If you've ever Googled workout classes in NY, chances are that minutes later your Instagram feed has become a minefield of sponsored fitness posts, for workout leggings, apps and classes. And while sometimes annoying, if that's the realm you're looking into right now, it's simply smart advertising from brands.
One such ad that pops up on occasion is for popular high-end boxing gym, Rumble, which began making waves in late 2016 as the boxing alternative to celebrity haunts like Barry's Bootcamp. Subsequent to the glowing online reviews and word of mouth, the gym has amassed a cult following amongst women, and for varying reasons. Primarily, the gym normalizes this full-body workout for all sexes, in a stylish way: the gyms come jam-packed with every product known to man (including the necessary spritz of dry shampoo), and are also a far cry from the grubby boxing gyms of Rocky or Million Dollar Baby.
If indeed, like us, you are in need of some motivation, the ton of lady-trainers on the programme are also there for some serious bod envy, and a quick look at the Rumble Instagram will show you how very ripped consistent boxing gets you. We spoke with one of the co-founders of the gym, Noah Neiman below about all-things Rumble, and why the ladies are so obsessed with it.
1. For someone who has never before heard of Rumble, can you explain what it is and why it's different in such a congested fitness market? What is its philosophy?
We never started Rumble to be different. So when asked what makes us unique; I talk about how we execute an incredible concept, incredibly well. When we were sitting in SoHo house for the very first Rumble concept meetings, we wanted to provide the most fun and curated experience we could provide with some pretty incredible resources in terms of team, talent, vision, and capital. We always discussed being authentic to our unique collection of personalities and visions from the lens of a customer. As discerning fitness aficionados; what did WE want to see? We knew that if we stayed true to that vision, we would inherently be unique. The four founders have an obsession with detail and in providing our customers with the most seamless and fun experience on the market. We found confidence in knowing the workout was going to be effective. We utilize the sweet science of boxing and strength training to provide an incredibly efficient workout. Couple that with the beautiful aesthetics, the cleanliness, the artwork that dons the walls, the low hue of the lights that dance on your skin while the club level sound system pumps inspiring beats straight to your bones!! The attention to making the experience incredibly easy, welcoming, fun, and addictive for the client is the foundation that makes Rumble great. What makes it truly special however, is the execution and constant elevation driven by all of the people of Rumble; our clients sand community.
2. What classes/programs/amenities are on offer and what are the most popular?
Outside the studio, Rumble looks more like a Soho art loft than a gym. We offer a beautifully designed studio chalk full of high end amenities. Spacious locker rooms with plenty of showers; DRYBAR blow drying stations and all the bathroom products a guy or gal needs to stay fresh before and after class!
In studio is where the magic really happens though. We offer 45 minute full body strength and conditioning experience throughout the day starting at 5am and running through 8:30 PM; with most classes selling out. Our Chelsea and Noho locations have recently surpassed every other boutique gym in the country to become the most trafficked studios nationally. Its an incredible honor to know how much fun people are having at Rumble and it shows in the attendance, and the countless instagram posts with big groups of people throwing their fists up and smiling in front of one of our commissioned “Instagrammable moment” art pieces.
3. When did Rumble launch? Can you share any membership numbers/company growth? (It seems like it's the next hot thing in fitness and I'd love to have some numbers/percentages that prove this). What is the percentage of women vs. men members?
Rumble first opened the doors in Chelsea January 9th 2017. Quickly become NYC’s favorite gym destination with attendance skyrocketing to 600 plus people a day relatively quickly. NoHo, our second location, opened doors in August. We have around 60K customers signed up with around 71% being female.
4. How many Rumble locations are there? What is the rate of which you are opening new doors? How many new locations are planned for 2018 and beyond?
2 locations at the moment. With Upper east side and Los Angeles opening in Summer. San Francisco, D.C, Philly opening in Fall. We’re going to open 8-10 Rumbles in the next 20 months
5. The four Rumble founders have very diverse backgrounds. Can you tell us a bit abut each and how they helped shape the business plan?
The founders of Rumble have incredibly diverse backgrounds. From Anthony DiMarco who was one of the original employees of Google who retired to run 17 Ironman, Andy Stenzler who founded Cosi sandwiches and has an amazing entrepreneurial track record, to Eugene Remm the founder of CATCH restaurants and the iconic club TENJUNE, who is one of the best experience makers in the nightlife and hospitality industry, to myself who rose to the top of the NYC fitness scene to become the most highly sought after group fitness trainer in the country. We all had such strong backgrounds and unique contributions to make. I’m so honored to get to work with these visionaries and our bond is something not often seen in business; and that really resonates culturally at Rumble.
