Kimberlee Perry, CEO and founder of ((BOUNCE)), talks inclusivity, joy through exercise, and helming an international trampolining franchise
What are your views on fitness and how does ((BOUNCE)) play into that?
Fitness has always been part of my life – I grew up dancing and swimming as a child, playing netball at school, and then going to the gym as an adult. Despite a lifetime of exercise, maintaining my fitness would occasionally feel like a chore. When you’re alone at the gym it can be hard to feel motivated and equate exercise with joy.
I think it’s essential to make exercise fun, sociable, friendly and inclusive so that it no longer feels like a slog. ((BOUNCE)) revolves around this concept, and we meet the needs of elderly consumers, new parents and working professionals alike.
What was it like starting the business in the UK?
Funnily enough, I never set out to start a business – let alone a franchise business. I left my job in events five years ago after a frustrating period and decided I wanted to pursue my passion for dance and aerobics.
What is now ((BOUNCE)) is a by-product of this passion. I didn’t write a business plan or set out to create an internationally franchised brand, but what I was able to do was see that my vision for a more inclusive fitness experience had scale and, most importantly, demand.
Why indoor trampolining and not a regular gym?
The atmosphere in your average gym is the opposite of what we try to achieve at ((BOUNCE)). It’s very solitary – it’s just you, the machine, and the much-fabled ‘zone’. You don’t have the support or motivation from other class members, and this can add barriers to enjoying fitness.
“My goal in 2019 was to help recreate what we did for new mothers with vulnerable women or people struggling with mental health and this is still my aim for 2020 and beyond”
When I started ((BOUNCE)), I knew I needed to stand out in the over-saturated fitness market. This is where the idea of using a trampoline came from – they’re so simple to use and are the epitome of fun when you’re young. We work hard to recreate these childhood memories during our classes: our attendees are encouraged to not take themselves too seriously. With us, exercise is framed as a positive experience and it’s little wonder that 86 per cent of our attendees come because they enjoy the feel-good factor.
How did the franchise model help you expand the brand?
The shift to using a franchise model came during a really pivotal moment for ((BOUNCE)). I was teaching 12 fully-booked classes a week across four studios in Essex and knew that I either needed to bring in more staff or prepare for competitors to copy my business model.
This is when I explored the franchise model and got in contact with a franchising law firm to draft the documents I needed to license my business and brand to other people. Over the next six months, I developed what my brand would look like, patented the name and created manuals for each franchisee. It was such a big moment for us – it helped finalise the brand and developed what is now a 350-plus studio business.
What were some of the major challenges you faced?
In the early days, we didn’t have the brand awareness or name recognition we have today. We had to get in front of people and show our benefits and USPs. It’s tough in the fitness industry because people think you are just a fad and you need to convince customers to stay with you long enough to see results.
This is a constant focal area for us: gaining buy-in and getting results for more and more customers. Every day, we are looking to build our client base and spread the ((BOUNCE)) message. It’s an ongoing work in progress, but we’re delighted that over 40,000 people bounce with us every month.
Are there any plans for more studios in the UK?
Always! Our talent team is constantly on the lookout for new instructors and franchisees. It’s a major part of our growth strategy and we are always focused on opening new studios.
Your favourite part about the job?
My favourite part of the job is choreographing the classes. I started the business because of my passion for dance and aerobics, and I’ve never lost sight of that. Although I now have lots of different business and management priorities, I always carve out time to teach a class now and then – the thrill of it will never wear off.
This interview was conducted before the lockdown