Fitness fanatic and entrepreneur Denisa Šustalová has big ambitions for her gym membership app
Photo: Matic Zorman
Denisa Šustalová’s gym membership app was hit hard by lockdown earlier this year. But she has come back with a bounce.
Czech businesswoman Denisa Šustalová has high hopes for the Swiftr Luxembourg app, which connects customers with local gyms. The local startup suffered when and fitness studios were closed during the lockdown in spring, but has been up and running again since reopening. Denisa hopes the next few months will help raise brand awareness.
The Swiftr app, which was only launched in Luxembourg in January, allows members access to around 40 different fitness studios, yoga classes, martial arts trainings and more across the grand duchy. Signing up is not that much more expensive than many gym memberships,
A fitness fanatic and an ambitious entrepreneur, when she moved to Luxembourg, Denisa says she was training six times a week. But living out in Consdorf, getting to the gyms she wanted to train at often involved a 45-minute journey. What if she could simply switch and change gyms whenever she felt like it? That would allow her to go to a gym nearby or attend a class in a different discipline that would give her workout week a bit of variety.
As Denisa researched how she could offer a solution and build a business from this germ of an idea, thanks to some Nordic friends here in Luxembourg she came across Swiftr in Sweden. The app had been founded in Stockholm in 2016 by Fanny Sjöström and Johanna Sjögren and was enjoying success--it has over 300 fitness venues in its Swedish portfolio.
Denisa, who has an education background in business and economy and worked in real estate in her native Prague, soon convinced Fanny and Johanna that Luxembourg was the ideal market for Swiftr’s first expansion outside of Sweden. A year later, she had created the company and was ready to launch as a first mover in the grand duchy.
Her passion for the app speaks volumes. “Instead of paying several memberships for yoga, martial arts or gyms, it gives you the freedom to train, and you don’t have to be committed to one place. I see it more like a community and experience app than a fitness app,” she explained during an interview in February.
Lockdown was a “complete shock”, says Denisa now. “I had to design a very strict agenda to follow every day to ensure I maintained my positive mindset and that my view of life wasn’t completely damaged due to all the restrictions.”
As for the app, she worked with the gyms to find innovative ways for them to connect with customers. “We did manage to organise streaming training sessions with few gyms and studios. But it takes time to change training behaviours.”
But the pandemic has also presented Swiftr and gyms with an opportunity, she thinks. “I strongly believe that many people who both normally work out or never did work out before on a regular basis would like to get fit and build immune system, on top of feeling good.”
Still in her early 20s, Denisa’s ambition is matched by her attitude to life. “I’m very young, but I’m very serious about what I’m doing,” she says. She doesn’t go out and party or allow herself to be distracted by the sort of things that can preoccupy her contemporaries. “If you see my schedule, it’s work, work, work seven days a week. I’m sure that if you want to achieve something in the future, everything is possible. But you have to have discipline.”
This article was first published in the October/November edition of Delano magazine. In that article we mistakenly stated that Denisa Šustalová was Romanian. She is, of course, from the Czech Republic. Our apologies for the error.