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Nadezhda Grishaeva, Anvil: “Our club unites those who strive to create a dream body

Tuesday January 10th, 2023

Last year was not an easy year for the fitness industry: clubs lost some of their clients, familiar manufacturers of fitness equipment and sports nutrition left Russia. But some clubs have seen a noticeable increase in customer traffic. Among them premium fitness club Anvil on Mosfilmovskaya, which celebrated its two-year anniversary in May. Its creator professional basketball player Nadezhda Grishaeva. She played for the Moscow Dynamo and competed on the Russian team in the 2012 Summer Olympics. We talked to the founder about what unites professional athletes and successful entrepreneurs and how to act when familiar things disappear.

A rebellious spirit

The club opened at a turbulent time for the fitness industry. How do you evaluate this experience??

As an athlete, I'm used to the hard way. I gathered resources and found a facility back in 2020, the pandemic didn't scare me off. A cool team of builders and designers helped force the opening. I found them through sports. Sport It is a kind of club: it is very disciplined, and it is usually attended by successful people from different fields. I know a lot of people, and if I don't, I find the right specialists in six handshakes. So it worked out well, considering the conditions that turned the world upside down.

The pandemic experience of other fitness clubs somehow made you adjust the concept of your club, for example, not to open a swimming pool?

The concept had been thought of before. When I studied in America, I was captivated by the country club format. Its members specifically come to a beautiful place to have a good time: to eat, socialize, play golf or polo. I wanted to do something similar in the city, especially since I prefer golf to the gym.

Our club unites those who want to create the body of their dreams. I don't just mean bodybuilders. Different people have different ideas about the ideal. Some want to get a little leaner, others want to to lose weight or, on the contrary, to build muscle mass, while some people are interested in flexibility only.

In our club, whose name means in English Anvil, everyone can forge their perfect body. And at the same time, schedule a business meeting in our cafe, where delicious food is prepared with your diet in mind: protein, gluten-free or lactose-free. Spend time with friends in the spa center or relax in a real sauna made of dried pine trees. Such a multidisciplinary center of kindred spirits.

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And why the club looks more like a nightclub: metal balusters in the form of swords, pink illumination of training machines, bas-reliefs of skulls on the walls?

I don't like to be like everyone else and wanted the fitness club to stand out. But what can we do differently in the gym?? All with similar equipment and services. I set out to bring together a community of people on the same wavelength. But how do you state the club philosophy right from the doorstep?? This makes for a bright brutal design. Biker paraphernalia emphasizes our rebellious spirit. Statues that reference antique statues epitomize the idea of the body as a work of art. Portraits of Marie Antoinette reflect the feelings of women who feel like a queen even in the gym.

The design solves another important problem to distract people from their problems, from their routine. The elements of the phantasmagorical world help us reboot Alice in the Looking Glass. Our giant fireplace, a variety of mirrors, a stopped clock under the ceiling and unusual lighting solutions turn off the mind and turn on the imagination. It's important for busy people.

And then the individual approach works: a resident comes to us as a family, where everyone knows him by name and develops a program taking into account his tasks and body features.

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Burger and neuromovement

Many of your trainers have sports backgrounds, and manager Mikhail Sekov is a world champion powerlifter. Why it's important?

Because athletes have a lot of experience with the body, they know all the nuances and continue to evolve in their field. The fact is that today it is not difficult to do sports on your own: read a couple of books, look at magazines Men’s Health, downloaded a fitness app, selected a series of YouTube videos. You don't even need to go to the gym. I myself know hundreds of exercises that require only my own body weight and no equipment.

But if you want a result, you need to know the flyhacks. You have to be able to combine all the elements so that each one reinforces the other. Choose the right diet and vitamin supplements, use innovations in the field of sports wisely. You need experienced professionals to do it. We study current trends and try to bring them into our work.

Such as?

We are now discussing with the manager new techniques aimed at correcting the foot. Because the foot the foundation of our skeleton. The condition of the knee, hip and back joints seriously depends on how the toes work and the mobility of the foot as a whole.

