Joanne Mathews is Founder and Managing Director of Ten Health and Fitness, widely regarded as the UK’s leading chain for dynamic pilates. The brand is highly regarded for its holistic approach to health, exercise and rehabilitation, and for its unique “Circle of Care” model.
We spoke with Joanne to learn how Ten has developed such a strong position in a growing market, and how they intend to protect their boutique offering as they continue to expand.
1. What was it about your rehab experience back in 2007 that led you to believe there was an untapped opportunity in the market?
I had suffered a fractured coccyx, rotated pelvis, whiplash and a lot of soft tissue damage in a car accident. The UK at the time did not have a sophisticated rehab offering and it was very much down to the patients to manage their own recovery. I had to visit a whole host of specialists; a doctor, physio, rehab-specialist and an orthopedic consultant, all of whom were located in different areas and had limited communication between one another. This approach proved time consuming, expensive, impacted negatively on my recovery and was just generally confusing as I received different advice from each party.
It was this frustrating journey that ultimately led to the birth of Ten, which offers dynamic reformer pilates in a small class format and a “Circle of Care” approach where physios, massage therapists and trainers share client insights and information, to ensure the whole process is joined up and as easy as possible for the client. We also work closely with a number of leading Surgeons, Consultants and GP’s.
2. Boutique gyms like Ten are clearly very dependent on their trainers. What are the most effective ways to engage and educate them?
In order for us to attract and retain our trainers we have worked hard in providing them with a robust infrastructure and support system. Unlike most gyms, we employ 85% of our trainers and we have a clear ‘career’ path should a trainer wish to progress through the business. We have a REPS accredited training Academy, which every trainer who teaches Dynamic Reformer Pilates has to pass.
“We employ 85% of our trainers and we have a clear ‘career’ path should a trainer wish to progress through the business”
We also offer ongoing CPD training led by our master trainers and our physio team – giving a PT unique access to a breadth of in-house expertise. Without this ongoing investment, it would be significantly harder to retain staff and would have the potential to hinder our growth.
3. Member experience is of course hugely important with a boutique offering. How do you protect this as you add new sites?
All our studios have different ‘vibes’, which is a reflection of the community/area they are in. For example our Chiswick Studio is a bit more chilled than, say, our Mayfair Studio – as our Chiswick clients seem to have more time, whilst Mayfair clients tend to be in more of a rush.
However, we try to offer the same client experience, and as similar a product range as possible, across all our sites. We hang everything on our brand and our brand values – which means that we recruit and train against these values, which also helps us to drive consistency. Having a clear sense of your brand and it’s values is essential if you are to scale without losing the very thing that made you successful to begin with!