Musician turned gym owner in tune with his customers
A weekend job tempted classical musician Alexander Hurwitz away from his cello and into a career in gym management.
Now the 34-year-old owns The Factory, having bought the gym he worked in a year ago.
He said: “I played the cello and got to a point where I had to make a choice about whether to go professional or not. But the general advice from friends and family was to warn me off – mainly because the money isn’t there.
“I fell into a job working on reception at a private gym and swimming pool behind our house in Finchley, I became a swimming teacher then moved into management for big commercial gyms, including LA Fitness and Virgin Active. I started working for The Factory nine years ago as General Manager – thanks to some inheritance, I was able to buy it when the opportunity came up.
“It’s quite an experience to go from being an employee to owning it. I naively thought it would be easy because I was more-or-less running the place anyway. But the responsibility and financial side has been pretty heavy.”
The Factory, which occupies the first and second floor of a Victorian textile factory, has two full time employees and around 30 freelancers who offer classes and personal training. It’s full of character, with whitewashed brickwork and metal windows.
It’s the latest business to join the Local Buyers Club, offering discounts of 10% off new 6 or 12 month membership plans to cardholders. (Info here)
Alexander told the Local Buyers Club that, in his previous job, he’d grown tired of the corporate environment and the amount of control exerted by Head Office.
He said: “Corporate gyms are profit driven – I could start to feel the budgets being cut and things got into disrepair”, he added.
“The Factory is different – there’s a real sense of community – I made it my mission to have the focus on the enjoyment side of exercise rather than being too trendy – anyone that comes here knows the vibe is relaxed and open.
“I’m not a sporty person – that was never in my background. It bothers me that for so many people gym spaces are incredibly intimidating. It can be daunting not knowing what you’re doing. We’ve created a space where people feel welcome and our membership includes free options to see a trainer every month. It’s another point of contact with someone who can help keep you motivated and help you refine your workout.”
Among the classes offered at The Factory are Pole Dance, Zumba, Aerial Hoop, Yoga, Ballet Fusion and Dance Fusion. The pole dancing classes are so popular there’s always a waiting list – that’s down to considerable national media attention in recent years, the fun factor and the complete workout it offers.
Staff include people who came to The Factory to work out and were so inspired that they quit their jobs to become personal trainers.
In his spare time Alexander is a keen photographer and he plays bass guitar in his band Developers. He used to play in Audiogold, an orchestral-rock band which was signed and released an album.
As for the future? Alex added: “I want to invest more in this gym and I’m always keeping an eye open for another venue.”
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