Elliot de Lautour, founder and co-owner of outdoor group Fitness All Together talks about the Covid effect, branching out into the events industry and bringing the business to New Zealand once he moved back from in Sydney.
What does your business do?
Fitness All Together is a mobile outdoor group fitness company, but we do offer a lot more than that. We've created a strong community and we run non-training events with live music and food and run retreats and evening workshops. We're based in Auckland and our core demographic is young professionals and creatives aged between 18 and 38.
We have three pillars of the business, our general public sessions, our corporate portfolio and events, which we have run over the past two years as well. We don't have our own gym space, we hire out spaces or use the outdoors, which is a great business model.
What was the motivation for starting it?
I was living in Bondi Beach and I basically fell in love with the outdoor training culture that they have there, people getting up at 6am, old boys playing touch, people surfing, playing volleyball and swimming, there were probably 20 boot camps going on, and I wanted to basically bring that outdoor training mentality back to New Zealand when I moved home. The business did start in Sydney and I was running it there for just over a year. I had a good corporate portfolio and a consistent group of people I was training there.
When I moved back home, I started the business up as I was studying graphic design. I was thankful that I had a loyal initial group of friends that helped to organically grow the business. That was about two and a half years ago that it started in Auckland at Silo Park.
I saw a gap in the market here and I wanted to jump on it. There was no one really doing anything similar that was targeting a younger age group.
How big is the team?
At the moment there is myself and my shareholder Kevin Pichot, we're the two co-owners. It was originally myself and then I poached Kevin from Les Mills, he's been a group fitness instructor for over 10 years and still runs classes there. Him and I both run the classes and we have one other instructor.
How has Covid-19 impacted the business?
It definitely has affected us a lot. We weren't able to run sessions during alert levels 3 and 4, and even under level 2, with the whole working from home situation, a lot of offices are running at half capacities and businesses can't really justify using their health and wellness budget, which means we have lost some corporates.
We had to pivot and offer live virtual training sessions during that time, which was a good substitute that went really well, and we're still doing that for businesses to help connect their employees. We've trained businesses that run internationally and during one session we had people from Auckland and South Africa and Paris training on Zoom. Business has definitely picked up and we're about to enter into our busiest period.
What are your long term plans?
We definitely feel the need to get a physical space, a studio to cater for the winter months. Ideally we'd like to have our own space and still run the outdoor sessions. We also want it to become an Australasian business. Kevin is French so he wants to take it home to France and we talk about potentially opening in Amsterdam one day.
We might potentially look at a franchise model depending on how quickly we grow. We're also talking about an instructor in Mount Maunganui to launch it there this summer, which would mean bringing on another person full-time. I think our expansion would first be Mount Maunganui and then Sydney because I'm so familiar with the landscape there.
What are you focused on right now?
For the rest of the year we're focusing on events because we had to postpone a few due to Covid-19. We have an event called The Get Down, which we ran at the Greenhouse last year, and had 120 people and three or four bands and DJs playing, and was a huge success so we've locked in another date for that; basically a big party to celebrate the other side of life.
We also have a wellness event called Humming Bones, which is a three-hour workshop, which involve breath-work, yoga, meditation and live music. We also do Fat Fridays where we partner up with our favourite local cafes. We're growing the events side of the business. At the moment, events make up 20-30 per cent of business, but we're wanting to grow that and bring it up to around 50 per cent. We've also just launched our new memberships so we expecting this to be one of our busiest summers yet.
What advice do you give to others who want to start their own business?
There are a lot of challenges that come with running your own business and you need to be resilient and patient. It's not like working a 9-to-5 where you can clock-off and your mind stops there. Knowing when you need to have a break is important too.