Perfect fit by Ann Elliott
The news in Propel on Wednesday about YO! beginning its concessions trial with David Lloyd Clubs (DLC) was really interesting. YO! has launched units in Beckenham, Cheadle, Hatfield, Milton Keynes and Leeds which, according to the company, are “going exceptionally well”, with gym-goers appreciating the “high-quality fresh and healthy Japanese food we are providing”. It certainly fits with the elimination of its belts in some restaurants too.
I have been asked by a number of people for my views on the development.
I joined DLC in Milton Keynes about six months ago and have been merrily shelling out £100 a month without setting foot in the place – largely because my desire to get fit has been subsumed by my fear of feeling (and looking) foolish alongside a sea of size 6, blonde, beautiful people who all know what they are doing.
I can’t read the instructions DLC gave me or, indeed, the instructions on each machine without my glasses and a PhD in sports science. I can’t seem to manage to get a machine to work at the same time as the TV or my phone. I can’t get all my stuff in the locker and I can’t put my make-up in the steamy, hot changing rooms because it melts – and then I always forget the code to get out of the car park. The whole experience is one humiliation after another – and I pay £100 a month for all this as I inadvertently signed up for a year and can’t cancel my standing order. Without knowing it, the brand has turned me into a gibbering idiot – it’s all highly embarrassing.
However, having signed up for a trek in Columbia in November I have to turn this potential twice-weekly nightmare into a dream I want to keep living, even though my heart sinks just thinking about it. Yoga is much more my style but unfortunately it won’t get me in shape to climb to some long-abandoned lost city (which clearly isn’t lost as someone has found it) in the middle of a jungle.
I don’t feel quite so negatively about YO! because it doesn’t provide as many opportunities for me to feel like an idiot when I’m there. However, at times I have found the quantity of dishes on the menu mind-bogglingly difficult to navigate and have resorted on more occasions than I wish to remember to asking the server to bring me anything, just anything, to save me from the agony of so much choice. The decision to try a non-belt solution must be the right one, despite the belt being easier to choose from than the menu, because it will make the service much more personal and bespoke.
The risk in my eyes is YO! and DLC could be a terrible combination for me – humiliation in the gym followed by humiliation when trying to find something to eat. I don’t think it will be, though. I’ll learn how to manage the gym and which dishes I like at YO!
For other, more sophisticated customers this partnership would be a marriage made in heaven. DLC has, from my own experience, struggled to produce its own food consistently and profitably through all dayparts – breakfast, takeaway, post-school/pre-bedtime children’s food, Sunday lunch, ladies who lunch, and three-course dinners. It’s not an environment conducive to all these occasions either.
YO!’s menu will suit all these dayparts, audiences and occasions. I think it will work perfectly and I congratulate both parties on having the imagination and creativity to bring it to life.