Interview: May 2012
“Exercise is changing,” says Athlete Lab founder and Middleton client, Neil Franks who, having retired from the oil industry, is now focused on building another kind of ‘energy’ business – one that is very close to his heart-rate monitor.
“The whole science of health and fitness is so advanced now, and it’s not just elite athletes who want access to it. I don’t think people want to run on the treadmill for half an hour, when high-definition TV, the internet and other media get them so close, not just to the action, but to the processes of high-level sporting performance.”
Not everyone, of course, is about to embark on the type of 25-hour a week schedule that Neil takes on when he is in training for a run-swim-bike ironman contest. But Neil insists that Athlete Lab is a welcoming place for anyone who wants to train hard, find out a little bit more about themselves, have some fun and get close to the action. High-definition virtual reality screens and Athlete Lab software mean members can use their own bike to simulate riding Tour de France and other iconic routes. Coaches at Athlete Labs are typically international competitors, and so the level of expertise and inspiration is way above the average gym.
“You can measure your functional power threshold and get to train hard within your own capabilities,” says Neil. “It doesn’t matter if you’re brand new to cycling or if you’re a champion. You will get a better quality of exercise and derive much greater benefits.” There are currently two Athlete Labs – in Singapore and in Sydney – and plans to open in London.