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Digme Fitness on the success of boutique fitness in London

Digme was born from my passion for physical activity and fitness. Named after Digme beach in Hawaii which is the start line of the Ironman World Championship - explains Geoff Bamber CEO Geoff Bamber. We caught up with him to find out how Digme are pushing the boundaries of boutique fitness, in and beyond the capital.

Our philosophy is to help people make positive change, to be healthier, happier and to achieve their best self.

The centre offers two primary concepts: indoor cycling classes and a HIIT class. In just three years, Digme Fitness has expanded from one boutique studio to five, soon-to-be six following the announcement of their acquisition of Tribeca Studios. With soon-to-be six studios - including one outside London – the focus is on excellence across their concepts and delivery, and the entire customer journey.

Digme Fitness: Brand Building In A Noisy Market

The boutique market is fiercely competitive. Geoff says that cutting through the noise and retaining the authenticity of brand messaging can be a challenge. Digme has succeeded in building brand awareness and customer loyalty through an unwavering approach to marketing, messaging, and communications.
"Boutiques are playing against big brands in the gym space. We are all fighting for mind share. Building a concept in a nascent niche can be difficult," he says - "It could be difficult to communicate nuances,” he explains, “but we have a clear strategy and distil everything down, avoiding complexity. When you are fighting so many digital messages for your customers' attention, it pays to keep things simple. Be patient and persistent."

A significant part of Digme’s acquisition strategy is referrals from loyal advocates. But word-of-mouth won't work unless the foundations of excellence are in place.

Geoff's 5 Lessons From Running A Boutique Fitness Brand

  • The market doesn’t stand still - you’ve got to keep moving forward
  • There is no such thing as perfect - get started and refine as you go along
  • Innovation is important - but never forget to deliver your existing offering really well
  • Do what you already do today - but make it better
  • Improve at the margins - what will add more value for the customer?

Recruiting, Retaining & Rewarding Excellent Trainers at Digme

Digme builds home-grown talent with an internal Instructor Academy. "We prefer to get instructors on board by getting hold of them early in their journey," says Geoff. “This is a better approach than getting into a bidding war for quality talent. By training in-house, we end up with higher quality, better loyalty, and more brand advocacy. This creates a happier team - and that’s really important to us. We are on a journey to scale, and want to become the industry go-to for education and skills.”
Digme offers a large range of classes. Enhancements and new offers are driven by data and consumer feedback. "Our goal is 20+ studios over the next four years," says Geoff. “We've seen what it takes to win in markets outside London. Macro factors are driving the trend towards pay-as-you-go fitness across the UK."

As the boutique fitness matures, it will naturally experience some market consolidation. "The winners will be those brands who use sophistication and scale to offer a superior user experience," says Geoff. "And that will be great for the sector - and for consumers.”

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