The Fitness Network - Interview with Rich Tidmarsh

How to Become a Leading Group Fitness Facility

The founder and lead trainer of famous London gym Reach Fitness, Richard Tidmarsh is one of the leading names in the UK Fitness Industry. Rich has over 12 years of experience in the industry, delivering over 10,000 one to one training sessions and works with elite athletes such as England Rugby’s James Haskell, UFC Fighter Jimi Manuwa and Wales rugby star Jamie Roberts as well as well known faces such as Professor Green, Jessie Ware, Vogue Williams, Millie Mackintosh and Vicky Pattison. Rich has worked all over the world, including fight camps in Las Vegas & Poland, coaching PTs in Istanbul and training the GB Beach Volleyball Team in LA.


We spoke to Rich about:

– How gyms can become known for their group fitness offering

– What membership options group fitness clients are looking for

– How online training platforms can add value to a gym’s offering


1) How can gyms become leaders for group exercise?

Over the last few years, group training as a business-wide model has obviously become much more popular in the UK. I would say that this has come from the US – we’ve always been a little bit behind – but now people here actually understand group training. Which is great, because you’ve got more people interested in doing group training. As a business owner, that is a bit trickier because there’s more competition, so positioning yourself effectively is absolutely key. I would say the same in any business; you’ve actually got to look at yourself as a business owner, and in the fitness world, that owner, like myself, would tend to be a main trainer to start with. So you’ve got to say: “what the hell can i deliver, what does my business model do, what can i do?” Then you’ve actually got to be able to see that through. For us at Reach, we’ve always stuck to our principles; we were a little bit ahead of the curve, in terms of starting off in London, we started six and a half years ago when there wasn’t as wide a choice of gym as there is now. We wanted to make and put the principles in place to make people athletic, so whether you’re training for lifestyle reasons, a triathlon, for a blue-collar boxing fight – or even if you’ve never heard of any of those events and just want to look good on the beach. We want to take that normal human being and make them an awesome athlete. We stuck to our principles of movement, strength and conditioning; I designed a series of of workouts that became our mainline group sessions with Fuel, Rebel Fit and Warrior that actually ticked those boxes of how we take someone who’s at their desk all day and make them awesome.

Building our online presence is/was really important, but you don’t want to get totally bogged down in it, I still see your day to day relationship with every client who comes through the door as the absolutely key thing to deliver to a high level then that person will spread the word for you and bring in their friends. The good thing about things like Twitter and Instagram is that they are able to spread your messaging quite quickly.

2) How important is choice of membership?

I think choosing the right membership package is absolutely key for your business. You want to be flexible – but not too flexible – and you want to be able to target different demographics with your offerings. You also want to know month to month, as a business owner, what’s coming in. You don’t want these big black holes, it needs to be trackable, so there’s a lot to think about. At reach we have 3 monthly tariffs but the client is completely in control. It means we have to do a good job because the client can leave at any time, they are not locked in but they can also move up and down the tariffs. A new person could come in and love it and upgrade which is great for us because you know you’re doing a good job. Besides those monthly packages, there are also pay-as-you-go packages so that person who’s doing other activities (they might play rugby or netball, for example) they can also come in here once a week. So there are flexible options for different people.

3) How valuable is offering online training platforms?

Online training does allow you to diversify slightly and give some quality information to your clients, so when they’re away from the gym they can have some good work to do, which keeps them in the process. So we have Reach Training On Demand – people go on and stream mobility workouts and sweaty workouts when they’re away with work, for example. That is great, and keeps them connected with your brand – but there is a lot of competition in the market. For a business to think it’s going to make loads of money from that is probably unrealistic because it is a business within itself and does require a lot of investment to take it from training your clients and making it accessible to a larger group of people. So I don’t think they should rely on online training right now.

Posted in Fit-tech, Gyms & Clubs, Interviews, Personal Trainers, The Fitness Network.