You’re opening a fitness studio in Heathrow airport this autumn. Why?
I come from a finance background and travelled for 15 years of my career. I always tried to stay healthy while travelling across different time zones, but the time lost on flights or waiting to catch connecting flights made me more unhealthy. The average layover in Heathrow Terminal 2, where FlyFit will be located, is four hours. It’s wasted time, so why not put it to good use? We’re offering people a chance, not just to exercise, but to recuperate – which is what frequent flyers really want.
Why did you choose Heathrow as the location for the first studio?
I grew up in Seattle, but I’ve travelled and lived all over the world, from Asia to the Middle East and Africa. It’s given me a global outlook and the desire to take FlyFit to the location that best fits our goal. The reason we picked Heathrow is that 54 per cent of people passing through are transit travellers – going to and from Europe, Asia or North America. A large proportion of these are the business travellers, the ‘road warriors’, like the Goldman Sachs guys that come from New York once or twice a month on the red eye. They’re the ones that have a long layover at Heathrow and want to do a quick yoga or spin class to recharge before taking their connecting flight.
Many airport gyms have tried and failed. How do you plan to make FlyFit a success?
Lots of gyms have tried the airport concept. Unlike these, we’re picking up on the boutique fitness trend that’s exploding right now. We’re creating a healthy wellness brand that helps relieve the stress of frequent flying. You’ll be able to take a quick yoga class, and get physical therapy care if you need it. We even have a GP on staff. What we’re really offering is a total mind, body and health service. It’s never been done before.
It sounds like an ambitious project. How did you turn your vision into reality?
It’s taken four years. My business partner (Lauren Perkins) and I knew we needed to create an ‘if you build it, they will come’ service, and that comes from developing strong corporate partnerships. Road warriors often work for big companies like Deloitte and KPMG, which have corporate wellness programmes for their employees. So that was one avenue for us. We also knew there are three major players in the airport industry: airlines and their lounges; financial services like American Express and Mastercard; and Collinson Group and Priority Pass. We’re making FlyFit a disruptor that airport lounges want. Our global strategy is to be in 100 lounges over the next five years.
How will partnerships with these lounges and corporate companies work?
We can’t say much at the moment as we’re still finalising the details with our partners, but the idea is to include FlyFIt access in packages that already offer airport lounge access. This will make our studio free for people who qualify for lounge access, but it will also be open for use in an affordable pay-as-you-go fashion.
What offerings can we expect to see at FlyFit?
The FlyFit studio is a 3,000 sq ft space that consists of three rooms: one for instructor-led classes, one for quiet meditation and one indoor cycling room. We’ll be offering instructor-led yoga and pilates classes, and interactive sessions for people who are time-pressured. We’re partnering with an up-and-coming interactive indoor cycling company that has an interactive tablet on a bike, which lets users join in live with other classes. I can’t say who it is yet, but it’s exciting. We also want to make Flyfit as convenient as possible, so yoga mats, water, fresh organic juices, rental workout kit, showers and hairdryers will all be available.
What’s the vision for FlyFit over the next three to five years?
Over the next three years, we’re aiming to establish a presence in the five busiest transit airports worldwide. Our goal is to take our concept to other airports very quickly. By the autumn, we’ll be able to announce the exact locations we plan to open studios in.