There’s no two ways about Talwalkars being a trusted name in fitness in Maharashtra. The company takes the concept of fitness to a whole new level by entering into a joint venture with Europe’s David Lloyd Leisure to open a leisure club in Pune — the first in the country.
Prashant Talwalkar, CEO, Talwalkars Better Value Fitness, says, “We started cultivating the culture of fitness with vyayamshalas, and over the last 86 years, we’ve built over 200 fitness centres to cater to all social strata, from basic budget gyms to what we’re excited to present now, a premium club.”
He adds that initially they thought it will just be a collaborative effort to gain from their expertise, but since David Lloyd Leisure was also looking to expand, it led to a joint venture.
Giving us a little insight into the European company, Bruce Gardner, new club’s director, David Lloyd Leisure, says, “David Lloyd, the man, was a tennis player in the ‘70s. He competed at Wimbledon and reached the semi finals along with his brother John, who still commentates at the tournament. In 1982, David Lloyd set up a tennis club in order to encourage indoor tennis so that we could compete with America and other European countries at tournaments. Over the years, as Talwalkars has grown, we’ve also grown to adding fitness facilities for families.”
David Lloyd Leisure has 114 clubs across Europe, including newly opened ones in Milan, Geneva and Frankfurt.
Gardner talks about the term ‘clubbiness’, which is their jargon for what makes them different from regular fitness clubs. “We want them to feel like they are a part of the club, and this is a place they can belong. This is different in every country,” says Gardner, explaining, “In Italy, people like to look good and sophisticated with nice tan so they spend a lot of time laying by the poolside, then have lunch for two hours and go play cards to socialise. In Barcelona, people play paddle tennis, which is quite unique to Southern Europe, and the game of Dominos. In Germany, people love the spa. For them, fitness is Arnold Schwarzenegger style. When they relax, they wear a towel and drink beer in the spa. In every country, people socialise differently. In India, we will see what the clubbiness is as time unfolds.”
Finding the right location was vital. “Wakad, booming with its IT industry and educational institutes, looks promising enough to launch the first project of this joint venture. We have four key things we want to deliver — the first is that we want to be a club for families to spend time together. You can bring your children to utilise the soft play area. We will be offering a range of facilities. We have racquet sports, swimming, group exercise studios, yoga, gym, cycling studio, billiards and more. Quality is important to us, you can count on traditional British standards not only in the facilities but also in the experience that we will deliver,” says Gardner, adding, “People like to work from the club, inviting their colleagues over for meetings or work on their laptops then go and have lunch and exercise. We have three different eating spaces — a cafe by the poolside, a club room restaurant and a rooftop global restaurant and bar.”
The club, which will tentatively open its doors early March next year, has flexible membership plans. “We spent a lot of time studying the market and looking at what competitors would be offering and came up with flexible membership plans. We don’t charge you for anything extra for workshops or using any of the facilities when you join the club. There is a one-time fee ranging from Rs 60,000-15,00,000 plus an annual subscription. There are three categories of memberships for individuals, couples and families of four, and the validity lasts from one year to lifetime memberships,” says Gardner. Talwalkar adds, “The lifetime membership for 25 years for a family of four comes up to 15 lakh, which is reasonable if you do the math. But those who are in the city for a year or so, can opt for the one-year membership.”