Entrepreneur and fitness-freak German Gonzalez has launched a gym in Newcastle’s Forth Street offering something a little different to the norm.
His ambition to break into the fitness industry coupled with his desire to be his own boss led to German launching his first business venture with KERN Fitness.
After conducting his initial market research, German realised that a large proportion of people in the UK didn’t exercise simply due to the fact that there wasn’t enough time in the day. This led to the launch of KERN.
He told BQ: “The mission of KERN Fitness UK is to improve the wellbeing of our customers, helping them to exercise and achieve a healthier lifestyle.
“We are trying to do this by combining personal training methods with electro-muscular-stimulation technology.
“These two things create a highly effective and time-saving concept for people without enough time to exercise or people that, for some reason, don’t like gyms. We want to offer them a different option to be more active.
“This concept is adaptable to all kind of fitness levels and our approach is totally flexible; we tailored the programme depending on the fitness requirements and whatever the goal of the customer is: reducing body fat, muscular toning, gaining endurance or even rehabilitation from a previous injury.
“In a nutshell, how it works is that you do an intensive workout for 20 minutes wearing a special vest connected to the EMS device and guided by your personal trainer. This device sends low frequency current to your muscles while you are training. This makes the workout very efficient and very effective: you train large and small muscles groups (almost 300 muscles) at once!”
German looked into the mindset of his potential client base before drafting up his business plan for KERN.
He said: “I was impressed by the statistics showing that around 40% of people in the UK don’t exercise more or don’t exercise at all due to lack of time.
“And thinking about it, I have been in that situation myself. When you are busy with work, family, etc the first thing you do less or quit is exercising: I wanted to try something new and give people an efficient option to exercise without spending too much time.
“I was also inspired by the advantages of the EMS technology and the success that this technology is having around the world.”
As well as seeking professional advice from the TEDCO business support programme, German has also looked to his peers to support him on his business journey so far.
He added: “I’ve got a lot of help from my wife, Cecilia Jimenez, to develop the idea and the business model, very good advice from TEDCO to develop and execute the business plan, help from Carlos Aguilar, the distributor of the EMS technology in Mexico, and of course, the most valuable support from the personal trainers, Carra and Steven, that believe in this concept and makes it happen every day.
“I feel very fortunate of the amount of support I have been getting since the beginning from different people: From my friends that pitch in when this was only an idea all the way through my customers that keep telling us what they do like and what they don’t.”
After drafting up his first business plan, German began applying for funding from a variety of outlets, however it wasn’t as successful as he had initially hoped.
German said: “When you start up a business you face a lot of challenges regularly, but for me the biggest one was finding the funding to start my fitness studio.
“My own savings were not enough to start the business so I applied to three different funding programmes and get rejected from all of them for different reasons.
“The rejections were very difficult to take but I realise that the feedback was very good source of information and I took it to improve my business plan.
“For me every rejection became a valuable source of ideas to make my business plan and its execution better.”
With fitness chains such as xercise4less and PureGym now turning into nationwide chains and expanding at a rapid rate, German hopes his unique concept for KERN will allow him to follow in their footsteps.
He said: “My next big target is to follow our vision and expand this concept into a national chain of fitness studios.”
Speaking about the pro’s and con’s about being a start-up, German said: “For me the best thing of being a start up is that it doesn’t matter if you work 10 or 12 hours almost every day, you always wake up the next day and want to work more.
“Also when a customer tell us he or she is feeling good after one of our workouts. At that moment I feel that we are one step closer of fulfilling our mission!
“The worst thing of a start-up business is that sometimes is a hard and lonely journey, is your idea and you are the only one responsible of making it happen.
“It is also difficult when you think too much about the uncertainty of what could happen in the future.”
Speaking about how the business model differs from other traditional gyms, German sighted several factors which he hopes will help push the business forward.
“We use several factors to create a unique concept that results in a highly effective workout for our customers: A qualified trainer, the best technology, a structure programme, nutritional advice and good recovery mean that they get the very best fitness programme developed to achieve their fitness objectives.
“It is important to mention that we concentrate heavily on the personal training side of our offering to ensure that EMS adds the right kind of value to our customers so they can get fast and perceivable results.”
Going forward, German told us: “In a year’s time I want to see the opening of our second or third fitness studio.”
BQ will continue to follow German’s story with KERN and cover the company’s future successes.
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