Founders und CEO’s Moritz Kreppel & Benjamin Roth. Photo: Sarah Zahn

Today some exciting news: I had a chance to interview the Co-Founder and the CEO behind Urban Sports Club, Moritz Kreppel. In this interview, you will find out how the idea behind the major Berlin-based health/wellness company came about, what it took to get things up-and-running, who are the people behind it, musings on why yoga is spreading and becoming more and more popular, and how the company is living up to its intention to “in the end, no matter where you are in Europe,… always have your gym, yoga class or sports club with you.”

Q: How did it all start? Whose idea was it and what was the timeframe like to get from the initial idea to the whole business with the team and investors supporting the project?

A: We (Moritz Kreppel and Benjamin Roth) founded Urban Sports Club in Berlin in 2012. Back then we were both missing the flexibility to do sports in our daily working routine, as we traveled a lot. No matter where you are, you can take almost everything with you, except your gym. That was a problem for us, as our fitness and stamina suffered. So we drew up the concept of a flexible sports flat-rate. A model where you can join different sports offers at many different sports clubs. And you only pay one amount every month. It was supposed to be the most flexible and diversified sports offer on the whole market. Only one membership, more than 50 different kinds of sports at thousands of sports clubs and members can quit or pause their membership every month.

We started very tiny, with only the two of us working every day. We did not have much money, no investors and not even an office, but instead worked from a co-working space. The only thing we had was the idea, a business plan and a power-point presentation. With that, we went from sports studio to sports studio, talking to potential partners in Berlin. After a few months, we had 35 partners. We were very optimistic that our business model would work and we hired our first employee – a mini-jobber. Since that we are growing bigger and bigger every day. We merged with other similar sports startups and meanwhile we have four offices in Berlin, Cologne, Munich and Paris with more than 100 people working for Urban Sports Club.

Q: There used to be a startup called Somuchmore that offered unlimited yoga and alternative therapies classes/sessions for a membership and then it got absorbed by the company. How did that happen?

A: Somuchmore started a similar concept like we did. In 2016 we contacted the founder and since our concepts were quite similar we decided that it would make more sense to work together instead of against each other. The idea was to make our concept more known all over Germany and to throw together the expertise of both teams. So in the end we merged and our team double sized – from 12 to 24 employees. That was a big milestone for us.

Yoga is one of the most popular offers on the market! Photo: Urban Sports Club

Q: Someone told me Yoga was the most beloved “sport” with your crowd. Why do you think this is the case?

I believe that this is because Yoga fits very well with the turbulent times we are living in. Everything seems to become more hectic, more multi-tasking, more connectivity, everybody is constantly online, always available via a multitude of channels. Yoga provides a perfect balance to this by giving you a great mix of relaxation, exercise and mindfulness/meditation. Therefore I believe it will only become more relevant going forward. In the end, that is reflected in our membership where yoga studios are the largest group of studios.

More and more yoga studios are built up in every city and more and more people join Yoga classes. Since we got so many and very popular Yoga partners like Spirit Yoga, Element Yoga or Peace Yoga and many others all over Germany, it is obvious that our members love us because of our big Yoga offer. But also other sports like CrossFit, gyms, swimming, Pilates and dancing are very popular. And that is maybe a little part of our success, the big variety. You have the possibility to join many different sports and not only one offer or class at always the same club.

Q: Aside from access to sports venues and yoga studios, you guys also offer Corporate Fitness Programs. How is that going? Are there more and more companies who care about the health of their employees?

A: Yes. We see that this is a more and more important topic to both employers and employees. Nowadays it is not enough to just pay a monthly salary to your employees. Qualified job applicants are hard to find, so you have to offer them more than just money or a company car. And that is where we get into the game. With the Corporate Fitness Program of Urban Sports Club, every employee gets his or her favorite sport, free massages and wellness treatments and everybody can join classes wherever he or she wants. No matter if you are on a business trip, near your office or your home. You can join different classes at any time, alone, with your colleagues or with your friends. So there is not just one offer and everybody has to attend the same class or gym. Urban Sports Club offers the right sport- or wellness-treatment for every employee, no matter how young, old or active you are. You can choose out of 50 different kinds of sports and I am sure among all sport clubs there is the perfect offer for every demand. That is our dream. We want to make it possible for everybody to live an active and healthy life. And the best thing about our Corporate Fitness Program is: The memberships are fiscally favored.

Q: Now Urban Sports Club is active all over Germany. Are there plans to expand beyond the borders?

A: Absolutely. Our dream is that wherever you are, you have your gym, Yoga class or sports club close to you. That is already possible in all the big German cities plus Paris. At the moment, with Urban Sports Club you have access to more than 2.000 sport clubs in 22 cities and we are growing further. Paris was the first city abroad and our plans are to grow further in France. But also other countries are very interesting. So that in the end, no matter where you are in Europe, you always have your gym, yoga class or sports club with you.

Final Notes:

Thank you, Moritz Kreppel, for this insightful interview and a chance to get into the head of the people behind Urban Sports Club. This is, by all means, an inspiring story of entrepreneurship with an altruistic intention, which quite authentically comes out of the personal story behind the founders. Ultimately, if more people start taking care of their bodies and their minds, the world will be a better place!