When it comes to throwing parties in Dubai, Chris Wright certainly knows a thing or two. As the founder of Secret Parties, the company behind a number of award-winning ladies’ days and brunches across the city, he has spent years building an entertainment empire that continues to draw the crowds.
And now he is using that expertise to expand into new industry, one that might not seem obvious at first, but that he believes makes total sense — fitness.
When Wright’s close friend, influencer and former Love Island star Anton Danyluk, suggested a joint business venture, the idea came to them naturally.
Scroll through the gallery above for pictures from Junk.
“We started talking about business ideas, and discussing how Covid had really affected both of our industries in a negative way,” says personal trainer Danyluk.
“I believe fitness gives you that euphoric feeling that makes people feel great, Chris’s industry also gives people that feeling when they go out and party, so we thought ‘what if we bring this together and make one concept?’ and that’s what Junk is.”
Set in a giant warehouse in Al Quoz, the space doesn’t look much from the outside, but that’s half of its appeal, Wright says.
“We wanted to embrace the industrial vibe of the area and for the space to have that dive bar, speakeasy vibe, you would never know that this is all inside,” he says. “We wanted people to almost feel as if they are going to a warehouse rave.”
Inside, the space is fronted with a giant screen, DJ decks, strobe lights (the same ones used by famous Ibiza club Amnesia) and even smoke machines. If it wasn’t for the gym equipment scattered around the edges, you’d be easily forgiven for mistaking the space for a night club. And that’s exactly the vibe Junk is trying to create.
“We want people to feel like they are going to see a performer, enjoying the music and the lights and the sound system, but they will also be getting their workout in at the same time, burning those calories off, and come away feeling really positive and full of good energy.”
Currently, Junk is offering five different classes based on five different music genres, and members won’t know what they will get until the class starts.
“We have our Junk machine,” Wright explains. “At the start of each class, it randomly selects which genre of music we go with. So you could come to a class in the morning and go into a cheesy pop class, working out to Vengaboys or Spice Girls, or it could be house music or RnB, and that’s one of our unique selling points, you won’t know what to expect.”
Wright and Danyluk believe that by putting the music, the fun and the vibe first, they will naturally create an atmosphere where people enjoy the fitness side of things, too.
“We almost want it to be like the fitness is the last thing people come here for,” says Danyluk. “You’re going to be there and enjoying yourself so much, the music is going to be pumping, the lights go down, and you can just really get into the workout without worrying about anyone else around you.”
In fact, Junk’s whole ethos is that it’s a gym for people who don’t normally like going to the gym.
“So many gym classes now just focus on making things as hard as possible, and for me, that’s just not optimal. I want people to be coming to my gym classes, and yes, getting a good workout, but ultimately just loving it so much that they want to come back, and we believe that the way we have created this concept will have people doing exactly that,” Danyluk says.
“It doesn’t matter how fit you are, what shape or size you are, this is a concept for everyone. It’s dark, there are no mirrors, it’s not pretentious, it’s just about the enjoyment.”
Each of the five classes have been designed first and foremost around the music. Recycle is a spin-based class, Beatbox is choreographed boxing, Reboot is a bootcamp-style class, Dancefit is a Zumba-style class and then there’s yoga.
Danyluk says the first few classes were about increasing fitness, while yoga is more concerned with removing "mental junk".
While the space is about as far from a traditional yoga studio as you can find, Junk is offering something unique thanks to its huge LED screen at the front of the space, which the pair say will take people on a visual journey.
Of course, Wright plans to team Junk up with some of his Secret Parties events and promises there are plenty of plans in the pipeline.
“We will have live DJs from our Secret Parties events, as well as hopefully some international guests,” Wright says. “We will also do some collaboration events with Secret Parties, we’re actually in the process of sorting some special deals for our Secret Parties brunch guests to come the day after brunch for a complimentary class.”
Junk is currently offering a free week’s trial for new members, and its early-bird memberships start from Dh499 per month.