From charity challenges to lockdown-defying business success, local gym owner Adam ‘Lubbs’ Lubbock is going from strength to strength in 2021.
Just this month, Adam has raised a staggering £10,000 for the charity Music For Autism in a mammoth physical fitness challenge, dubbed ‘Burpees for Autism’. Lubbs completed 33,000m on a Ski Erg, 30,000m on a Bike Erg, ran 33km (33,000m) and did 1,000 Burpees, all in the space of one day.
The beneficiary charity holds a personal connection for Adam. Founded in 2000 by his parents, John and Christine Lubbock, Music For Autism inspired by the difficult yet touching journey they had with Adam’s brother, Ali, who was diagnosed with autism just before his second birthday. Since then, Music For Autism has helped over 100,000 children with autism through the power of music and music therapy. Adam’s fundraising challenge was set to reflect the number of children the charity has helped over the years — one metre or rep for every one child.
Throughout his gruelling campaign, Lubbs was cheered on by his gym community — the ADVHQ Squaddies. “The success of this was not a reflection on what I had done but on the community we have built,” Adam stated after the event. “The support, love and generosity has been utterly overwhelming. I feel incredibly lucky to have been a vehicle for something so significant.”
Adam first opened his gym, ADVHQ, in July 2017, converting one of the Henley Self Storage units into a small personal training studio. Though the business saw rapid growth, he never would have dreamed that the gym would quadruple in size in just a handful of years, with prospects of yet more expansion on the cards. Adam said, “In March 2018, 10 months after I opened, we did the first little expansion which made a massive difference and allowed us to facilitate some of the classes that we’d started in the summer outside. That didn’t last very long because later when then expanded again.
“As soon as groups started it was just like, woah. Something just caught on. Whatever I had in mind to try and be different or better was working, it wasn’t just a group class. Really, in the early stages, this shouldn’t have worked. There was no space; we were going out in the corridor; it was just me — everything suggested that this should be a crap class. And more and more people kept coming.”
As the ADVHQ client base built, so did the brains behind the operation, with Lubbs’ fiancee, Rose, joining the team as a PT and yoga teacher in early 2020. The pair now run the business as a joint venture. Lubbs credits Rose as being one of the driving forces behind ADVHQ’s success, stating, “Before Rose, I was in a windowless box doing PTs, looking very pale and anaemic, and then Rose came on board and now we have a massive gym with loads of people.”
Even throughout the many lockdowns of the last 18 months, Lubbs and Rose managed to keep their community engaged and active by taking their services online. During the first lockdown in 2020, the couple ran four virtual workouts per day, and had people logging on from all over the world to train with them. Lubbs recollected, “Lockdown was by no means time off for us, but it was a moment where we were like, right, this is our time to help and give back. There’s not a great deal else we can do in this situation, but we can alleviate the stresses and strains of life at the moment for at least an hour. I feel like we sort of did that, and now we’re reaping what we sowed in lockdown.”
Though the gym has now reopened again — with larger premises, and boasting 3 times the number of ‘Squaddies’ (members) it had in April — a number of clients have decided to continue taking classes online, forming the ‘Home Squad’. Adam said, “Lots of people realised it really works for them. It cuts down on travel time, it’s super convenient. Having one kettlebell and a coach is a lot more valuable than having an entire gym and no coach. There are no distractions – you can just log on, get your fix and crack on. So it’s really cool that we managed to keep that going, because it’s almost like a legacy, a positive legacy from what was obviously such a difficult time.”
Rose’s yoga classes have also continued to flourish online. “With yoga, because it requires nothing other than you being in the moment, actually you can legitimately say it is better at home,” Lubbs said. “You’re in your own space, you can have your own music, own candles, dead chilled. We have a thing on Wednesday evenings called jammies party. People do it in their pjs, and then go straight to bed after. Time for savasana, lie down, pull your cover over you, and have a great night!”
Between the Home Squad and the in-person HoT Squad, ADVHQ has amassed over 150 members, with a burgeoning waiting list of more wannabe Squaddies. Rose and Lubbs are already looking at their next gym expansion to keep up with the demand, and have taken on a new trainer, Izzy. Reflecting on how they might have struck gold, Lubbs said, “I think the fundamental service — the programming, the quality of the coaching, the quality of the equipment — there’s no place in Henley that is anything like this. This is absolutely top end. I think that goes a long way.”
Rose also thinks that the community they have fostered at ADVHQ is a huge part of what makes it so special. She said, “We love getting to know our Squaddies. We want to know them by their first names, we want to know their children, we want to know how old they are, when their birthday is…”
What started as a small converted storage unit, with a few dumbbells, an ergo and a squat rack, has become a thriving hub for Henley’s fitness community. Though he may never have envisioned such phenomenal growth, Lubbs has clearly created a little bit of magic in ADVHQ. He said, “All my goals and dreams and aspirations are basically coming true every day. I can’t exactly say that what I do is work. I do it with Rose all day — the dream.”