FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
DESIGN & INTERIORS
Q. How much space would I need for a Biofit gym or studio?
Anything from +/- 50sq.metres to 500sq.metres, indoor or outdoor. Smaller spaces lend themselves to more focused personal and small group training while larger spaces open up opportunities for zoning the usage of the floor plate via the choices of equipment and materials. For example with 300sq.m we might look at dividing it into a movement zone, a strength zone and a cardiovascular endurance zone. A larger outdoor space would mean we can build obstacles into the terrain and 'go big'.
Q. Would you consider an outdoor location?
Yes, we design outdoor gym spaces too, in fact this type of set-up is a great opportunity to practice what we preach by training outdoors in the open air and incorporating far more endurance work than a machinery-free indoor space could allow for.
Q. How do you select the plants in a Biofit gym and how many are there? Do they need maintenance?
We select NASA-approved oxygenating plants for indoor use, these tend to be similar the world over as the temperature of an indoor space is approximately the same everywhere. We also incorporate oxygenating indigenous plants too as a priority, it's about purifying the air and reducing pollutants in the gym space; this does mean we really need a good source of natural light however! Generally these plants will need watering 1-2 times each week (1-2hrs depending on size of space), so nothing too onerous, and we recommend you have a gardener pass by every 2-3 months to check in on them all unless you are green-fingered yourself.
Q. Does a Biofit gym have to have natural light or could it be located underground for example?
A space without any natural light is only really suitable for a temporary set-up as we'd have to use artificial plants that sacrifice all of their air purifying properties; while technology can be used to help clean the air in the gym, natural light is essential for the survival of the vast majority of plants so an underground space or one without any windows would be a compromise. That said, as a way to test the concept before moving on to a better space above ground, it can certainly be done.
Q. What type of ceiling is best?
In terms of ceiling height, we recommend 3-4metres as a minimum, ideally with exposed structural beams to which we can attach ropes, opening up a whole array of overhead pulling movements. We hang plants from the ceiling too so height is important.
Q. Who is Lily Jencks and what is her role at Biofit?
Biofit’s interiors have been developed with award-winning landscape architect, Lily Jencks, who created the restorative healing gardens for the Maggie’s Centres around the UK. The brief was to create the world's first truly biophilic (nature inspired) indoor gym, maximising the positive impact of contact with Vitamin N(ature) through the use of natural vegetation, colours, materials, shapes, scents and sounds. This approach is already being leveraged by tech companies such as Apple and Google for its impact on employee stress and productivity levels; until now however fitness facilities have simply been left behind. “Our society needs to calibrate our relationship with the natural world, which is leading to a surge in this kind of biophilic, nature inspired design”, comments Jencks. Lily integrates architecture, landscape and art. Her work is sustainably focused, reclaiming, recycling and reusing wherever relevant; previous collaborations have seen her working alongside Rem Koolhaas and Frank Gehry. www.lilyjencksstudio.com
Q. What is biophilic design?
Biophilic design reunites indoor and outdoor worlds in urban architecture and interiors. Typically found in residential, hotel and office buildings, hospitals and retail stores; not previously found in gyms. Think natural plants, textures, colours, visuals, shapes, scents, sounds and materials. This means the exclusion as far as possible of everything else, meaning no metal, machinery or flashing LCD screens.
Q. How much should I budget for the fit-out of an affiliate gym?
We are happy to offer guidance on budget requirements and the various costs involved in setting up an affiliate gym. Please contact us to discuss in more detail.
Q. What is Biofit’s stance on social and environmental responsibility?
We take a mindful approach to the selection of all our materials, prioritizing the natural and sustainable wherever possible. This involves seeking out suppliers with responsible business practices, from the interiors to equipment, in order to do as little harm as possible. We are not perfect and the fitness industry in particular has a long way to go in this sense but we aim to lead by example.
Q. What are the benefits of the Biofit approach to fitness?
It develops new skills and neurological pathways; it prompts higher commitment levels a.k.a 'sticky factor'; it improves joint mobility and it is fun, inclusive, motivating and interactive. Clients feel more connected to nature, less stressed and of a more positive mood after training with us (see our research results here).
Q. What size of group class do you recommend?
For residential gym facilities, the space may need to function more like a regular gym (solo training) than as a studio (with classes). We can design either, or a combination of both, according to the brief. Generally in terms of teaching skill-based classes like Biofit (just as with CrossFit for example but unlike say, a spinning class), anything over 15 pax is difficult to control and the coach will not be able to give as much personal attention to each student. Anything is possible of course but if we're talking ideal solutions, we go from Personal training (one-on-one), to Small Group Training (from 2 to 6 pax) and Group Class (1-15 pax). Anything beyond that is more of a corporate group session or a once off.
