Fitness Businesses Should Persevere Through Covid-19 Pandemic – Forbes

Marie Labrosse, a master’s student in English Literature at McGill University contributed to this story.

Over the past two months, we have moved from crowded gyms and fitness studios to classes taught over Zoom in our living rooms to stay in shape. With no live sports to watch, we have had to fall back on reruns of classic games or “The Last Dance” documentary to stay entertained. The sporting and fitness industry as we knew it has changed dramatically.

For Edgar Brown, co-founder and CEO of FitDrive that change is also an opportunity. The need for online resources that support physical trainers has always been obvious to him, but he has found that trainers were sometimes slow to adopt new technologies. With social distancing recommendations still largely in place and no knowledge of when gyms and fitness studios will be able to re-open, trainers have had to make the shift to online spaces. Brown’s FitDrive app supports this transition by providing trainers with a tool to deliver remote personal training to their clients.

While the pandemic has forced Brown and other entrepreneurs to re-evaluate their financial forecast and fundraising goals, he acknowledges that the situation has provided him with the opportunity to develop a product that fits the behavioural change brought about by the global health crisis. 

Craig Buntin, CEO of SPORTLOGiQ echoes Brown’s vision of the pandemic as a double-edged sword for businesses in the fitness and sporting industry. In early 2014, Buntin, an Olympic athlete identified a need for advanced analytics in sports and teamed up with his co-founder, Mehrsan Javan, a PhD candidate in computer vision and machine learning to create SPORTLOGiQ. Their three global offices support almost every team in the NHL, alongside a number of competitive soccer, football, and lacrosse teams.

“We work with teams to help them understand their own teams and their opponents better and win more games,” Buntin explained. 

However, with the suspension of live sports, a large part of the analysis that SPORTLOGiQ performs has ground to a halt. Buntin has pivoted to leverage his team’s expertise in other business lines by taking advantage of opportunities that do not require live coverage. For instance, in the absence of in-person evaluations of players, SPORTLOGiQ was able to support its partner NFL teams in preparation for the April draft by providing them with data-based analyses of prospective picks.

“The pandemic caused a really quick shift in overall business strategy,” Buntin said. “We’ve re-focused on things that don’t require that daily game analysis. We pulled back on riskier projects, too and we’re now relying more heavily on our core competency, which is computer vision and Artificial Intelligence.”

As a young business, SPORTLOGiQ has always prided itself on its open culture, that encourages decision-making by consensus across the organization. Such a dynamic strategy is invaluable during times of crisis like these. 

“That type of emergent strategy or that situation where we’ve got to very quickly make an important decision has actually become a cultural strength of ours,” Buntin said.

Brown is also familiar with the flexibility that combating a global crisis requires. FitDrive, previously known as FYT, underwent a rebranding earlier in the year that was ready just in time for when it’s customers needed it most. 

In response to Covid-19, FitDrive is positioning itself as an educational resource for trainers who are still new to offering their services remotely. Brown and his two co-founders, Milena Fagandini and Carter Sprigings are hosting webinars, scheduling free consultation calls, and publishing content on the company’s Facebook support group to help fitness businesses leverage technology to adapt to the current situation, rather than aggressively marketing their product. His team hopes that the support that they offer to prospective customers will illustrate the value of their product. 

“We’re connecting with trainers to hear about the struggles that they’re going through and acting as a base of education and support for them,” Brown explained.

While both FitDrive and SPORTLOGiQ have had to adapt their offerings in the midst of the global pandemic, Buntin feels that businesses in the sporting and fitness industry have a distinct advantage when it comes to surviving a crisis: athletic resilience.

“The best athletes in the world are not the ones who are the most talented or the ones who are the hardest working,” Buntin said. “It’s the ones who survived and made it the full ten, fifteen, or twenty years. Those are the ones that are the best simply because they persevered through tough situations. You have to continue to push through adversity: that is the thing that separates the champions from those who don’t succeed.”

By persevering through the trials caused by Covid-19, Brown and Buntin are striving to propel their businesses toward a brighter future on the other side of the pandemic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *