Subscribe to our podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Soundcloud or Deezer:
Corona hits the fitness industry hard, but in the midst of the crisis something new is emerging: Jo Braun trusts in her Hero Mindset and continues to focus on growth despite Corona. She is Urban Heroes founder, thoroughbred entrepreneur and an absolute power woman - in the enomyc Podcast, she talks to us about her founding phase, how she successfully brought the concept of HIIT training to Germany, and how she was one of the first to establish the term "Boutique Fitness" in Germany.
enomyc has accompanied the Hamburg-based start-up for almost four years: How did our urban heroes successfully survive the lockdown? How do they deal with the hygiene regulations? Why is now the time for a new hub in Frankfurt? What is the Urban Heroes secret of success, and what can we learn from it?
Jo, you as Urban Heros founder - Do you think about business while training or do you switch off completely?
That's a very good question: I have to admit that I always keep business in mind during training. Even with the HIIT in our Red Zone, I have to pull myself together not to run to the gym manager in the middle of the session to discuss new ideas or to optimize something. In other gyms, I automatically pay attention to how many trainers are on site, how the changes between sessions take place, how good the hygiene concept is - it's like an inner voice, I can't turn it off.
The concept of Urban Heroes is very unique. What is special about it, what makes the concept so special?
Uran Heroes is a fitness boutique and therefore completely different from a classic gym in Germany. We call ourselves "Antigym": The concept offers 5, 10 or 20 tickets and does without rigid memberships. Our customers train exactly when they want to and not because they are bound to a contract of 12 or 24 months. For Urban Heroes this means always providing the best trainers, challenging sessions and perfect service. That's why the training includes towels, shower bath, shampoo and a shake - everything is there to make our clients feel comfortable and want to come back again. Fitness boutiques are therefore extremely customer-oriented. Another special feature is the effectiveness of the training. You can burn up to 1000 calories per session with us. We create an atmosphere in which you move out of your comfort zone. With music, through super motivating trainers and the combination of endurance and strength training. And we pay a lot of attention to design at Urban Heroes: Our new studio in Frankfurt looks almost like a boutique hotel and received a design award for its unique atmosphere.
What makes the training of your coaches so special - how do they trigger your customers to top performance during training?
Like classic fitness studios, we invest in the equipment, of course, but we invest far more in our trainers. We work with trainers who are not only talented but also very enthusiastic. These are mostly personal trainers, to whom we teach our concept with a focus on endurance and strength. In our trainings we combine treadmills with HIT Benches and thus cardiovascular training with targeted strength training. In addition to their know-how and experience, our trainers are often DJs and very passionate about pushing other people to their limits. So they are multitaskers who motivate to the maximum.
The concept of Urban Heroes is very sharply tailored - who are you addressing? Who is your target group?
Our clients like challenges. They appreciate the spirit of the training, which they use to push the maximum out of themselves. They want to be motivated and appreciate our premium service - After the sport, they go to their next appointment without a bulky sports bag full of wet towels. Our core target group is between the late 20s and mid 50s - business people, consultants or bankers, but basically everyone from Every Walk of Life, so to speak. What our customers have in common is a special spirit, which they push themselves or go out of their comfort zone. That literally welds together!
That's right, I can feel that when I enter your hub! This energy, which immediately draws you out of your everyday life or stress into this special experience. Where did your motivation for Urban Heroes come from? What gave you the idea?
I am a passionate sportswoman and was active in competitive gymnastics in my youth. So I learned early on to channel my hyperactive nature and my energy in a targeted way. The training was very demanding. I always had to get out of my comfort zone, which at the same time motivated me to the maximum and gave me a lot of self-confidence in dealing with myself and my body. I am now profiting from this as an entrepreneur. When I started working, however, I was frustrated at first - everyone went to a gym to compensate, so I did too. I was relaxed in the sauna, but on the stepper I was itching half-motivatedly. I didn't feel fitter or maximally well. So I preferred to spend my sparse free time with friends. By chance, I came across completely different fitness concepts in the USA and England and was thrilled. The market feels five to six years ahead of us. I sensed the exhilarating experience and was motivated to create a similar world of experience here for Germany that is more in keeping with our zeitgeist. After I had analyzed and tested countless concepts, Urban Heroes developed from it.
