According to Statista, the fitness market in Singapore is worth US$24 million.
There are also over 235 gyms in Singapore, if this listing is anything to go by.
However, one of the newest entrants to the market still isn’t on the list – Box Office Fitness, a gym with a focus on boxing-inspired group classes.
Catered to the busy Singaporean who doesn’t have the luxury of time to jostle over gym equipment, Box Office Fitness promises an enjoyable, yet productive workout session – all within just 45 minutes.
“It’s so much more than just a workout – it’s SO. MUCH. FUN,” the gym states on their About page.
Scrolling through their Instagram, I also realised that the establishment is pretty new. Checking with its founders, it only opened its doors 2 months ago!
But with so much competition out there fighting for the same market, how is this newbie differentiating itself, and what were the motivations that led to its opening?
I spoke to the founders and found out more.
It All Started With A Love Story
Box Office Fitness was founded by Singaporean couple Nerissa Assudani (28) and Abel Marcus Koh (31) – both of whom met through mutual friends at Zouk.
Giggled Nerissa, “He (Abel) says it was love at first sight!”
A Master’s Degree holder from EMLYON Business School, Nerissa jumped into entrepreneurship right after ditching her student status, while Abel still juggles his full-time job as a trader currently.
Abel has always been active, having started swimming at 4 and playing water polo for the school team during his secondary school and junior college days.
His brush with boxing only came in university, and he “has never looked back since”.
Nerissa, on the other hand, was just like many of us – she found exercising “boring” and “only did it to stay healthy and in shape”.
Inspired By Classes In France And New York
Between 2015 and 2016, Nerissa was studying overseas, and her frequent travels gave her the opportunity to try out boutique gyms around Europe.
This was when she was first introduced to boxing-inspired group fitness classes that she immediately fell in love with.
“It was so effective yet fun at the same time. I also felt empowered each time I walked out after class.”
Exercising no longer felt like a chore but something I looked forward to.
After returning from France, she set out with Abel to find group fitness classes in Singapore that both of them could enjoy together.
However, given that both of them had different preferences (she liked cardio-intensive exercises, he enjoyed strength training), their search led them to a dead end.
Nerissa was suddenly reminded of the boxing-inspired group classes she tried overseas, and realised that “there was nothing like that in Singapore”.
“Something that anyone of any fitness level could be part of, and that both guys and girls enjoyed equally.”
Fuelled by the desire to recreate that experience, the duo travelled to New York and London to try out several of these boxing-inspired classes, and Abel soon became a convert as well.
“We loved that the classes were a mix of HIIT, strength training and cardio and how fun (I keep using the word fun because it really is a lot of fun) they were since they were conducted in studios that felt more like nightclubs!”
This is also the reason why Box Office Fitness is equipped with nightclub-quality lights and sound system.
“We decided to bring the concept back to Singapore and that was how Box Office Fitness was born.”
Singaporeans are really busy, so why not kill two birds with one stone – have a great time with friends and get fit while doing it!
A Project 8 Months In The Making
Their entrepreneurial venture was met with excitement and encouragement by their friends, and Nerissa shares that her parents are “invested in the business as well”.
However, for the first-time entrepreneurs, the process of starting up was ridden with hiccups.
“We faced lots of problems in the renovation stage and had problems with our first contractor. That was pretty stressful and cost us lots of time and money. We had to cut our losses and find a new contractor to finish the job.”
Finding a space was also something that took “quite some time” – 6 months, to be exact.
“We were looking for somewhere in the CBD that was accessible to office folk on weekdays but also not too quiet on weekends.”
Eventually, they settled for a rebuilt conservational shophouse space at North Canal Road.
“I think the spot we found works perfectly for us. We love that [it] has lots of character but is modern, clean, and welcoming.”
The entire process took them 8 months, and they opened their doors on 5 Feb this year.
It was painful but it turned out well in the end!
400 Students In Just 2 Months
Like a majority of newly-established businesses, they focus on social media marketing to draw attention to their brand and amassed over 1,000 followers in just 2 months. They also run promotions and giveaways on Instagram to spread awareness of the brand.
This approach has worked well for them, and they’ve had about 400 students since inception.
“What encourages us the most is that many of them buy class packs and come regularly after their trials end.”
We also already have our regulars that come 3-4 times a week!
Future Plans, And Working As A Couple
As partners in both life and business, I asked Nerissa what’s the best and worst part about working with Abel.
“We work very well together because we have very different strengths so we focus on very different aspects of the business individually,” she admitted.
“The most fun part of working together is that we get all the inside jokes and get to see each other everyday!”
“[However,] the most difficult about it is that we spend a lot of time talking about the business so we rarely talk about anything else, but that’s fine and will probably change with time.”
And as for future plans, Nerissa left us in suspense.
“We have a few things up our sleeves that’ll you’ll find out about soon enough!”
Box Office Fitness
35 North Canal Road, #03-01