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Friday May 11, 2012

Kicking into high gear

DEALING with the stresses of daily affairs can take a toll on one’s life. With health so much a consideration these days, many individuals have memberships in fitness centres or clubs.

Working out has become almost a necessity to deal with the stress and competitiveness of life.

This has led to a wide range of fitness centres offering a variety of activities to cater for people looking for different things in their fitness regimes.

Crazy Monkey Defence (CMD), a private members’ fitness club, is one such centre that offers less-common fitness regimes such as martial arts and classic fitness training such as body weight conditioning and kettlebell training.

Formerly known as KDT Academy (which opened in May 2003) and previously housed in a 600 sq ft shoplot, CMD currently occupies a 3,000 sq ft of a bungalow in Bangsar on Jalan Riong off the busy Jalan Maarof.

CMD Malaysia head coach and programme director Vince Choo said he started learning the CMD programme founded and developed by South African martial arts coach Rodney King in 2006 and has been representing CMD since then.

“CMD’s philosophy is modern martial arts should be more than just about learning to fight.

“Training in martial arts today does not have to be an either or proposition. You can still stay true to martial arts original intentions as a life performance vehicle, while moving with the present, developing effective self-preservation skills.

“CMD is designed for the everyday guy and you don’t have to put on a tough guise or be hyper-competitive to be awesome,” said Choo, whose family used to be in commercial property management.

It all started when Choo’s relative enrolled him at the Chinese Martial Arts Centre based at the Chin Woo Stadium, one of the oldest stadiums in Kuala Lumpur.

Choo left Malaysia for the UK in 1978 at the age of 11 and went to a boarding school, but still pursued his training in martial arts.

“I went to the US to do my business degree in 1993 and while I was there, I taught homeless kids martial arts,” said Choo, who is also a certified Kettlebell Teacher from International Kettlebell and Fitness Federation (IKFF).

In addition to that, Choo is also the senior CMD mentor for trainers in the Australasia region comprising Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand.

“I imported Kettlebells to Malaysia in 2007 and started to train with them till I got IKFF’s Level 2 Kettlebell Teacher and the regional IKFF Level 1 Examiner certification,” said Choo, who also possesses a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, fifth degree black belt in Kissakikai Karate and is the founder, trainer and examiner for FizFit Workouts.

“Whether you want to just learn effective self-preservation skills, get in shape, develop performance skills for sparring or build your mental game, CMD has a solution for you.

“The concept of CMD is it allows the everyday person to benefit from an authentic martial arts experience without the hyper-competitive or ego-driven atmosphere.

“Despite the depth and breadth of the martial arts, the programme is systemised and structured to allow clients to learn the physical skills and translate the lessons learned on the mats to improve their every day life at home, at the office and in society,” said Choo, adding that the programme also helps in managing stress and building confidence instead of just giving it lip service.

Revenue model

On how the company generates revenue, Choo said the bulk of the income comes from membership subscriptions and providing instructional classes.

Apart from the annual membership fee of RM100, which includes one member’s access card and an official CMD rank shirt.

Personal training is also available, which costs from RM80 to RM200 per session. For those who prefer package deals, this is also available at 10 sessions (valid for three months) with the charges dependent on the CMD trainer’s level.

On how much it costs to maintain the centre’s equipment, Choo said CMD’s main costs lie in the floor mats, which cover the entire floor area.

“The initial investment was high due to the unique safety and hygienic properties of the materials used.

“Our other fitness ‘toys’ include power wheels, steel clubs, jump ropes, boxing gloves and punching mitts, which are all purpose-designed for heavy-duty function. In other words, we have low-maintenance equipment, which reduces costs,” he said.

Choo said since CMD moved to a new, larger venue three months ago, last year’s revenue does not factor into its current profit and loss. CMD is targeting to break even within the next 12 months.

Due to the niche service CMD provides, Choo said it is highly specialised and addresses a targeted demographic that it feels is best approached via social-media channels, adding that its advertising and promotions (A&P) budget is around 5% of revenue.

“CMD’s clients are generally between 28 to 38 years old and possess a tertiary education. The majority are entrepreneurs or mid- to high-level management and are mostly Malaysians, although there is a healthy dose of expatriates.

“People who join CMD are interested in personal safety, personal challenges, self actualisation, fitness, weight loss, martial arts and learning a valuable skill while keeping in shape,” said Choo.

On who CMD’s competitors are and the challenges it faces, Choo said, in the Klang Valley alone, there are probably more than six competitors, serving a community within a 5km radius.

