Before he opened the Dream Fitness franchise, Gary Kellaway used to work for a bank. Once he realised his real passion was fitness, he quit his job to pursue becoming the leader his community needed.

Today Gary is running not one but two gyms with combined square footage of 22,000 and nearly 3000 gym members on board. 

Tell us what made you open a gym?

Well, once I graduated university, I thought my degree was going to help me secure the best career I could get. What actually followed was six months of unemployment, before eventually being offered a job at a local bank. The job was alien to me as I’ve only ever excelled in a fitness environment.

18 months was exactly how much I stayed at the job before handing in my notice with the hope that I was going to open a gym by the end of the year.

I had just got married & purchased my first home, so you can imagine the stress and magnitude of the gamble back then!

My club was started with £2k of my own money and lots of loans. We took on the most dilapidated building in the town and just got to work in trying to make it the best. We started with 3000 square feet and a few hundred members.

Fast forward a lot of years of grafting and a global pandemic, we now have two gyms with combined square footage of 22,000 & over 2800 members using us.

What’s the best thing about running a gym?

Similarly to most business owners, you have an element of control over your working life, which is quite liberating. I work longer hours than I’ve ever done in any other job, so don’t interpret that as living ‘the laptop lifestyle’. But having the ability to dial back and recharge the batteries as needed is a lot better than being locked in under layers of management with limited holidays and unpaid overtime.

“When we switched to Xplor Gym, we immediately started making more money, because we had more options for members to join remotely which eased the pressure on the workforce.”

Gary Kellaway
Dream Fitness

What problems did you have before joining Xplor Gym that made you switch providers?

Prior to finding Xplor Gym (at the time known as Membr), we used a different platform. There were a few software issues and functionalities it couldn’t carry out.

We were progressing quite fast as a business, but couldn’t keep up with new demands on the old systems. For example, we had to sign up every member in person and sign a paper membership agreement. It became quite old, quite fast.

After a google search, I found Xplor Gym, enquired online & booked in a demo the same day. The platform did everything I wanted, it was seamless, and it integrated really well with our door access system. The price was fair, and I thought let’s go for it.

How has Xplor Gym helped your fitness club, your team and business operations?

When we switched to Xplor Gym, we immediately started making more money, because we had more options for members to join remotely which eased the pressure on the workforce.

The great thing about Xplor Gym is the company has continued to grow and push for progress alongside me. There are a range of new software capabilities that weren’t available when I first started working with them. Things such as fitness training programmes and SMS marketing we use every day now.

“In 6 years I have never had a negative interaction with Xplor Gym.”

Gary Kellaway
Dream Fitness

What are the Xplor Gym features that your business can’t live without?

The class booking system, member emails, SMS marketing & training programmes.

What are your business goals for the next 12 months?

Our gym right now is in a mindset of ‘safety’, so the next 12-18 months are about clearing down debt levels and building a big cash surplus for future safety and investment opportunity.

Beyond that, we can see expansion to a 3rd and 4th site through acquisition or an exit, so that a larger brand can take us under their wing & continue to grow.

Article by Xplor Gym

First published: 06 July 2022

Last updated: 14 March 2024