Posted on December 04, 2019 by Gordon Smith

motive8 MD Nick Sadler shares what 20 years in business has taught us and what have been some of the main contributors to our success.

We have an amazing milestone to celebrate! We’ve now been in the gym and spa design business for nearly 20 years!

Yes, we’re celebrating two decades of industry expertise and business growth, starting from a small two person business to a thriving company with 120 employees today.

For a business such as ours, in a hugely competitive industry, to last this long is no mean feat. It takes a certain type of company to stay the distance, especially in the fitness space which is highly changeable and trend-driven.

Do things properly

Our whole ethos at motive8 is to do things properly and do them well.

Installing gyms or spas is not about cramming equipment in a room, purely to increase margins and then just let people get on with it. Instead, it’s about meticulous planning and getting the space perfect for the end-user.

We prefer to take a more strategic approach, mapping out the space and studying what people really want and need when working out.

We don’t believe in shortcuts or gimmicks. We believe in keeping it simple, doing things properly and doing them well.

Guests using a hotel gym have different preferences or habits to users of a BTR gym, a corporate gym, or even a later living scheme gym, so we always look at every project in isolation in order to provide the right equipment in order to make your exercise space succeed.

What does this approach mean for the customer? It means they get a really effective space that leads to increased member or user engagement and a far better ROI.

Be ahead of the fitness evolution curve

Gym users don’t just hop on a treadmill for 30 minutes to do cardio anymore.

Instead, they prefer to mix and match their workout according to frame of mind or mood. It’s motive8’s deep understanding of these requirements that makes us stand out. We’re constantly looking at how fitness habits change and evolve.

Right now, our focus is on creating multi-purpose spaces that easily adapt and change from (for example) a high-energy cardio space to a wellbeing hub for Yoga or Pilates, or any other type of exercise for that matter.

In doing so, we’re making sure our customers are adapting and responding to the changing fitness environment.

In the 20 years we have been operating, people are now more fitness-savvy than ever before. When we started, people were only just beginning to understand the importance of cardio and the concept of joining a gym. These days, people’s understanding of what constitutes fitness has really changed.

After Germany, we are the biggest fitness market in Europe. As a nation, we also have a better understanding that there are so many different ways to do cardio than previously, when there were only aerobics classes or cross-training sessions.

It’s this understanding that is leading to gym and wellbeing spaces being upgraded from small areas within a building to being allocated bigger spaces. Much bigger. We’re working on a residential development where the gym space is in a standalone building, and, within that, we’re not only providing a gym, but also creating areas for table tennis and pool tables – which are making a comeback – as well as community or social spaces.


Always be aware of trends …

Every year, we go to the States to look at new or emerging fitness trends. Even though we’re starting to see the fitness innovation gap between the US and Europe close a bit more year on year, they are still leading the way, especially on the West Coast.

In the US, fitness is very much part of people’s daily routine, and we’re starting to see that way of thinking really emerge in the UK. The way people slot or integrate exercise into their day is becoming less disruptive and more fluid.

Classic exercise, such as Yoga and Pilates are here to stay, as well as the growing popularity of functional fitness. It’s crucial to always keep one eye on future trends.

We’re also seeing exercise evolving to be a more social experience and we’re now being asked more and more to create fitness and leisure-focused spaces.

In terms of exercise trends, we’ve seen a few come and go, so we do watch this area closely. What we call the classics, such as Yoga and Pilates, aren’t going anywhere soon, but cardio does change and evolve at a fast pace.

… but avoid gimmicks

This is what 20 years in the fitness business has taught us; how to spot a trend versus a gimmick. Investing in a short-lived exercise phase is a high-risk approach that could prove detrimental to a business.

We always analyse the market and really assess what’s going to work for our customers now, and in the future. It’s an approach that certainly seems to work as we have been working with some clients for over 13 years.

The fusion of fitness and leisure

For motive8, and the fitness industry as a whole, we’re going through a really exciting and dynamic period of change. In fact, it’s leading to our business becoming not just a fitness expert, but also a leisure-focused company.

Not only do we work in the residential, corporate and hotel sectors, we’re also starting to work in more retail-focused environments on city centre developments, with more and more projects to create drop-in gyms with cafes, social spaces and group leisure activities such as pool or bowling.

This approach could well be the lifeline to saving the high street. Alcohol consumption is dropping, and more and more people are looking for more fun or interactive activities when they go out. Cities such as Manchester and York are really embracing this change, and, right now, we are very busy in those areas. Like I said, it’s a really exciting time.

It’s been an amazing 20 years for motive8, and we’re even more focused on the next 20 years and delivering high-quality projects where we will continue to keep it simple, do it properly, and do it well.

To learn more about motive8 and the services we offer please contact us on 020 8481 9700 or email