Freshly Chopped founder to bring boxing fitness brand to Ireland

Businessman Brian Lee plans to open two UBX gyms this year in south Dublin

Brian Lee, who is attending this year's EOY executive retreat in Austin, Texas, pictured at Dell Technologies campus in Austin on Monday. Photograph: Naoise Culhane

Brian Lee, the founder and chief executive of healthy fast food retailer Freshly Chopped, plans to bring boxing fitness gym brand UBX to Ireland.

Along with his partner, former world and European kick boxing champion Sinead Beasley, the Dublin businessman said he would open two locations in south Dublin later this year with plans to grow the brand outside of the capital over the coming years in partnership with énergie Fitness owner Empowered Brands.

Pronounced “you-box”, UBX calls itself the “fastest-growing franchised boxing” gym company in the world. The company, co-founded by former WBA lightweight world champion boxer Danny Green, “delivers a unique mix of boxing and strength training across a 12-round circuit in under 45 minutes”, it said in a statement.

Speaking from the Dell Technologies campus in Austin, Texas – the city which is playing host to this year’s annual EY Entrepreneur of the Year (EOY) chief executive retreat – Mr Lee said he was attracted to UBX, in part, because its business model has proved popular with women.


Fitness and health

“More than 60 per cent of its customers are women. That’s something we strongly believe in,” he said. “Myself and Sinead, we live and breathe anything fitness and health so it was a natural fit for us to be involved.”

Mr Lee said: “What I liked about it was it’s a clean brand and the tech behind it for the franchisees was second to none and something that I’ve never seen in the franchise industry ever before.”

The concept, he said, is that “you can arrive anytime you want. You don’t need to book a class. You can you can join one of the 12 rounds of stations. You have a new workout every day that comes in from the guys in Australia and there are screens above each workout. You have a personalised trainer who you are able to talk to and who teaches the technique.”

He is one of roughly 100 Irish entrepreneurs who have flocked to Austin and New York City this week for the annual EOY executive retreat, the first to take place outside the country since the outset of the pandemic. The delegation includes 25 finalists in this year’s entrepreneur competition and alumni from the past 25 years of the programme.

Mr Lee, a finalist in the 2016 competition who also serves on the EOY alumni board, said the retreat is an invaluable resource for participants.

“The support network you get from the EOY alumni is second to none,” he said. “It’s something you can’t get anywhere else… you can switch off from work and engage in outside thinking and you come back from this trip, geared up, recharged, motivated like you’d never imagine to get stuck in.”

Ian Curran

Ian Curran

Ian Curran is a Business reporter with The Irish Times