Interview with Mr. Lee Mullins, Founder of Workshop Gymnasium
Lee Mullins is the Founder of Workshop Gymnasium, a personal training and lifestyle company located within the Bulgari Hotels in London, Milan, Bali, Beijing, Dubai and Shanghai, with future locations scheduled for Paris, Moscow and Tokyo. Workshop Gymnasium specializes in creating the most bespoke training and lifestyle programs in the world. Lee’s personal training journey began when he graduated with a degree in the Science of Sport and Exercise. With 12 years of experience, and an ever-expanding list of qualifications in fat loss, nutrition, strength training and exercise physiology Lee is one of the most sought-after health professionals in the world. In addition to his work with high-profile clients such as Victoria’s Secret models Adriana Lima and Josephine Skriver, and actors such as Huang Xiaoming, Lee has become a regular contributor to famous magazines and newspapers such as Vogue, Tatler, Grazia, The Telegraph and GQ. SpaChina talked with him about the development of and changes in the global wellness industry.
What are some of the new fitness and wellness trends you have noticed?
In recent years, the global fitness and wellness sector has indeed witnessed some new trends. For example, we are seeing a big rise globally in the popularity of people doing boxing and other styles of mixed martial arts as a way to get in shape, especially among females. There is also a big rise in group training that focuses on functional and resistance training, which I believe are better methods to help improve people’s body composition compared to the more traditional aerobics based group classes.
What are Chinese consumers’ preferences on fitness and wellness? How about their gender and social status?
Chinese consumers are still gravitating towards machine-based exercises, with a bodybuilding approach to the design of their training programs. There is a small group of skilled trainers who are beginning to take more of a movement-based approach to the exercises they are teaching consumers, which I expect to see grow in the coming years.
And, from what I have seen so far, the consumer who is most into fitness and well-being is in the 25 to 40-year-old age bracket. At present, from what I have seen fitness is predominantly loved by males, but we are beginning to see more and more females incorporating fitness and exercise into their lifestyle. The demographic that loves fitness the most is generally individuals who have either studied or traveled overseas a lot, and been exposed or educated to the importance of living an active lifestyle.
Generally, people who have been exercising and active for a few years are the consumers who are attending CrossFit and Yoga classes, but we are beginning to see more and more beginners coming to exercise and starting with these types of classes.
What is your view on fitness professionals and organizations cooperating with spas and hotels?
I believe Workshop is one of the first companies in China to be partnering with hotel spa to the extent that we operate, and it is something I expect to see more and more hotels/spa’s looking to replicate in the future. The cooperation benefits both parties equally and ensures a great customer experience to ensure they continue to return and achieve the results they are expecting to receive.
In what forms do they often cooperate? How can they ensure a win-win situation?
There are a number of ways that fitness professionals and organizations cooperate with hotels/spas. Traditionally hotels/spas would hire a fitness professional to operate full-time from their facility, which benefits both parties as the fitness professional has a facility to offer their services from and the hotel/spa is able to promote the fitness professional as being exclusively available at their location. Hotels/Spas also traditionally work with organizations by having them consult on the design of their facility and/or the programs available at their facilities.
The way Workshop cooperates with our hotel partners is to design the facilities, consult on the membership and programs/packages on offer, recruit staff, provide education to staff and manage and operate the facility on behalf of the hotel/spa. We also provide other wellness and nutrition solutions throughout the hotel/spa to ensure there are many touch points for guests to enhance their health and well-being. This benefits the hotel/spa from a marketing and PR side by offering a unique concept at their location, as well as having an evolving concept to their guests that enables continued PR activity around the offering.
What is the role of fitness equipment in spas, wellness centers and hotels?
The equipment available in spas, wellness centres and hotels are definitely an important component, but it is becoming less and less essential, particularly if a hotel/spa partners with a fitness organization. Traditionally hotels/spas marketing has all been focused on the equipment offering, and unfortunately this approach is limiting as their unique offering is no longer unique when a competitor installs the same equipment. A hotel/spa’s uniqueness should never be based on something that can be replicated by a competitor.
How can fitness services be combined with spa treatments to deliver perfect wellness experiences and results to guests?
Combining fitness services with restorative spa treatments is possibly one of the quickest ways to help guests achieve the results they are looking for. More often than not, the most neglected component of achieving results in wellness is managing your recovery from training and managing stress.
An example of this that we offer clients at Workshop is the combination of a 60-minute training session followed by a 60-minute deep tissue massage or facial stretching session, this combination helps put the client into a restorative state following their training session, whilst also helping to alleviate tightness and aches or pains they may be experiencing. This ensures that when the guest walks away, their last feeling from the experience is a feeling of less pain and rejuvenation, which entices them to want to rebook immediately.
When working as a trainer, how do you gain guests’ trust?
Fortunately for Workshop, we have established a great reputation for safely achieving incredible results for clients whilst creating a memorable experience. Unfortunately, it is common in our industry that guests have had bad experiences in gyms or working with trainers, so it isn’t uncommon that we encounter guests who are sceptical or cautious about trusting what we do. We quickly gain guests’ trust by taking them through our series of assessments. This shows to the guest that we are taking an analytical approach to what the guest is ready for and if there are any potential risk factors that we should be aware of. Because we take the time to assess a client, this automatically builds trust in the process for the client and ensures that it is a completely customised approach to their training, versus a generic program that every guest goes through.
How do you ensure fitness results?
By removing as much of the guess work as possible. We are now at a time where we can find out so much about the body, and can monitor what is going on in the body extremely quickly through the help of technology, making it easier than ever to progress or adapt programs to ensure a client achieves results as quickly and safely as possible.
100% of our guests prefer personalized, customised fitness and wellness experiences over generic, pre-made programs.
As a professional in the fitness sector, how do you ensure your own fitness and wellness in your daily life?
We spend a lot of time educating the trainers who work for us, and more often than not, I’m one of the subjects that our trainers practice teaching exercises on, so my job can be extremely active. Over the last couple of years, I have really got into boxing and yoga as ways of moving and helping with stress relief.
What is your view on the lifestyle of Chinese young people? Any advice for them to keep fit?
They are working hard and improving. Three simple pieces of advice that I would recommend is:
- Find a way of exercising/training that is enjoyable. Unless you’re an athlete, if you’re exercising for a healthy lifestyle, choose a method of training that is enjoyable and not something that feels like a chore.
- Avoid processed foods and drinks as much as possible. Consuming foods and drinks in their natural state that haven’t been heavily processed or deep fried will help ensure you’re getting nutrient rich foods into your diet.
- Find one thing that you enjoy that helps you relax. This may include treatments such as a massage, taking a yoga class or going for a brisk walk, but find one thing you enjoy that relaxes you and build this into your weekly routine.