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July 2009 The UK’s No 1 fitness industry magazine Ricky is boxing clever with new gym Phillip reveals the secrets of his success By Mary Ferguson ONE of the world’s most respected fitness professionals has revealed the secrets of his success to UK gym operators. Phillip Mills, son of group exercise expert Les Mills and owner of a chain of New Zealand health clubs, spoke to delegates at a Leisure Exchange seminar in Manchester. Effective group exercise classes, performance-related pay for staff and creating an experiential environment for people to exercise in are all key to running a successful business, he claimed. In Phillip’s flagship club in Auckland, nine and a half thousand people attend classes each week and the annual retention rate is 80 per cent. He said an example of another club getting it right is David Lloyd in Amsterdam, which has four cinema size screens and attracted 8,000 members in the first six months of opening. But, he said, independent gyms can achieve similar success without spending so much. He said UK gyms would benefit from: I Setting group exercise staff attendance targets, and rewarding them if they are hit I Taking advantage of the internet and signing more members up online I Installing projectors as a cheaper alternative to TV screens, mainatining a buzz even during quiet times I Slimming down group exercise timetables to deliver more of the most popular classes. Phillip said: “Creating entertaining, experiential exercise environments are key to engaging and retaining members. “When I started working in clubs in the sixties it was a terrible, boring place to be and we would have been lucky to achieve ten per cent annual retention. My first job was to hand out magazines to people on the bikes, because it was just so boring for them.” And according to Phillip, group exercise is a weapon to win the retention and price war but UK gyms need to make the most of them. He added: “Clubs in the UK seem reluctant to put on large classes because of safety concerns but research has shown that injury rates are rare and when they do occur, they are minor. “The basic logic I work on is that people are better off risking a shin splint than risking a heart attack from not exercising.” No 190 £3 Personal trainer Caroline Sandry has launched a book advising women how to exercise according to their body shapes. Co-author of Shape Up!, she is a former model and boasts Kelly Holmes and the Welsh Rugby team among her clients. I Full story, Page 14 A NEW gym owned by Ricky Hatton has welcomed its first members after opening in Manchester. Hatton Health and Fitness, based in Hyde, is run by the champion boxer and his father Ray and as well as topclass boxing facilities, features a separate fitness club for members of the local community. The gym is aiming for a mix of members and has done some marketing specifically aimed at women, who may be put off by its association with fighting. The building is decorated with images of Ricky boxing and posing with celebrities and his title belt hangs in reception. Manager Nigel Wilkes, who has known the star for 20 years, said: “How many gym managers can point to something like that and say, ‘that’s my boss?” I More on the gym, Page 34

Work Out (July 09)

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