With it’s light dappled studios and relaxed atmosphere that is apparent as soon as you step through the doors, Flex Chelsea has become our favorite local yoga hangout spot. This carefree vibe is reflected in the owner of Flex, Chatty Dobson - who we had the pleasure of catching up with this month. We discuss travel, business and future plans with Chatty, who describes herself as a yogi, a friend and a die-hard Chelsea girl.
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself.
A: I rarely leave the Borough of Chelsea, much to the amusement of all my friends. For years I worked in restaurant PR launching and representing the best restaurants and bars in London, before flipping the coin and moving into the magazine industry. I was Brand Manager at The Chelsea Magazine Company for years, which involved all sorts of things, from designing and building Award-Winning exhibition stands at The RHS Chelsea Flower Show, organising celeb-filled awards ceremonies, magazine placement… all sorts, most of it not nearly as glam as it sounds! Not so long ago I moved to Zimbabwe, which was a fun-filled year of protecting the bananas on my veranda from monkeys, getting used to life with ludicrously limited electricity, rescuing random animals and a spot of freelance marketing. That’s probably where I got a lot of the ‘make a plan’ attitude that serves me well these days.
Q: When and why did you decide to make the transition from instructor to studio owner?
A: My Teacher Training course was in Melbourne, where the yoga vibe is strong, and the studios were more fun, relaxed and happy than anything that was in London at the time. In London, yoga was still very much either a workout or a hippy movement, with little in the middle. I always had the idea of opening a studio in the back of my mind, but it took years to find the perfect site. There are a lot of things to take into consideration – it had to be relatively close to home, because the thought of adding commuting time onto a business that’s already open from 6am – 9pm filled me with dread; licencing, obviously; and most importantly for me, natural light.
Q: What makes FLEX different to other workout environments?
A:We’re a studio with a sunny disposition, no matter what the weather. We don’t take ourselves too seriously – I want people to come to FLEX and have a great time, as well as a great workout. Daylight streams through the large windows of our first floor Yoga Studios and Personal Training area which is pretty special for a London studio. Only our Spin Studio is in the dark, which is perfect, because no one wants to be seen in a spin class! A lot of sustainable products have been used throughout the site; cork walls and floors, plants all over the place; it’s got a bit of a Cali-vibe which makes a change from a lot of other London workout spaces. And last but not least, my puppy Sukha’s usually around, so if anyone’s had a rough day she’s on hand to sort that out pretty quickly!
Q: Are there any exciting plans in the pipeline for yourself and FLEX?
A: We’ve only been open 3 months so it’s still all pretty new and exciting, but Yes! There’s more.. In January we’re launching a Strength Studio within FLEX which will offer Kettlebell, Booty, Boxing, TRX and Beginners Strength classes. We have fantastic Personal Training already, but that’s not a financially viable option for everyone, so these classes are the final string to our perfectly balanced bow of cardio, flexibility, mental wellbeing and strength.
Q: What advice would you give to other women looking to pave their way in the business of fitness?
A: I don’t want to sound like a Nike advert, but do it! I really do think that if you truly believe in something, want it badly enough, and work hard enough, you’re going to make it success. Take advice from anyone and everyone you can, even if they’re not in the same industry, and absorb information like a sponge, you never know when you’re going to need it.
Thanks to Chatty for catching up with us, and for telling us about her approach to all things fitness and business. To learn more about Flex, head to the website here.