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HCM People
Bev Brinkworth and Rosanna Tucker

Our ambitions are to expand globally to introduce Studio Society to key markets, reshaping fitness paradigms


Tell us about Studio Society
It’s an immersive group exercise concept using CGI animated environments that aims to take working out to the next level.

The concept combines technology with coaching, creating a motivating atmosphere for our members.

By combining scent, sight and sound with expert coaching we create an immersive fitness experience like no other.

How did the concept come about?
The spark for Studio Society’s immersive studios came from a desire to disrupt the status quo. Despite group exercise programmes being developed weekly, the physical studio space hadn’t changed since the 1980s. We saw an opportunity to elevate the space and turbocharge workouts. We also envisioned a world where working out isn’t a chore, but an exhilarating experience.

What were the biggest challenges?
Finding a suitable site. For every suitably zoned site we found, there was an average of 17 gym operators going after it. We were close to securing a venue in East Croydon, London and even got as far as working up the designs, only for it to be snapped up by another operator at the last minute. It was hugely frustrating.

It was a challenging and rewarding journey spanning two years and ranged from securing funding to designing the CGI.

What’s the customer journey?
The experience begins with an app booking and then on arrival at the club, members access the club using fingerprint recognition.
On entering one of our four studios, they’re are plunged into a 270-degree animated environment incorporating lighting, sound and scent. They transcend reality through immersive workouts, leaving them motivated to conquer their fitness goals.

What kind of training is on offer?
We believe in training holistically via power, strength and CV, and offer more than 250 classes a week. These range from yoga, Pilates and martial arts, to boxing, Spin and HIIT. We offer Les Mills’ Bodypump and Bodybalance classes and E-pulsive EMS training, as well as our own signature sessions.

In addition, members can use Boditrax body analysis and get nutrition plans to enable them to deepen their insight into their own fitness and take charge of their nutrition.

Some of the most important touchpoints are with the Studio Society team and instructors who motivate and cheerlead our members towards their goals. Technology is fantastic, but it will never replace the power of the human touch.

How have your members responded to the digital screens?
They love the immersive experience and the assault of the combination of sight, sound and scent on their senses.

The most regular feedback is how much fun they have in our classes, as the immersive experience allows them to step away from their daily lives.

With no mirrors to intrude – which could lead them to critique their appearance or compare themselves to others – members can truly lose themselves in the workout.

If they want to dance like Jennifer Lopez in a class, they can. People leave on a high. It’s a completely different experience from anything else.

How does the pricing work?
Studio Society offers both pay-as-you-go and membership options. Our pricing is competitive, with unlimited classes available for a monthly membership that starts at £59 and there are no joining fees and no contracts.

How do you create community?
The nature of the classes foster a sense of belonging among members, but we also work hard to cultivate a community, with regular events, such as social evenings, sessions on nutrition and mental health, as well as charity challenges. We’ve also raised approximately £60,000 to date for charities through our events.

Our small team works full-time and we also have a dedicated group of certified freelance instructors who deliver classes. We’re welcoming to all and have something for everyone at the club.


How does scheduling work?
Our class schedule is curated to cater to diverse fitness preferences and levels. Trends and data analytics guide our scheduling, based on demand and customer preferences.

Beyond classes we offer personal training programmes and our most recent addition – the Strength Studio – which has weights and cardiovascular machines and where we offer our signature classes, called ‘Synergy’, which is a small group PT-led session.

Who owns and backs the business?
Studio Society is privately owned, with initial funding stemming from our personal resources and angel investors.

Will you globalise the concept?
Our ambitions are to expand globally, with plans to introduce Studio Society to key markets, reshaping fitness paradigms worldwide. We’re in talks to open two new sites in 2024.

How has the pandemic been for you?
Studio Society battled through and steadied itself after the initial impact of the pandemic, which tested our resilience.

We swiftly adapted, introducing virtual classes and virtual member community challenges, as well as a hotline for any of our members to reach out and let us know they wanted a chat.


We’ve learned the priceless value of adaptability and community during adversity.

Tell us about the team
We have a full management team within the club and some future stars who are ready to grab the opportunity to grow with the company.

We trust in each other’s judgement, share an unwavering commitment to business success and celebrate each small step.

In moments of disaster we try and laugh about it.

