“This isn’t a gym, it’s a community.”
After our strength and cardio workout we sat down with Irene Scholz, Senior RUNBASE Manager. The German-born fitness pioneer and long-term adidas brand ambassador tells Urban Sports Club all about this groundbreaking new fitness format and what it’s like to move from Cape Town to Berlin in the middle of December…
USC: Tell us a bit about your sporting background…
My whole life has been based around sport. My mum was a ballet dancer and my dad played handball. I started playing volleyball from a young age which really taught me about ethics, team spirit, and how to be responsible for other people – all really valuable things to learn at a young age.
My parents didn’t want me to become a sports teacher so I studied Business Administration at university. After that I started working for the marketing department at adidas in Cape Town and I coached on the side as a PT.
About 4 years ago I decided to start my own business and opened a gym in Cape Town which is still running. I came back to Germany when I got offered this job managing adidas RUNBASE. If there’s one job I would move from Cape Town to Berlin for, it’s this one. I can combine my background in sports, marketing and training all in one, and I know the brand really well.
USC: Tell us about adidas RUNBASE. Is it a gym? A workspace? A health food kitchen?
There is a ‘gym’ part to the RUNBASE complex – The Black Gym is where we do all the HIIT classes, boxing and powerful explosive functional based training.
The White Room is a more peaceful space where we practice yoga and pilates. But we tend to shy away from the term ‘gym’. We call ourselves a community. Our key message is we change lives through sport. We really want people from all different fitness levels and stages in their life to come here and start their fitness journey.
USC: We read that you have an in-house medical team – how does this work?
When people join we offer them a basic fitness assessment so we can find out their current level, suggest classes, advise on nutrition and map out the adidas ecosystem.
We also have advanced assessments with our whole medical team to offer a personalised plan for you. We have an in-house doctor, two physiotherapists, a nutritionist and a massage therapist. And they aren’t just hiding away, they really get out and talk to people. They ask questions and find out how they can help our members.
We also have medic Monday’s which is an open consultation with our doctor and physiotherapists. You can come without an appointment and ask for advice.
USC: That’s incredible…
Yeah. We don’t shout about it – we’re quite understated with how we communicate these things. We want people to come here and experience the adidas brand and want to try new things.
USC: So is this an extension of the adidas brand?
It is the adidas brand. It’s a new way of engaging with their consumers. We aren’t just posting an image of a model for people to aspire to look like – we get to know you and find out what you want for yourself. That’s the entire message behind the community. We find out what people want and need and work with them to achieve it.
USC: And is there a specific focus on running?
RUNBASE started as a place where the Berlin running community could meet. But runners don’t just run – they need time for recovery and nutrition and mobility and strength. So now it’s a lot more than a base for runners. Everyone is welcome. We are for the urban athlete.
USC: What are your future plans for adidas RUNBASE?
We are building a whole brand experience centre for adidas Runners. The whole outdoor space is going to be renovated and we’re going to update our current Run & Test lab where you can test shoes while you workout as well as do a running analysis. Most people don’t know you can do that. It’s awesome.
USC: We bet this place is amazing in summer…
That’s true. I was here last August to check out the space – all the doors were open, sun chairs were out, everyone was training outside. We’re building an entire adidas playground at the back too. So yes, summer here is amazing.
USC: What fitness advice do you have for USC members?
Start. That’s the best advice I can give you. Don’t complicate things and don’t overload yourself. Training is an outlet and it should be enjoyable. Find something you love, start, have fun.
USC: Last question. It sounds like you moved from Cape Town to Berlin in December, is that correct?
And how was that?
Tough. But I’m so busy with RUNBASE I’m keeping nice and warm.
Urban Sports Club have many partners that offer cardio and strength workouts across Germany and France. Have a look on our site for classes in your area.