LONDON, United Kingdom — Upscale boutique fitness studio BXR is gearing up for the launch of its first international site in Doha, Qatar.
The four-year-old business, which currently operates two sites in London’s Canary Wharf and Marylebone, has plans to grow its footprint over the next year as it continues to bounce back from the challenges of the pandemic.
BXR Doha, located in the iconic Burj Doha Tower, will be the brand’s first stand-alone Sweat by BXR Studio designed specifically for group training. And will house two of its conceptual rooms: boxing and cardio (versa climbing).
Taking inspiration from its flagship BXR site in Marylebone, alongside the boxing studio and VersaClimber cardio room, the site will also feature fully equipped changing facilities with showers and luxury amenities and products, permanent lockers available to rent and the SWEAT Maid: a personalised laundry service for its customers’ gym kits.
According to Co-founder Alex Nicholl, having always had a focus on the Middle East as a primary market due to good brand recognition in the region, the decision to expand into Qatar finally came to fruition after finding the right partners who could help the business scale without losing its core values, brand identity and integrity.
“We were fortunate to work with Sheikh Mohammed who is a Qatari based entrepreneur; mountaineer; philanthropist, photographer and sportsman,” Nicholl told Welltodo.
“Similar to us he has a passion for boutique fitness, sports and in particular our unique climbing concept featuring the VersaClimber. He is also a keen climber who has a dedicated mission to push his limits by scaling the Seven Highest Summits of the Seven Continents of the World.”
This, he revealed was more important than getting caught up in when and where the brand would expand first.
To cater to the local market, BXR Doha will offer ladies only classes due to the religious nature of the Middle East. In addition, it will deliver beginner and intro classes to its signature ‘Climb to the beat class’ to familiarise new customers with machines they might not have encountered before.
Aside from these small adaptations, the site will closely mirror the same unique experience created in its existing locations, even down to its design by award-winning firm Bergman Interiors — the same team behind both of its recognisable London sites.
Having burst onto the scene back in January 2017 as the capital’s first private members gym with a pay-to-train element in the same building, BXR’s disruptive nature, premium offering and the backing of world-renowned boxer Anthony Joshua have all helped to capture the attention of the market. And garner the brand a cult following.
This momentum led to the opening of its second site in London’s Canary Wharf in September 2019. However, in early 2020 as COVID-19 began to take hold both sites were forced to close due to government restrictions — and like the rest of the fitness industry, the company was forced to adapt.
Despite the obvious challenges, according to Nicholl, by supporting the brand’s teams with financial frameworks, jobs and as many work opportunities as possible, offering clients adapted products and services such as online PT sessions and classes, the hiring of equipment for personal home use and BXR outdoor classes. And by working with its landlords to be able to financially weather the pandemic, it has been able to reopen in a strong position and grow in the aftermath.
With clients returning in droves, BXR is now focused on taking its concept to new territories. Two new sites are already in the pipeline for London — BXR City will open in January 2022 on the 25th floor of the tallest tower in UK & Europe – 22 Bishopsgate, while BXR Battersea is set for launch in late 2022.
Elsewhere, a site in Crete, Greece will launch within the 5* super-luxury hotel Daios Cove, in which the brand has hosted successful retreats for the past three years. BXR Dubai will follow, further bolstering its international presence.
And Nicholl is confident that post-pandemic consumers are itching to get back to class.
“We have been comforted to see so many clients wanting to come back to the gym and our classes,” he told Welltodo.“They see BXR as a physical space where they can work out and enjoy our community in person not just the online experience of the lockdowns,” he added.
By aligning itself with new consumer needs, the brand has been able to build back stronger than ever.