What is the concept of WE11?
WE11 offers a network of luxury co-working studios for elite freelance wellness professionals. Our vision is to inspire and support the growth of freelance wellness professionals through the provision of affordable, flexible, community-driven, co-working studios across prime central London sites.
Our flagship site has fully equipped gym spaces, two treatment rooms, luxury changing rooms and the WE11 Lounge, which is at the centre of our wellness community. It is a place to grab a bite to eat, or a coffee, a waiting area until the next client arrives, or can be used as an office away from home. Most importantly, it is a place where wellness professionals can network and collaborate with like-minded professionals.
With no monthly fixed fees, no commitment and affordable pricing (PTs pay between £20 and £30 per hour to rent the space), we’re disrupting the way in which conventional gyms operate. We aim to facilitate the transition of those who are being tied down by establishments and allow PTs and therapists to operate in an unconventional way, without inflated monthly rent.
We’re currently working with a range of wellness professionals, including PTs, running and cycling coaches, yoga and pilates instructors, massage therapists, physiotherapists and osteopaths. The facility can accommodate 20 PT sessions and two therapy sessions per hour and as we’re open 15 hours a day, we have good capacity.
It’s a win-win for both the PTs and the end-users. The PTs get to keep most of what they charge and the end users don’t have to pay gym fees in order to work with their favourite PT. We want to create a community of wellness professionals, and a space where they can network and collaborate. However, it is a disruptive model and it is going to cause mayhem in the industry: we’ve flipped the script and given the PTs a fair deal, instead of rinsing them.
Do you get involved with the end user at all?
No, we look after the PTs and they look after their clients, we don’t get involved with their bookings or pricing. We tell them that they are their own brands and they are not required to wear a uniform or represent us in any way.
However, we do vet and approve all of the PTs we work with and ask them to respect the establishment, which they do. Although we don’t commit to generating any work for them, as we are getting an increasing amount of leads and walk-ins, we do refer these on.
How did the idea come about?
It came about through my frustrations as a gym user and consumer in the fitness space. I was previously a member of Virgin, but when my PT decided to go freelance I wasn’t able to find another trainer at Virgin which suited me. I spent a year chasing my first PT – we trained in the park, I snuck him back into Virgin and I even toyed with the idea of building a gym at home. Finally, we ended up in a rough and ready freelance space in central London, but it had none of the luxuries and was heaving and over subscribed.
The price that I – and others – were paying for our training was not reflected in the surroundings and so I realised there was a huge opportunity to capitalise on the gap in the market for premium, flexible space. I thought about the idea for a long time before acting on it.
When I decided to launch the business, I brought the award-winning architects Bergman on board to create a luxurious, aesthetically pleasing space. The right site was also important: we are on Great Portland Street, right in the heart of loads of operators – Psycle, Frame, F45, Define.
Were you previously involved with the fitness industry?
No, I run care homes, which is still my main business, although this is taking up an increasing amount of my time.
What has been the response?
I realised there was demand for PT, but didn’t expect it to be this insane! It has been so much more popular than I anticipated. We are working with more than 70 PTs, with lots of them going freelance now that they have the platform to do so.
We’re giving people what they want: the modern gym goer no longer wants to be committed to one class or concept. They desire the ability to exercise in a variety of concepts which offer them flexibility and no commitment, which suits their busy lifestyles. As a consequence, the appetite for pay-as-you-go is growing, while the traditional 12 month memberships are becoming less desirable.
PTs are also moving away from the restrictions imposed by gyms and are moving towards becoming freelance. The massive shift in wellness and fitness has also increased demand for different concepts.
What are your plans for the future, will there be more sites?
We’re currently working on a strategy of how to expand. There is lots of potential for sites in west and central London, as well as affluent cities and even Europe.