Profile
Christian Tötzke


Tell us about Hyrox
It’s a mass participation, competitive event for gym goers, combining running and functional workouts in a huge indoor space, such as an exhibition centre. Participants run 1km, followed by a functional workout, and repeat this eight times, with a different functional element each time.

The elements are SkiErg, sled push, sled pull, burpee broad jumps, rowing, farmers’ carry, sandbag lunges and wall balls.

Hyrox is widely accessible, as people can participate as individuals, pairs or in a relay team. Elite level athletes aim to complete in less than 60 minutes.

Who does it appeal to?
Ninety eight per cent of participants are gym members. Because there was never any competitive fitness event before this, for many Hyrox is their first competitive event. Compared to triathlons, we attract a high number of female athletes, a split of around 58/42 male/female.

People go to Hyrox as a social occasion, to benchmark themselves and sometimes to see how they measure up to other people in the rest of the world. It’s much cheaper to enter a Hyrox than an OCR or Ironman and all you need is a pair of shoes, a shirt and shorts.

We’re also seeing a growing number of the Hyrox community travelling to events outside of their country. It’s now so popular in the UK that British events sell out quickly months before they happen and 600 Brits went to the Barcelona event recently. We try to structure it so individuals can do two to three events each year without a huge amount of travelling. Generally each location has one event a year, but the demand in London is so high that next year we’ll run three at Olympia.

How did you come up with the idea?
Working out at the gym is the only sport with no gamification. No one plays tennis just to burn calories – they play tennis because you want to play against another person, otherwise they might as well hit a ball against the wall. Providing a competition gives gym goers the drive and motivation to train for something.

True, you can use the gym to train for running, cycling or triathlon but you can train for those events without going to the gym. I used to do all three of those events but grew tired of them because triathlon and cycling require a big time commitment to train and running was hard on my knees. Training for Hyrox allows individuals to train their whole body and stay fit but a session only takes one hour, three or four times a week.

Are you worried about copycats?
Not at all. I think fitness events will become a huge market, which will lead to a significant growth in gym membership and the elite level will be on television.

I want Hyrox to be the equivalent of the London Marathon: the one big event of the year which everyone aspires to participate in. Other fitness events could act as feeders for us and grow the community, in the way that all the Parkruns, 10k runs and half marathons feed the London Marathon.

Will you update the format?
We have no intention of changing anything because that would stop people being able to compare their performances from year to year. The doubles and relays make it accessible without us having to change the event.

We would only change the format if an amazing new revolutionary workout machine was invented, such as the SkiErg when it first came out. Every year we’re launching new events into countries where people have never done Hyrox, so that’s enough for us to focus on!

How did you decide which functional
workouts to include?
They have to train every part of the body and be inclusive, so everyone is able to complete. We use natural movements, rather than those that need a lot of skill, and stay away from anything that might cause an injury. When devising the format we tested it a lot. Since running our test event in Hamburg, in 2017, we haven’t changed anything.

How did the pandemic impact your growth?
It couldn’t have been more brutal. We were running indoor mass participation events when you weren’t allowed to be indoors with more than three people! We had launched in Germany and the US and then everything was closed. Although we tried some virtual things to try to keep the brand alive, it was a hard stop.

We launched in the UK as soon as we were able to, and somehow it was the perfect timing, as it’s flying now. Everywhere we’ve launched since the lockdown has been more successful than the two pre-pandemic regions. They lost the momentum, but are keeping up now. We’re very happy that we can continue to grow and are in 20 countries.

The logistics must be massive, how do you do it?
We work like a rock concert tour! We have key staff in each region who run the show, doing up to 20 events in one season, and then we hire local labour and volunteers to help. It’s a very complex operation. Everything is packed into trucks at the end of the event and taken to the next location.

Why did you partner with Xponential’s Body Fit Training (BFT)?
This partnership offered such scope and importance. The brands have many similarities and offer interesting strategic opportunities. We wanted to grow into Australia and Asia where BFT is strong and they want to go to Europe where we have a good presence.

Hyrox gives people a different motivation to train and we believe BFT has the best product in the global market to train for our events. So far this partnership is bringing us unbelievable success in APAC and has allowed us to get going much faster. We’ve launched in Singapore, Sydney and Melbourne, which has broken every record so far: it was a sold out event with 3,500 people on 26 August, of which a significant number have come out of the BFT database. Singapore – sponsored by Cigna Healthcare and held in the Singapore Stadium on 6 October – outperformed Melbourne.

What is your plan for the future?
We have a very clear vision of having 170 Hyrox events by 2027, in the most exciting cities around the world and in all the most relevant markets for fitness.

We want to have a million people doing Hyrox every year. Our partnership with BFT opens up the Asia Pacific region for us and we’re looking for solutions to get into other markets in the future, such as Brazil and India.

BFT & Hyrox
BFT co-founder, Cameron Falloon, gives his take on how the BFT/Hyrox partnership is progressing
Cameron Falloon / photo: HYROX / ERIC WITTKOPF

"Hyrox uses the same equipment as BFT and all the same movements, so it was evident from our side that there was a lot of alignment in terms of how this relationship could pan out. Straight away we found a strong strategic alignment and a strong level of trust.

