Inside Flykick The Boutique Kickboxing Studio In Central London

Flykick

The boutique gym industry is showing no signs of slowing down. We spoke with Charlie Kemper the founder and CEO of Flykick, a boutique kickboxing studio just a six-minute walk from Regent's Park. A full-body workout that incorporates strength, stamina, agility and coordination, we hear from Kemper why the fitness market is far from saturated, what makes his brand unique and his ambitious plans for the future.

1. How did Flykick begin and what did it offer that wasn't already on the market at that time?

Flykick was born out of the desire to build a positive fitness brand that encourages fun and laughter while simultaneously delivering an exhilarating workout. As a team, we try not to take ourselves too seriously, and our internal mantra is to aim to be the best part of people’s day. 

Before the opening of Flykick, there were very few premium group-exercise boxing/ kickboxing studios in London. I moved here in late 2015 from New York City, and observed that while premium cycling, bootcamp, and barre studios had crept up everywhere, there just weren’t many experiential boxing/ kickboxing classes to be found.

Boxing and kickboxing as group exercise is a massive category in the United States, believe it or not, much larger than the independent indoor cycling category, and according to Mindbody, it is the most desired workout for 18-45 year olds in 2019. And why is that? Because generally speaking kickboxing is one of the most effective forms of exercise to get your body in shape. And it’s super fun!

2. How has the brand and offering developed since launching?

Before even opening our doors, Ben, Elyse, and I spent a lot of time refining what we wanted out of Flykick and what we wanted our brand to stand for. Starting from the mission to be “the best part of your day”, we have built our brand on three core values: happiness, openness and togetherness. Our business is about having fun, welcoming everyone, and experiencing it all collectively.

Flykick

3. Tell me about designing the class offering?

Our signature class is comprised of three main sections. First, a high-intensity full-body blast, a mixture of body-weight exercises that work your lower body, upper body and core. Then, we take the tempo down a few notches, recover and stretch out your muscles. Slow down, breath and enhance your mobility. And, finally, we put our famous white boxing gloves on and proceed through eight unique and fast-paced bag rounds.

One of the things that troubled us about most group exercise classes out there is the lack of focus on stretching and mobility. By spending eight minutes on it, in the middle of the class, our guests not only are progressing their fitness, but also ensuring they are doing it safely. There are numerous mental health benefits to kickboxing, and for us this long stretch is an added meditative extra.

This summer, we have introduced our second class concept; Flykick Strength. Combining key elements of boxing and kickboxing with strength and conditioning exercises, this new class is high-octane and has been specifically designed to help build power, endurance, agility and stamina.

4. How do you ensure you're always innovating and staying on top of such a fast-moving industry? 

I come from a career in technology, so I’m used to a fast-paced ever-changing environment. Relative to the world of tech, things in retail move pretty slowly. However, where I get excited is by all the possible applications of new technology to improve marketing, customer retention, communications, awareness, etc.  All of this tech is in the background, and shouldn’t be noticed by guests. I like to think the experience that our class offers is timeless, it’s a place where you can set aside your smartphone, turn off your social media, and get lost in the punch-kick combinations.

5. Tell me about timing - is the fitness market in London getting saturated?

In some ways yes, however, in many ways no. Do you think the market for coffee shops is saturated? New coffee shops open every day, and many are a vast improvement over the likes of Costa or Nero, both of which seem to be doing well. Yet, some coffee shops open and don’t do well. Do you think the market for co-working spaces is saturated? It feels like there are a lot of them, but most of the well-run ones continue to grow and expand. And some go out of business. Building a great product is hard, some succeed and some don’t.

Looking at the fitness market specifically, there is a tidal shift in the way people are consuming fitness.  Similar to how retail went from mega stores like John Lewis owning shoppers to niche specialty retailers delivering focused offerings, the fitness category is undergoing a similar transformation. Premium membership gym operators like Equinox and Third Space are thriving, as are budget players like Pure Gym and Gym Group, while mid-market offerings from Fitness First and David Lloyd are struggling in the face of changing consumers.

The market today is not the same as the market tomorrow.  My parents never stepped foot in to a gym.  I grew up going to a traditional gym.  The upcoming generation has different wants and needs, and we are aiming to serve them.

Flykick

6. What is the most exciting thing about leading Flykick?

I wake up every morning happy and proud.  Not only do I get to work in a positive, life-changing industry, but I also get to work with an amazing team of people who also like sharing in the joy of fun fitness. There’s nothing more pleasing that seeing customers come out from a class with ear to ear smiles, and hearing people say that we have changed their lives.

7. What does success for Flykick look like for you?

We aim to open 50 studios across the UK over the next decade and an equal number across Europe and Asia.  This is our plan for success, and it’s unquestionably achievable when looking at my comparables across the pond, the likes of OrangeTheory, Soulcycle, PureBarre, Corepower, Title Boxing, and others, each having achieved a larger scale than this in a similar timeframe. In a decade we would like to be the leading kickboxing-inspired fitness brand in the world. 

