In recent years, several boutique gyms have sprouted in the vicinity of the Central Business District.
Located on the second storey of a shophouse along Telok Ayer Street is Uppercut, a boutique boxing studio. Interestingly, I gave Uppercut a go in 2018 when a friend was interested to try fitness boxing — and man, did that work up a good sweat.
Commanding premium credits on Classpass, you can count on Uppercut to be fully booked on weekends. Though Uppercut was only set up in 2017, business partners Elizabeth Seow and Issac Kwok have built quite a strong brand in just under 2 years.
I decided to sit down with Elizabeth for a chat on how Uppercut has managed to establish a name for themselves in the competitive fitness industry here in Singapore.
While she was a fashion student in London, Elizabeth enjoyed boxing regularly at boutique gyms. Upon her return to Singapore, she was shocked to find that there were hardly any boutique boxing gyms back home.
“All the boxing gyms at the time were all the fight gyms,” she explained, telling us that the idea of fighting intimidated her.
“I enjoy the sport, but not the violence.”
The studio shares their name with the boxing move, uppercut. The idea sprung from a random muse that struck them as they were en route to a unit viewing.
Uppercut represents being a cut above the rest.
The young co-founder explained that the duo found it to be quite an “effortless” name.
The Uppercut Experience
“A brand encompasses everything. To me, a brand is how a company is being perceived by the customers — the people who experience it.”
Head up the flight of stairs and you’ll find yourself in a clean, sleek, minimalist space. Expect to receive a warm and friendly welcome from the front-of-house staff. If you’re early for class, don’t be surprised when they strike up a conversation to ask you how your day went.
“We want clients to feel like it’s their second home.”
Stepping into a new space can be intimidating, even for seasoned boxers. Co-founders Elizabeth and Isaac understand their clients perfectly, and aim to create a space that’s non-intimidating.
Classes are deliberately held in a dark room, to allow clients the chance to shed their inhibitions and be themselves — according to Elizabeth, working out in a dark room means “there’s no one there to judge, and no feelings of self-consciousness.”
Jab, Cross, Hook, Uppercut!
“Credibility and community are very important to us.”
If you’ve ever attended their classes, you’ll realise this is true. All the boxing instructors at Uppercut have a solid background in boxing — some are even professional MMA fighters.
Currently, the studio offers three different classes, titled Undercard, Overthrow and Beatdown.
The classes vary in terms of intensity and skill level. For example, their Undercard classes focus primarily on techniques and are good for beginners.
Monthly team meetings are held to ensure consistency in the way classes are being taught. The last thing the team wants is to confuse a client, and their meetings help instructors set some SOPs so that each Uppercut class is kept consistent.
After class ends, instructors make sure that they high five every single client and affirm them on the good work they’ve put in.
A Cut Above The Rest
“There’s so much competition — it’s really important to find a way to differentiate ourselves from others.”
Uppercut runs classes a little differently from your typical fitness boxing gym. While Elizabeth and Isaac initially did not plan to focus heavily on technique, they noticed, through keen observation of their clients, that many did not have the right form when they were hitting the bags.
“I thought to myself – firstly, that’s not how you box, and secondly – you could seriously injure yourself! It kills me a little inside when I see people box using the wrong techniques.”
Their instructors focus on teaching clients actual boxing techniques, incorporating footwork and defense techniques such as slips and weaves.
“People recognise Uppercut as a place to brush up on techniques. That’s what most of our regulars appreciate.”
The Uppercut Fam
Uppercut constantly populates their Instagram feed with video demonstrations. In these short clips, instructors can be seen demonstrating various punches and boxing techniques.
Elizabeth, who also heads the creative and branding aspect of the business, says their instructors play a huge part in building the Uppercut brand.
Our instructors are also the faces of our brand.
Apart from tapping on their brand ambassadors to construct a positive brand image, featuring their instructors on their feed also serves as a source of motivation.
“If I was a client, I would want to have someone to look up to.”
Elizabeth and Isaac are committed to serving their clients well, and want to cater towards anyone and everyone who wants to learn boxing — plus the people who work in the vicinity of the Telok Ayer precinct.
Apart from conducting their usual classes, they also hold corporate classes and events and are constantly thinking of ways to improve the uppercut brand. TOC