Women At The Top Awards: Meet Pip Black And Joan Murphy, The Fitness Innovators

We’ve scoured the UK to find the most inspirational innovators for Marie Claire’s Women At The Top Awards, in association with Windows 10 and Freixenet. Meet Pip Black and Joan Murphy, two of the game-changers who have shaped 2015.

After realizing there was nowhere they wanted to go to work out, fitness fanatics Pip Black and Joan Murphy launched Frame, a gym targeted at busy women, in 2009. This year has seen them open their third venue, while their debut collection of activewear hit shelves in whistles in June. But for all of the pressure to conform, they insist upon using their own clients as models for the range.

Pip: ‘We wanted to completely upend the way women approach exercise. It’s supposed to be fun, so we decided to make fitness as exciting and as easy as possible. At the start, we did everything ourselves. One of us would open up at 6.30am and be on reception, while the other would teach classes. Now, thousands of people come through our doors every month, and we’ve got a huge team of talented instructors.’

Joan: ‘We’re not into working out alone. We run hundreds of classes. Our first was a Jane Fonda tribute class, which is still on our timetable, along with everything from Rocket Yoga to Friday-night rave workouts. We look at what’s going on in LA and New York. The US has a different attitude to exercise – there’s a lot of whooping and high-fiving – and while we know that might not be what our member want, we make that enthusiasm our own.’

Pip: ‘The Whistles collaboration happened so quickly. They loved our approach to fitness, we loved their approach to fashion and before we knew it, we’d created 13 pieces of sportswear and our designs were selling out! Sales were so successful, we’ve been asked to work on a second collection.’

Joan: ‘We use real people instead of models in our campaigns. It took a while to convince everybody, but we wouldn’t back down. We’re promoting the idea of being healthy, not skinny. On our King’s Cross site, we have a café where nothing is calorie counted, it’s just good food to keep you going.’

Pip: ‘Our £5 Forgot-Your-Kit kit has taken off. People would arrive and sheepishly ask if we had any spare bras or T-shirts, so we now offer a service that provides you with clean sportswear for the duration of the class. We’ve also launched new timetables that specify whether you need trainers. Working out shouldn’t be inconvenient.’

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