We communicate well, share values, and have an acute awareness of each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

What are your dreams for Studio Society in the longer term?
Our dream is to be a global operation, catalysing a movement where fitness transcends exercise.

We’re looking forward to further engineering our product to intertwine with AI and become the ultimate club for both experience and education when it comes to fitness goals and dreams.

You’ve also launched CoverMe. Tell us more
CoverMe is an app that connects group exercise instructors with work opportunities, enabling operators to manage their timetables when they have instructor no-shows, with the confidence that stand-in instructors will have the necessary certification and insurance.

What issues did you set out to resolve?
There was a lack of interaction between instructors and clubs and no single platform of connection to enable collaboration.

What other benefits do you see?
CoverMe opens doors to an expanded talent pool while also ensuring class consistency. It also elevates standards for instructors (pay, reward, recognition and quality of life) and operators (improved member and team experience, saving time and money).

What was the process behind its creation?
We did research with operators, instructors and members to understand their pain points and ensure our solution could solve these problems. Our in-house tech team then created the app which underwent piloting, where it was found to streamline staffing and enhance operational efficiency, while having a positive effect on the employee and member experience.

Who’s supporting CoverMe?
CoverMe has been funded by Angel investment and is on the brink of a larger scale funding round from a well-known investor.
It has The Gym Group founder, John Treharne, and Emma Barry of Trouble Global as non-execs.

And who’s using it?
Fitness studios and facilities of all sizes, including Nuffield and Serco, to name but a few.

What are your roll-out ambitions?
We plan to go to the US next summer (2024) and Australia shortly after. We already have active interest from global brands who are waiting for our solution.

How does the revenue model work?
We take a percentage of earnings from each gig, based on price per instructor/club and depending on club size.

Studio Society’s immersive studio has CGI, scent and sound Credit: photo: STUDIO SOCIETY
Credit: photo: STUDIO SOCIETY
CGI graphics create backdrops to suit each class type Credit: photo: STUDIO SOCIETY
Credit: photo: STUDIO SOCIETY
Brinkworth and Tucker have developed the CoverMe app
 


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SELECTED ISSUE
Health Club Management
2023 issue 9

View issue contents

Leisure Management - Bev Brinkworth and Rosanna Tucker

HCM People

Bev Brinkworth and Rosanna Tucker


Our ambitions are to expand globally to introduce Studio Society to key markets, reshaping fitness paradigms

Bev Brinkworth and Rosanna Tucker photo: Christopher Jeney / STUDIO SOCIETY
Studio Society’s immersive studio has CGI, scent and sound photo: STUDIO SOCIETY
photo: STUDIO SOCIETY
CGI graphics create backdrops to suit each class type photo: STUDIO SOCIETY
photo: STUDIO SOCIETY
Brinkworth and Tucker have developed the CoverMe app

Tell us about Studio Society
It’s an immersive group exercise concept using CGI animated environments that aims to take working out to the next level.

The concept combines technology with coaching, creating a motivating atmosphere for our members.

By combining scent, sight and sound with expert coaching we create an immersive fitness experience like no other.

How did the concept come about?
The spark for Studio Society’s immersive studios came from a desire to disrupt the status quo. Despite group exercise programmes being developed weekly, the physical studio space hadn’t changed since the 1980s. We saw an opportunity to elevate the space and turbocharge workouts. We also envisioned a world where working out isn’t a chore, but an exhilarating experience.

What were the biggest challenges?
Finding a suitable site. For every suitably zoned site we found, there was an average of 17 gym operators going after it. We were close to securing a venue in East Croydon, London and even got as far as working up the designs, only for it to be snapped up by another operator at the last minute. It was hugely frustrating.

It was a challenging and rewarding journey spanning two years and ranged from securing funding to designing the CGI.

What’s the customer journey?
The experience begins with an app booking and then on arrival at the club, members access the club using fingerprint recognition.
On entering one of our four studios, they’re are plunged into a 270-degree animated environment incorporating lighting, sound and scent. They transcend reality through immersive workouts, leaving them motivated to conquer their fitness goals.

What kind of training is on offer?
We believe in training holistically via power, strength and CV, and offer more than 250 classes a week. These range from yoga, Pilates and martial arts, to boxing, Spin and HIIT. We offer Les Mills’ Bodypump and Bodybalance classes and E-pulsive EMS training, as well as our own signature sessions.

