An Interview with Fraser Smith – Co-Founder of Vive Fitness
- Written by Alicia Drewnicki
- October 24, 2020
- 7 min read
Fraser Smith is the Co-Founder & Master Trainer of Vive Fitness – an innovative fitness studio in London that uses EMS (electro-muscle-stimulation) technology, We sat down with Fraser for a special interview to learn more about his company and his story so far…
Hi Fraser, congratulations on the opening of Vive Fitness. For people who haven’t heard of your company – please can you tell us what you do?
Thank you, we are really pleased to have opened our EMS Fitness Studio in London, Westminster. EMS means Electro-Muscle-Stimulation. At Vive, you train for 20 minutes whilst receiving a whole-body stimulus that enhances your muscle contractions, making for a highly effective training session in a short space of time. It’s a great time-efficient fun way to train.
How did you find out about EMS technology and where did the concept originate?
I first heard of this through my business partner. We then went to try it out, had fun, researched the science and quickly realised the effectiveness and possibilities. The technology stems from physiotherapy, where it has been used effectively for a long time now to help people recover from injury. The EMS helps prevent muscle atrophy and strengthens muscles that are not yet ready for large movements under load. It was then cleverly adapted to a whole-body system so that everyone can now benefit from the technology as a means of keeping fit.
What’s your background? Have you always worked in health and fitness?
I have, yes. I started 15 years ago by doing my BSc In Sports Science and MSc in Nutrition. I then enjoyed working in Premier League and International Football for 5 years before moving to London to pursue my own ventures. A couple of years ago we began the creation of Vive Fitness, and now we are open and enjoying seeing our members have fun and progress towards their goals.
How tough has it been to start a business during the pandemic and what special measures has your company had to take?
I’ve looked on the positive side, as it allowed us to polish the foundations of the business and evaluate where we are at. We have resultantly improved our offering to members. We have upped our hygiene measures with additional sprays, gels and cleaning protocols. Importantly for members, they have exclusive use of our studio floor for their training session.
Life seems to get busier and busier for everyone these days and we’re all very time-poor. Did you have this in mind when creating your brand?
Yes, one key benefit of EMS training is the time efficiency element. If you want to stay fit and healthy but do not have the time to do so, EMS training is the perfect fit.
It is also ideal for those who do not like the big-gym environment and want something that is boutique and personalised – you know you’ll get your session in the time frame you need for a busy life.
With more people than ever working from home, many people fall into the category of living a sedentary lifestyle at the desk 5 days a week without leaving the house.
What small steps would you suggest they make to improve their health and fitness and why is exercise important?
Important questions. Exercise is paramount for both mental and physical well-being, especially during times where our regular social life is interrupted. The correct exercise regime has been shown to stave off numerous illnesses and ailments and has both short- and long-term benefits to our mood and general feeling of well-being. We could talk for hours about all the benefits of exercise – in short, we are designed to be active, and when we are not, our brain and body are not happy with us! How best to do this? Changes should be done in a way that allows exercising and eating-well to become habitual.
Drastic changes for a short period time see short-lived results, as this is rarely sustainable, and you will only revert back to what was comfortable before. Making big changes in one go is possible, but it requires strong will power and the realisation that these changes are permanent. Gradual changes are therefore the easiest option e.g. adding in 1 x EMS session each week and adding some simple nutritional changes to your diet. Lay the foundation and go from there.
How many times do you think people should exercise (minimum) per week?
There are various guidelines advocating the correct amounts. In general, I believe you should try and be active nearly every day, with at least 2 x weekly exercise bouts at a level that challenges your body (elevates your heart rate, tests your strength and range of motion). At Vive, we advocate 2 x EMS sessions weekly when experienced, as this is realistic for a lot of people. Other days could include your favoured sport, yoga, pilates, or even just a light walk. Keeping active is key though.
Do you think it is enough to do only EMS, or would you suggest combining it with other exercises, and if so – which ones?
For some members, EMS training will be all they need and all they can realistically commit to each week. However, some individuals may require a variety of training methods depending on their targets and time allowance. For example, we have a member who trains for Iron Man. He does 2 x EMS sessions weekly to strengthen his body in a balanced way, reduce his injury risk and improve his high-intensity performance. He will of course have to add in the various disciplines of Iron Man (swimming, cycling and running), and we have added in a weekly mobility routine for him too. Whereas, we have some members who have just 1 x EMS session weekly to help keep them fit. A lot of members have alleviated their chronic back pain via EMS training – it’s great when you can help people in this way.
Who are your health and fitness heroes and why?
In general, I do not have specific heroes, but take inspiration from various people in various professions who are successful and have qualities to aspire to. However, I would say an obvious choice in the fitness World is Arnold Schwarzenegger – just his sheer dedication and hard work to achieve what he wants in life is inspiring and admirable. You can certainly learn the correct mentality for success from someone like him.
Can you tell us more about how ViveFitness is collaborating with The Honestly Good Smoothie Co. and what interested you about Honestly Good?
We are pleased to offer The Honestly Good Smoothies to our members. We have picked 5 of our favourites across your range. We wanted to work with an ambitious start-up that has a similar philosophy and style to us. I came across The Honestly Good Smoothie Co. and then met up with Vikesh. I love how each smoothie has a wide range of healthy ingredients, and they taste healthily flavourful too. Vikesh and I get on well and I have enjoyed working with you all to date.
What sort of feedback have you had from members so far?
For Vive Fitness, our members have been really enjoying themselves and their results. They like our training space and our friendly, skilled team too.
Regarding the smoothies, our members are loving them too. They have become our in-demand product. Everyone comments on how full of flavour the smoothies are considering you use such healthy ingredients.
What have been your biggest challenges as a business owner so far and what lessons have you learnt?
The biggest challenge has been finding the correct location. Trying to find a site that allows you to have the optimal image and space, in a community that are keen on their fitness, all for a price that makes your business financially viable can be challenging. I think you learn constantly on all fronts – branding, design, marketing, day-to-day management etc, I am sure Vikesh can relate. For our second studio we certainly have a lot of knowledge that will make it a smoother process…famous last words?!
Let’s talk about food. Do you have any tips on what people should eat before/after exercise and what are your go-to nutrition tips for leading a healthy lifestyle?
You need to ensure you are hydrated and have energy when you train, therefore some water and a small snack 30-60 min prior to training is recommended. This ensures you can maximise the quality and intensity for each session.
As training effectively causes micro damage to your muscles and depletes your energy stores, recovery after training is important – getting some protein and carbohydrates into the system helps recovery and adaptation i.e. an Honestly Good Smoothie.
What are your future goals for Vive Fitness? Do you hope to open more studios?
Yes, we really want to succeed with our first studio and then expand across London and the UK. That is our ultimate goal. There is a long way to go, however it’s been a positive start. When we see members happy, progressing and asking if their friends and colleagues can come and train at Vive Fitness, it inspires us to succeed.