Jake Wright is a Director of Voyage Fitness Health Clubs in Australia. He has been working in the fitness industry for 17 years, working for CFM Australia, UK and America and opening his first club in Australia in 2008. Jake is currently the owner operator of 5 Voyage fitness clubs in Victoria Australia.
In his spare time he loves spending time with his family, having a young family, 5 and 7 y/o boys, they love anything outdoors, fishing, camping, bike riding and surfing is a passion of his. It's also a great escape from his phone/work.
Jake, you own 5 gyms in one of the hardest hit places in the world with lock-downs (Victoria, Australia). This must have been tough. How has this affected your businesses?
Over the past 20 months my clubs have been closed for 350 days, on 7 different occasions having to open and close. Most occasions closing with the whole state of Victoria having 10 cases. Most of our towns had not seen a case in 6 months and were forced to close. This has been very testing on the fitness industry and sent many business to close. Our clubs have come through the other side stronger! I was adamant at the start we had to be very active on social media. This was our only communication to our members and our community giving free content to live workouts, diet advise, cooking tips, kids sport ideas and loads of silly videos.
The closure gave us the opportunity to look at the club aesthetically and see what we can improve on, with all my clubs doing some sort of renovation as much as a new paint job if required.
Financially we came out of this well. I was very active early on with all landlords and made them aware of what was to come. The government took care of all our staff with the Job Keeper wage. All of my clubs are currently at the highest membership base which breeds confidence in this industry’s future. There is plenty of catch up financially but this doesn’t phase me in the slightest.
Australia seems to be at the cutting edge when it comes to the newest fitness trends etc. Where do you think the industry is headed in the next 5 years?
Wearable devices E.g. MYZONE. This has been a lifesaver. It has brought the community together from all fitness levels. Like social media/Facebook-Instagram everyone has to show the world what or how hard they worked. This tool is phenomenal for this. With the new MZ-Remote this has enabled us to keep our retention at its highest for those who legitimately can’t find time to get down to classes every day.
How have you kept yourself and your staff motivated over the lock downs?
In Victoria with the (Job keeper) government advised if staff could help on site or off site to do so. The majority of staff helped with renovations which honestly brought the team closer. I believe this is noticeable now we are operating as a very strong unit. We made many funny lip-sink videos and silly staff challenges which gave our members many laughs and kept us engaged with them during a tough time.