“How well they do and what they do are not a competitive threat to me. Rather, I view them synergistically, as there will be certain personality profiles that best suit those environments than my club so I would recommend another facility without hesitation if appropriate.

“I don’t have any formal reciprocal arrangements with the other clubs, but as this industry is small, everyone knows everyone and it is based on a loose verbal agreement.

“One of the main differences between CMD and other clubs and traditional martial arts schools is that we teach our clients all the tactics and strategies using martial arts as the vehicle, but the actual take-home experience would be success and empowerment. Our clients learn boxing, kicking, grappling, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that is geared towards self preservation,” said Choo, adding that clients are happy that they have increased energy, improved self-esteem, a wider social network and enjoy the positive family atmosphere that the club provides.

CMD also offers a kids’ programme that accepts applications for children aged 10 to 17. Choo said the programme offers the opportunity for children to pick up vital skills and the ability to think under pressure in a world that increasingly less safe for children.

On his plans for the next five years, Choo said he hopes to bring the convenience of the CMD Programme to selected communities in the Klang Valley and to use the main club as the model to grow from.

“Certain communities have been earmarked and after the processes have been refined, I hope to realise this goal by 2017,” he added.

Offering a clean, hygienic and safe training environment, CMD is located within a seven-minute walk from the Bangsar LRT station and the popular Bangsar Village shopping centre. Members also enjoy free parking and CCTV security.

All under one roof

At the other end of the spectrum from the boutique operations and of CMD, Jatomi Fitness Club is set to open its doors in Tropicana City Mall, Petaling Jaya by the end of July.

Elaine Jobson, Jatomi’s director, said the club is being in the midst of being set up at a cost of RM5mil. The founders are Mike Balfour, James Balfour and Tony Cowen from the UK.

Mike Balfour, the chairman of Jatomi Fitness Club was previously the founding owner of Fitness First, one of the world’s largest fitness club groups.

Jobson, who has more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, said the 17,000 sq ft club will accommodate a Group Exercise Studio, Mind Body Studio, Spinning Studio, a 30-metre sports track and lounge area for members among others.

She said the Group Exercise Studio can hold 60 members at any one time, while the Mind Body Studio and Spinning Studio has space for 30 in each.

Carrying the tagline “Love the Feeling”, Jobson said Jatomi aims to be a 21st century club, providing “a little more for a lot less’, with members as their focus and ensuring that they have an enjoyable experience.

“We want to make fitness affordable and valuable to everyone and we want to be transparent with our pricing,” said Jobson, adding the fee to join the club would range between RM100 and RM150, while the membership fee for a month would cost from RM130 to RM150.

Asked why the company chose Malaysia as its base, Jobson said the country offered good prospects and growth for businesses.

Apart from the group classes like Body Combat, Body Pump and dance classes, the club will provide Italian designed Technogym equipment with integrated entertainment systems, online nutrition support, luxurious changing rooms with saunas, secure lockers, toiletries for members, members lounge with free refreshments, phone charging points, and Internet access.

“It is all about providing good and efficient service. It is not all about how much money we can make.

“We believe in making our clients happy and this through our services,” said Jobson. Asked about Jatomi’s projected revenue stream, she said that 95% of income was expected to come from memberships fees, while the remaining 5% would be from the joining fees and vending machines.

“We expect to break even in about four months once we have started operations at Tropicana City Mall,” said Jobson, adding that one of the club’s unique selling points is it would be providing rubber wrist bands, which can be utilised to access the club, lockers and wending machines. Other exclusive details will be provided once the gym opens its doors to clients.

“With the wrist band, members will not have the hassle of carrying their locker keys and losing.

“We will also be introducing the Net Promotion Score, an internationally recognised customer service measurement.

“For instance, if a member is unhappy with a particular service, he or she is given the opportunity to rate the service electronically between one and 10.

“The club manager will then call the member within 24 hours to allow for the management to act on the feedback immediately,” said Jobson.

Jobson said the company believes strongly that another way to make members happy is by having happy staff.

“It is important that staff are engaged with the brand. Our fitness coaches are people who love working out and believe in seeing good end results in their clients,” said Jobson, adding that the company plans to open other outlets at The Weld in Jalan Raja Chulan by early August, and Wolo Hotel (a boutique-style hotel still under construction) in Jalan Bukit Bintang by the end of August.

On its plan for the next five years, Jobson said the company intends to move aggresively with its expansion plans across Asia with the opening of seven to 10 clubs in 2012, 20 clubs in 2013 and another 20 clubs in 2014.

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