Franks Brothers gym makes move to Capital

TOBY ROBSON
Last updated 05:00 25/01/2014
Ben Franks
Fairfax NZ

NEW VENTURE: Prop Ben Franks, left, in his new Wellington gym with trainer Cole Lemalu.

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Ben Franks is becoming more of a Wellington local by the minute and not just because he arrived back in the capital this week to prepare for his second season with the Hurricanes.

The Cantabrian has opened the first Franks Brothers Gym in the north island after setting up shop in Lyall Bay.

It's the next step in the steady growth of the Franks family business run by father Ken and fronted by his two All Black sons, Ben and Owen, with two gyms established in Christchurch and one in Nelson.

"We have another one opening in Christchurch in March, so it's just really about meeting demand," Ben said yesterday.

"The Wellington one came about at the end of last [rugby] season I had so many people coming up to me and saying, 'when are you opening a gym in Wellington?'

"I started looking into it and it just progressed. As long as there is demand we're happy to bring a gym."

Like Franks, there is more to the business than meets the eye.

For starters, there is a distinct lack of weights machines as the massive frontrower stands in the Rongotai workout room that shares the building with business partners Cityfitness.

"We don't have a lot of equipment. It's all very basic barbell stuff, really old school," he said. "We don't have a lot of machines. We try to make the person the machine and that's why the coaches are so important in teaching the right technique."

In Wellington that will fall to trainer and former policeman Cole Lemalu, one of about 10 fulltime staff now employed by Franks Brothers Gym.

"We try to make sure our coaches are really good because they are the ones who take the classes. Dad's in charge of that side of things," Ben said.

"It's very easy to pick up and I think that's why people enjoy it. They are getting a workout but also learning different stuff."

As with his rugby, Franks is a big believer in ensuring sessions include coaching and technical expertise to minimise any risk of injury.

"The trainings in Wellington are the same as Christchurch and Wellington. My dad does the programmes, but it's all stuff Owen and I have looked over and we're really happy with," he said.

"We do CrossFit, but we also do a lot of circuit stuff. We do a lot outside a normal CrossFit model because we're designed to accommodate for all fitness levels. We have kids classes through to people in their 70s."

Though Ben and Owen don't take classes themselves, they are regularly on site and take an active role in monitoring the businesses activities and profile.

"We have a lot of good people working for us who we trust, but Owen and I are still very hands on. We don't run classes, but we get around to the gyms a lot to show face and help out.

"We attend the monthly directors meetings to make sure the gyms are going in the direction we are happy with. It's our name at the front of it. We want something that represents us and what we're about."

The gym's official opening day is next Sunday with Franks taking part in a CrossFit team challenge. 

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