 

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Flykick

The boutique gym industry is showing no signs of slowing down. We spoke with Charlie Kemper the founder and CEO of Flykick, a boutique kickboxing studio just a six-minute walk from Regent's Park. A full-body workout that incorporates strength, stamina, agility and coordination, we hear from Kemper why the fitness market is far from saturated, what makes his brand unique and his ambitious plans for the future.

1. How did Flykick begin and what did it offer that wasn't already on the market at that time?

Flykick was born out of the desire to build a positive fitness brand that encourages fun and laughter while simultaneously delivering an exhilarating workout. As a team, we try not to take ourselves too seriously, and our internal mantra is to aim to be the best part of people’s day. 

Before the opening of Flykick, there were very few premium group-exercise boxing/ kickboxing studios in London. I moved here in late 2015 from New York City, and observed that while premium cycling, bootcamp, and barre studios had crept up everywhere, there just weren’t many experiential boxing/ kickboxing classes to be found.

Boxing and kickboxing as group exercise is a massive category in the United States, believe it or not, much larger than the independent indoor cycling category, and according to Mindbody, it is the most desired workout for 18-45 year olds in 2019. And why is that? Because generally speaking kickboxing is one of the most effective forms of exercise to get your body in shape. And it’s super fun!

2. How has the brand and offering developed since launching?

Before even opening our doors, Ben, Elyse, and I spent a lot of time refining what we wanted out of Flykick and what we wanted our brand to stand for. Starting from the mission to be “the best part of your day”, we have built our brand on three core values: happiness, openness and togetherness. Our business is about having fun, welcoming everyone, and experiencing it all collectively.

Flykick

3. Tell me about designing the class offering?

Our signature class is comprised of three main sections. First, a high-intensity full-body blast, a mixture of body-weight exercises that work your lower body, upper body and core. Then, we take the tempo down a few notches, recover and stretch out your muscles. Slow down, breath and enhance your mobility. And, finally, we put our famous white boxing gloves on and proceed through eight unique and fast-paced bag rounds.

One of the things that troubled us about most group exercise classes out there is the lack of focus on stretching and mobility. By spending eight minutes on it, in the middle of the class, our guests not only are progressing their fitness, but also ensuring they are doing it safely. There are numerous mental health benefits to kickboxing, and for us this long stretch is an added meditative extra.

This summer, we have introduced our second class concept; Flykick Strength. Combining key elements of boxing and kickboxing with strength and conditioning exercises, this new class is high-octane and has been specifically designed to help build power, endurance, agility and stamina.

4. How do you ensure you're always innovating and staying on top of such a fast-moving industry? 

I come from a career in technology, so I’m used to a fast-paced ever-changing environment. Relative to the world of tech, things in retail move pretty slowly. However, where I get excited is by all the possible applications of new technology to improve marketing, customer retention, communications, awareness, etc.  All of this tech is in the background, and shouldn’t be noticed by guests. I like to think the experience that our class offers is timeless, it’s a place where you can set aside your smartphone, turn off your social media, and get lost in the punch-kick combinations.

5. Tell me about timing - is the fitness market in London getting saturated?

In some ways yes, however, in many ways no. Do you think the market for coffee shops is saturated? New coffee shops open every day, and many are a vast improvement over the likes of Costa or Nero, both of which seem to be doing well. Yet, some coffee shops open and don’t do well. Do you think the market for co-working spaces is saturated? It feels like there are a lot of them, but most of the well-run ones continue to grow and expand. And some go out of business. Building a great product is hard, some succeed and some don’t.

Looking at the fitness market specifically, there is a tidal shift in the way people are consuming fitness.  Similar to how retail went from mega stores like John Lewis owning shoppers to niche specialty retailers delivering focused offerings, the fitness category is undergoing a similar transformation. Premium membership gym operators like Equinox and Third Space are thriving, as are budget players like Pure Gym and Gym Group, while mid-market offerings from Fitness First and David Lloyd are struggling in the face of changing consumers.

The market today is not the same as the market tomorrow.  My parents never stepped foot in to a gym.  I grew up going to a traditional gym.  The upcoming generation has different wants and needs, and we are aiming to serve them.

Flykick

6. What is the most exciting thing about leading Flykick?

I wake up every morning happy and proud.  Not only do I get to work in a positive, life-changing industry, but I also get to work with an amazing team of people who also like sharing in the joy of fun fitness. There’s nothing more pleasing that seeing customers come out from a class with ear to ear smiles, and hearing people say that we have changed their lives.

7. What does success for Flykick look like for you?

We aim to open 50 studios across the UK over the next decade and an equal number across Europe and Asia.  This is our plan for success, and it’s unquestionably achievable when looking at my comparables across the pond, the likes of OrangeTheory, Soulcycle, PureBarre, Corepower, Title Boxing, and others, each having achieved a larger scale than this in a similar timeframe. In a decade we would like to be the leading kickboxing-inspired fitness brand in the world. 

 

A longtime journalist, I am the former Associate Editor, Print and Digital at Vanity Fair in London and the current London Correspondent for vanityfair.com. I have also

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