01 Feb 2023 World leisure: news, training & property
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Health Club Management
2022 issue 2

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Leisure Management - Francine Davis


Francine Davis

Pure Gym’s global expansion plans have gone up a gear with the opening of its first three locations in the US, as Liz Terry finds out

Pure Gym will trade as Pure Fitness in the US, as it’s thought the name will resonate more there photo: PURE GYM / Mark A Steele
The first three Pure Fitness sites will open in Washington DC, where the market is strong photo: PURE GYM / Mark A Steele
The Pure Gym app allows for contactless and secure entry photo: PURE GYM / Mark A Steele
The needs of UK and US fitness members are ‘very similar’ says Davis photo: PURE GYM / Mark A Steele
Each club has two Wexer Virtual Players to deliver digital fitness offers for its members Photo: PURE GYM / Mark A Steele
Pure Gym aims to offer a boutique experience at a budget price, starting at $9.99 photo: PURE GYM / Mark A Steel
photo: Francine Davis – Pure Gym
Many of the equipment suppliers are the same as in the UK – such as Matrix, BLK Box and Power Systems photo: PURE GYM / Mark A Steele
In parallel with organic expansion Pure Gym, is actively seeking franchise partners in the US photo: PURE GYM / Mark A Steele
photo: PURE GYM / Mark A Steele
photo: PURE GYM / Mark A Steele
Chief strategy officer Francine Davis talks about the opening of the first three budget clubs in Washington, DC Francine davis – Pure Gym

You’re opening Pure Gym in the US, what’s the plan?
The US fitness market is one of the world’s largest and represents a significant opportunity for our business. Our first priority is to open an initial portfolio of clubs and assess their locations. Pending their success, we have ambitious plans to develop many more sites across the US.

How many are you aiming for?
Three initially – all in the Washington DC Metropolitan area. We considered the top 30 metro markets and our analysis highlighted the Washington DC region as one of the strongest in terms of economic strength, competitive landscape, good demographics and high propensity to take part in fitness. We may seek to expand organically and with franchise partners who share our ambitions and values.

How quickly will you roll out?
Our first priority is to see how these three perform, and then we’ll make a decision about the next stage of rollout.

You’re trading as Pure Fitness in the US, why is this?
Our consumer research indicated that the word “fitness” rather than “gym” would be more resonant with members in the US, and so Pure Fitness is now a part of the Pure Gym group.

What are the clubs like?
We’re offering members a boutique fitness experience at a budget price. Each Pure Fitness gym will offer +150 pieces of top-of-the-line cardio and strength equipment, a Turf Training Freestyle area and 80-plus digital and instructor-led classes per week, starting from US$9.99 per month.

Pure Fitness offers low-cost memberships without any contractual commitment. Members will have the freedom to freeze, leave and re-join whenever they want and will be able to do so in a matter of minutes through the Pure Fitness app.

A key component of the Pure Fitness offering is our tech. We’re filling the gap in the market for high-quality, technology-enabled gyms with an app to help members choose the best time to visit the gym, provide contactless entry with a QR scanner and a library of 400-plus on-demand workouts.

In addition to instructor-led classes, Pure Fitness members will also have 24/7 access to classes in its digital studios. By offering both on-demand and scheduled digital classes, Pure Fitness members will benefit from virtual trainers at their convenience.

How are they different from those you run elsewhere?
Our proposition remains the same across all our operations, delivering a boutique fitness experience on a budget. The spaces or ‘zones’ in our gyms are the same tried and tested zones we’ve developed over the past 10 years within the PureGym group, consisting of cardio, functional (called ‘The Zone’), resistance, free weights, flex, cycle and studio. Gyms are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

How are you accommodating American culture?
We’ve found more similarities than differences, most notably members’ demand for our flexible, low-cost offering and the fact our gyms are open 24/7.

As we come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, more people than ever are focused on their health and are looking for greater flexibility and value. This presents a huge opportunity for us to welcome both keen gym-goers and beginners to Pure Fitness, and we pride ourselves on catering to all members, regardless of their fitness journeys. All of our gyms are friendly and supportive places where everybody is welcome.

Do consumers behave differently?
From our experience so far, the behaviour and expectations of the US consumer have been consistent with those of members in the UK. Our proposition is attractive to a diverse demographic who are looking for affordable, flexible fitness.

Have you made the US offering more or less upmarket?
It’s much the same across the group, Pure Fitness offers members quality fitness facilities at affordable prices. Our memberships include classes in boutique-style studios and follow the model which has proven so successful in the UK and Europe.

In the US, our Plus members will also have access to HydroMassage for relaxation and muscle recovery, Yanga Sports Water for hydration and body composition scanning through Boditrax.

What tech are you using?
We believe we have an industry-leading technology proposition across the PureGym Group. Our US gyms are accessible through the Pure Fitness app, which allows for contactless and secure entry through our entry pods. The app provides a range of other services, including membership management, access to fitness programmes and digital workouts. We’ve also partnered with Wexer, the global digital fitness provider, to create a programme of instructor-led group fitness classes for our US gyms. Each club has two Wexer Virtual players that deliver virtual fitness across HIIT, cardio, strength, yoga, cycling and more.

How is the US venture being managed?
We’ve recruited US staff who handle the day-to-day running of the gyms. There is more information about careers with us on our website at www.purefitness.com/careers.

How many staff do you have per site?
We have a gym manager and an assistant gym manager. They’re supported by a number of fitness coaches who assist with the daily running of the gyms.

Who did the brand development work?
Our brand development has been based on our UK model, and was managed internally with the support of JLL and BRR, our third-party development partners.

What equipment suppliers will you work with?
We’ve partnered with many of the same suppliers we work with on a regular basis in the UK, such as Matrix, BLK Box and Power Systems for fitness equipment.

Are you franchising?
Yes, in parallel with planning organic expansion in the DMV region (Washington DC), we’re actively seeking well-capitalised franchise partners who share our ambitions and values to work with us in opening Pure Fitness clubs in other locations across the US.

How fast will you roll out internationally?
We’re really excited to have launched in the US and think there’s the potential for us to open a significant number of gyms over the next few years. We’ve recently launched in Saudi Arabia too, which is another market with fantastic potential for growth. The Pure Gym group now has a presence in five markets, and we hope to continue our expansion in the years ahead.

If Pure Gym does an IPO at some point, how will this play out across the different geographies?
I’m afraid I can’t comment on that at this point in time.

What’s your position on equality and sustainability?
We fully recognise our responsibility as a large and growing organisation to support the goals of society with respect to climate-related issues, societal progress and good corporate governance.

We make a conscious effort across the Pure Gym Group to ensure our gyms are welcoming and inclusive spaces for people to work and workout. We want to create communities at each of our gyms where everyone feels comfortable and inspired, regardless of their fitness journey.

Originally published in Health Club Management 2022 issue 2

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