Female-only gyms aren’t a new concept to Malaysians.
“For us, it’s not about the competition—it’s about what we can do best for anyone that walks through our doors,” says co-founder Nicholas, or Nick.
But whilst being pioneers in the industry is important to the founders of KOA Fitness, Nicholas Mak and Marie Ng, there is something that goes well beyond that.
According to Nick, the gym was inspired by co-founder Marie’s run-ins with a few intimidating male gymgoers when she was alone.
Curious to find out if there was an all-female gym in Malaysia where she would be more comfortable working out at, both Nick and Marie began their research.
But asides from commercial gyms devoting a small space for women and one or two Zumba classes, they couldn’t find any.
So, in 2017, KOA Fitness was born.
Surprisingly, however, the concept of an all-female gym was relatively new to Malaysians when they had started out.
“Our main challenge is really just educating the masses as to how and why an all-female gym is different from regular gyms,” Nick continued.
“We overcame this by running a number of events, talks and workshops in our first year.”
More Than Just A Gym
Although there has been a fair share of all-female gyms that have popped up since then, Nick and Marie truly believe that KOA goes beyond fitness, and instead creates a safe space for women who want to feel like they are part of a larger community.
“We target any and every woman. There’s a good combination of locals and expats, ranging from high school seniors to golden gals,” continued Nick.
Marie also noted the challenges that Malaysian women go through in trying to find their footing with fitness.
“Women go through multiple different phases in life, from teenage hormones to pre and post-pregnancy, menopause, and more, so it’s important to find a space they’re comfortable in,” she explained.
How this is done? Through the KOA Tribe and KOA Voice, two initiatives taken by Marie and Nick to add a little spice to the community.
“The KOA Tribe wants to introduce all members to our all-female team. This is how everyone gets to know more of our co-founders, coaches, and even existing members,” explained Marie.
On the other hand, Nick elaborated that the KOA Voice was a page curated by their very own team.
Essentially, this is a section that coaches use to dish out tips and advice to the community.
Targeted And Diverse Classes
At the moment, they have around 250 members and a team of 15 coaches.
Nick also mentioned their star-studded clientele that includes our very own Elfira Loy, Lyn Siew, Mira Filzah, and Diana Danielle.
They’ve also managed to snag TV personality and celebrity host Linora Low as one of their Coach Ambassadors.
They have some tough competition, no doubt, from other all-female gyms such as the franchise Curves, who also offer weight loss classes.
However, KOA’s classes are targeted specifically to individual problem areas, instead of adopting a ‘one size fits all’ routine.
You might not want to lose weight, but instead, just build a more defined booty. Or maybe you want a better way to improve flexibility without all that heavy-lifting.
They offer everything from the Booty Pump to a yoga based Gentle Flow and their signature cardio classes.
Prices for 4 classes a month start at RM150. If you’re not ready to commit to a specific class just yet, you can enjoy a basic membership from RM200/month or RM30/walk-in.
Getting Ready After A Sweat Sesh
KOA does away with disgusting gym bathrooms.
Instead, they provide all members with vanity stations where one can shower, prep, and even do one’s makeup before heading out of the gym.
You’ll find hairdryers and straighteners, cotton buds and facial cotton all free for use, and maintained on a daily basis.
“And not to forget great lighting! You know for those post-workout selfies, duh,” Marie added.
Both co-founders ended on a hopeful note for the hopeful growth of KOA, saying, “We want to grow KOA into the brand for women for all things health, fitness and wellness.”
“Our main goal is to reach out to more women, may it be via new branches or even digitally.”
- You can read more about other startup features we’ve written about here.
Featured Image Credit: KOA Fitness