A gym must adapt to customer needs
Operating a successful gym chain for a decade in a dynamic market such as the UAE takes vision and passion. Kevin Teixeira, Co-founder and CEO of The Warehouse Gym, talks about the journey and why design and fitness programmes must adapt to customer needs. As he says, a good fitness business runs on motivated customers.
Your gym is very unique in terms of the look and concept. How did it come about?
Our first gym, which is our Al Quoz branch, opened almost 10 years ago. It was founded by the three of us with the idea that it was not just about fitness, business, or property development. It had to be different in terms of design, fitness programmes and also have the ability to adapt in a dynamic industry. We continue to retain that DNA.
How has the concept of gyms changed?
Gyms used to be all about bodybuilding, which was okay if you wanted to be a bodybuilder. Today, real fitness is about cardiovascular and strength training. It’s about functionality and mobility. Also, more women are exercising and looking for options other than aerobics and cardio. Women have embraced strength training. Another change is open space and fitness programmes that have the ability to evolve. There is equipment other than the class gym machines and classes, which offer customised programmes for varied clientele.
Are you happy with your growth? Or do you feel you need to do more?
We never had a vision of opening 11 gyms. It was more of a passion project, which went on to become very successful. We are the only gym chain that is homegrown. We believe that our gyms are communities where people can network while exercising — people make friends and do business, or may even meet a prospective life partner. The whole idea is that people should enjoy exercising.
How do you keep up with customer demand?
As CEO I have to be passionate about exercise and spend time on the gym floor to feel the pulse of people. One has to look at different techniques and methodologies and the way people exercise. It’s also about being attuned to the needs of different clients such as men and women, and what suits different age demographics.
Your design is unique. In terms of fitness, how does it motivate people?
There should be more to a gym than just a gym. One of the unique elements to The Warehouse Gym is that each of our locations is different. So as a customer, you don’t get just one gym membership at multiple locations, but multiple experiences. When I used to exercise, I was a member of two or three gyms as I used to get bored being in just one. This is what we have tried to eliminate. Changes in environment and equipment stimulates people. We look at the demographics of clients and design our gyms. We also tweak our gyms based on client response.
How do your programmes differ across your gyms?
Each gym also has different equipment and layout unlike commercial gyms, which tend to have a template. So they will be massages, blackbox signature class, boxing and CrossFit and so on. We created a bigger ecosystem instead of trying to do everything in one gym. This gives our customers a lot more value, instead of the same gym in different locations.
How do you judge what your members want?
When it comes to setting up each gym, we look at the demographics in the area and design everything accordingly. However, the overarching idea is that our gyms cater to people who are passionate about exercise. I truly believe that gyms should take their clients seriously and tweak design and programmes based on their needs.
What is your opinion of the UAE fitness industry?
I think it is doing phenomenally well. There is entrepreneurial spirit and a fitness culture in Dubai. You see it with the Dubai Fitness Challenge and the marathons. It has become a hotspot for new fitness concepts. I think people are very self-aware and understand the importance of exercise, not just from a health perspective, but from a well-being point of view.
What are some of the facilities you are proud of?
We have cryotherapy, red light therapy, infrared sauna and sports massage among other treatments. I may sound biased, but I don’t believe there is any gym in Dubai that has the type of equipment we do. We pick the best in class. We source many suppliers and we are always looking at new brands and the latest equipment.
How do you motivate people to exercise through The Warehouse Gym?
We have been involved in the Dubai Fitness Challenge. We also work with businesses. We have reward programmes for early renewals. Besides, rewards for bringing a friend and a loyalty programme. We did a nice programme with Apple Watch and we have done stuff with Beats headsets.
What are some of the biggest challenges of running a gym?
The main thing is to keep the customer happy. A gym is a very emotional space with a lot of moving parts. It’s not just the customer, who should be happy, but the staff as well. Then there is the competition. If you want to be ahead of the game, you need to keep reinventing yourself and reinvesting in your product.
How do you engage with your team members?
We empower our staff to deal with customers and make sure that they understand that the gym is a second home for our customers. Right from the front desk to house-keeping, the staff is trained on how to handle any request made by customers. It’s not just about scanning a barcode, but about knowing customers by name.
What are some of the valuable lessons you have learnt?
Fitness is emotional and motivation is an emotion. It’s not enough to design a good product because what people want is changing all the time. A product is only a template and must be tweaked as the need arises. Finally, it’s all about passion. If you are not passionate about fitness, it’s going to be hard to connect with customers. And if you can’t connect to a customer, there’s no business.
The Warehouse Gym is known mostly as a CrossFit gym. Is that a fair statement?
No. It was a misconception early on because we got the CrossFit affiliation. CrossFit was always associated with a standalone box so we brought that CrossFit box within the gym — a concept within a concept. People thought we were CrossFit, but we offer everything. We encompass all types of exercises. Our courses are much more than just CrossFit.
The Warehouse Gym at Jumeirah Park
This brand new gym spans across two floors, with private exercise studios and a huge outdoor Olympic-size swimming pool! The enormous gym is home to every piece of gym equipment you could ever need and boasts a super chic aesthetic throughout — huge mirrors and many plants in a bright and airy space. The equipment available at this gym is the definition of high quality — everything is brand new and of amazing quality, plus there are niche machines that not many gyms offer.
The Warehouse Gym at Yas Bay Waterfront
For all those in Abu Dhabi who want break a sweat at this popular fitness space, the Warehouse Gym is now open at Yas Bay Waterfront. If you are ready for some serious workout, lace up your training shoes, grab a towel and head to this fascinating gym. This is a crossover of its already very popular gyms in Dubai and is sure to whip you into shape. The mixed and ladies-only gym features cardio, strength and stretch equipment plus a team of personal trainers to help you with your fitness goals.