A boutique, and dare we say "hip," training retailer in the heart of Shoreditch? You'd better believe it . Whatever It Takes is linking with Gymbox to offer members 20% off all products at a pop-up party on Thursday March 3rd, 6-9pm, with drinks and DJs. We talk to founder Dan Williams. "When I found Gymbox I suddenly had the best of both worlds: an amazing, vibrant place to work out in, superb facilities back of house, great equipment but also really high quality functional spaces to train in for CrossFit. I wouldn't train anywhere else now".
Hi Dan. Why call it Whatever It Takes?
Because I've always thought this is a great phrase to live by, whether it's in the gym, on the sports field, in the workplace, or in your personal life. We also think it resonates with our consumer, as this is increasingly the mentality they are taking into their training.
What are your roles in the business partnership?
I'm the original founder and deals with the boring stuff like finance, buying and property, Sam is co-owner and deals with the pretty stuff like merchandising, the look and feel of the store, and our social media and digital content. Julie has worked with us from the start and works on events and marketing and Mackenzie works closely to build our content for our female consumer. We have also just taken on Matthew who is taking charge of logistics as our online sales are going mental, and we are hiring part time staff all the time – apply here!
Sweet. What inspired you to enter into fitness retail?
When I was a kid I wanted to be a professional sportsman, and as I grew into my early twenties I did try and make the grade as a track athlete, but never quite had "Whatever It Takes". However, It was this passion for sport, and my desire to work for myself and in the sports industry, that has driven me on to achieve this ever since. Sam and I actually met each other when I was running, and working in a running specialist retailer in Leeds. He has always shared the same goals as me, so it was a natural partnership.
Describe your brand essence in three words
"Whatever It Takes"
Funny. What gives your store the edge in regard to what you stock?
We are the first specialist training retailer in Europe, so we are the only retailer focusing only on the training category. This has helped us to develop very close support from the major brands (i.e. Nike, Reebok, Under Armour) which in turn leads to us stocking their exclusive training ranges which no other retailers have access to. We also work tirelessly to source emerging training brands from worldwide, and we have distribution rights in place with a number of North American brands.
What is your remit when it comes to buying in stock?
We pride ourselves at being at the forefront of the fitness movement, and therefore having a really in-depth knowledge of exactly what our consumer is looking for. Our consumer is looking for something exclusive, different and cool and our product in take has to meet all of this criteria.
We noticed that alongside the key brands, you also stock more independent brands – is it important to have such a variation?
The smaller brands our hugely important to our selection as they give the trainings ranges from the bigger brands credibility. These smaller brands have a cult following amongst the fitness and training community and they also have some real quality and point of different. Some examples of our exclusive brands are: NoBull and Strike Movement, Heavy Rep Gear and Evolve RX.
The windows and the in-store displays look great, who is the brains behind the retail aesthetic?
Sam is 100% the brains behind this, I'm awful at the visual side of things. He has a real eye for good retail aesthetics and he works very closely and very hard with the brands to create the amazing window campaigns and in store visuals. Our window campaign changes a minimum of every four weeks to keep things fresh and interesting, and we also have a 'brand takeover' area in-store where we work to promote and feature some of our niche brands. This is a cool space and Sam makes it look really special.
You represent the more ‘focussed' end of the fitness spectrum, in regard to training gear. Who is your customer?
Our customer is those looking to do "Whatever It Takes" to achieve their goals. Training is now a sport in its own right – when people are hitting the gym hard they are playing their sport and they need to be catered for across apparel and footwear. This consumer invariably will train at least 4-5 times per week, and it will usually involved some high intensity activity or weightlifting or class based activity, these are our guys!
Is the product in the store also accessible to those just starting out?
Yes it is. The reason it works so well for the 'hardcore' above is that it is so functional, all of our clothing is designed for training. So the clothing is designed with stretching in mind for lifting weights and high intensity training, and the footwear is designed to cater for lateral movements in class environments and also stability for lifting. All of these things are hugely important to those just starting out on their fitness journey too, some of them just don't know it, and we are here to help educate this consumer.
We have had pop-up shops around the city for the past 12 months which have been very successful, but Shoreditch was the obvious choice for us given the lack of sports retailers in the area, and the amount of gyms and consumers into their fitness, such as you guys! It's also very cool, so we think the shop fits in well!
You train at CrossFit City Road at Gymbox Old Street, what is it about Gymbox that makes it unique?
I've been in to CrossFit for the last few years, but I always missed being able to do 'other stuff' in the gym outside class time. I also missed the nice facilities of the bigger gyms. However, what always put me off these places was how dull they were, how poor the equipment was and the lack of knowledge amongst staff. When I found Gymbox I suddenly had the best of both worlds: an amazing, vibrant place to work out in, superb facilities back of house, great equipment but also really high quality functional spaces to train in for CrossFit. I wouldn't train anywhere else now.
Do our members represent a core customer demographic for your store?
Absolutely, generally the Gymbox consumer is a hardcore trainer. You guys hit it hard all week across all classes and the gym floor.