How Knox Is Redefining Gym Culture In India

How Knox Is Redefining Gym Culture In India

Written by

Yeesha Prakash

I’ve always been into fitness mainly because I aspire to be a cat. But I was never a gym goer; Yoga was my favourite form of movement until I went for an Animal Flow workshop hosted by the coolest fitness studio in Delhi - Knox. Adito, Ishan and Faraz from Knox made this intense art of transforming into beasts, crabs and scorpions super fun, and I thought for a moment that I mighttt just realise my dream of transforming into a cat someday.

Gone are the days when fitness meant getting an ultra chiselled body, lifting heavy, having bigger muscles than the next guy and pushing all physical limits even if that meant compromising on mental wellbeing. Today, people are looking for enhanced, personalised, and holistic wellness solutions. It is no longer purely about a weight-loss programme either. The goal now is to focus on longevity, happiness, mental wellness and community building - on FEELING GOOD. The line between mind and body is merging with people looking for ways to enhance both at the same time.

The global health and fitness club market - valued at $70.3 billion in 2022 and projected to register a CAGR of 11.86% over the next five years, according to a report by Mordor Intelligence - now caters to these diverse needs.

Knox is one such space that offers an amalgamation of fitness and community-building, where like-minded people interact with and inspire each other to attain their athletic goals. Established with the aim of transforming the fitness landscape and making it more meaningful, Knox is not just a workout space but an immersive experience that pushes the boundaries of what a traditional workout session should be like.

After the Animal Flow workshop, I was intrigued to attend a session at Knox. Ishan, my trainer for the day, offered me a shot of coffee and asked if I wanted to work on something specific. It's one of my goals for 2023 to do a handstand without wall support which we would practise later. My hips feel perpetually tight so we started with some deep stretches - Ishan said it's important to work on mobility and flexibility to improve range of motion. We kept at it for what felt like ages with Ishan promising me I would feel better afterwards. Time really does come to a standstill when you’re lengthening muscles in such deep stretches - it's almost like meditation (with way more discomfort), giving you space to tune inward. I was about to give up when he walked in - beautiful, long, golden hair, furry tail wagging, face smiling at the sight of every hooman. At Knox, every day is a bring your dog to Knox day. I forgot all about my pain, if only for a few moments.

Rest of the session was dynamic exercises, animal flow techniques and, eventually, handstand drills. Apart from the immense personal attention, I loved how everyone joked around with each other, the atmosphere was electric and dogs were the cutest. This place sucks you in and you do not want to leave; I know I didn’t, even after a 75 minute session.

I met Sumalini, a Knox member after my session, who loves how she can book a session with anyone. She practises Calisthenics with Ishan, Animal Flow with Adito and boxing with Rajneesh.

“Knox is a perfect mix of a skills lab and a playground, where everyone is on your team. Good lighting, good music, better dogs and it always feels like home!”
Sumalini Khullar, Founder Baroque

Let’s learn a little bit about the brilliant crew at Knox, their journeys and their vision for Knox.

Joel Pinto, Director and trainer, Knox

Joel was never into sports and started his fitness journey only in college after his father pushed him towards taking care of his body. He tagged along with his dad to a gym that happened to be inside a hospital. Being an engineer, he liked to ask a lot of questions about the scientific aspects of movements and being around physiotherapists became a blessing. The biggest shift, however, happened when he failed academically. His interest in fitness peaked and he started hitting the gym regularly as a way to look great. The ripped abs he built certainly gave him a boost of confidence.

The gym taught him that if you work on something, you’ll get results. He finished college with a 9 GPA in his last semester.

After that, he wanted to join the Army. He trained in Krav Maga, continuously worked on educating himself and got certifications including one under Kris Gethin. Army plans didn’t work out and he started working as a Project Manager for Keventers. After many years, he would build Knox with one of the co-founders at Keventers, who happened to be his friend of two decades. With his background in Construction and Interior design, Joel helped create the Knox space and set up operations from Day 1.

With certifications such as Corrective Exercise Specialist ISSA, Athletic Truth Group (ATG L1), Injury Management INFS, Precision Nutrition PN L1 and Hypervolt Movement Enhancement, Joel’s core competencies include Identifying the weak links, Sports performance /Sports specific training, Training around injuries/disabilities, Mobility and Strength.

Joel specialises in identifying weak links through movements, not just tests. He helps his clients improve their Structural balance, a concept popularised by Canadian strength coach, Charles Poliquin. The idea is that for optimal athletic performance, you have to attain specific ratios of strength balances and work on opposite muscle groups to maximise the performance of main muscles required for a particular movement.

“My favourite thing about Knox is the community. Some days I’m spending 12-14 hours here and never having a dull moment. At Knox, it's not just about exercising; we’re always pushing each other to work on new skills while having the best time. Ishan was the first to start working on his hand balancing, it took him 6-7 months but he did it. That motivated the rest of us to go for it.”

