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Co-founder Joan Murphy

interviewed by Alex Mann


"Property location is the key to making it easy for people to exercise"

When Pip Black and Joan Murphy set out to create Frame they wanted to create a more positive approach to health and fitness. Now known for their feel-good and fun-filled classes, Frame was created to ensure keeping fit and healthy never feels like a chore.

What have been the main contributors to your brands success?

Frame has been trading now for 7 years and we have recently opened our fourth site in Victoria. There are a number of contributing factors to our success, the main ones being:

  1. We are a genuinely authentic brand. Myself and Pip have worked incredibly hard on creating a business that truly represents our brand values and have built a strong community based around the idea that ‘getting fit shouldn’t be a chore.’
  2. Our business structure allows us to continuously evolve, based on market trends and class performance. We also provide a diverse offering with a huge range of classes catering to a wide range of different people.
  3. Our retention rates are extremely high as customers can change between classes / payment methods dependant on their current mood / situation.

We genuinely want more people to ‘move’ so have ensured that our pricing structure offers price points to a wide range of people within the community. This is different to a lot of other boutique fitness offerings who have a very premium price point, therefore pricing out a large proportion of the community.

At what point did the idea turn from a concept into a reality?

When we found our first property. This meant that the bank could release the money that had been agreed, as the draw down of the loan was based on us finding the right property.  Once we had builders, rent and loan repayments to pay it quickly hit home that this was ‘real’.

You set up with you business partner, how important is to have someone like Pip in the business?

Having a business partner has many pros and Pip and I are very lucky to have each other. Specific benefits are:

  1. Someone to share the highs and lows with.
  2. Someone to bounce ideas off.
  3. Share the workload based on complementary skills – means you can be more involved in the areas you look after. For example it means I can go and look at properties personally knowing someone else is looking after other sides of the business. Property is so key that I like to personally be involved.

Will there be more studios in the future?

We have organically grown over 7 years to reach 4 sites within central London and are looking to continue to grow both within London and outside. We are also working on a number of side projects, for example, you may have seen the second round of our active wear collaboration with Whistles.

Where have your biggest influences come from?

We have always made a point to look to other industries for inspiration. Back in 2007 when we started working on Frame, one of our motivators was that the fitness industry seemed so far behind many others and we saw a real opportunity to bring it up to date. We spent a lot of time looking at the business models of telecommunications and e-commerce businesses, alongside the Oyster card (which our Frame Card wallet payment system is based on). We asked ourselves questions like, “why can you have a pay as you go mobile, but not gym membership?” and “How can you buy products online with really clear and simple UX, but not buy yoga classes?” There didn’t seem to be valid answers to either answer, so we made it our business to make these changes ourselves.

Even today, we are continually looking at other industries, for example we spend a lot of time researching cafes and other service industries to find clever ways of designing spaces and improving customer service.

How important have your properties been to the success of Frame?

Property location is the key to making it easy for people to exercise. Our business is built on the belief that ‘Getting fit shouldn’t be a chore’ which means that properties within easy reach of well-connected transport hubs are key.

The nature of Frame allows us to tailor the offering according to the size and demographic, meaning that we will never become a cookie-cutter brand, but each site will have it’s own personality (within the Frame brand) that will complement an area.

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