backed down after a lot of customer feedback). He also shared his suggestion of Classpass members paying a surcharge for using premium studios - the results of a twitter poll I conducted however, showed that people would be very against this idea but I guess the reality could be different. With just a 20% conversion rate of Classpass attendees to actual customers it may not seem like the best resource for studios unless there is a specific new studio or product which they are trying to boost.

From the customer point of view I'm aware that Classpass did have a recent hike in their membership fees which from what I could garner, they really need. Being an American based company, they're actually staying afloat using investment capital and it seems the model they're employing right now may actually not be sustainable for the longer term. But I mean, they still have circa 100,000 members in london so they must be doing something right?!

To sum up the evening, I'd say the vibe is simply that the business of fitness needs a shake up and I'm inclined to agree. And I'm not just talking about studios; I mean Personal Trainers, Fitness Instructors, regulations and standards. Considering the growth of the sector over the past few decades, you'd think we'd have gotten our shit together really!

Are you a fitness professional?! Ever considered opening your own studio?!

Are you a Classpass user?! Or have been previously? What has been your experience?!

I'd love your feedback on this post; it's very rare I talk about the business of fitness but it is something I'm passionate about having been in the industry for nearly 14 years now!

Elle :)

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