6. Is Rumble self-funded or are there investors? Can you share anything unique about the fundraising process or any investors behind the company?
We have an incredibly robust and diverse group of investors. It’s “fun money” meaning we had such a strong reputation and plan going into this thing, we had the ability to choose backers that would help contribute to the culture of Rumble and not just simply write a check. From Sylvester Stallone to some incredibly reputable funds. When you open a boxing gym, and have ROCKY himself believing in your vision, you know you have something special.
7. Rumble seems to have particularly struck a chord with women. Can you tell us why you think that is? Where there any strategies to target bringing women into the Rumble world, or did this happen naturally?
We wanted to make boxing more accessible. Polish the experience up. We have a message of inclusivity, equality, and empowerment that resonates with the messaging, aesthetics, and execution of the Rumble brand. Couple that with the unique and welcoming design, and I think you have a recipe that tastes delicious to our female customer. I am incredibly proud of how welcomed women feel at Rumble, and how they are using Rumble to hone their skills. Using a Rumble class to find an endlessly flowing well of positivity, support, and their own self confidence.
Here, you spend half the class on the bags and half on the floor
Boxing can be intimidating and male dominated, so it was important for us to keep the authenticity of a boxing inspired studio, but be cognizant that we wanted everyone to feel like they could let loose and throw punches without fear of judgement.
8. Can you tell us a little bit about how you market the brand/gain new customers? Is social media a big part of the strategy?
We have an experience that people love to share, so a lot of our social media marketing comes from our rapidly expanding customer base sharing their experiences to their engaged following authentically. That authenticity and home grown marketing is the strongest form of promotion. Provide a great time, and let people share it with their spheres of influence. We also make sure to keep our own marketing material and content incredibly fresh and engaging. We constantly have shoots to keep promoting our brand on social media in a fresh way. We don’t do stale or normal at Rumble. We have to stay fresh to death!
9. Any learning lessons/unique challenges you've faced on the road to launching Rumble that you can share with entrepreneurs looking to follow in your footsteps?
Be true to your vision. To touch back to your first question, everyone sets out to be DIFFERENT. We set out to be authentic. Building a brand is a job that you can’t clock out of. We’re so fortunate to absolutely love what we do, so you might catch all of the founders of Rumble taking a class at 830 pm on a Thursday night supporting a new trainer on schedule. We are heavily involved. Being an entrepreneur is a lot like boxing. It's not about not getting hit, it's about rolling with those punches, taking it on the chin sometimes, and knowing you have the dedication, training, team support and work ethic to persevere.
The glam behind the success, Rumble doesn't look like a typical gym
10. Are there any unique trends you are seeing in the fitness world these days? With all the options going on (from phone apps to Classpass), is today's fitness consumer more discerning than ever? If so, what is she looking for?
Of course. You can be when you have so many options. At the end of the day though, people want fun and convenience. People will pay a premium for fitness if they feel like they are getting their moneys worth. So for us, it was important to provide the most premium experience ever so that we could warrant our price and a discerning fitness enthusiasts time.
11. Can you tell us little about your trainers/founding trainers? It seems you have some amazing ladies there. Can you tell us a bit about them and how you selected the team? (What is the percentage of men/women trainers?)
The talent of the Rumble trainers is undeniable. We were so fortunate to naturally have connections to our founding team and everything came together very serendipitously. Joe Ferraro, Rob Sulaver, Andy Stern, Erika Hammond, Dani Burrell, and Ashley Guarrassi. When you know, you know. Confidence is never a problem with us founders and we trust our gut. When we were meeting with potential trainers to launch this brand, we knew without a doubt the star power of this group of individuals.
Their passion and dedication to the craft is unrelenting, and it shows with every class they teach. Same with all of the trainers at Rumble; they bleed their love, passion, and care for the people in their class. Sweat pouring off their bodies as the drive the arch of the class. I may be a little biased but simply put, its just special. A special place, filled with special people, and an incredibly special culture. I couldn’t be more proud and humbled that Rumble has had such a profound affect on New York City in such a short amount of time.
Gender divisions in sports have primarily served to keep women out of what has always been believed to be a male domain. The idea of women participating alongside men has been regarded with contempt under the belief that women were made physically inferior.