We have good market share in Asia Pacific, with a great database of consumers to support Hyrox’s ambition in this region and as we venture into the UK and Europe, this partnership offers a great opportunity for us to leverage off Hyrox, to grow awareness of BFT.

Our franchisees and members are really excited about Hyrox. Any weekend warrior or gym-goer can go and take part, or you can partner with someone or do a relay. So it’s really accessible for everyone from elite athletes to people with really low levels of fitness.

From a franchise perspective, Europe is a different opportunity for us, with the Ukraine war and the inflationary issues in the UK. We’re experiencing that to a much lesser degree in the APAC region.

As we work to articulate our story, the Hyrox partnership will expedite that and add credibility as well. We’re opening in Spain, the UK is going well, Germany is slower to adopt, but once they do, we know things go mainstream really quickly.

At BFT we run eight- and 10-week Hyrox-specific training programmes where members get special training and a real understanding of the event. We’ve worked hard to scale it from the least fit person, who might be doing a relay, to those who are looking to break 60 minutes. It’s been a challenge, but the feedback has been phenomenal and the engagement is huge.

We’re really excited about what we’ve seen in Europe with Hyrox, because if the APAC region can get to anything like those levels in terms of participation rates and people coming to watch, then this relationship will bear fruit for both parties."

The feedback has been phenomenal and the engagement is huge
BFT franchisees are excited about Hyrox / photo: Body Fit Training
Hyrox participants can compete as individuals, in pairs or as part of a relay team Credit: photo: HYROX
Training for Hyrox allows people to train their whole body Credit: photo: HYROX / ERIC WITTKOPF
With high demand, there’ll be three Hyrox events at London’s Olympia next year Credit: photo: HYROX / Sportograf GmbH & Co
The aim is for Hyrox to be ‘the equivalent of the London Marathon’ Credit: photo: HYROX / ERIC WITTKOPF
Hyrox incorporates natural movements which don’t require a high level of skill Credit: photo: HYROX
Even those with low fitness levels can take part in Hyrox events Credit: photo: HYROX / ERIC WITTKOPF
Participants do functional workouts to train every part of their body and avoid injury Credit: photo: HYROX / ERIC WITTKOPF
Credit: photo: HYROX / Sportograf GmbH & Co
Credit: photo: HYROX
Hyrox gives people a different motivation to train Credit: photo: HYROX / ERIC WITTKOPF
The aim is to have a million people participating in Hyrox events Credit: photo: HYROX
 


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SELECTED ISSUE
Health Club Management
2023 issue 10

View issue contents

Leisure Management - Christian Tötzke

Profile

Christian Tötzke
Hyrox participants can compete as individuals, in pairs or as part of a relay team photo: HYROX
Totzke says every launch post-pandemic has been a big success photo: HYROX
Training for Hyrox allows people to train their whole body photo: HYROX / ERIC WITTKOPF
With high demand, there’ll be three Hyrox events at London’s Olympia next year photo: HYROX / Sportograf GmbH & Co
The aim is for Hyrox to be ‘the equivalent of the London Marathon’ photo: HYROX / ERIC WITTKOPF
Hyrox incorporates natural movements which don’t require a high level of skill photo: HYROX
Even those with low fitness levels can take part in Hyrox events photo: HYROX / ERIC WITTKOPF
Participants do functional workouts to train every part of their body and avoid injury photo: HYROX / ERIC WITTKOPF
photo: HYROX / Sportograf GmbH & Co
photo: HYROX
Hyrox gives people a different motivation to train photo: HYROX / ERIC WITTKOPF
The aim is to have a million people participating in Hyrox events photo: HYROX

Tell us about Hyrox
It’s a mass participation, competitive event for gym goers, combining running and functional workouts in a huge indoor space, such as an exhibition centre. Participants run 1km, followed by a functional workout, and repeat this eight times, with a different functional element each time.

The elements are SkiErg, sled push, sled pull, burpee broad jumps, rowing, farmers’ carry, sandbag lunges and wall balls.

Hyrox is widely accessible, as people can participate as individuals, pairs or in a relay team. Elite level athletes aim to complete in less than 60 minutes.

Who does it appeal to?
Ninety eight per cent of participants are gym members. Because there was never any competitive fitness event before this, for many Hyrox is their first competitive event. Compared to triathlons, we attract a high number of female athletes, a split of around 58/42 male/female.

People go to Hyrox as a social occasion, to benchmark themselves and sometimes to see how they measure up to other people in the rest of the world. It’s much cheaper to enter a Hyrox than an OCR or Ironman and all you need is a pair of shoes, a shirt and shorts.

We’re also seeing a growing number of the Hyrox community travelling to events outside of their country. It’s now so popular in the UK that British events sell out quickly months before they happen and 600 Brits went to the Barcelona event recently. We try to structure it so individuals can do two to three events each year without a huge amount of travelling. Generally each location has one event a year, but the demand in London is so high that next year we’ll run three at Olympia.

How did you come up with the idea?
Working out at the gym is the only sport with no gamification. No one plays tennis just to burn calories – they play tennis because you want to play against another person, otherwise they might as well hit a ball against the wall. Providing a competition gives gym goers the drive and motivation to train for something.

