Leisure Management company Everyone Active has recently launched a boutique workout experience called FORTIS Powered By Speedflex, following a collaboration with HIIT specialist Speedflex.
The concept offers 30-minute workouts using Speedflex machines which generate personalised resistance.
By January 2021, 15 studios will be opened in total, with three located in London and the remaining twelve situated outside. To date, three are up and running, in Hemel Hempstead, Chichester and London’s Soho.
Each studio costs around £100k, including equipment, and features four types of Fortis workouts with a total of 25 classes a week on offer.
Three more sites are due to go live in April, followed by four in September and a further five in January 2021.
Duncan Jefford, regional director of Everyone Active, told HCM: “Fortis was created because we felt the whole of the leisure industry is shifting quite significantly in terms of what the customer is looking for.
“We believe there’s a stereotypical type of leisure centre and think this really needs to change. Thus over the past couple of years, we’ve focused on branding, the overall feel and now we’re focusing on the offering. We believe we need to be offering a boutique experience that’s affordable.
“There’s also been a recent shift to a more experience-led workout – people don’t want to just come in and run on a treadmill or sit on a bike, they want an experience. So for us it’s about partnering with people that can offer that level of experience and engagement.”
Everyone Active has other existing partnerships with fitness franchise F45 and yoga chain MoreYoga.
“We began working with other companies because we wanted to differentiate the offering, but we soon realised there was a gap in the HIIT market,” says Jefford. “However, London is very saturated in this market so we looked to develop a unique product.
“We wanted to create something different and we feel that Speedflex equipment is unique in itself. The look and feel is completely different from anything else in the market at this moment in time, and because it’s non-DOMS exercise, customers won’t feel any muscle soreness the next day, despite having done an intense 30-minute workout.
“The beauty of it is you could use the equipment seven days a week.”
Everyone Active and Speedflex began talks in June 2019, but although Everyone Active liked the product and the physiological rationale behind it, the consensus was that the branding and marketing around it required development to fully fit Everyone Active’s needs in relation to the new launch.
“Over the last six months, we’ve worked to develop our exclusive Fortis brand, including the look, feel, branding, music and everything that sits behind it,” says Jefford. “The end result has been a totally collaborative effort.”
FORTIS Powered By Speedflex is being marketed to consumers through social media, using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. Everyone Active had over 2,000 bookings in January and has seen 85 per cent class occupancy in Chichester and Hemel Hempstead.
“You could argue that exclusively using social media will attract a certain demographic, but what we’ve seen is that the age range for Fortis classes varies between 20 and 60 years, and we’ve also seen nearly a 50/50 split between men and women,” says Jefford.
Drop-in prices for a Fortis class costs £15 in London and £10 elsewhere, while Everyone Active members with a premium membership – costing £56 – get unlimited access across the entire leisure centre menu, including Fortis classes.
Everyone Active is using a hybrid model for Fortis staff – deploying members of its fitness team who have gone through a programme of training with Speedflex master trainers while also recruiting new team members externally.
“We’ve picked people who can deliver classes in terms of generating energy and enjoyment, rather than choosing candidates who only know what they’re doing technically,” says Jefford. “Fortis has got to be an experience.”
There will be 10 staff per studio and Everyone Active currently has 30 staff qualified to deliver Fortis classes. The aim is to have 120 to 150 this time next year.
New cycling experience
“Next we’re looking at developing a cycling experience and doing something bigger and better than what’s currently out there, in the market,” says Jefford, “but we’re also focusing on developing our holistic offering, because at the moment we don’t feel it’s something that’s fully covered within the marketplace.”
The partnership with Fortis represents an entrepreneurial move from Everyone Active but Jefford contends this decision was necessary to ensure the business can compete against other operators.
“I think there’s been a massive strain on local authority finances recently,” says Jefford. “If you wind it back ten years most leisure centre’s operators would get a subsidy to run them, the reality is now that for 75 per cent of contracts, we’re actually paying the council to run them. So we need to be more entrepreneurial in terms of generating revenue to run the facilities and at the same time keep the offering where it needs to be.
“We’re embedding commerciality into Everyone Active to enable us to compete on a product-level with the private sector. We’re also working to make sure our team at Everyone Active understands that we’re a business and that we need to be commercial in the way we operate to keep up and to contend.”