When the retail giant Wal-Mart opened its first UK store in 2012, its first gymnasium was a warehouse in London’s leafy Old Street.
“I thought it would be a great thing for people to go to and do something they could do with a bit of strength and conditioning,” said the company’s former vice president of retail, Mike Harker.
But the first gym was quickly replaced by a fitness centre.
“We’ve got some very popular exercises in the gym today,” he said.
The new gym’s size meant there were fewer exercise machines and staff were often limited to just a few exercises, but there were no restrictions on size. “
But I think you’re not going to see a lot of people doing that with the old gym.”
The new gym’s size meant there were fewer exercise machines and staff were often limited to just a few exercises, but there were no restrictions on size.
The gym has now expanded to a large shopping centre in Coventry, but Harkar said its not always the biggest gym in Covent Garden.
“The gym is very small, so you’re able to do a lot more,” he told BBC Sport.
“So it’s not as big as the old one, it’s actually quite small.”
The company also has two more gymnasia in the area, one in London and one in Birmingham.
Harkhar said the gym’s popularity had been a key factor in its success.
“There are two or three gymnasias in the Covent Gardens area now, and one of them has had about 10,000 people coming in and out of it,” he explained.
“People go in and they do things like squats, deadlifts, bench presses, push ups, pushdowns, chin ups and curls.”
The number of people coming to the gym has been on the rise in recent years, particularly among teenagers.
Haryana-born Harkharyu Bose, who has lived in Covents Garden for the past 10 years, said he used to do exercises for friends.
“Now, when I’m in the middle of a conversation, I’m trying to do them for them,” he added.
“If you do a good squat, I will do it for you, if you do curls, I’ll do them too.”
The gym was one of the first of its kind in the UK to be converted to a fitness hub.
Its success led to more gyms opening in the city and now there are almost 2,500 gyms in the country, including more than 3,000 in Covence.
Wal-mart has invested more than £1 billion in the facility, with more than 30,000 members and its fitness centre has more than 400,000 square metres of space.
“It’s been very popular and it’s been one of our best performing businesses in the world,” said Mike Halker.
“You can’t get a better value from a gym than the gym that Wal-Marts in Covance have.”
Fitness centres can be expensive, with some costing up to £50,000 a year.
However, a Wal-marts gym in London is a lot cheaper than one in Covancy, with its membership cost £18 a week.
“They’re not expensive, but the cost of running the gym is huge, so we think they’re a good value for the money,” said Harkr.
The chain has also invested in fitness equipment.
Halkar said that after the launch of the gym, the company was already in talks to add additional gyms and add more equipment.
“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what type of exercise you’re doing, we’re happy to have people come in and do the exercise that we’re doing,” he continued.
For people that are really into exercise, they’re going do more of the exercises, and the gym itself will be a very good place for them to do that.”