Duncan Bannatyne’s ex-wife expands fast-growing fitness empire

Tees Business Digital Media Pack

Joanne McCue

The former wife of ex-Dragon’s Den star Duncan Bannatyne is expanding her own fast-growing fitness empire with the launch of new facilities on Teesside – and with plans to target Manchester and Edinburgh next.

Joanne McCue and business partner Lee Howe have created seven new jobs while investing more than £250,000 in new equipment ahead of the launch of new fitness classes based at the WattFitness studio on Teesside Industrial Estate, near Ingleby Barwick.

With the launch of ‘boutique fitness’ classes, WattDefine and WattSpin, Joanne says Teesside is joining a results-focused, data-driven fitness revolution that’s already taken the USA and London by storm.

Norton-born Joanne, who previously ran a national chain of Bannatyne’s Health Clubs with ex-husband Duncan, believes the launch of WattDefine and WattSpin represents “a new era in fitness”.

She said: “We’re thrilled to be bringing such a leading fitness concept to Teesside. Both WattDefine and WattSpin are going to be massive. This is the new face of fitness in the UK.

“There is nothing like this outside London across the entire country. We’ve done our research across the UK and overseas, including visits to New York. The concepts behind both WattDefine and WattSpin combine the best elements of all the leading boutique fitness studios with our own twist that makes them truly unique.

“Small boutique fitness units are a new concept in the UK but they are the future of the fitness industry, not the old-style health clubs. They’re growing quickly in London after sweeping up the US market, but you’ll find nothing like this outside of London anywhere in the UK, so Teesside is helping to lead the way for the future of fitness in this country.

“But we already have Manchester and Edinburgh in mind for our next sites once Teesside takes off.”

WattDefine is described as the ultimate bootcamp workout, promising to burn up to 1,000 calories via 45 minutes of physical intensity, combining high-intensity intervals on the treadmill with core strength conditioning using weights.

WattSpin is a rhythm-based ‘sweat fest’, with participants using light weights for a total body workout on indoor bikes whilst listening to music designed to inspire them.

Teessiders are being invited to try out both new concepts from January 25 but Joanne issued a warning with her invitation, insisting: “It’s important people understand that this isn’t a health club. We’ve opened a training facility, not a spa.

“Our classes are for people who want to become leaner, fitter, stronger and healthier. Research shows that you won’t change your body or your fitness levels if you work out within your comfort zone.

“Both WattDefine and WattSpin are designed to push people right out of their comfort zone. We promise participants that they will feel uncomfortable but hi-intensity training and lifting weights are absolutely necessary.

“But there’s been a phenomenal reaction from those who’ve attended our trial classes over the past two weeks. They can see that it will deliver the results we promise.”

Once the new studios are operating at full speed, the facility will host 89 classes a week across the new WattDefine and WattSpin concepts and the existing WattCycle sessions.

Ex-Marine Lee added: “We’ve invested over £250,000 in equipment and the training environment, much of it in specialist Woodway treadmills that are unlike anything you’ll find in any health club. Costing £10,000 each, these are machines you’ll only find in serious training facilities and are designed to remove 90% of the impact on the joints compared to standard treadmills.

“We’ve been very careful to recruit only the best fitness coaches, boosting our coaching team from three to seven. With our new recruits, we now have a truly first class training team, who are even fitter than they look. We’re confident they’ll inspire visitors to get the most out of every workout.”

Between them, Joanne and Lee now employ more than 40 staff at the WattCycle facility and four CrossFit units in Teesside, Darlington, Hartlepool, Durham and Team Valley. New Zealand’s All Blacks carried out daily training sessions at the DL2 CrossFit unit at Mowden Park Rugby Club on their way to winning last year’s Rugby World Cup.


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