I'm personally very interested in neuromovement a method developed to rehabilitate people who have had strokes. Its specialty in very low-amplitude movements. At first, it doesn't seem like a big deal. But when I tried it myself, I was amazed at how without painful movements, crunches and stretches I was able to alleviate chronic back pain.

Your interest in fitness has something to do with the experience of serious injuries?

Gym is the main platform for every athlete. By exercising only on the basketball court, you won't get the benefits that will help you win. An athlete needs versatile activities that develop muscle mass, explosiveness, and endurance. I used to go to the gym all the time.

But professional sports is not about health. Every athlete has a different set of injuries and severe physical illnesses, hernias, torn ligaments. I've had several knee surgeries. After them, I came up with the idea of stretching first to yoga and then to Pilates, which I adore. For me, fitness It's about fun and health.

And how Anvil combines spa, sauna and cafe with fitness?

All of our departments work together. You can't lose weight beautifully just by cutting calories. Muscle mass goes away first, so you need to pick up exercises to burn fat tissue. But even before training, the doctor should assess the condition of the body. If a person has high blood pressure, the trainer will limit cardio and not give heavy weights. If a person has overloaded a certain muscle group, special massage and other procedures will make life easier for him or her. And the diamond of the club is the bathhouse, from which you come out a new person. You can't have a cumulative effect without teamwork. So when a client goes to the cafe to choose a dish, the trainer already agrees on the calorie.

I heard you were involved in developing the cafe's menu. How did that work out??

I experiment with healthy diets and love to eat good food. And I was very happy when the manager hired a chef with Michelin restaurant and fitness club experience Alexandra Nevsky. But when I saw carbonara and burgers on the menu, I was horrified. They didn't fit into my picture of healthy living.

We met with the chef. And he convinced me that some customers find the burger useful. And for those on the keto diet, for example, you can replace the bun with lettuce leaves. When I started talking about lactose-free and gluten-free dishes, the chef prepared cheesecakes made of tofu and coconut milk for me. And it was the most delicious dessert I've ever had in my life. It's still on our menu.

A long run

In 2022, many clubs have lost customers, and those that remain are increasingly opting for short-term cards of up to three months. You've been hit by a crisis?

Last spring some clients left, some just didn't understand what would happen next and didn't hurry to buy a subscription. But at the same time a lot of people started to think about their lives and started to take care of themselves. In the absence of entertainment, people hit sports just to preserve themselves in a difficult situation. So last year, on the contrary, we had a big influx of new clients.

Perhaps this is also the result of our promotion work. We should not forget that in 2021 nobody knew us and it was hard for us to break through the barrier of distrust of the new brand. The promotion was a bit of a gut feeling. We've tried all sorts of things, even advertising on gazelles in our neighborhood. And funnily enough, a lot of people came to the premium fitness club after seeing the ads on the bodywork.

Has the departure of foreign manufacturers affected your work??

This is the most painful moment that concerns all our departments. We are fortunate to have new and diversified American Life Fitness and Hammer Strength fitness equipment so far. But what to do when they need repairs is still unclear. There are also problems with sports nutrition: all quality proteins in the fitness industry are foreign. And the spa is stocked with imported creams.

What to do? What prospects do you see?

I'm thinking about import substitution. Today it's difficult to look for Russian analogs. Not all products in all areas are up to the level our clients are used to. But I'm looking forward to change and innovation. We saw VR glasses for fitness at the exhibition This is a promising direction. It would be great if some Russian company made its own product in this area.

We ourselves, for example, have started to develop a line of sportswear for clients. Last year we already made vests for merch. Now clients have a real need for quality sportswear. And I look for opportunities to produce products as good as Nike, which I consider to be the benchmark of quality.

Serious swing!

Yes, all or nothing. I worry about our residents: how they will now dress, what they will eat. People come to a premium fitness club to get the best, and we are willing to put all of our ingenuity and creative resources to support them with a quality product.


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