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99p fitness

99p Fitness and the battle to make exercise for everybody

Fitness

99p Fitness is the new platform offering ultra-cheap access to exercises, as founder Richard Pinchen works for a new inclusivity in this space

What is 99p Fitness? Well, if ever an initiative does what it says on the tin, it’s this one, a fitness hub tailored to different levels for 99p a month – it just bears further scrutiny because such a price for any kind of fitness programme seems ridiculous. At least, to those of us for who have ever been in the vicinity of commercial gyms, never mind the world of personal trainers and tailored fitness regimes. But actually, for some people, that world may as well be another planet, such is their financial situation, or indeed other barriers to do with who fitness is for in this society.

The company behind 99p Fitness is called Brand Inc, and the man behind that is founder Richard Pinchen, who, along with his colleague Max Zander-Holder, is redefining the very of idea of what fitness should be.

Richard has been a personal trainer for 25 years, beginning as a resident PT at the Central YMCA in Tottenham Court Road in London where he was involved in a positive health programme which was for individuals with HIV and AIDS, and recovery treatment. “I was instantly working with adaptive fitness, working with people needing cardiac rehabilitation, stroke rehabilitation, cancer rehabilitation, amputees, cerebral palsy,” he tells us, “Then over the years I gravitated towards neurodiversity. I have been recently diagnosed severely undiagnosed childhood ADHD, but my work had already gravitate towards helping people with autism, mental health issues, anxiety and depression, ADHD, as well as physical disabilities.”

During lockdown, when we all discovered the joys of working out online at home, Richard found a huge gap in what most of the online personal trainers and gyms were providing. “A lot of well known trainers came into the space and were now doing what had always bothered me about fitness establishments: making fitness very exclusive. It was inaccessible. You had these great fitness programmes showing you how to perform exercises like jumping squats, but with no form of adaptation for the type of clients I was training with, or for the vast majority of the population.”

Seeing this Richard then moved into action: “I spent the next couple of years designing hundreds and hundreds of workouts so I could create an online platform that was inclusive and accessible to everyone.”

“But as I started to produce this, having classes, seeing it work, I start realising that if I truly believe in accessibility and inclusivity then one of the major barriers to people accessing fitness is cost. So I had the ridiculous idea of charging just 99p per person per month.”

The idea stuck and 99p Fitness was born. Not ridiculous at all, actually, but a brave move to follow a set of principles rather than simply go for the cash. It is basically on online training service, with the kind of sections you might find on other sites and apps: strength, cardio, core, meditation. What’s different are the extensive how to’s which show people how to do various exercises, and alternative ways of doing them according to their different abilities.

@brandincfitness

♬ original sound – BRAND INC FITNESS – BRAND INC FITNESS

“If I say let’s do a press up, some people might roll their eyes and think I can’t do one. Well you might not be able to do a one finger press up, but you can do a press up with your knees on the floor, or against a wall, of if somebody’s seated, they can do it against a doorframe. We break down every single exercise so you start at the very basics, and then you can progress up through from beginner to intermediate to advanced – if that’s possible for you.”

The patience, detail, and care when it comes to thinking about the people exercising, is where this fitness programme really comes into its own though: “The beginners exercises are only ever seated. They are only using household items to perform the exercise. And the instructions are very accessible as well – I work with a lot of people with visual impairment so it’s very sensitive to the language used for them. But it might just be for someone who works in the city, who just hasn’t exercised for 30 years, has high blood pressure and needs to exercise but has no idea where to start. The platform builds you up.”

This adaptive philosophy that allows everyone to take part is very refreshing in a social media world of elite fitness. Often it can seem like fitness is only for those refining six packs for their latest post.

“I just think the whole narrative on fitness and who should have access to fitness is just completely wrong,” says Richard, “If you look at the statistics, I think in 2019, only something like 11% of the adult population in England had access to a gym membership. The whole advertising world around fitness is very, very exclusive. It cuts a lot of people out.”

The challenge in today’s fitness world, as far as we’re concerned, is to start bringing in more people to benefit from exercise – physically and mentally – no matter what their physical or social or economic circumstances.

“Often fitness is sold as for getting that elite body rather than fitness is for your good health and well being and community,” says Richard, “On social media, it’s very goal orientated. Every service offers a ripped body, there’s never just a thing of just get active. Or just starting to feel better. A benefit of might be that you may lose some weight, but that shouldn’t be the only reason. You’re performing cardiovascular activity, not just to burn calories, it’s to get a healthy heart and lungs. It often seems fitness is about the results and the aesthetics rather than the long-term benefit.”

@brandincfitness

#ADAPTIVE PRE EXERCISE MOBILITY WORKOUT to enhance movement of the joints. Head to our Instagram for the full details⬅️👀💪🏻…#workout #fitness #goal

♬ original sound – BRAND INC FITNESS

Another issue is not the barrier of money or representation but anxiety around entering a fitness space. Literally walking onto a gym floor or locker room can be daunting.

Richard: “I know for a lot of people with mental health issues, the idea of going into the often toxic masculine space of a gym and doing a workout is a very difficult step. When you’re in a low point, fitness is probably something that you need to do, knowing how beneficial fitness can be, but that that transition to get out and go to that fitness space is tough.

What we do can hopefully act as a stepping stone where people can get their serotonin levels going, get themselves working out, but just in a space where they’re comfortable to learn some of those exercises. Leaning how to do a correct squat in your bedroom, and then when you go to the gym, you know how to do a squat.”

Sport England did an active life survey last year and found that 25.7% of the adult population in England do less than 30 minutes of moderate activity a week. That is a concerning, reflective of tough times in the country and a lack of support for those who might benefit from exercise the most.

99p Fitness is a welcome addition to the ranks of people and organisations who want to change this. As Richard puts it, “We try and just cut down every barrier that’s gone to fitness. If you feel that any other form of mainstream fitness is not for you, I promise there’s a space for you at 99p fitness.”

 

99p Fitness are offering ‘Book of Man’ followers an additional 10% Discount if they Sign Up for a year, that’s just £10.69 for as year’s access by using code ‘BOM99P10’.

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