18 Oct 2021 World leisure: news, training & property
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Health Club Management
2021 issue 6

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Leisure Management - Graziano Arricale

HCM People

Graziano Arricale

We’d never want KX or KXU to evolve into a chain: every location has to be unique, with a 360-degree approach to wellness

Graziano Arricale photo: KX London
KX is a private club with high-end fitness and wellness services, based on personalisation photo: Steven Joyce
Members use the club facilities to work and meet with clients photo: Steven Joyce
KX offers 80 classes a week as part of its membership, including Pilates photo: Steven Joyce
KXU classes can be bought in blocks and include cycle workouts with Niklas photo: Imagegod
KXU is pay as you go, with everyone able to book classes and appointments via an app photo: Imagegod
KXU has a lower price point and is ‘geared towards a younger crowd’ photo: Imagegod

What was your journey to joining KX?
My background is in restaurants and private members’ clubs. Hospitality is in my blood – my whole family was in the restaurant trade – so it was perhaps inevitable I ended up in this industry.

I began my career with Sir Terrence Conran at Conran Restaurants – then D&D London – before working for Richard Caring for nearly six years running The Birley Clubs, opening Annabel’s together.

I became CEO of KX in January 2020.
KX opened in London in 2002. How would you describe the concept?
The KX mission is to be the finest wellness members’ club in the market. It’s a home away from home for our members. Designed as a luxurious refuge from the outside world, no detail has been spared. As soon as our members enter the club, we want them to unwind.

We take a holistic, scientific approach to health that spans exercise, nutrition and medical; we don’t believe focusing on one element in isolation works. Our offering ensures every aspect of our members’ physical and mental wellbeing is carefully considered: there’s a gym, a restaurant that also offers home delivery and food packages, a spa and medical services.

The restaurant is for the use of members only, although they’re permitted to dine with guests, while the spa – located in a separate part of the club and with its own reception – also offers treatments to non-members. The majority of members use the spa frequently, with our team prescribing treatments, but we see a lot of non-member business too.

KX is a community and every membership application has to be approved by our committee. Our excellent team knows each and every face and name, as well as our members’ dietary and training preferences, and we’re careful not to have more than a certain number of members at any given time. We want to avoid the club ever becoming crowded, so members always have space, can partake in class and get a table.

Tell us more about the gym
We have a large gym floor that’s complemented by six studios: Red Fit, a private training room, pilates and yoga studios, a cycle studio and a dojo. We offer around 80 classes a week, all of which are complimentary for members, including yoga, cardio, dance, barre, resistance conditioning, pilates, combat and cycle.

We run classes we know work, and that our members love, but what makes KX really special is the quality of our trainers. They’re the very best in their field, often having competed professionally before moving on to teach the next generation.

The majority of our members opt for personal training, but regardless of whether you do, we still make it a priority to tailor a bespoke programme for each and every member. Everyone receives a Wellness Assessment on joining KX: a comprehensive lifestyle, exercise and nutrition analysis, blood health, cellular stress and body composition test, as well as a movement screening, which allows our team to make personalised recommendations. 

We take the time to get to know every member, helping them achieve their goals – and ultimately live a healthier, more balanced life – using evidence-based training and nutrition.

What about your programmes and packages?
Red Fit is one of our signature concepts, combining moderate cardio exercise with Photobiomodulation Therapy (PBMT). Benefits include increased energy, improved detoxification, and reduced stress and inflammation. It’s low intensity but incredibly healing, reducing cellular stress and improving antioxidant levels in just three sessions.

KX20 is a 28-day body transformation programme that applies the most effective forms of exercise and nutrition to safely promote fat loss and create lean tissue in the shortest timeframe possible. It includes 20 PT sessions, as well as optional food delivery. It’s mostly used in the run-up to a big event – a wedding, for example. [The rate for the KX20 programme is £3,340].

Meanwhile, our nutritional packages are popular when it comes to helping people get back on track after a period of indulgence – with our restaurant team delivering directly to members’ homes.

KX is also the birthplace of the Sirtfood Detox, which has been widely covered in the press. The diet was developed following a trial programme at KX by nutritionists Aidan Goggins and Glen Matten.

Sirtfoods – a group including strawberries, buckwheat, rocket, walnuts, kale, green tea, capers, red wine and cocoa – are said by the pair to stimulate sirtuins, influencing the body’s ability to burn fat.

During the trial at KX, Goggins and Matten reported those on the diet lost 7lbs a week on average, while maintaining their muscle mass.

Sirtfoods are also said to have the ability to clear out toxic materials from inside cells, restoring health and vitality.

How significant is the medical aspect of what you do?
The pandemic has only affirmed the importance of KX’s holistic approach to wellness.

We began offering members rapid COVID-19 testing during the pandemic, and this has ultimately led to the birth of KX Medical. This discreet medical concierge service will be available to all our members and will launch later this year.

You have other clubs, starting with KXU in Sloane Square
KXU opened in 2017 with the goal of making KX’s holistic approach accessible to all.

KX is a club – many members work from our restaurant or clubroom, entertain business associates in the restaurant and so on – and the monthly fees reflect this. Its members tend to be slightly older and more established.

KXU has a lower price point and is geared towards a younger crowd. As at KX, fitness, nutrition and spa services come together under one roof. Unlike KX, however, KXU is pay as you go: there are no strings attached, with everyone able to book classes and appointments via the app.

The class formats are also different at KXU, with popular options including The Games and HIIT & Run. The majority of KXU customers visit regularly, with classes available to purchase in blocks of five, 10 and 20; the price per class ranges from £20 to £22 and PT is also available, with sessions starting from £75.

How did you respond to lockdown?
Within the luxury sector, particularly when it comes to private members’ clubs, you can’t simply shutter the business and wait for the storm to pass. It was extremely important that KX members could still rely on our experts to take care of their health from home.

