Burning the fat
Checks out four of Lebanon’s top fitness centers
The commercial fitness industry in Lebanon is witnessing a growth both in the number of gyms and in the variety of fitness options inspired by global trends. Executive profiled four different gyms to learn more about their unique business strategies and their take on the Lebanese market.
180 DEGREES FITNESS AND SPA
Spread over 4,000 meter squares is Ashour Holding’s first venture into the health and fitness industry, following his other hospitality projects such as the Lancaster hotels and the restaurants in Verdun.
180 Degrees, which opened almost a year ago, is located on Unesco Street towards the beginning of the Jnah highway and is housed in the three floor underground warehouse of Ashour Holding’s Park Tower Building. According to Samar Hamdan, the project’s director, a fitness and spa center was one of the few concepts that would be successful in a such large underground space.
In addition to the gym itself, which has 18 cardiovascular machines, around 34 strength training ones, an indoor pool and two squash courts, the outlet also includes a health food cafeteria, a clothing store and a beauty and massage spa. “We want people to come to our center and be able to spend the day,” explains Hamdan.
Hamdan explains that they use 180 Degrees Fitness and Spa’s large space to its full advantage and have five studios for classes with plans to open a new studio in their garage that would have a capacity of 80 clients per class. Because of the number of studios, 180 Degrees is able to offer a variety of classes at the same time, often having four classes running simultaneously. “We offer Les Mills, Radical Fitness, Freestyle and yoga classes so everyone can find a class that suits them,” explains Hamadan.
Hamdan does not feel that having a large number of members in one class would deter from the experience and says that it is up to the trainer to make sure all members are doing the moves correctly. Because of the high energy classes offered and the vibrant decor, Hamdan says the gym attracts a lot of students from the neighbouring universities such as LAU and AUB. Membership fees vary between corporate, students, annual cash payment and semi annual payment but the average is $125 per month paid over a full year.
Hamdan says a lot of their members sign up for personal training although the instructors on the floor monitor all clients regardless of whether they took PT sessions or not, and change their programs on a bimonthly basis as they develop strength. “Clients still sign up for personal training because they see better and faster results, sometimes in only three months,” says Hamadan.
When they first opened the gym, Hamdan says the main challenge was promoting their name amidst the competition in the area. “We were able to distinguish ourselves with our consistent high quality service,” explains Hamadan.
Today, 180 Degrees has around a 1,000 members with plans to continue growing.
Just off the Rabieh highway is a physiotherapy and sports boutique center called Evolve which opened in 2012.
Its owner, Elias Azar, is a physiotherapist. After earning a Bachelor’s in Biology, Azar had hoped to become a chiropractor but was forced to change plans when the July 2006 war prevented him from continuing his education abroad.
Instead, Azar chose to major in physiotherapy at Lebanon’s Antonine University which had just launched the course in English. Alongside his studies, Azar, who had always practiced a wide variety of sports, was working part time as a trainer at one of the neighborhood gyms. “I was applying what I was learning at university; the late stage of physiotherapy is the strengthening and proprioceptive phase, or the early stage of sports,” explains Azar.
As Azar learnt more about the relationship between physiotherapy and working out, he began to relate his knowledge to his clients. Word of mouth from satisfied clients helped Azar expand his list of gym clients who were recovering from injury. “I started using the gym to strengthen
“CLIENTS STILL SIGN UP FOR PERSONAL TRAINING BECAUSE THEY SEE BETTER AND FASTER RESULTS, SOMETIMES IN ONLY