Michael Aldridge: CREW Rowing & Fitness
“CREW is the first of it’s kind.
No one is doing anything like it.”
Fitness and lifestyle business ventures have saturated the market, with clients sweating constantly at sessions across the country. But for Mike Aldridge, founder and head coach at CREW Boutique Rowing Studio, his gym takes a different stream to stand out.
With an interest in rowing that began in high school, Mike’s prolific sporting career and love of exercise led him to discover and bring the latest trend in health and fitness to Sydney shores.
“CREW is the first of its kind in Australia. It’s something completely different and I think people are appreciating it for that fact.”
Graduating from Scots College, Michael made the difficult choice to pursue a career in Rugby over rowing, relocating to Italy at the age of 19, where he represented Rome for over 10 years.
Sustaining a number of injuries, a number of ankle surgeries limited the amount of high impact training Michael could complete;
“I eventually retired from Rugby and returned home to Sydney to begin a career in something I was always passionate about, health and fitness,”
Building a successful personal training business in Sydney’s East for the past four years, Michael’s recent trip to the USA prompted the birth of his new venture, CREW.
“I was travelling through the USA and discovered the cult following that is Rowing studios, ascend across New York.”
With rowing studios being “all the rage”, what is usually the most neglected machine in the gym presented an extremely viable business opportunity for Michael, for an innovative fitness experience.
“After one session I was hooked. The low impact nature of the rower was perfect for my injuries, and mixed with the high intensity, the atmosphere, and the team environment, it took me back to my days of team sport.”
“I had not had a training session like that in years.” said Michael.
With experience in the personal training field, Michael established Australia’s first rowing studio, though venturing out on his own harboured it’s share of fear and trepidation.
“I have always dreamed of one day doing something for myself. However I always lacked the courage and confidence to take the jump and actually go through with it.”
As a self-funded and managed business, Michael juggles his roles as head coach, administrator, bookkeeper, and PR and marketing for the business, with an unparalleled passion and drive.
“At the moment I feel like I cannot relax until my classes are fully booked out. I need to continually drive this business. If I take time to relax CREW is not going to grow. Everything comes down to me which initially was a little overwhelming.”
When asked to detail the commitment he has to CREW, Michael explained his new morning routine:
“I’m up at 4:45am doing 8-10 sessions a day and in between that doing the admin, sales calls, bookkeeping, marketing etc. I get home at 8:30pm and have dinner before falling asleep on the couch by 9pm. My wife has been incredibly supportive.”
CREW’s mission centres on building an ego free environment and ethos of teamwork, unity and perseverance, with boutique fitness classes that follow the motto “row your way to health and happiness”.
With a stylish, edgy studio fit-out, the relaxing atmosphere and clever design of CREW studios adds to the flair of the business.
“If you just plonked 12 rowers in a dull room with no visual stimulation the atmosphere would not be there. We have the lights dimmed, the music is up, great mirrors to watch your form, neon lights, wall murals. We have plenty of distractions for people, rather than just staring straight at the rowing machine monitor watching the meters tick over.” comments Michael.
Using his position as the “new cool kid on the block” to build awareness of his business, Michael credits his friends interaction with CREW’s social media platforms as the reason several members have joined the gym. Michael also highlights his wife Abby as his biggest supporter, and inspiration, with their first child due in March motivating him to succeed with CREW in order to provide for his future family.
Michael highlights, in addition to his wife and friends, support within the industry has been immense since CREW’s inception, admired for it’s originality and dedication to the improvement of fitness.
“The help and support within the industry has been amazing. Even studios around the corner from me in the City have been helping me out informing their clients on CREW and encouraging them to come in for a session.”
With classes focusing on muscle development, flexibility and stability, CREW offers restorative and rejuvenating workouts for participants of any age and is changing the current streams in the fitness industry.