Within their own division, women have reached new heights, received accolades for outstanding physical performance and endurance, and have proven themselves to be as capable of athletic excellence as men. In spite of women's collective fight to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts, female athletes must now prove their womanhood in order to compete alongside their own gender.
That has been the reality for Caster Semenya, a South African Olympic champion, who has been at the center of the latest gender discrimination debate across the world. After crushing her competition in the women's 800-meter dash in 2016, Semenya was subjected to scrutiny from her peers based upon her physical appearance, calling her gender into question. Despite setting a new national record for South Africa and attaining the title of fifth fastest woman in Olympic history, Semenya's success was quickly brushed aside as she became a spectacle for all the wrong reasons.
Semenya's gender became a hot topic among reporters as the Olympic champion was subjected to sex testing by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). According to Ruth Padawer from the New York Times, Semenya was forced to undergo relentless examination by gender experts to determine whether or not she was woman enough to compete as one. While the IAAF has never released the results of their testing, that did not stop the media from making irreverent speculations about the athlete's gender.
Moments after winning the Berlin World Athletics Championship in 2009, Semenya was faced with immediate backlash from fellow runners. Elisa Cusma who suffered a whopping defeat after finishing in sixth place, felt as though Semenya was too masculine to compete in a women's race. Cusma stated, "These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she is not a woman. She's a man." While her statement proved insensitive enough, her perspective was acknowledged and appeared to be a mutually belief among the other white female competitors.
Fast forward to 2018, the IAAF issued new Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development) that apply to events from 400m to the mile, including 400m hurdles races, 800m, and 1500m. The regulations created by the IAAF state that an athlete must be recognized at law as either female or intersex, she must reduce her testosterone level to below 5 nmol/L continuously for the duration of six months, and she must maintain her testosterone levels to remain below 5 nmol/L during and after competing so long as she wishes to be eligible to compete in any future events. It is believed that these new rules have been put into effect to specifically target Semenya given her history of being the most recent athlete to face this sort of discrimination.
With these regulations put into effect, in combination with the lack of information about whether or not Semenya is biologically a female of male, society has seemed to come to the conclusion that Semenya is intersex, meaning she was born with any variation of characteristics, chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. After her initial testing, there had been alleged leaks to media outlets such as Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper which stated that Semenya's results proved that her testosterone levels were too high. This information, while not credible, has been widely accepted as fact. Whether or not Semenya is intersex, society appears to be missing the point that no one is entitled to this information. Running off their newfound acceptance that the Olympic champion is intersex, it calls into question whether her elevated levels of testosterone makes her a man.
The IAAF published a study concluding that higher levels of testosterone do, in fact, contribute to the level of performance in track and field. However, higher testosterone levels have never been the sole determining factor for sex or gender. There are conditions that affect women, such as PCOS, in which the ovaries produce extra amounts of testosterone. However, those women never have their womanhood called into question, nor should they—and neither should Semenya.
Every aspect of the issue surrounding Semenya's body has been deplorable, to say the least. However, there has not been enough recognition as to how invasive and degrading sex testing actually is. For any woman, at any age, to have her body forcibly examined and studied like a science project by "experts" is humiliating and unethical. Under no circumstances have Semenya's health or well-being been considered upon discovering that her body allegedly produces an excessive amount of testosterone. For the sake of an organization, for the comfort of white female athletes who felt as though Semenya's gender was an unfair advantage against them, Semenya and other women like her, must undergo hormone treatment to reduce their performance to that of which women are expected to perform at. Yet some women within the athletic community are unphased by this direct attempt to further prove women as inferior athletes.
As difficult as this global invasion of privacy has been for the athlete, the humiliation and sense of violation is felt by her people in South Africa. Writer and activist, Kari, reported that Semenya has had the country's undying support since her first global appearance in 2009. Even after the IAAF released their new regulations, South Africans have refuted their accusations. Kari stated, "The Minister of Sports and Recreation and the Africa National Congress, South Africa's ruling party labeled the decision as anti-sport, racist, and homophobic." It is no secret that the build and appearance of Black women have always been met with racist and sexist commentary. Because Black women have never managed to fit into the European standard of beauty catered to and in favor of white women, the accusations of Semenya appearing too masculine were unsurprising.
Despite the countless injustices Semenya has faced over the years, she remains as determined as ever to return to track and field and compete amongst women as the woman she is. Her fight against the IAAF's regulations continues as the Olympic champion has been receiving and outpour of support in wake of the Association's decision. Semenya is determined to run again, win again, and set new and inclusive standards for women's sports.