Q. Where does the coaches training take place and who delivers it?
We deliver the 2 or 3-day training in the Biofit method directly on-site to all of your coaching team, this gives us the opportunity to explore nearby outdoor locations for running or the occasional outdoor session. To economize on travel costs, we usually aim to combine the coaching session with the fit-out of the gym interiors in order to lend a hand with that process too. The training is delivered by the company Founder, Matt Morley - straight from the source!
Q. Do you offer any assistance with class programming for affiliate gyms?
Yes, putting together a weekly schedule is very much something we can help with, on the basis that it will likely need to be tweaked over the first few months until it feels right. We also offer a starter pack of pre-programmed classes for the first two weeks of opening to help make the coaches feel comfortable with the method. For those that wish a greater level of on-going support, we can sell additional class template packs on request but these are completely optional.
Q. Is Biofit only a class-based concept or can it function as a more traditional gym?
Personal training and group classes provide an efficient means of communicating a coach’s expertise and the underlying method; this guarantees the highest levels of motivation, engagement and fun factor for clients, so wherever possible yes, we advise incorporating at least an element of teaching into a Biofit space. Equally, by adapting the equipment selection to suit the planned operational strategy, the space can function as more of a classic gym with a nature theme. In short, we’re flexible on this.
Q. Do you operate any gyms yourselves?
Not at the moment, never say never but essentially our business is currently about providing a complete turnkey solution to future gym owners meaning we do a lot of the heavy lifting for you at the front end of a project when starting out but ultimately you will need to hire and manage your own on-site staff on a day to day basis.
Q. Do you help with the recruitment of coaches at an affiliate gym?
We truly wish for each affiliate gym to be a commercial success and recognize that hiring the right staff is a key step in that process. As part of a standard agreement, we provide a 1-page document with some tips on what to look for in your coaching team in terms of qualifications, workshops and so on. If you require online research and initial interview screening of candidates, that would be an additional service to be billed outside of the core agreement.
Q. Do your provide set workouts to follow in an affiliate gym?
Biofit is a training method with variety built into its DNA, our intention is to give your coaches a framework and tool kit from which to put together any number of different combinations of movements in class every day. A standard affiliate agreement includes a 2-day intensive coaches training session, ideally with coaches who arrive with plenty of previous experience to draw upon too. We do however offer optional upgrade packages of pre-planned workouts for coaches to deliver on site and offer each affiliate a set of pre-planned class workouts to cover the first 1-2 weeks in detail.
Q. What are the 10 Biofit rules to live by?
1. Become a generalist, variety of movement is key
2. Develop skill via practice & play
3. Train real world movements
4. Seek out low level activity each day
5. Make friends with mobility
6. Stand more, get outside & go barefoot
7. Eat mostly plants & animals
8. Build your tribe
9. Train your brain
10. Respect your need for rest
Q. What equipment would I need to buy for my affiliate gym?
We work with each affiliate to select the right equipment to match the size of the space, the demands of the local target market and the particular vision / preferences of the gym owner. A smaller space will need to be multi-functional with as much open floor space as possible meaning large wooden strength equipment would be less appropriate, while a hotel or office gym set-up would of necessity include some cardiovascular equipment and free weights. When wooden equipment is part of the package, we can either source from our own suppliers in Europe or collaborate with a local carpenter to replicate our designs on site using indigenous, sustainable wood chosen for its smooth finish. Don’t worry, splinters are not part of the equation, wood is brilliant stuff!
Q. Would you be open to including weights and cardio machinery in your equipment selection?
In order to maintain a cohesive concept, we do not use metal weights machines however we understand that a hotel or office gym in particular needs to be relevant for as wide an audience as possible so in such circumstances we source free-weights made of natural materials and eco cardio equipment in keeping with the Biofit ethos via our preferred suppliers.
Q. Do you use any technology or machinery at all?
We like the no-tech approach but we are not technophobes, we love our iPhones! We also appreciate a serious sound system and streaming our own playlists from Spotify. Equally, there are a number of excellent well-tech products on the market such as iodizers, humidifiers and aromatherapy vaporizers that can all make positive, unobtrusive additions to a Biofit gym.
Q. What kind of maintenance does your natural gym equipment need?
A Biofit gym removes all gadgets, technology and metal parts, meaning there is far less that can go wrong than in a gym full of metal machinery and wifi-enabled touch screens, etc. Our strength and conditioning equipment is all bullet-proof, not much can go wrong with a sandbag, rope or wooden beam and, even if it does after five years of hard use and abuse, they are easy, low budget items to replace. For cardiovascular equipment such as eco & electricity-free rowing machines / bamboo bicycles / treadmills etc. we buy from a trusted network of professional suppliers that offer maintenance services and guarantees. Generally though, by focusing on bodyweight training, this reduces the amount of maintenance the gym will require.
