Here’s our Q&A with Khalil Ramsubhag.
What motivated you to go into the gym business?
The fact that I could. I saw that my team had the ability to create a facility and brand that would positively affect the lives of our clientele and the industry as a whole. There’s nothing special about unrealized potential; when given an opportunity to do better, or be better, to not rise to the occasion is inexcusable.Once the facility became a concept, I immediately had the full support of my family; my firm, APR Associated Limited; and my business partner, Lawrence Marshall. I had everything we needed to make it a reality.
What was the thought process behind the inspiration?
We wanted to develop a product more aligned with our vision of what a gym could be, rather than what a gym currently is. Over the years, gym for me has been a refuge, a second home and the source of happy times, positive changes and strong friendships. I realized the basis of all of this was the people; my social circle within the fitness industry, my gym family. It wasn’t always like that. When I started training as a teenager, the gym was an intimidating environment for me. I was fortunate to associate with trainers who were well established in the industry, and through natural association, started to socialise within their different networks, grow my own confidence and eventually build my own social circles.
When I started to train with Lawrence (he is ‘The Beast’ in The Bar by ‘The Beast’) at Bio Fitness Gym, the warmth and support of not only himself but also his team of friends and family are what motivated me. That feeling was a key factor in motivating me to train and pursue my fitness goals. While I was fortunate to have that support structure, not everyone walking through the doors of a gym were. The Bar by ‘The Beast’ was developed to address that. Every part of our facility, from the infrastructure to the staffing, was designed to support and promote client comfort—not only physical comfort, but also to promote the feeling of inclusion.
Do you feel there is something lacking in T&T as regards fitness centres? What makes your gym different?
There are some very strong facilities in Trinidad. Great investments have been made and fantastic facilities have been developed. Bio Fitness (now Central Athletic Club) will always be the gym closest to my heart, but I think D’ Dial Fitness Club, Evolution Fitness, and Raw Fitness are also shining examples of first-class fitness facilities. Trinidad has facilities that I would rate highly against top international brands. What makes us different is our client-centred approach, and attention to detail is key. We have achieved a product that encompasses client comfort without sacrificing our technical integrity as a fitness facility. This I attribute to the strength and experience of our technical team and fitness network. We are open-minded to partnerships and promoting fellow fitness brands and entities, as we see this as value added to our clients. We maintain a degree of fluidity in our structure, allowing us to read, react and evolve based on our clients’ changing needs.
Discuss the challenges faced in maintaining the standard of the gym, since many fitness centres start off with a bang then deteriorate.
Staff! Weights and machines don’t change often. From facility to facility, brands differ, but well-maintained equipment all function within the same range. While there are physical necessities of a gym—maintenance is critical—the staffing of the facility is a critical aspect in maintaining a certain standard. Facilities deteriorate because staff attitudes change. Trinidadians simply do not have a mindset conducive to customer service. With almost every employee, it’s an uphill battle in training and maintenance, to deliver any acceptable level of customer service. We assembled a great team within a relatively short space of time; our test will be in maintaining the level of customer service aligned with our core vision.
What is important to persevere in a fitness regime?
Perseverance! “Be the ocean beating at the stone.” In all the transformations and success stories I have seen, the successful had one thing in common: they never gave up. Consistency and hard work beats everything. It beats genetics, beats ‘having it natural,’ and ‘good metabolism.’
What would you say to convince those who are not motivated to start a fitness regime?
Nike has a tag line that I love: “If you have a body, you are an athlete.” We label our clients at The Bar by ‘The Beast’ as Everyday Athletes. Whether you believe it or not, you’re an athlete. In a gym, people respect your hard work, dedication and effort. We respect those who have come the furthest, not those with the best bodies. I’ve never witnessed a person fail in a gym. Inconsistency and lack of perseverance is where most people fall short. Dedication to a healthy lifestyle outside of the gym is where nearly everyone struggles. Both are mental, not physical failures. Success in a gym is not dependent on your physical state; it’s dependent on your mental strength.
Why do you believe fitness is important, especially in a time in which society believes that people should love themselves as they are? Would you say the “gym life” is a frivolous one?
Fitness will always remain of critical importance, because all that we may achieve is dependent on our health. The ‘love yourself as you are’ movement, as I understand it, is tied not to health but aesthetics (or rather, the mainstream view of what is aesthetic). While I endorse the principle of ‘loving oneself,’ I believe in betterment. One of the greatest gifts we were given was our ability to evolve. We don’t need to be a victim to circumstances of birth, genetics or lifestyle. We have the ability to want better and work towards achieving our goals. That’s the basis of evolution and development.
While I believe that the concept of ‘better’ should always be self-defined and no one should be victimized for their choices (once it does no harm to others), I think people should be mindful of why they make the choices they do. A choice made out of fear, convenience or insecurity and one made out of genuine belief, will always be different. You can love yourself as you are and still work towards improvement.
What would you like people to understand about the “gym life”?
Exactly that: it is a ‘life.’ It isn’t suffering under heavy weights and eating ‘rabbit food.’ You don’t have to give up your guilty pleasures, food, parties, and alcohol. Gym life is, in its ideal form, a balanced life.