Imperium is a one of a kind facility, with the ethos that absolutely everyone is welcome. Unlike most gyms, The two Ben’s strive to create a fun and friendly atmosphere with a strong community spirit. It’s not just about the facilities on offer, it’s the promise that you will receive a quality, tailored experience surrounded by like minded people who want to see you succeed.
So how did they get here? As an ex Royal Marine PTI, Ben Wadham tells us that he decided to join at the age of 18 because further education wasn’t an option for him. Serving for 10 years in total, Ben was a soldier specialising in the signals area. “In the last four years, I became a physical training instructor; basically taking the recruits through from week one and turning them into a Royal Marine by week 32”.
Eventually, the job started to take its toll, and after falling out of love with soldiering, Ben started to question his career path. “I left in September 2014, I knew it was the right thing to do”. Ben had numerous qualifications including a degree in strength and conditioning, so he stuck to what he knew and worked as a Personal Trainer at a local Crossfit gym.
Ben Hay- the operations manager for Imperium; has had a wealth of previous positions giving him a rich skills set. “I had worked in the care sector for a number of years, media and marketing and distribution as well. My history is a bit sporadic!” Ben tells us he has a passion for fitness, and enjoys board sports such as surfing. However, a serious shoulder condition meant a dramatic decline in mobility, resulting in grade 4 arthritis. “I had a go at Crossfit to try and gain some of my mobility back, I liked the whole ethos. I was lacking a lot of motivation at the time- getting back into something is always the hardest part”. Ben found that being in a positive environment doing something he loved really helped- and this is how he met (the other!) Ben.
The pair had a lot of similarities, and it soon became apparent that they also shared the aspiration to run their own gym. After a chat over a takeout Costa, and Ben Wadham building a business plan with his wife, Laura- the goal was set and the dream was put into motion.
“It was two months from the initial conversation to delivery. It was then 7 months from our first pop up gym to our premises now”.
Utilising a spare unit that Ben Hay had at the time, they opened their first pop- up, 1000 sqft fitness/ strength and conditioning gym in May 2016. Having served in the military and through his extensive Personal Training experience, Ben Wadham brought forward a loyal clientele- the opening week saw 80 members join and a cap of 100 within just the first month. Having such a strong start to a business is certainly an impressive feat, and this was done purely through word of mouth and recommendations from friends.
Quick success meant that an expansion was on the cards, so with the help of friends and family, the foundations went down for a brand new purpose built facility.
Ben Hay took on the role of project manager, calling upon skills from his previous employment; and tells us there were a lot of stepping stones to the process. The unit was originally going to be four separate entities, but the pair bought the entire space and built the internal structure themselves.
The main aim was for it to be holistic and inclusive. The entire space incorporates a functional fitness area and body building suite, male and female changing rooms, a sauna, onsite parking and a uniquely styled café named The Hive.
coffee, amazing super food smoothies inspired by Anna’s 8 years in Australia; and fantastic food suitable for any nutritional meal plan or cheat meal.
The Hive has a very organic feel, from the cool and calm interior to the wide range of food on offer. It is definitely a place where you can wind down after a workout, or pop in to grab a coffee and do some work. The café offers something for everyone, from home made, macro friendly prep meals made by Anna herself- to delicious comfort food suitable for people popping in for lunch.
The idea of having a café amalgamated with the gym fits in with the community ethos that Imperium stands for. Both Ben’s want everyone to feel welcome here, whether you are a hardcore fitness fanatic, a complete beginner, or have never been to a gym in your life and just want a good coffee!
Imperium has an extensive range of memberships on offer, tailored to your unique way of training
In regards to memberships for their facilities, Ben Wadham explains that they are designed to be completely flexible. “There is something for everyone, I didn’t want to limit myself to just die hard cross fitters- I wanted to offer opportunities to everyone, whether you are into gymnastics, bodybuilding or just want to stick your headphones in and train!”
The interior of the gym is incredibly open plan; with a mezzanine looking down over the cross fit area from the fitness suite. Ben explains it was purposely designed this way to encourage a natural progression within their internal memberships. “This way, people training with us can take the next step up and try something new. Functional fitness is a massively growing part of the industry, we want to latch on to that and grow it to the next level”.
From the inception of an idea to a fully fledged, multipurpose, custom built facility in just 9 months; Ben Hay and Ben Wadham should certainly be proud of the business they have crafted. Both incredibly driven people, it is clear to see that passion for the industry and passion for each and every one of their clients will no doubt help with their continued growth.
“We all put our hearts and souls into what we do and we truly believe that people deserve the best. Of course, we have to make it work as a business- but we strive for every single person coming through the door to say; you know what, that was worth every single penny- and I’m coming back tomorrow”
The pair have exciting future plans for Imperium, starting with expansion of their current premises. Hoping to create an outdoor training area for the summer months, this will add yet another string to their bow in regards to facilities on offer. Looking further into the future, Ben Wadham hopes that there will be more than one Imperium Gym. With customer interest already coming from places like Truro and Torquay, and given their impressive business history; we have no doubt that this will soon become a reality.