The CEO of Third Space on luxercise, good design and our changing relationship with fitness

Luxury fitness is big business. We sat down with Colin Waggett to get the inside track on where the industry is heading

Want to luxe up your HIIT? Well, now’s the time. The health industry is going from strength to strength, hitting a market value of £4.9 billion last year, according to the State of the UK Fitness Industry Report. In particular, the luxury fitness sector is thriving with names like Third Space, Soho Fitness Labs and KX providing elevated spaces for training in the capital. Third Space alone is investing £50 million in its new City of London club over the next five years, and is aiming to open a new space every year from 2018.

To explore what’s powering this growing demand for ‘luxercise’, we sat down with Third Space’s CEO, Colin Waggett. The former CEO of Fitness First UK and founder of cycling boutique Psycle, it seems that Waggett has the inside track on the growing trend for luxury gyms.

What makes Third Space different?

‘Firstly, we’re clubs, not gyms. To me it’s about being part of something. It’s one thing to have good facilities to use, and another to feel a personal sense of identification with a place. Our customers have a high performance lifestyle. They’re busy, important people, but fitness, health and wellbeing is an essential part of their life. So Third Space has a broad offering and expertise, including personal training, group fitness classes, a health bar, deep-tissue massages and a spa. It all emanates from the idea that our clubs are the third space in your life, after home and work.’

Why is design important in creating a luxury experience?

‘We work with different designers for all our locations so each of our clubs feel unique and original. I don’t want them to feel manufactured or homogenous. By working with different designers we keep the ideas fresh. And as well as creating a functional space, great design also enhances the members’ club environment we want to build, too.’

What makes your newest City club special?

‘Our aim was to bring a bit of glamour to a very traditional part of the City. So we’re bringing 21st century design, style and technology to that part of London. The more obvious things include a studio where you can train at an altitude of 3000m above sea level, and our hot yoga studio lit by infrared panels, which have health benefits associated with good circulation and flexibility. And then there’s subtler things like how we’ve designed our spaces around our bespoke programming. Whether you’re in the combat area, HIIT area, the performance cycling zone or the rig zone, it’s all designed so you can train like an athlete.’

Will the demand for luxury gyms continue to grow?

‘Our mantra is to continue to get bigger and better. We’re investing in new clubs and also reprogramming and repurposing spaces in our existing clubs. We start building another club in Islington soon, which will be bigger and also feature a kids’ club, where kids will be able to swim and do martial arts. Then in the Canary Wharf club we’ve got a 3,000 square foot space we’re converting into the largest athletics zone of its kind in Europe. We’re also adding a programme to our schedule called Exhale, which focuses on overall holistic wellness, and there are sleep pods going into our club in Soho.’

Is the way people use gyms changing?

‘Without a doubt. Even the times of day people are using the clubs: evenings, Friday nights, weekends. Nowadays, fitness is an important part of people’s leisure time, and social time. So the way people see their clubs and the role of fitness in their lives is absolutely changing. All of our clubs have a food and lounge offering, as well as areas to sit and work with USB plugs and WIFI, which is essential for the members’ club experience. It fits with how people live their lives now. They’re always on. So you can be in our clubs in work mode, or you can be chilling out with your friends after your class. Both are important.’