27 May 2024 World leisure: news, training & property
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Health Club Management
2021 issue 11

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Leisure Management - Alex Nicholl

HCM People

Alex Nicholl

We were fortunate to be approached by Sheikh Mohammed – a Qatari entrepreneur – to develop the club

Nicholl says the Middle East has always been a target market photo: Alex Nicholl - BXR
Sweat by BXR, Doha, will be followed by sites in Dubai, London and Greece photo: Alex Nicholl - BXR
Versaclimbing and Climb to the Beat are defining club elements photo: Alex Nicholl - BXR
Sweat by BXR is a pay-to-train concept photos: Alex Nicholl - BXR
Nicholl (left) with the team at Sweat by BXR, Doha photo: Alex Nicholl - BXR
BXR London was the original concept, with Sweat by BXR an evolution of the brand photos: Alex Nicholl - BXR
The club features high end interiors photos: Alex Nicholl - BXR

You’re ramping up growth. Tell us about your rollout plans
We’ve just opened a new Sweat by BXR in Doha and over the next year we’ll be opening four more BXR Gyms in London, Dubai and Greece, of which three will carry our Sweat by BXR model.

BXR City, which is opening in London in January 2022 will be located on the 25th floor of the tallest tower in the UK and Europe – 22 Bishopsgate – while BXR Battersea will see a BXR open late in 2022 within the power station – one of the most iconic landmark buildings in the city.

As our Middle East expansion continues, we’ll be opening BXR Dubai – one of the most coveted cities in the region.

Finally, BXR Daios Cove will open in Crete, Greece within the five star super luxury Daios Cove resort.

This is our partner resort, where for the last three years we’ve hosted BXR Retreats and so building our gym there is the next step for this partnership.  

In addition, we continue to look for more standalone Sweat by BXR sites.

Is Anthony Joshua still involved?
Yes, Anthony Joshua is a shareholder and will continue to be involved with BXR on an ongoing basis.

How did the new Sweat by BXR Doha happen? Tell us about the deal
For us it wasn’t about where or when Sweat by BXR would open first internationally, it was about finding the right partners who could help us scale the brand without losing its core values, brand identity and integrity. 

We’d always had a focus on the Middle East as a primary market, due to our brand recognition in the region as a result of Anthony Joshua’s work in Saudi Arabia. This has been enhanced by the high levels of commuting that happen between the Middle East and London among our international clientele.

The Doha deal is a franchise – we’re working with a local partner who’s also the investor.

We were fortunate to be approached by Sheikh Mohammed – a Qatari entrepreneur, mountaineer, photographer and sportsman – to develop the club.

Why the location in the Burj Doha?
Burj Doha (previously known as Burj Qatar) is an iconic building in Doha, which is often how we recognise the city in a picture. It’s an honour to have our first international site in such an iconic setting.
What’s the target audience?

The clubs is located in a busy financial area where there are many younger professionals and expats – a demographic which is rapidly growing in Doha – who form the bulk of our target audience. 

Sweat by BXR studios are also traditionally appealing to females, so we’re targeting local female markets by running women-only classes throughout the day, due to the religious nature of the Middle East.

What have you built? Give us the details.
We have a full Sweat by BXR offering including three studios, changing facilities and a café lounge. Our studios are: a Versaclimber room featuring our signature class – Climb to the Beat – a boxing room featuring three class types, including Sweatbox and Strengthbox and a mobility room offering everything from yoga and Pilates to stretch and TRX classes.

This is the third Sweat by BXR – tell us about the creative process behind the development of the model
Versaclimbing and Climb to the Beat are distinguishing elements of Sweat By BXR. It’s become our lead studio in terms of attendance and popularity.

We accept and appreciate this is a brand new cardio concept for the audience, who are unfamiliar with the machines. As the creators of this class and the first company in the world to bring group training on a Versaclimber into franchising – especially in the Middle East, this was always going to have its challenges.

In order to make sure the class is delivered and taught with the same skill and performance as in London, we have a team of three of our best UK trainers working in Doha.They’re there not only teaching the class to clients in the region, but also developing the Doha team and local trainers.

We’ve been doing this for three months now, making sure all our classes are delivered at an exceptional level.

Why have you chosen to open with a pay-to-train model rather than a membership?
Sweat by BXR is a pay-to-train concept so it follows suit, however we do have some memberships within our pricing models which are now being taken up in Doha as well as being very popular in the UK.

The pricing seems very reasonable for such an affluent country. What’s the thinking?
Our services and product list are the same as in the UK, but the pricing is in line with other pay-to-train studios across the Middle East.

Our pricing is high for single visits, but for those who show commitment and visit frequently – buying larger packs and memberships – the pricing becomes more reasonable.

Tell us about the F&B
We have a full café and lounge serving pre- and post-workout shakes, coffees, teas and so forth. We’re also working with a local partner to offer healthy take-away food.

What member-facing tech are you using?
In our studio we feature the latest TS Versaclimber, the most tech-updated climber, which is equipped with a wifi/Bluetooth touch screen.

This enables climbers to record and save workouts, view graphs of feet-per-minute, stroke length and strokes per minute and see total sessions completed. They can also see feet climbed, heart rate and average feet-per-minute and compete for rankings on leaderboards. We encourage them to share their successes on social media.

BXR is currently building a new app and website, with both launching in January 2022. The app is being created by Swift Studios.

In terms of this new tech, we’ll be using the Mindbody API – customising it and interfacing it directly with the BXR app.

Key features will enable members to log-in and create an account, choose a home gym location, purchase workout packs, book PT sessions and schedule classes. It will feature a home screen where we can promote everything that’s available within the BXR world.

The BXR app for members and the workouts will also be available on the BXR InstagramTV channel, with this being run in-house.

What back of house tech are you using?
At Sweat by BXR international locations we use ZingFit as the operational back of house tech. It is arguably one of the leading software platforms for class-based studio management. 

How have you future-proofed the concept?
Bergman Interiors, who have designed all our gyms for both the BXR and Sweat by BXR brands, continue to do so as part of our international and franchise models. This keeps all our product lines, standards and visuals in line with our brand.

As we work exclusively with them for our gyms, every year and on each new build, we work at pushing the boundary of our interiors and offering to give our clients the best possible environment and product to enjoy. 

Originally published in Health Club Management 2021 issue 11

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