Ben's boutique fitness venture mixes nightclub sights and sounds with very intense workouts

Ben Mills, Founder, YRD1: "We do two disciplines, we do them really well and we’re super passionate about it." Picture: Dorset Biz News.

By Staff Reporter [email protected]

Published: July 14, 2022 | Updated: 15th July 2022

It’s like no other gym you’ve been to.

A boutique fitness business which mixes the sights – and sounds – of a nightclub with intense workouts is celebrating its first anniversary.

YRD1 is the brainchild of Ben Mills, a certified fitness trainer, who left his full-time personal trainer job to launch the venture.

Specialising in spin and boxing classes, as well as one-to-one tuition, the activities are carried out in purple light – and for a good reason.

Ben, 38, said: “It’s designed so that people don’t feel they’re being watched.

“People think they look stupid which means they stop doing things and giving 100 per cent.

“For me you’ve got to give 100 per cent.

“We also have lots of blackouts when it goes completely dark.

“It gives people the chance to sink back into themselves, take a moment and think about where they are mentally.

“On our bikes you ride to the music.

“All the music tracks have different beats – a single, a double and a treble.

“You can break up a beat with speeding of your pedals in three different ways so they’re full of energy.

“Our coaches are delivering high energy and empowering our members.”

The formula seems to be a winner.

Poole-based YRD1 has around 200 people on its books, aged from 19 to 60.

The majority are female.

Ben said: “I wanted to be a 100 per cent safe space for women so they don’t feel they’re being watched.

“We also put huge emphasis on mental health.

“It’s a given that we’ll all work out for our bodies but our body will only do what our mind tells us to do.

“We have to train that mind to say: ‘I’m capable of doing more’.

“People leave YRD1 after a hard workout and find they’re capable of doing more in the outside world.

“That’s massively empowering.

“We’re 100 per cent a gym of the mind as well as the body.”

Ben, who married his partner, Fiona, last December, has invested £30,000 in YRD1 including ten aqua punch bags, each weighing 13 stone, and 11 spin bikes.

Formerly working in the construction industry, he carried out all the internal building work on the 1,000 sq ft warehouse used by YRD1, including creating the separate SCRAP and Re-Cycle exercise areas.

The project, carried out during the lockdowns, was juggled with online fitness classes conducted from Ben’s Westbourne home.

He now has two coaches working for him – Janie Morgan and Cleo Symes – and will shortly be moving into pilates as well.

Classes start at 6.30am with the last at 6pm and YRD1 is open from Monday to Saturday.

It also holds bootcamps – Camp YRD – in and around the Bournemouth and Poole area.

Instead of a membership fee, charges are by the class – £12 for a 45-minute session – with a book of five classes for £55 and ten classes for £100.

Ben said: “It’s a gamble but everyone knows that many people waste gym membership.

“You should be able to pay as you go and not waste your money.

“You should get a result, first and foremost, and if you pay for a class, you’re going to show up.

“We’re only as good as our last class.

“But if we’re good then people will come back – and they do because they love what we’re doing.”

Feedback quoted by YRD1 includes:

  • “This gym is so amazingly unique. It’s fun, it’s funky, it’s friendly and the team are brilliant at what they do. I’m totally in love with the SCRAP classes which focus on fitness, technique and, almost more importantly to me, mental health.”
  • “YRD1 is the perfect place for me. I hate run-of-the-mill gyms and love the vibe of YRD1 and its members.
  • “Walking into YRD1 is completely different to any of the gyms I’ve been to before. There is an air of community that everyone in here has the same ethos, work hard, play hard, but without any barriers. YRD1 is full of energy which literally pushes you to go further.”
  • “I have been part of the YRD1 1 squad since its conception.  From the outset the vibe has been inspiring, energising and a very big part of my life. This is a truly unique place that offers classes that no other gym can match.”

Ben said that eventually he hoped to open a second site and, in the longer term, consider franchising the concept.

He added: “Without wishing to be over-dramatic but I’ve changed people’s lives massively.

“They’ve lost so much weight and gained a huge amount of confidence.

“Conventional gyms have been doing their thing for a long time but they’re jack of all trades and master of none.

“Here we do two disciplines, we do them really well and we’re super passionate about it.

“We care about the people that come through because the community is small but the progression is huge.”

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