We visited the much anticipated, newly launched Optimus Gym in Sussex to find out how gyms are being redefined. Already attracting a mixed crowd of women and men, from those starting on their fitness journey to serious athletes, Optimus is the kind of gym we’d like to see expanding UK wide.
Optimus is the brainchild of medal winning Judo competitor Ross Elliott and well known fitness guru Mika Mash. As well as all the equipment you’d expect (and a lot more), the gym features a unique dedicated mat space which is the home of Club Judoka, a judo dojo running classes for all ages and abilities. The mat space doubles as a spacious class area for everything from bootcamps to gentle cardio workouts. Some nice lighting effects, and the unique edition of a proper DJ booth means that the gym can on occasion become a fun social space where members can take their headphones off and enjoy the vibes. After spending time in the gym it was clear to see that both members and staff are also so friendly and welcoming, that training in Optimus was such a positive experience.
We visited Optimus and talked to the owners about their vision, the gym, and their plans for the future.
What inspired you to set up the gym? What’s your backstory?
The inspiration behind Optimus was to create something that was outside of the normal gym mould. We have trained in many gyms that feature different equipment whether its cardio, weights or functional equipment however normally the experience was similar. Coupled with the fact that finding a space to practice martial arts can be difficult, normally church/school halls with few facilities and little atmosphere. After a great workout one summer’s day on the beach the idea of creating a gym with a unique feeling was born.
Mika has been a personal trainer in the area for a number of years helping many clients achieve their goals, one of those clients was Ross who was training for a big judo competition, after building a successful training partnership the pair began to pursue the dream of setting up Optimus.
What made you choose the name Optimus?
The name came about one day over coffee and a lot of googling, we searched Optimus and its meaning. As it turns out Optimus means “Best” in Latin. We looked at each other and the name was born, the best is what we are aspiring to achieve and deliver for our members.
Describe the process of setting up a gym from scratch?
The first and toughest thing in setting up a new gym is finding the right property to achieve your vision and then to make sure that the gym is in the right area. You then need to make sure that you have the right planning consent for the property - for a gym you need to have D2 gym usage. After this, it’s a lot of hard work, painting, building, security and most important equipment!
Alongside this, you need to think about the other business considerations, like operating software, membership costs and advertising. All in all the journey has been a fun one but with plenty of challenges. We feel, however, that the result has been amazing and the feedback from our members has been great.
What makes Optimus stand out? Why should we choose you over all the other gyms out there?
What is unique to the area is the fact we have a DJ booth, regularly at weekends we have a variety of DJ’s coming into the gym and playing sets to help you push your work out. We also have a lot of plate-loaded weight machines which allow you to do your weight training safely as the machines help you keep your form. We also have our functional playground which includes a massive rig with a good old fashioned rope to climb up!
Optimus really stands out for leg day, not including squat racks Optimus currently has 12 leg machines to help you burn fat, get stronger and work those leg muscles!
How do you cater for beginners and those who could feel intimidated joining a gym?
We are aware that going to a new gym can be an intimidating experience. Our staff are there to greet you and show you around the gym as well as giving some pointers on what equipment is best to start with. We will then look to book your induction on how to use the gym equipment. Plus there are a number of classes as part of your membership which will give you a solid workout foundation as well as working as part of a team! Whether you just want to workout in peace in your own bubble or enjoy the social side, Optimus caters for all kinds of customers and beginners are always welcome.
And how about serious enthusiasts?
If you’re a serious enthusiast then we have you back as well. Our plate-loaded weight machines allow you to target the specific muscles in a controlled way, which also means that you can go heavier as you have the support there from the machine. We also have some unique cardio equipment - for example, the Jacob’s Ladder (revolving ladder), the Concept Ski Erg and assault bikes, giving that workout the hit your require.
How is Optimus geared up to cater for women?
We have taken the time to work out how we can best help everyone achieve their goals, and we have a lot here with women in mind. First and foremost, we create a safe, welcoming space with zero tolerance for unwanted attention when you work out. We also have a separate changing room of course, and female staff are often on hand. Our gym equipment takes into account both women and men, as do our ever increasing range of classes. It speaks volumes that we have a large number of women who choose Optimus as their gym. We also have parents who drop off their children to one of the several schools nearby and then come and see us as part of their school routine.
What’s your typical customer?
The majority of our members are between the ages of 19 and 55 and we also have a good mix of both women and men. The key is that we have designed the gym to allow everybody to achieve their workout goals, whether it be using weights, cardio or body weight exercises, Optimus is there to help you become fitter, healthier and stronger, whether you’re an absolute beginner who wants to improve their health, someone maintaining a good level of fitness, or indeed a dedicated gym enthusiast.
What are some stand out pieces of equipment that are fun to use?
The Jacobs ladder stands out as it is a very rare piece of equipment, plus 3 minutes on one will make everyone tired! We also have a pendulum squat which can push even the most experienced gym user. Optimus has also stocked both rowing machines and ski erg’s from Concept and we elected to go for the PM5 monitor which allows you and a friend to play games against one another as you work out.
Can you get personal trainers, and how does that work?
Yes! We have approved personal trainers working in the gym and like all gyms, these come at an extra cost. However, if you want help in achieving your goals a personal trainer is the right way to go. Normally PT’s will work with you across the board, developing workouts, diet plans and to help to keep up your motivation. After all, this is how Ross and Mika met and look what happened there!
Optimus only allow trusted PT’s who share our vision, which means that you will get a consistently high standard of training. Again, our PT’s work with every level of fitness.
Tell us about the martial arts side and the mat space.
We are proud to be able to boast a 15m x 9m sprung floor tatami (mat) space. Local Judo club Club Judoka moved there in straight away to practice judo. Club Judoka a wealth of experience both from a technical point of view and a competitive one, with members from all walks of life. The club runs a judo session for juniors from the age of 5 as well as a senior session for both men and women of all ages. Club Judoka is affiliated to the JFA U.K. which is the body for traditional Japanese judo in the UK. Soon we will have a Choi Kwon Do club using the dojo. Optimus will be a go-to destination for both workouts and martial arts. We now have parents who drop off their kids for a children's’ martial arts lesson and fit in a workout in the gym while their child learns judo.
The tatami also doubles up as a class space, including a bootcamp run by Mika, metabolic conditioning classes, and many more to follow. The mat space is a unique space to workout, the mats absorb lots of shock meaning that there is a low impact on the body and leaving you to make the most of the workout.
What’s your vision for Optimus in the future?
We only see Optimus growing offering people that fun, safe and unique experience which means that coming to the gym is something you want to do as opposed to have to do. We look forward to bring an Optimus near to you soon.
What would you like to say to encourage Atmo readers to give you a try?
Optimus is a no contract gym with a £30 per month membership with a £30 joining fee, Any Atmo reader who’d like to sign up at Optimus then please quote ATMO either in club or via our online membership form *before 20th June 2019 and we will give you your first month for free! Just use the code FIRSTMONTH when signing up to join.
Please visit OUR WEBSITE to sign up for membership
This offer expires on *20th June 2019*