Anne established Fison Fitness in 2015 after taking over the popular family-run Community Circuits fitness programme, which provided a fun and friendly way for locals in Herne Hill to get fit. With a willing community of regular clients, the business was ticking over nicely, but Anne was keen to push on and grow, so she brought Joe onboard last year to help. Joe said: “Anne and I grew up around Herne Hill and have been part of the local community for some time. I was working in recruitment but wanted a change in direction, so when the opportunity to work together came up, I jumped at it.”
With its roots in community training programmes, Fison Fitness focuses first and foremost on making fitness fun and accessible, while maintaining an emphasis on working hard and achieving your goals. Its relaxed, welcoming space in a railway arch on Milkwood Road, close to Herne Hill station, is not your typical gym. There is no intimidating equipment, or trendy new machines, simply Anne and her team of expert trainers focusing on helping everyone to reach their fitness goals. Joe said: “We’re not a weights or fitness-based gym. We’re much more the kind of place people who are normally a bit intimidated by the idea of going to a gym are going to feel welcome. We’re very much about supporting our community and offering a safe, friendly space for people looking to start their journey or for regular exercisers who are trying to find a different vibe. Many of our members know each other and have been long-term clients so there’s a friendly and relaxed feel when you work out with us. We want everyone who trains here to go out of the door with a smile on their face and feel good about themselves.”
Fison Fitness offers a range of fitness classes and personal training sessions, including entry-level circuits, yoga and Pilates through to more advanced high intensity interval training for more experienced clients. Its programme includes a regular mother and baby circuits session and classes specially designed for children.
Joe said: “We’re passionate about helping people see that fitness is for everyone. We tailor everything to the individual with an emphasis on feeling positive and celebrating individual achievements. The local area is dominated by schools, so the focus on fun suits us, allowing us to welcome in kids and parents.”
Anne and Joe were ready to throw themselves into a more ambitious phase of growth this year. Joe said: “Our arch is in a really good location and the footfall and types of client we’re attracting have suited us pretty well. We spent the last 12 months establishing new ways of working and changing how some things were done. We identified some challenges we thought we could realistically achieve this year and developed a plan for growing the business. Then Covid-19 hit and knocked us back. We’ve had to put most of our plans for the studio on ice.”
Fision Fitness shut down completely in late March and was only able to reopen on 25 July. Anne, Joe and the team responded quickly, making changes to the business overnight. These included shifting to online classes, which are streamed on Instagram @fisonfitness, and running sessions in Brockwell Park. A host of Covid-safe measures are in place now that the studio has reopened, including temperature checks on arrival, extra cleaning and sanitising, more outdoor classes and smaller class sizes. Joe said: “The past month has been about a slow process of building everything back and making sure we’re offering a space people feel comfortable in. There’s nervousness about going back to the gym, so we’re adapting to offer different approaches to suit different people.
“Our community focus has been a massive positive for us. We’ve had people donating and signing up for memberships throughout and our members have been really supportive. We’ve also been super lucky to have a rent holiday from our landlord, The Arch Company, and access to a small business grant from the council – it was a really smooth and easy process that has helped us to keep the business running.”
As other businesses in the area have also been able to reopen, the team at Fison have been keen to support them too. Joe said: “We know lots of the other business owners in the area and they’ve been lovely and so helpful to speak to. It’s been brilliant to be able to pop in and get sandwiches for lunch from Dough Bakehouse, grab your meat from Dugard and Daughters and pick up some vegetables from Four Seasons, knowing your helping other people in a similar position.”
Now the Fison Fitness team are returning their focus to future growth. Joe said: “We’re confident we’ll get through this difficult period and be ok, but we’ll need to keep our fingers on the pulse and adapt. We want to push on as soon as we can and look to open a second studio, which seems a bit nuts in the current environment. Doing the right things for our clients and offering a safe environment are really important to us. We genuinely care about every individual who trains with us and want to make sure they always leave the studio with a smile on their face.”
The Studio, 280 Milkwood Road, Herne Hill, SE24 0EZ