Kevin Lee, co-founder and director of Revolution Singapore, is riding on the growing fad of indoor cycling and spin classes to expand the fitness business across the region
On most evenings in the Central Business District (CBD) of Singapore, people in activewear carrying bulky gym bags roam the streets — a stark difference from the suits and ties during the day.
Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, staying fit and working out is now in trend. And the CBD area, which has one of the highest concentrations of workout studios and gyms in Singapore, is teeming with workout junkies ready to break out in a sweat.
Revolution Singapore, a homegrown indoor cycling and spin studio, wants to ride the fast-growing fitness trend today and grow its presence both locally and internationally.
Speaking to Options, Kevin Lee, co-founder and director of Revolution Singapore, says the fitness industry, especially in the Southeast Asia region, is ripe for the picking and that Revolution is well positioned to leverage that growth to expand.
“There is now a boom in the fitness industry, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. People are now more focused on becoming fit, healthy and having better immunity because this is the best defence against falling ill,” says Lee.
On top of that, with the “younger demographic” or GenZs and Millennials becoming more conscious of their physical and mental well-being, Lee sees the fitness industry as one to watch out for.
Revolution Singapore has over 45,000 members and a team of over 45 instructors with more to join after they have completed their training
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Samantha Koh, a PR manager for a private bank, says her journey with Revolution indeed started during the pandemic when she saw her friends on social media having fun in its classes. As she tried it out for herself, she got hooked. While she may be about six months pregnant today, she still attends spin classes every now and then to keep her fitness level up.
“I still go for spin classes but I’m spacing my classes out. I also make it a point to take long walks. My goal is to continue to keep active even during my pregnancy and I do see myself bouncing back after I give birth,” says Koh.
Meanwhile, Ms Loy, a product specialist at a financial services firm, found that the pandemic freed up more time for herself. Hence, she decided to use that time to fulfil a resolution to stay fit and healthy. She too discovered Revolution through social media. Upon attending its classes, Loy found that the workout helped improve her stamina and strength while giving her a sense of community as she befriended other members.
“I think I’ve grown to keep fitness as a lifestyle, rather than it being a ‘pandemic activity’ because now that regulations are eased, I’m looking to pick up new activities that can help me to achieve my fitness goals and meet like-minded people in the community,” says Loy.
Koh and Loy, who have found their passion in indoor cycling, plan to keep up this exercise in the long run. Moreover, they both have found a sense of community by attending classes and being around others who share the same motivation and mindset.
Fitness has indeed become a trend and one that is big enough to get people off their seats and sweating it out on a stationary bike. With the community getting larger, more are willing to come out of their comfort zones and make this a part of their lifestyle.
And as the trend continues, Lee believes that Revolution has what it takes to revolutionise the fitness industry.
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Riding the wave
Revolution may not have been the first spin studio in Singapore but it is easily the fastest-growing and largest homegrown indoor rhythmic cycling company in the country.
Revolution first opened its doors on Cecil Street back in February 2020. Even though it was just before the Covid-19 pandemic started — forcing the studio to close its doors a few short months after it launched — the interest within the community grew strong and fast. And as people eagerly waited for lockdown measures to be lifted to start their fitness regime, the studio saw a large influx of interest and within the same year opened up its second studio in Orchard Road.
Lee observed that classes filled up quickly and Revolution’s booking platform even crashed a few times due to the high demand for classes.
Today, Revolution has four studios across Singapore, with another two more in Tanjong Pagar and Bugis planned. Along with having more studios, Revolution boasts a growing membership of over 45,000 members and a strong team of over 45 instructors with more to debut soon after they have completed their vigorous training.
Revolution has a strong team of over 45 instructors
Within a short span of two years, Revolution expanded rapidly across Singapore and was constantly being featured on social media. It was no surprise that other neighbouring countries started to get wind of the brand’s popularity.
With that, Lee decided to operate the business in such a way that the brand and community could be replicated elsewhere. He started a franchise business model to expand the Revolution name in Singapore and beyond.
“We opened up four studios in two years. It is a huge accomplishment for us. And the challenge now is we may not be able to open as many studios every year if it’s just us working on it. Hence, we started this franchise model to open more studios and access different markets with trusted partners,” tells Lee, adding that Revolution still intends to expand organically on its own, but it will do so at a slower pace.
The way Lee sees it, it is not just about selling the franchise to anyone who has the funds to invest in it. It is about finding the right investor and a trusted business partner to not just maintain the brand’s integrity but bring it to the next level.
And while growth may be at the top of his head, Lee shares that there is a concern about “growing too big too fast”. As a former banker with over 20 years of experience in the banking and finance world, Lee is familiar with investment risks, as well as the systems and processes in businesses. He says: “We spend about nine months preparing and coming up with this franchise model. We ensured that the systems, processes and operational procedures were established and properly documented. We then created a turnkey business model to sell to potential investors, such that our success can also be replicated.”
To that end, Lee shares that the four studios that Revolution owns are currently profitable. And as for the potential franchise studios, Lee expects the studios to be profitable within two to three months of opening, while investors are likely to obtain their return of capital within two to three years, which is a conservative estimate.
Depending on the size of the studio and the location, the minimum capital requirement to own and operate a Revolution spin studio is about US$300,000 ($430,097).
The next leg
As Revolution’s franchise business is established, it expects to open up its first-ever franchise studio — and its fifth studio in Singapore — by the end of this year.
This studio will be managed by local entrepreneur Benjamin Tan, who is also the CEO of his own business AMZ Family that specialises in training online merchants to sell their products effectively on the Amazon e-commerce platform.
As a fitness enthusiast himself, Tan attends various classes at different indoor rhythmic cycling studios and recognises the continuing strong demand for the sport. “The Revolution team’s passion and energy are the key factors which make Revolution unique, and this is something which I strongly believe in. Their teamwork and how they build community will ensure the success of this studio,” says Tan.
Apart from this, Lee explains that Revolution’s expansion outside of Singapore is currently in the works. Right now, the company is looking to open its studios in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi in Vietnam.
Meanwhile, Lee shares that Revolution’s franchise business has gathered strong interest from Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, New Zealand and Australia.
Lee says: “With the growing middle class in Southeast Asia and their increasing disposable income, there is going to be a drive for these people to stay fit and focus on themselves. This trend is going to drive the fitness industry.”
Revolution Singapore’s spin studio at Frasers Tower
While Lee notes that there are already current players in markets like Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, he believes that there is still ample room for players like Revolution to expand and grow in the respective markets.
Furthermore, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, the market has become less saturated, as “only the strongest survive”. Now as economies reopen, Lee has noticed a slight dip in class participation of late due to members taking the opportunity to travel overseas after being stuck for the past two years. “Revenge travelling will calm down and stabilise after a while. And when that does, people will start to go back into their routine and go back into their fitness regime to look after themselves,” says Lee.
Ahead of the opening of Revolution’s first franchise studio, it has also launched a new franchise model that targets gyms as investors. Under this model, gyms can open up a Revolution studio within their own gym space. This is especially useful for gyms that offer other classes for their members.
Moving on, Lee is focused on building the Revolution brand name and for it to become a global brand. “We have big dreams and we intend to achieve them one step at a time,” says Lee.
Photo: The Edge Singapore/ Albert Chua