“I’m a huge fan of Knox studio, and especially my trainer - Joel. His scientific approach to fitness has changed the way I look at exercise.”
Tarini Manchanda, Fashion creator

Ishan Lall, Co-founder and trainer, Knox

Ishaan describes himself as a chubby kid who was strong and good at sports but somehow never lost weight. During college, he became an athletic guy and started hitting the gym regularly, but still never managed to have that coveted ripped abdomen. After many years of training and a law degree in Australia, he finally hit his target.

To his surprise however, he didn’t feel as great as he thought he would - “I was killing myself for 2-3 hours training hard everyday, eating food I didn’t like and obsessing over my shape and size.”

Lockdown hit after 3 months, and Ishan was back home with a newfound perspective on fitness and wellness. He started making fitness related content and coaching people online. That’s when he found Knox and joined their core team as a partner.

His Knox journey started with Animal Flow - a ground-based bodyweight movement system founded by Mike Fitch designed to improve a range of skills including endurance, flexibility, mobility, and stability. He and Adito trained together and they eventually integrated hand balancing in the program. He says Animal Flow is about connecting your mind with your body, not about building muscle. Traditional strength training is about moving in straight lines but the number of ways your body can move is infinite, Ishan says. Animal Flow explores Proprioception - the awareness of how your limbs move in space. 

“What we provide at Knox is maximum value in coaching - we train you to open up your minds to new possibilities. Boxing, Animal Flow, Handstands, Calisthenics - here at Knox, we teach skills that require connection of body and mind. We specialise in pushing our clients to be mentally stronger and fixing quality of movement first, connecting with their minds on a deeper level, and then curating plans for everyone according to their needs.”

“This is the longest I've been with one fitness studio. Over the last two years, Knox became a space synonymous with strength, fun, comfort, and just lots and lots of laughter. I mostly trained with Rajneesh and Ishan. One helped with channelling power and keeping things unscripted. The other helped me find my tailbone. Thereby, all in all, splendid time.”
Shreya Soni, Founder The Ideas Lab

Adito Sen, Founding trainer, Knox

Before becoming a fitness trainer, Adito was working a desk job as a designer in Singapore. At 29, he was 130 kgs and lived an unhealthy lifestyle. He didn’t like the way he lived his life, wanted to shift his career and decided to make a change. He moved to Kolkata and started his fitness journey with Zoe Modgill and her husband - his family friends at their fitness centre, Studio 60. He knew he found something he’d love for the rest of his life.

Soon he started his boxing training with Rajneesh, who was setting up Knox at the time with the other founders. They immediately synched in terms of their approach and philosophy towards exercise and Adito was sure he wanted to share space with this community of inspired individuals all working together towards the same goal - helping people broaden their wellness horizons beyond just crazy workout sessions.

“Our goal isn't just to make you do an insane workout but to help you move and feel better in the long run. Everyone comes in with insecurities and baggage in their lives, we’re all a work in progress. I push my clients not to cater to their insecurities, rather celebrate what their bodies can do. Everyone has aesthetic goals, no matter who they are but the greatest thing fitness does for you is pushing you to become your best version and enables you to do new things with great confidence, in and outside of fitness spaces.”

Speaking with Joel, Ishan and Adito made me realise that everybody’s path to fitness is different and with the right mindset, some patience, consistency and above all, the right people to back you up, you can achieve anything. I asked Joel a few more questions about Knox, let’s dive in.

What sets Knox trainers apart?

We have some of the most qualified trainers in the country; our people are not just physically adept but also emotionally sensitive. The mission of our trainers is not only to help you develop your strength and push your limits, but to also inspire you to feel your best self. They will motivate you to work towards achieving your goals.

What is the kind of experience that people can expect at Knox?

The Knox experience involves customised workout plans, personal training and attention. While the fitness is personal, we believe that the good is collective. We have a mix of strength & conditioning, as well as boxing & animal flow. We believe in progressive training methods. Our space also allows pets to come with you, making us an unconventional & amazing place to flourish. Knox also has training sessions for children making it an inclusive space with something for everyone.

What does your clientele look like? Who is a Knox person?

We attract a discerning clientele, with inspired individuals from every age group. A ‘Knox person’ is typically someone who believes that good health is not just a choice, but a way of life. Our clients are a determined bunch of people, who want to push themselves to be the best versions of themselves.

How are Knox goers different from other gym goers?

Knox goers are people who want to push the traditional boundaries of how one looks at wellness. Adventurous and agile, they want to approach age-old fitness benchmarks in new and exciting ways.

How long does a traditional workout session last at Knox? 

60 minutes or more.

Has there been a growth in the number of people that are seeking out alternate workout spaces?

There has been an exponential rise in the number of people that want new and interesting workout spaces. People are bored of the regular route and want to explore novel methods to achieve their fitness goals.

Are you planning to open more outlets?

Our experience is crafted with great attention to detail, and we would not like to dilute the essence of Knox, so the growth model is planned while keeping the same in mind. The people that work with Knox are what make it, we have the most experienced trainers in the business and want our clients only to have access to the best! We will open our new space when we are ready to give you an unmatched fitness experience, as we currently try to do with Knox.

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