Q. How much should I budget for the equipment in an affiliate gym?
A. We are happy to offer guidance on budget requirements and the various costs involved in setting up an affiliate gym. Please contact us to discuss in more detail.
Q. How do you charge for your services?
We charge for our design time, whether ‘concept design’ (working with a local architect / designer appointed by the affiliate gym owner to deliver the ‘detailed design’) or ‘concept & detailed design’ (meaning you do not need a local architect, just contractors for the fit-out).
Our second deliverable is to source, select and supply the most suitable equipment for the gym once we have understood the local target market, the owner’s vision / background and the size of the space available. Again, this is a time-based fee.
The third deliverable is a 2-day on-site coaches training session where we introduce the Biofit training method in detail and hand over the training manual.
There is a sign-on fee at the start of each agreement as well as an annual affiliate fee that offers access to use of the Biofit name, our scientific research, music playlists, training methodology, class formats, discounts on Biofit equipment and regular updates to the training manual in order to keep classes fresh throughout the year.
Q. How much should I budget for the fit-out of a space?
This is the crucial question of course, and we’re happy to discuss your requirements via phone or email. The good news though is that by doing away with all the expensive machinery and equipment of a normal gym, a Biofit fit-out is comparatively great value, especially when you factor in the added benefits of a space with anti-anxiety, stress-reducing and productivity boosting properties thanks to the careful integration of nature throughout the interiors.
Q. Do you invest in individual Biofit gyms?
A. The short answer is no, our investment has been in two years of research & development to get us to where we are today, including plenty of wrong turns and dead ends. It wasn’t a simple process, mostly because this type of gym hadn’t been created before. The business has been privately funded, meaning we are entirely independent to grow at our own pace. We now offer gym design services, equipment supply and a training method for affiliate gyms with each partner location paying for the fit-out and operational costs themselves, as well as an annual franchise fee that includes use of the Biofit brand name, music playlists, scientific research, discounts on Biofit equipment and regular updates to the method.
Q. Is Biofit a gym or a fitness studio?
We interpret a gym to be a general fitness facility where clients workout largely independently, perhaps with the occasional personal training session; examples of this include most hotel and office gyms. A fitness studio on the other hand is based around coaching, whether one-on-one or in groups. Biofit can flex in either direction according to each affiliate’s requirements. We’ll work with you to come up with the best solution to ensure you end up with a profitable, sustainable business geared for growth.
Q. What kind of settings do you expect to see Biofit gyms in five years from now?
In addition to individual affiliates with a personal training or fitness background who set up urban gyms in retail premises, Biofit can easily fit into a hotel context, corporate office, healthcare centre or residential community thanks to the added psychological wellness benefits of exposure to Vitamin Nature - one of our strongest selling points and something that clients love hearing about.
Q. What are the requirements for opening a Biofit facility?
First and foremost an appreciation of nature and a belief in this approach to getting people moving; no matter whether you have experience running your own gym or not, the important thing is that we share a mutual interest in delivering a unique health & fitness experience aimed at reuniting nature and fitness for 21st century lives. For everything else, from hiring staff to selecting the right music, fitting out the space and choosing the content of each class, we are here to help. You will however need to rent your own space and pay for your own fit-out.
Q. What type of clientele does Biofit appeal to most?
One of our strongest selling points is the wide appeal of the concept, far wider than a classic gym environment with its rows of machinery, poorly chosen music and uninspiring atmosphere. Everybody connects with nature on some level, our equipment is easy to use and our training method is fully scaleable, from absolute beginner all the way up to advanced. This opens the door to attracting those who prefer training outdoors rather than in an underground box for example, or those who simply dislike the atmosphere of most standard gym experiences. Equally, Biofit appeals directly to anyone who participates in outdoor activities by offering them an alternative gym concept that talks their language.
Q. How long will it take to set up and launch a Biofit gym from start to finish?
We recommend factoring in 3-6 months from start to finish, depending on the size of the project and the type of equipment selected for the space; sourcing a carpenter to produce handmade timber kit locally will take longer to deliver than say, a range of Biofit sandbags that are already in production.
Q. Who is Biofit's Founder Matt Aspiotis Morley?
Matt is a qualified fitness instructor with over 20 years of experience as an amateur trail runner, swimmer, surfer, martial artist and yogi. His professional career in hospitality and real estate saw him advising the executive teams of Armani Hotels, Dorchester Collection and One&Only Resorts whilst with Luxury Branding in London and Cape Town. For the past six years he has been Head of Marketing & Brand Director of Porto Montenegro, a mixed-use residential and marina village on the Adriatic Coast where he led a 13-person team. He was a Co-Founder of the Southern Africa Luxury Association in 2010, Founding Editor of the Anglo-Russian lifestyle magazine V V in 2007 and remains a regular commentator on hospitality, food and wellness.