28 Mar 2020 World leisure: news, training & property
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Health Club Management
2020 issue 1

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Leisure Management - Kam Panesar

HCM People

Kam Panesar

Years of studying the greats – Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs – combined with my own life lessons – led to the Awakn 7 pillars process and my goal to Awakn London

Panesar worked at Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan before leaving to launch his own fitness studio
The trainers at Awakn aim to help members to become the strongest version of themselves
Awakn is a 6,000sq ft site, which sprawls over two floors
Music, lighting and projected images reinforce Panesar’s seven pillars

Why did you decide to launch your own fitness studio?
I come from a very humble background. Even though I grew up in a tiny house and went to an unknown school, I always believed that through hard work anything was possible. So, when I set my sights on working at elite organisations such as Goldman Sachs, I knew I had to sacrifice everything and outwork the competition.

While working at Goldman Sachs, I wanted to push further so I left to complete my MBA, passing with a distinction and started work in Canary Wharf, as a vice president at JP Morgan.

During these years, I began to really invest in my own personal fitness, spending a lot of time working out in various gyms, but always feeling there was something lacking in the market.

I knew I could create something special, so in August 2017 I started work on a business plan. Two months later I left banking to make my wild dream of Awakn’ing the Wharf come true. I had no site, network, team or income, but had the motivating factors of a monster mortgage and a one-year old baby! Going back to banking wasn’t an option, because once you’ve shown the desire to make your own way in life, banks blacklist you!

What is Awakn?
Awakn is a luxury, boutique fitness studio in the heart of Canary Wharf. Our superstar trainers take our customers on a journey to awakn their inner power in order to become the strongest versions of themselves – both physically and mentally. I have always been obsessed with what makes someone elite while others fail to fulfil their maximum potential. Years of studying the greats – Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs – combined with my own life lessons led to me creating the Awakn 7 pillars process.

Tell us more...
In a nutshell, to achieve any substantial goal in life, regardless of whether it’s a fitness or life goal, you journey through the seven stages of: focus, desire, belief, action, flow, reflection and rejuvenation. The seven pillars are reinforced in every Awakn workout via music, lighting and projected images. Classes are immersive experiences carefully curated to guide our attendees into a state of flow where endorphins are elevated allowing new information and habits to be internalised.

Fundamental to the Awakn process is finding and overcoming the pillars that have become barriers to our customers achieving their goals. Overcoming a fundamental hurdle often leads to the flood gates opening and propelling someone on their journey to greatness. For example, the barrier may be discovering and verbalising ‘desire’ – the deep emotional reason why you want to achieve your goal. Working through one’s personal pillars is the process of Awakn’ing. Each of our instructors, or mentors, undergoes a ten week Awakn’ing training programme to ensure they can use the pillars to find the ‘greatness within’ in our customers.

At the end of each workout, there’s time to reflect on the progress made and for people to thank their bodies. Then they head into the rejuvenation phase and prepare for the right rest, recovery, sleep and nutrition. We put as much focus on mental wellbeing and overcoming mental blocks as we do physical wellbeing and summarise this process as ‘Mind Body Awakn’.

What facilities does Awakn have?
It’s a 6,000sq ft site which spans two floors, with two studios: the Arena and the Zone. I wanted to create a luxury experience with a spacious feel, because people who work in Canary Wharf are boxed in all day. To achieve this feeling of space, we have high ceilings and plenty of personal space and freedom allowing our customers to ‘Awakn Their Inner Power’.

Most people working in Canary Wharf sit down all day, so exercises focusing solely on fixed machines such as bikes, rowers or climbers only make already tight muscles and ligaments more tonic. Therefore, the Arena focuses on functional movements making you feel powerful as you ‘Awakn Your Inner Athlete’. There’s nothing more exhilarating than working as a team to flip a 200kg tyre or riding on top of a tank with the music pumping and the lights ablaze!

The purpose of the Zone studio is to push our customers out of their comfort zones. This is where growth occurs. The Zone has beautiful leather boxing bags hand-crafted in New Zealand, Technogym SkillRun treadmills and custom luxury benches I spent two years designing in partnership with Escape.

To supplement our workouts, we will be offering rejuvenating activities, including meditation and yoga, allowing our customers to recover in order to make their workouts as optimal as possible. We’ll also be hosting wellness talks around mental health in order to help deal with burn-out and depression – a common but hidden problem within the financial services industry.

Why Canary Wharf?
Awakn is a very personal project for me. I’ve lived and worked in Canary Wharf for ten years and know Wharfers are stressed out and have few outlets. My personal mission is to Awakn the Wharf and to bring back a sense of community that has been lost, as profit-focused organisations have exploited the lack of competition in the Docklands.

What’s the target market?
My fellow residents and employees who live and work in the Docklands. Those of us who have been let down by regular gyms and not achieved the desired results. Awakn is for everyone who understands the importance of fitness but finds traditional workout environments boring, intimidating or demotivating.

How much does it cost?
Awakn’s pricing reflects the luxury offering, £22 per class with discounts for loyal and long-term customers. A handful of founding memberships for £250 per month for unlimited use are still available.

Will you open more sites after this one?
Though the flagship Canary Wharf club launched in mid October, I’m currently negotiating heads of terms for the second site.

Wheels are in motion to open at least five Awakns in London before expanding internationally. I’m closely monitoring developments in Manchester, but also have active leads for locations in mainland Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

We believe the world is certainly in need of some Awakn’ing.

Originally published in Health Club Management 2020 issue 1

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