With almost 50 gyms nationwide, Fit4Less offers a smarter way to exercise, by doing away with the luxuries and focusing on what matters most – the health and wellbeing of its members. As a new branch opens in Tunbridge Wells, managing director Charles Foulkes tells us what to expect in 2016
Tell us about the background of Fit4Less
The whole concept and vision of Fit4Less is to provide top-quality gym facilities, but without the frills. It’s comparable to Premier Inn or EasyJet as a concept; the things that cost a lot of money to provide are stripped out, so we don’t have swimming pools, saunas or fluffy towels, but what we do have is brand new, top of the range exercise equipment, friendly, qualified staff, clean, modern premises and long opening hours. The vision is to make fitness facilities affordable and accessible to everybody; by cutting out the frills, we bring the cost right down to the ground so that a lot of people can afford to use a nice gym, who otherwise couldn’t afford to do so.
How did it come to Tunbridge Wells?
Fit4Less is a franchise, which has been going for over 10 years, and there are nearly 50 active franchise businesses around the country. I’m the franchisee for Tunbridge Wells and opened this branch just before Christmas on December 17 last year.
It sounds like no coincidence that you opened a gym just before the New Year…
We worked very hard to be ready before Christmas so that we could just get in and hit the ground running in the New Year. We’ve been really overwhelmed by all the good feedback we’ve had. There are dozens of people joining every day, and we’re very pleased with the take-up and well on course to hit all our ambitions and targets.
Why set up a branch in High Brooms?
In the whole of Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells, there was nothing at this sort of price point. We’re less than half the price of any of the other gyms that are currently open, and High Brooms is in a nice position where people from Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge can reach it. We’re very close to a lot of people’s workplaces, so they can come at lunchtime, or after or before work; we’re close to the station, so commuters can use us; and we’re also close to a lot of residential areas and about equidistant to all the other gyms, so it just seemed like the perfect location. Plus, it’s a really great building for us to convert as we have done.
You were recently visited by Dame Kelly Holmes – what can you tell us?
We were thrilled to have Kelly Holmes pay us a visit, and equally thrilled because she was here with her charity, the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, which does fantastic work helping disadvantaged young people who are struggling to get into employment, education or training build their confidence and get ‘On Track to Achieve’ via sport, with the help of ex-elite sportspeople.
Kelly was her usual charming self and seemed to have endless patience to have selfies taken with people and chat to all the members. She actually visited us when the premises was a building site in the early days, and I think it’s fair to say she was very impressed with the transformation and how bright, clean and nice the whole place is now.
It must have been an inspirational experience for young people on the day…
Kelly was here with two other retired elite sportspeople: Michelle Robinson, who was a triple jumper in the Olympics, and Jimmy Corbett, who played professional football for Gillingham and the Blackburn Rovers. They were here with a group of 16 young people, who really enjoyed themselves and had a fantastic time experiencing the gym environment and talking to our personal trainers about career opportunities in the fitness business.
What advice would you give to new clients to help them avoid giving up their New Year’s resolutions?
If they commit to three half-hour sessions a week, that’s approximately 1% of their time and makes such a massive difference to long-term health outcomes. It’s a very small commitment, but if people do find that their motivation is dwindling, my advice would be to try some variety. We can offer all sorts of different ways to exercise; we’ve got personal trainers and fitness instructors on hand, who would be very happy to talk to each individual member about how to achieve what they’re trying to achieve through different methods.
For any given fitness objective, there are probably 10 different ways of achieving it, so in a way it doesn’t matter what you choose; it’s just the variety that keeps it fresh and keeps it fun. The other tip would be to try some classes – all our classes are included at no extra cost in the membership price, so joining in a group exercise session is more fun and very motivational, because you’ve got to keep up with the rest of the people. Again, it gives you some variety to do something different.
Where would you like to take Fit4Less in 2016?
My passion is to make it fun and to bring people in who perhaps aren’t used to exercising. They don’t need to be scared or intimidated; this is a really friendly, fun place to be, so we just want to reach more and more people and keep on having fun with them. We’re listening to members all the time, learning what they like and what they don’t like, so that we can keep modifying what we’re offering to make sure it fits.
5 Enterprise Centre, North Farm Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN2 3DR 01892 804 007