Although it’s only been open for less than a year, BodyLove (BOLO) Inc. has already been spotlighted in top publications such as Flare, Fashion Magazine and Canadian Living. Located in the heart of Toronto, BOLO has disrupted the traditional gym model by creating a unique hybrid space that meets the fitness, self-improvement and lifestyle needs of modern customers. This one-stop shop boasts a multi-functional gym, hot room, café and smoothie bar, salon, and lounge for social and networking events. A typical gym is a place to spend an hour or two. BOLO is a place where people can spend the day.
We reached out to CEO and founder, Caleigh Rykiss, to speak with her about building a customer-centric business, maintaining great customer relationships and leveraging social media.
What inspired you to create a new gym experience for customers? Why did you think that the traditional gym model was ready for disruption?
My inspiration for BOLO came about because of my frustration with the existing wellness facilities in Toronto. As a freelance writer and part-time fitness professional, I was constantly schlepping from place to place trying to get a good workout, a space to sit and answer emails, a place to grab a healthy meal and a place to clean myself up for my next meeting or event. I couldn’t believe how inefficient everything was for urban, wellness-minded hustlers and I decided to create a space where we could get more done and compromise less. I definitely feel like the traditional gym model was ready for disruption – we are complex humans with complex needs and single service-spaces are falling behind.
How did you keep the customer and community in mind when designing BOLO? What was your strategy?
First, I really wanted to create a business where I would want to be a member. I asked myself what classes I wanted to take and when, which instructors I would want, how much I would be willing to pay, what spaces would make me feel safe and supported and more. Using my own consumer habits has been an amazing gauge for me to jump off from. I’ve also been very specific about our team members, our vibe and the way we communicate with our community – we are all about good, safe, supportive vibes which is something that has been integral in creating a family atmosphere. I wanted it to feel like you’re always among friends – even if you don’t know anyone yet. I wanted it to feel like your living room – but a little more polished. I wanted it to feel like a place you never want to leave, and I think we’ve done a good job at executing that.
I would also say that affordable luxury was important to me, specifically making sure that we deliver a high-end experience for a price that people in our target demographic can afford. We have some of the lowest prices in the city and I hope to keep it that way.
How does your gym help to build relationships with customers and involve the surrounding communities?
It sounds trivial, but we really build relationships by being incredibly friendly, approachable and inclusive, which lives out our mission statement and its very powerful. I, as the CEO, am at the studio sometimes 12 hours a day – not because I have to be, but because I love sticking around to say ‘hi’ to our members and personally make sure that they’re well taken care of – even if it’s just a simple, “How was class?” on their way out the door. Human contact is incredibly important and becoming a lost art.
We are hugely focused on community building events. Everything from hosting networking nights for Women in Business, to mental health panels – to fun house party-style soirees, and morning wellness workshops before work – we are big on creating a community vibe that exists outside of the classroom and into life, championing issues close to our hearts.
How do you use social media and other outlets to maintain a customer-centric culture?
Social media is huge for us – in fact I would say it’s one of our most important marketing tools. Those who follow us will notice we utilize Instagram Stories more than any other gym in the city by showcasing bits and pieces from every class we host in a day. This, we hope, will help people feel less intimidated to come try it out by having a better understanding of what our classes are about, what the diversity of our members looks like, and exposing a bit more of our culture and ethos. It’s also an amazing platform to share relevant news, promos, sales and new amenities with our community. With a business that has so many facets – we’ve always got something new to share and it’s a quick, easy and effective way to get updates out to the masses
How do you motivate and empower your staff to take a customer-centric approach to interacting with customers? What does communication with your team look like?
First of all, I think it’s important to hire carefully and specifically. I put less emphasis on relevant work experience and more emphasis on compatible value systems and infectious attitude. This, I hope, will create a team of people who are intrinsically motivated to create a positive work environment and make the business a success.
We also motivate staff by doing semi-regular, friendly internal sales competitions– which helps keep them excited to do their best work and spread the word.
Was it challenging to find insurance for your multi-functional business?
Of all the things that needed to be done, insurance wasn’t the biggest struggle. Our insurance has been good to us.
Check out BOLO Inc.’s official website here.