Finding a niche

first_imgAn aspiring entrepreneur has taken on a gym with a new plan to revolutionise the way people go about their fitness.Peter Lantouris is a 27-year-old from Melbourne’s eastern suburbs. His family owned a fish shop in the Prahran Market which he helped service for a good part of the last 10 years. He has watched his brother Nick fight as a boxer and has grown up around the boxing gyms for much of his life. So when the family business was sold he decided to take a risk, which is slowly starting to flourish.Admittedly, he’s dipped his fingers in a number of pies, including bricklaying and factory work, but he is now starting to find his feet through his new venture.He came across an old gym that – by his own admission – required a lot of work to get up and running, and he wanted to bring in a new culture that would serve his targeted demographic and clientele.“I wanted to make it more friendly for females and create a good atmosphere that’s warming and good for kids, good for everyone and it’s more [about] fitness classes, I haven’t got really any professional athletes in there to become fighters or anything, it’s more for fun,” he said.“It’s kind of like a boutique gym, it’s pretty hidden as well and I thought if I get it I’ll make a few changes, bring a few more classes into it, introduce some self-defence stuff, and I thought I’d use my background – what I knew about boxing etc – and did everything I had to and got it.”And with that, Knockout Fitness and Boxing in Forest Hill was established.A ‘no ego, fun filled’ policy is how he’s built his business up. He does have two professionals – including Victorian fighter Terry Tzouramanis – who frequent his gym, but even then that’s purely for training and not for fighting purposes.Peter understood the growing demands on gyms – and the growing number of gyms around town. He knew that he had to come up with something a little different to what was available, especially in the area that he was servicing. With competition on his doorstep with Anytime Fitness and two other boxing gyms within arm’s length of each other, Peter pushed for the friendly boxing culture, which isn’t customary with boxing-only gyms – and fully embraced the proximity of his competitors. “Everyone was saying that I was scared of the competition [Anytime Fitness] but I actually took a different approach. I went and spoke to them and we got a good deal going, I’m helping out their clients and we’re working together. I thought of it this way … if Anytime Fitness comes [into the area] it’s bringing more fitness people into that area, so once they’re there I’ve got a boxing gym two stores down, and boxing compared to weights and cardio is completely different. So I thought if they [clients] are coming down for the weights and the cardio, they can come to us and try the boxing classes.”“I’ve [also] got Stan the Man and Fighter’s Factory up the road which I’m competing with in terms of boxing, but like I said, they’ve got more of that fighting kind of atmosphere whereas I’ve gone and made it more female friendly. Everyone’s got their own niche and I think it’s all completely different, so it didn’t really scare me.”For Peter it was all about finding that niche. Entering the business world alone, he freshened up the existing establishment with a coat of paint, new equipment and off he went – and on occasions when he does get clientele who are keen on fighting, he redirects them to other boxing gyms around the area.His plans are slowly starting to pay off. The gym runs a number of female-only classes with approximately 25 women in every class, and of the mixed classes he is finding they are overwhelmingly attended by females. “We’ve got mixed classes too but again it’s probably a majority women, probably around 70 per cent women. Overall I’d say around 70-80 per cent women [come into the gym]. That’s why we’re starting some self-defence classes from September. With what’s happening around the world it’s crazy, [we will] try to make it a safer place for women so they can at least try to learn what to do and how to retaliate if they’re in danger.”And his advice for budding entrepreneurs and people thinking about getting into small business in the contemporary environment is – “take the risk”.“Be nice to customers. Give them what they want and what they want to hear and if you’re passionate about it you’ll succeed.”Initially, he said – like any project, especially a business venture – there are difficulties, and accordingly there was a lot of output, without a lot of income. After paying trainers for small numbers of clients, doubt (and support) from some people around him and self-promotion through ‘freebies’ – giving away free classes and passes to get people in the door and promote the club – the fruits of his labour are well and truly paying off. Peter’s long-term ambition is to open subsequent gyms at a few more locations. He has been garnering interest from prospective clients from all corners of Melbourne, including Lalor, Templestowe, Bentleigh and Narre Warren, so he is in the mindset of eventual expansion. Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more