Spartans Boxing Club maintains deep community roots even as it expands

The Spartans Boxing Club community. (PHOTO: Spartans Boxing Club)
The Spartans Boxing Club community. (PHOTO: Spartans Boxing Club)

SINGAPORE — While some fitness gym franchises project glamorous images – replete with state-of-the-art equipment, top-end instructors and prime locations – Spartans Boxing Club chooses to go the opposite direction.

Community spirit is the key philosophy for the boxing gym chain, ever since it was founded in 2015 by entrepreneur Naz Musa in Joo Chiat. As its current managing director Russell Harrison told Yahoo News Singapore recently, Spartans wants to take away the intimidating atmosphere of boxing gyms, and offer inclusiveness for anyone who walks through its doors.

“We have a structured approach in building a close-knit community,” the 39-year-old said. “The first layer is to have a comfortable, friendly atmosphere, so that members feel at home at our gyms. They may come here for boxing, but they’ll stay for the community.

“The second tier is to tie in with other businesses around our gyms. We will task ourselves to reach out and frequent the local community, establish good relationships with them and invite them to visit our gyms. We’ve also run youth outreach programmes for at-risk kids, and some have eventually started working for us or competing in boxing tournaments under us.

“The third layer is to support the Singapore grassroots boxing scene. We’d make sure we send our fighters to local boxing events to help grown the national scene.”

Steady expansion of franchise

Such a philosophy has blended in well with Spartans’ humble, uncomplicated boxing gyms, which project a gritty atmosphere, even as it offers classes for a wide range of customers – men, women, kids, even those with cerebral palsy conditions.

The gym’s ability to attract and retain its clients has led to steady expansion. A second branch in Balestier opened in August 2018, followed by a third at Downtown East in January. And on Saturday (8 February), Spartans will officially open its fourth Singapore branch in Serangoon Gardens.

The Downtown East branch of the Spartans Boxing Club, which opened in October 2019. (PHOTO: Spartans Boxing Club)
The Downtown East branch of the Spartans Boxing Club, which opened in January. (PHOTO: Spartans Boxing Club)

Harrison plans to open two more Spartans branches in Singapore by this year, before it launches an ambitious expansion in the next two years to other countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia and Australia.

Franchise business model, coaching accreditation programme

To ensure that the gym’s philosophy and methodology is consistent throughout its branches, Spartans launched its franchise business model and coaching accreditation programme last year.

“I think having a franchise business model will help budding entrepreneurs who want to take the plunge into the fitness business but don’t want to take the full risk. With our scalable model, we take a lot of their guesswork out of the equation,” Harrison said.

“As of the coaching accreditation programme, it comes to having some sort of consistent quality and standard for coaches who want to teach fitness boxing. We’re opening this programme to the public, so personal fitness trainers who want to teach boxing the right way can receive proper guidelines to their teaching methods.”

Community in gym’s DNA

With its expertise in boxing training and strong community ties, Spartans has also set up its athletes management arm to groom budding professional fighters for regional and international competitions. It already has established names such as Muhamad Ridhwan and Alexandrew David as well as several top amateur champions under its wing.

Despite its expansion ambitions, Harrison insists that Spartans will never forgo its community roots.

“Being part of the community is in the DNA of boxing gyms all over the world,” he said. “Champions like Mike Tyson came straight from the streets and into the boxing gyms because they felt that they belonged in this environment.

“And that’s what we want to do for all our branches – whether you’re a blue-collar worker, a white-collar worker, a student or with no job, once you’re in our community, we are simply a bunch of people who share a passion in boxing.”

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