As a founder, do you have any advice for potential female entrepreneurs who are about to take this step?
In general, the courage to found! It is of course a very challenging journey, but it is worth it. At least from my experience, I can recommend to have more confidence. I think we women still often tend to doubt our abilities. We may even prefer to rely on a strong man at our side. This is not necessary, because our strength comes from within. We just have to trust ourselves.
Why did you, as the founder of a start-up, decide to focus on professional consulting services?
Even when founding a company, you go through different phases. In the beginning we were enthusiastic and surfed like on a wave. With a lot of passion but also naivety. I didn't come from the fitness industry and with the opening of the first fitness boutique here in Hamburg I realized that I needed support in terms of entrepreneurship and business management. Against this background, we got to know each other almost four years ago. That was a great gain for me at every stage. From the initial analysis, defining our USPs and clear KPIs - it quickly became clear what we needed to optimize in the areas of sales and finance, but also in human resources management and strategy. How do I train my team, work with KPIs and how do I build the investor report? In which regularity? How do I design a controlling tool that suits us and is maintained by the employees? What about Corona and our planned expansion? How much can each expansion cost? How fast can we grow at all? - You are essential as sparring partners! Above all, I still value my personal mentoring with you, Julia, to this day.
Thank you very much for your kind words. Especially with our focus on restructuring, it gives us a lot of pleasure to see how an idea and a tender beginning have developed into a successful, profitable business and thus a strong brand. Guided by an entrepreneur who has outgrown herself several times during this time.
The Corona pandemic is a special challenge for Urban Heroes as well as for the entire fitness industry - How are you doing with Corona and how have you experienced the last months as an entrepreneur?
Especially the lockdown was a shock for all of us. My team reacted incredibly well. One day before the lockdown we decided to close. Because in our industry, the health of our customers is the most important thing to us. We were among the first to offer a live stream. Since we were very active on social media from the very beginning, we had a big advantage. And that was the only way to stay in touch with our customers, to encourage them. We made a conscious decision to offer our sessions online free of charge. Everyone was in a kind of shock and full of uncertainty. Our training sessions were intended to motivate our customers to stay on the ball and show that we are still there for them. But the comments of our participants on Instagram, during the live sessions, also gave our team and me a lot of positive energy and strength. We are very grateful for that!
What do your customers currently perceive in terms of hygiene measures when training in the studio?
We intensively dealt with different possibilities. When entering the studio, wearing a mouth guard and disinfecting the hands are mandatory, as they are everywhere. In general, disinfection materials are present on every corner. We have doubled the cleaning measures in the entire studio, but have greatly reduced the number of training areas to ensure a safe distance in the Red Zone in the training room. In addition, we have once again invested heavily in equipment that disinfects the air in the training room, for example, as in an operating room. This is very important to us, because customers must trust our hygiene concept and be able to rely on us.
You were actually in the middle of expansion when Corona came. Where did you find the courage to open another location in the middle of the lockdown?
I always like to see crises as opportunities. That's why we decided to use the time to prepare the Frankfurt hub at most and ultimately open it faster than planned. People were looking for motivation in sports during the lockdown. So it was clear to us that our customers need us more than ever. Why do we basically go out on weekends? Because during the week we always slip into some kind of role and function. We want to let off a little steam, reduce stress, take a deep breath. Since Corona we rarely get the chance to do that, except in sports. And with our new Fitness Boutique in Frankfurt, we're giving you another opportunity to do so. In healthy form. A little bit of fitness meets Berghain - this way of training and what the training does for us will also be in demand after Corona - or even more so after Corona.
What would you like to share with us in conclusion?
Clearly: All those who want to be pushed out of their comfort zone with really cool beats and motivating trainers to burn up to 1000 calories in one session - come to us!
Are you a founder heart or are you in the middle of a change process? Then enomyc is the strong partner at your side and supports you with a lot of experience and motivation. We wish our urban heroes continued success. Many thanks for the interview, Jo Braun!
Subscribe to our podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Soundcloud or Deezer: