Inside London’s Latest Cult Fitness Studio: Rathbone Boxing Club

Rathbone Boxing Club

Having spent her career in the City, Manya Klempner was looking for a change. Her idea – to create the “Ocado of fitness”. Working as an emerging markets derivatives banker, her schedule was relentless, both the office hours and the international travel. It meant she rarely found time to visit the gym. Klempner wanted to make fitness more accessible and realistic for modern women and men. Earlier this year, she opened the Rathbone Boxing Club in Fitzrovia, a space that combines the traditional grit and graft of a boxing gym with the comforts of a boutique studio.  This is not boxercise or boxing “inspired”; it is real boxing. The model is pay-as-you-go with no joining fees and no monthly dues. We spoke with Manya Klempner about how she created a studio offering world-class training for anyone and everyone who walks though the doors.

1. How did Rathbone Boxing Club begin and what did it offer that wasn’t already on the market at that time?
As a recreational boxer, I found that there were two types of boxing club available – the traditional, spit-and-sawdust gym and the boutique studio. But there was nothing that had the best of both worlds. I wanted the authenticity and a culture of the traditional, yet in a convenient location, clean and with the type of customer service you get at the boutique studios. It didn’t exist. After realising that more and more people were at the same crossroads, I decided it was time to fill the gap in the market.
Rathbone Boxing Club is a traditional boxing gym full of character and excellent training, yet with a few of the comforts people have grown accustomed to, such as great customer service, an online booking platform, clean showers, towel services, digital lockers and credit card payments. 
2. What was the competition – amongst boxing clubs and studios in London like before opening?
There were boxercise studios; there were spit-and-sawdust boxing gyms; there were traditional big-box membership gyms – in short, there is no competition really to what we are currently doing. We’ve taken the best from what already exists in the boutique world and the boxing world, and it’s this combination that is proving to be unique. Without a doubt, we’re filling a gap… That’s what our clients are saying too. 
Manya Klempner, founder of Rathbone Boxing Club

Manya Klempner, founder of Rathbone Boxing Club

RATHBONE BOXING CLUB

3. Tell me about the design of the studio? Who is behind it? What were the influences?
As a Marylebone resident, I was familiar with some of the work the architects at Box 9 Design had done in the past, namely Riding House Café. I really liked the way the restaurant felt comfortable and lived-in, like it had been around for ages, but that it didn’t feel dated. Timeless in a way. 
I reached out to Lou Davies at Box 9 Design directly. She and her business partner Caroline Hunter have such an amazing eye for texture and detail. I knew from the first moment that they understood the vision in my head, even though I struggled to articulate it properly. When they presented the first set of mood boards, I nearly cried from joy. They had absolutely nailed it!
Lou Davies: “The brief was to create a design-led but genuine boxing gym based on authentic East End gyms like Repton, but appealing to everyone, serious boxers and people new to the sport. We created a warm space with a nod to the old municipal panelled halls. Inviting, unintimidating but serious about its game.”
Reception at the Rathbone Boxing Club

Reception at the Rathbone Boxing Club

RATHBONE BOXING CLUB

4. How will you ensure you’re always innovating and staying on top of such a fast-moving industry? 
Well, that’s the thing. That’s not our MO. We’re not a concept. We’re a boxing gym. We’ve just modernised the customer experience, but we will always deliver on authentic training, which has been around for ages. Bringing in one of the world’s most-recognised trainers Adam Booth as our head of boxing means that we’re always going to be one step ahead in terms of our training programmes. Exposing this world-class-boxing expertise to our ever-growing community of boxers is what makes us different.
5. Tell me about timing – why open in London now?
Boxing has never been more popular. It has moved up the socioeconomic curve, but the infrastructure hasn’t kept up… until now. People are coming in saying, “I’ve been waiting for you.” It’s never been a better time to learn how to box. Our community tends to tire of the same old fitness classes and are looking for something with a little more purpose. They want to learn new skills and develop as people, whilst staying fit and healthy. Boxing is truly unique in that way. Whatever level you are, men, women and kids – we all want to be stronger inside and out.
Gym equipment

Gym equipment

RATHBONE BOXING CLUB

6. What is the most exciting thing about opening Rathbone Boxing Club?
Seeing it all come to life – from dreams to reality. I’ve fought hard for this to all happen and got knocked down a fair few times. It’s been a real personal journey, so when I hear people say they love it, it gives me and the whole team a feeling of real validation and great pride. 
7. What’s changing in the fitness and wellness industry that is exciting you?
Staying fit and healthy has become a lifestyle, not just an activity. Furthermore, we’re seeing people enticed by the prospect of learning a new skill. They like the challenge; they like having a goal to work towards. It’s less about aesthetics these days. It’s about having a real sense of purpose, and boxing delivers that in punches (sorry).
8. What is the best thing someone has told you after a class?
“Thank you for opening this gym. It’s changed my life.” – Anika 
The interiors at Rathbone Boxing Club

The interiors at Rathbone Boxing Club

RATHBONE BOXING CLUB

9. Tell me about designing the class offering?
Adam Booth our head of boxing, Greg White our head coach, and I worked together tirelessly to develop the selection of classes that reflected Adam’s purist training methodology and philosophy, yet that was still commercially viable and that had the end-customer experience in mind as a priority. The aim is to perfectly blend Adam and Greg’s expertise and knowledge with everyone’s ambitions – from professional fighters to day-one beginners. We’ll always keep tweaking it as we learn more.
10. What does success for the boxing club look like?
Familiar faces wearing big smiles. This is about growing a huge community of boxers of all levels who want to  improve themselves. If we can help them on their journeys to health and happiness, then we all win.
Rathbone Boxing Club

Rathbone Boxing Club

RATHBONE BOXING CLUB

[“source=forbes”]