In addition, members can use Boditrax body analysis and get nutrition plans to enable them to deepen their insight into their own fitness and take charge of their nutrition.

Some of the most important touchpoints are with the Studio Society team and instructors who motivate and cheerlead our members towards their goals. Technology is fantastic, but it will never replace the power of the human touch.

How have your members responded to the digital screens?
They love the immersive experience and the assault of the combination of sight, sound and scent on their senses.

The most regular feedback is how much fun they have in our classes, as the immersive experience allows them to step away from their daily lives.

With no mirrors to intrude – which could lead them to critique their appearance or compare themselves to others – members can truly lose themselves in the workout.

If they want to dance like Jennifer Lopez in a class, they can. People leave on a high. It’s a completely different experience from anything else.

How does the pricing work?
Studio Society offers both pay-as-you-go and membership options. Our pricing is competitive, with unlimited classes available for a monthly membership that starts at £59 and there are no joining fees and no contracts.

How do you create community?
The nature of the classes foster a sense of belonging among members, but we also work hard to cultivate a community, with regular events, such as social evenings, sessions on nutrition and mental health, as well as charity challenges. We’ve also raised approximately £60,000 to date for charities through our events.

Our small team works full-time and we also have a dedicated group of certified freelance instructors who deliver classes. We’re welcoming to all and have something for everyone at the club.


How does scheduling work?
Our class schedule is curated to cater to diverse fitness preferences and levels. Trends and data analytics guide our scheduling, based on demand and customer preferences.

Beyond classes we offer personal training programmes and our most recent addition – the Strength Studio – which has weights and cardiovascular machines and where we offer our signature classes, called ‘Synergy’, which is a small group PT-led session.

Who owns and backs the business?
Studio Society is privately owned, with initial funding stemming from our personal resources and angel investors.

Will you globalise the concept?
Our ambitions are to expand globally, with plans to introduce Studio Society to key markets, reshaping fitness paradigms worldwide. We’re in talks to open two new sites in 2024.

How has the pandemic been for you?
Studio Society battled through and steadied itself after the initial impact of the pandemic, which tested our resilience.

We swiftly adapted, introducing virtual classes and virtual member community challenges, as well as a hotline for any of our members to reach out and let us know they wanted a chat.


We’ve learned the priceless value of adaptability and community during adversity.

Tell us about the team
We have a full management team within the club and some future stars who are ready to grab the opportunity to grow with the company.

We trust in each other’s judgement, share an unwavering commitment to business success and celebrate each small step.

In moments of disaster we try and laugh about it.

We communicate well, share values, and have an acute awareness of each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

What are your dreams for Studio Society in the longer term?
Our dream is to be a global operation, catalysing a movement where fitness transcends exercise.

We’re looking forward to further engineering our product to intertwine with AI and become the ultimate club for both experience and education when it comes to fitness goals and dreams.

You’ve also launched CoverMe. Tell us more
CoverMe is an app that connects group exercise instructors with work opportunities, enabling operators to manage their timetables when they have instructor no-shows, with the confidence that stand-in instructors will have the necessary certification and insurance.

What issues did you set out to resolve?
There was a lack of interaction between instructors and clubs and no single platform of connection to enable collaboration.

What other benefits do you see?
CoverMe opens doors to an expanded talent pool while also ensuring class consistency. It also elevates standards for instructors (pay, reward, recognition and quality of life) and operators (improved member and team experience, saving time and money).

What was the process behind its creation?
We did research with operators, instructors and members to understand their pain points and ensure our solution could solve these problems. Our in-house tech team then created the app which underwent piloting, where it was found to streamline staffing and enhance operational efficiency, while having a positive effect on the employee and member experience.

Who’s supporting CoverMe?
CoverMe has been funded by Angel investment and is on the brink of a larger scale funding round from a well-known investor.
It has The Gym Group founder, John Treharne, and Emma Barry of Trouble Global as non-execs.

And who’s using it?
Fitness studios and facilities of all sizes, including Nuffield and Serco, to name but a few.

What are your roll-out ambitions?
We plan to go to the US next summer (2024) and Australia shortly after. We already have active interest from global brands who are waiting for our solution.

How does the revenue model work?
We take a percentage of earnings from each gig, based on price per instructor/club and depending on club size.


Originally published in Health Club Management 2023 issue 9

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