Friday 15 February 2019

KOBOX plans to thrive in Dublin as it brings 'nightclub' studio to new booze-free festival

Urban interactive festival Thrive focuses on a holistic approach to fitness, wellness and food

Shane Collins
Shane Collins
Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

It's the training studio that describes itself as 'Fight Club meets nightclub', and has attracted the likes of Cheryl and Ellie Goulding to break a sweat; but now KOBOX founder Shane Collins is bringing his enterprise home

Rathcoole-native Shane has turned his relatively new passion for boxing into a business success over the last three years, but the first time the popular workout will be available in Ireland will be at Thrive Festival next month.

Created by the people behind Taste of Dublin, Equinox Events, and Dublin's Convention Centre, the new two-day event is tapping into the growing wellness market here, inviting guests to party with their gym gear - with no alcohol.

The weekend festival plans to combine a range of offerings to create holistic approach to health, fitness and wellness, but also inspiring passion for the experiential.

And Shane believes his training concept offers those who try it an experience like no other.

"How we run the gym is the opposite way to usual; our model is not designed around membership or joining fee, you just pay as you come, and come again if you like it," he told Independent.ie.

"Whether you're brand new at boxing or a pro, our studio is dark with strobe lighting so it's possible to let your inhibitions go. People get something very different from what they expect from a workout space; it'll be a very immersive experience."

It's not tough talk as Shane can literally put his money where his mouth is as an initial pilot pop-up in Chelsea has lead to three booming offices at prime locations in London: King's Road, London Wall and Baker Street.

After moving to LA to work with well-known high-intensity workout franchise Barry's Bootcamp, that company brought him subsequently to London, Shane got the opportunity to open his own training place.

"Starting a business is always difficult and opening up in London without a tonne of cash is usually unheard of. But a shopping centre on King's Road was set for demolition and and we were offered a three year lease.

"People though we were mad but we really believed in the concept. What started out as a very sophisticated pop-up making boxing accessible for people of all skill ranges ended up being four times more successful than our most ambitious projections."

Now one of the most popular workouts in London, KOBOX has pulled many UK celebs through its door, a fact that doesn't do any harm for the company marketing.

But, relying on favourable word-of-mouth from influencers only works if what you're offering is at a high standard, and Shane said that was an ethos that was established early on.

"We have to be excellent every day or else people won't come. We just do boxing and that's what we put absolutely everything into; it's the one thing we do better than anyone else."

After three years honing the firm in London, however, Shane is ready to come home and is testing the demand at Thrive festival in March.

"I'm a big believer in Dublin and Ireland, I've always wanted to bring it home. And all my friends are coming home so I'm one of the only ones that are still away.

"In terms of boutique training, London is around seven years old so it would be exciting to start off as new again in Dublin.

"If we found the right space tomorrow we'd be there."

Equinox Events Managing Director Avril Bannerton said that she's been researching the wellness market for the past five years, and with the assistance of industry experts, has created this urban interactive festival.

Ditching diet culture, sustainable fashion and reducing plastic waste are showcased alongside, and through, speaker talks, expert demonstrations and exercise studio pop-ups.

"It's not all about mindfulness but a new focus on fitness, wellness and food combined. The festival aims to encourage the visitor to meet new things and experience new people," she said.

Over the course of festival - day tickets are €47.50 while a weekend pass is €70 - visitors can build their own personal health program looking at the aspects that they consider most important.

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