24 Dec 2020

Not only are Ben Rimene and Lee Jones Hong Kong International rugby players and key members of the Hong Kong National Sevens Team, they are also gym owners. The motivation for opening “The Gym” was a chance to be their bosses, and to capitalize on the opportunities a place like HK, which they now call home, has to offer. What started as a fitness concept with a few mates from New Zealand back in 2012, has now evolved into a pretty unique wellness offering in Hong Kong.

We caught up with Ben and Lee for some insights into The Gym, as well as their thoughts on the importance of mental well-being for rugby players.

1. Give us an introduction to THE GYM – what is the concept behind it? Is rugby a key driving force for the concept?

The Gym is our new boutique personal training studio located in Central, Hong Kong. With our background as professional rugby players, we knew we had an advantage in being able to share our knowledge and experience with our community. We understand that health and wellness are multi-faceted; that goes beyond just physical gym training. The need to focus on recovery and mental well-being is equally important. The Gym is a simple, clean space where clients from all walks of life can feel comfortable, safe, and supported through their fitness journey with us.


2. Talk us through your transition from Rugby Players to Personal Trainers – or did they work in parallel?

Being a rugby player and a personal trainer has always worked in parallel. We have been very lucky with our staff at The Gym who we trust to be professional and to do a good job representing our brand. We are also lucky to have clients who support us in our rugby careers, and coaches who understand life outside and after rugby. Rugby careers are generally quite short, so it helps to have outside interests. The Gym allows us to have something else to focus on and gives us a career option for when we do finish playing. We have found a good balance.


3. How have your rugby careers helped to launch this new business venture? How do you balance the two?

We launched our gym business before we became full-time athletes. These two worlds have worked well together. We are continuously learning about training, preparation, recovery, and how to be resilient in both rugby and business. Our new space opened in early June, then we had to close in mid-July for 8 weeks. It was a tough time for everyone, but our clients were very supportive and our staff worked hard through these challenging times.


4.THE GYM has some bespoke sports recovery treatments (Infrared Sauna, Cryo Ice-bath treatment) – introduce us to these, what are your reasons for including them in THE GYM?

Our recovery room is a big drawcard, offering alternative ways to help the body and mind recover. As athletes, we have first-hand experience at truly understands the value and importance of proper recovery, both physically and mentally. The benefits from infrared saunas and cold exposure is well documented amongst high-performance training. The best way to find out is by giving it a go yourself and see how you feel. 

5. What key workouts would you recommend both pre-and post-match?

Pre-match - make sure you are prepared mentally to play. Eat well and hydrate. Everyone has their pre-game routine, so do what is best for you to get yourself ready to perform for the team.

Post-match - you can use ice baths and stretch for recovery. Eat & drink to refuel the body, spend time with teammates, and laugh!


6. As we know, mental fitness is just as important as physical fitness – is this included in The Gym’s offerings? What advice would you give to both rugby players, and others in keeping mentally fit, especially during these pressing times?

We are big on overall development and wellness. Mental wellbeing is now a big talking point and a lot of high-profile athletes have recently opened up about their struggles with mental health throughout their careers and the long-term effects it can have.

Incorporating simple exercises into your routines, such as breathwork, cold baths, infrared saunas, physical training, adequate nutrition, and good-quality sleep, will have a significantly positive impact on your mental health. We are continuously learning about these contributors and therefore continue to share knowledge and tools with our clients on how they can best manage their mental wellbeing. The best advice we would give to anyone is to find your own most effective ways to manage stress and don't be afraid to talk to someone you trust about anything that might be on your mind.

Ben and Lee are also looking forward to rugby resuming in 2021, and what a time to start finding your routine for success – From getting enough sleep and see how it changes every aspect of your life, be mindful of what you are eating and drinking (excluding the festival seasons of course), maintaining your strength throughout the year by training smarter not harder, and to recover well. Have fun playing rugby with your teammates. This is the best preparation for keeping themselves in shape for rugby year-round!