For years, exercise was seen as a necessary evil and a long-term financial commitment. But Pip Black and Joan Murphy, co-founders of Frame, have told how a change of focus helped them launch a fitness brand that would go on to revolutionise the industry.
‘We [as a society] had this very negative attitude towards fitness,’ says Pip Black in the last podcast in this current series of Piper’s ‘How I Grew My Brand’ interviews with leading entrepreneurs. ‘It was all about exercising because you felt guilty, maybe you’d eaten too much and felt you had to go the gym to punish yourself… We thought there’s got to be a way to make this fitness industry better.’
‘You want to go somewhere you belong,’ says Joan Murphy. ‘A modern-day Cheers – where everyone knows your name.’
In 2009, the pair – who met on a surfing holiday in Cornwall – launched the first Frame studio in Shoreditch with a sole mission to make fitness fun. Today the brand has seven bricks and mortar studios, with 280 instructors teaching more than 35 different classes to tens of thousands of customers.
Responding swiftly to the coronavirus pandemic, it recently launched Frame Online, a platform with a wide range of high-quality workout video classes to keep the nation moving at home. The virtual studio gained 3,000 customers in its first day and is available free to all NHS and frontline workers.
As well as bringing cheer to the industry, Frame also tore up the subscription model that had previously dominated the fitness world. ‘We were looking at other industries and seeing that we can pay-as-we-go for the Tube or our mobile phones,’ Black tells broadcaster Mary Nightingale. So Frame introduced a flexible payment model which has since been adopted by gyms worldwide.
In a lively interview the co-founders also discuss presenting their 62-page business plan to the bank (‘we bored them to death’), the dangers of ‘fitfluencers’ on social media, and the devotion of its community known as ‘Framers’. Black also reveals how she rushed directly from an investment meeting to hospital to have a baby.
Piper launched its ‘How I Grew My Brand’ podcasts in 2018. The third season focuses on challenges faced by co-founders and includes interviews with Mindful Chef’s Giles Humphries and Myles Hopper, Sipsmith’s Fairfax Hall and Sam Galsworthy, Flash Pack’s Radha Vyas and Lee Thompson and Flight Club’s Steve Moore and Paul Barham. The first two seasons have featured interviews with PROPER co-founder Cassandra Stavrou; Loungers co-founder Alex Reilley; Neom Organics’ co-founder Nicola Elliott; Camden Town Brewery founder Jasper Cuppaidge and Deliciously Ella’s Ella Mills. All previous episodes can be streamed on www.piper.co.uk or downloaded on iTunes or SoundCloud.