True, you can use the gym to train for running, cycling or triathlon but you can train for those events without going to the gym. I used to do all three of those events but grew tired of them because triathlon and cycling require a big time commitment to train and running was hard on my knees. Training for Hyrox allows individuals to train their whole body and stay fit but a session only takes one hour, three or four times a week.

Are you worried about copycats?
Not at all. I think fitness events will become a huge market, which will lead to a significant growth in gym membership and the elite level will be on television.

I want Hyrox to be the equivalent of the London Marathon: the one big event of the year which everyone aspires to participate in. Other fitness events could act as feeders for us and grow the community, in the way that all the Parkruns, 10k runs and half marathons feed the London Marathon.

Will you update the format?
We have no intention of changing anything because that would stop people being able to compare their performances from year to year. The doubles and relays make it accessible without us having to change the event.

We would only change the format if an amazing new revolutionary workout machine was invented, such as the SkiErg when it first came out. Every year we’re launching new events into countries where people have never done Hyrox, so that’s enough for us to focus on!

How did you decide which functional
workouts to include?
They have to train every part of the body and be inclusive, so everyone is able to complete. We use natural movements, rather than those that need a lot of skill, and stay away from anything that might cause an injury. When devising the format we tested it a lot. Since running our test event in Hamburg, in 2017, we haven’t changed anything.

How did the pandemic impact your growth?
It couldn’t have been more brutal. We were running indoor mass participation events when you weren’t allowed to be indoors with more than three people! We had launched in Germany and the US and then everything was closed. Although we tried some virtual things to try to keep the brand alive, it was a hard stop.

We launched in the UK as soon as we were able to, and somehow it was the perfect timing, as it’s flying now. Everywhere we’ve launched since the lockdown has been more successful than the two pre-pandemic regions. They lost the momentum, but are keeping up now. We’re very happy that we can continue to grow and are in 20 countries.

The logistics must be massive, how do you do it?
We work like a rock concert tour! We have key staff in each region who run the show, doing up to 20 events in one season, and then we hire local labour and volunteers to help. It’s a very complex operation. Everything is packed into trucks at the end of the event and taken to the next location.

Why did you partner with Xponential’s Body Fit Training (BFT)?
This partnership offered such scope and importance. The brands have many similarities and offer interesting strategic opportunities. We wanted to grow into Australia and Asia where BFT is strong and they want to go to Europe where we have a good presence.

Hyrox gives people a different motivation to train and we believe BFT has the best product in the global market to train for our events. So far this partnership is bringing us unbelievable success in APAC and has allowed us to get going much faster. We’ve launched in Singapore, Sydney and Melbourne, which has broken every record so far: it was a sold out event with 3,500 people on 26 August, of which a significant number have come out of the BFT database. Singapore – sponsored by Cigna Healthcare and held in the Singapore Stadium on 6 October – outperformed Melbourne.

What is your plan for the future?
We have a very clear vision of having 170 Hyrox events by 2027, in the most exciting cities around the world and in all the most relevant markets for fitness.

We want to have a million people doing Hyrox every year. Our partnership with BFT opens up the Asia Pacific region for us and we’re looking for solutions to get into other markets in the future, such as Brazil and India.

BFT & Hyrox
BFT co-founder, Cameron Falloon, gives his take on how the BFT/Hyrox partnership is progressing
Cameron Falloon / photo: HYROX / ERIC WITTKOPF

"Hyrox uses the same equipment as BFT and all the same movements, so it was evident from our side that there was a lot of alignment in terms of how this relationship could pan out. Straight away we found a strong strategic alignment and a strong level of trust.

We have good market share in Asia Pacific, with a great database of consumers to support Hyrox’s ambition in this region and as we venture into the UK and Europe, this partnership offers a great opportunity for us to leverage off Hyrox, to grow awareness of BFT.

Our franchisees and members are really excited about Hyrox. Any weekend warrior or gym-goer can go and take part, or you can partner with someone or do a relay. So it’s really accessible for everyone from elite athletes to people with really low levels of fitness.

From a franchise perspective, Europe is a different opportunity for us, with the Ukraine war and the inflationary issues in the UK. We’re experiencing that to a much lesser degree in the APAC region.

As we work to articulate our story, the Hyrox partnership will expedite that and add credibility as well. We’re opening in Spain, the UK is going well, Germany is slower to adopt, but once they do, we know things go mainstream really quickly.

At BFT we run eight- and 10-week Hyrox-specific training programmes where members get special training and a real understanding of the event. We’ve worked hard to scale it from the least fit person, who might be doing a relay, to those who are looking to break 60 minutes. It’s been a challenge, but the feedback has been phenomenal and the engagement is huge.

We’re really excited about what we’ve seen in Europe with Hyrox, because if the APAC region can get to anything like those levels in terms of participation rates and people coming to watch, then this relationship will bear fruit for both parties."

The feedback has been phenomenal and the engagement is huge
BFT franchisees are excited about Hyrox / photo: Body Fit Training

Originally published in Health Club Management 2023 issue 10

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