Shortly after the first lockdown, we began offering virtual personal training – and later outdoor one-to-one sessions – and the restaurant has offered home delivery and bespoke food packages throughout.

The spa was able to remain open for essential medical services, such as osteopathy, physiotherapy and we were able to offer 24-hour turnaround COVID-19 testing.

We absolutely intend to carry on providing these services. Many of our members travel frequently, and the pandemic has highlighted to us just how important it is to be able to provide the same standard of service remotely.

We also launched on-demand for our KXU members during the pandemic. At £20 a month, it’s been very popular among KXU regulars who wanted to work out with their favourite trainers, in trusted formats that they know work for them.

If there’s the demand, we will absolutely continue to offer this. However, we’ve found the majority of our customers have been keen to get back to in-person training. Ultimately, KXU is a community – people want to come together.

How is COVID impacting your bottom line?
We froze all membership fees during lockdowns, so there was of course a financial impact.

We were, however, fortunate that the business was in a great place prior to the outbreak of COVID and the vast majority of members, and indeed staff, were ecstatic to be able to return, which was wonderful to see.

KX reopened on 12 April, with group exercise resuming on 17 May. We also opened a terrace outside KX, to allow members to really take advantage of the restaurant. It’s proven incredibly popular and we’re looking to make it a permanent addition.

We’ve also taken significant steps to keep the club as safe as possible, including introducing Thor UVC technology – the most powerful, hospital-grade steriliser worldwide.

Are your members looking for something different now?
The pandemic has led to a huge shift in the way we live our lives. We’ve been forced to withdraw from social life, with people spending the majority of their time at home with just immediate family. When it comes to returning to the gym, as well as restaurants and bars, I’m sure many will be extremely cautious at the outset.

That being said, as an industry we have the opportunity to do things better than ever before. At KX, the pandemic has affirmed the importance of our holistic approach to wellness. I think the future of medicine will be much more preventative in terms of nutrition, testing and diagnostics. I hope to see regular testing and quarterly full-body MOTs for rapid detection and quick treatment becoming the norm.

What are your projections?
I predict this year will mark the start of the roaring 20s – never again will we take restaurants, gyms or the ability to come together and socialise for granted. I’m excited for the future of both brands.

KX is an esteemed brand with enormous potential both in London and internationally, and I intend to do it justice.

Tell us about your venture in NYC
We were approached by Casa Cipriani regarding a New York collaboration in 2019 and we couldn’t say no. The Battery Maritime Building in Lower Manhattan is a really special piece of architecture, restored by Marvel Architects and with design by Thierry Despont. It sits on the water’s edge, boasting incredible views over the East River and the Brooklyn Bridge.

We’ve partnered with Casa Cipriani as part of the development of this first social membership club from the Cipriani family, which also includes 47 luxury guest rooms and suites – and we’ll be opening a KX gym, wellness café and spa to cater for members and hotel guests.

In the café, we’ll be offering a slimmed-down version of the London menu, including health shots, delicious bowl food – watercress and spinach soup, beetroot and chickpea salad and so on – as well as more substantial dishes, including our very popular vegan burger.

At the spa, all KX bespoke face and body treatments and laser facials will be available.

Overall, we’ve attempted to replicate KX London, while at the same time doing our best to ensure the interior is sympathetic to the magnificent Battery Maritime Building itself. Our holistic, 360-degree approach to wellness – what KX is all about – will stay the same, and is an excellent fit for New York City.

Would you consider further international projects?
We’d definitely consider embarking on new projects in the States, although we don’t have anything planned in the immediate future.

In terms of other international markets, all I can say is, one thing at a time! We need to focus on getting the new Manhattan club open first.

Rumour has it more openings are imminent?
I can’t say anything right now – only that my team and I are passionate about the KX and KXU brands.

What I will say is that we’d never want KX or KXU to evolve into a chain: every location has to be unique.

Our ethos will remain consistent – a 360-degree approach to wellness that incorporates exercise, nutrition, spa and medical services – and it will be this that unites all our locations. Only when all these elements come together can powerful, long-term change be created.

What motivates you personally?
I’ve always been passionate about great hospitality. Members’ clubs, restaurants… these are all spaces that provide people with the opportunity to connect and that’s what life is all about.

KX membership options
Unlimited access to KX club facilities and member services.

• Available for one year, or on a six, three or one month basis

• Access to gym

• Unlimited group fitness classes

• Wellness consultation including blood tests and body composition, and bespoke training plan

• Access to the spa

• Use of members’ only restaurant and clubroom

• Changing rooms with robes, slippers, lockers, laundry service and skincare products

• Steamroom, sauna and hot and cold plunge pools

Individual membership: from £615 per month, plus joining fee.

Joint membership: from £575 per person per month, plus joining fee.

KX offers customised programmes for all members / photo: Steven Joyce
Casa Cipriani
Photo: KX at Casa Cipriani

KX’s new home in New York City is quite an address.

KX New York will form part of the first Casa Cipriani, a lavish new private members club and venue, currently on-site from property developers, Midtown Equities and Centaur Properties, in partnership with high-end hospitality group, Cipriani.

The partners are working with Marvel Architects and Thierry Despont to restore the city’s historic Battery Maritime Building, a Beaux-Arts structure with classic iron-riveted construction and the last of New York’s old East River ferry terminals.

The 15,000sq ft KX spa and gym will service club members and their guests, while Casa Cipriani will also have 47 guest rooms with an average size of 600sq ft and views of the Brooklyn Bridge and Statue of Liberty.

The building will be fully managed by Cipriani.

The Battery Maritime Building in Lower Manhattan was originally built in 1909 / photo: Casa Cipriani

Originally published in Health Club Management 2021 issue 6

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