sweatconnected brings all of the best parts of the group fitness experience; the energy, the community, the connection, and top-notch instructors who care about YOU, to the online space. While most online fitness platforms are one way, meaning the instructor can’t see the participant, sweatconnected is two-way. We see you (if you want to be seen) and you can see us. This makes for a much more dynamic experience, and at the same time, is super convenient. sweatconnected also offers a large On Demand library of live class re-runs AND classes that are filmed specifically for the library, so our participants can access classes anytime.
Almost a year into our launch, sweatconnected has run over 2000 classes!
What's your backstory and how did you get into entrepreneurship?
I have always been into fitness. Growing up, my mom co-owned a group fitness studio on the top floor of the local fire department. It was all group fitness and really was ahead of its time. It even had child care so people could get their workout in even if they had little kids. I loved taking my mom’s classes and it really sparked my love for the magic that group fitness can create. I spent my childhood figure skating, then dancing, then eventually fell in love with indoor cycling. I went to college for theatre at NYU and while I was there, I started teaching group fitness classes at Crunch in NYC. It was in those early days of teaching that I realized I wanted fitness to be my career. I fell in love with it. Around this time, boutique fitness was starting to blossom and I landed a dream job teaching at Flywheel Sports.
I spent about 10 years at Flywheel, where I worked on the teaching side and the corporate side (I worked in talent development and instructor management). I learned so much at Flywheel - not just about fitness, but also about working across all departments, and got a great education in business while I was there too. I also have some of my now closest friends while there (both co-workers and students), including my sweatconnected co-founder and best friend Wendy. https://www.instagram.com/spinmama/
I left Flywheel for another opportunity, then made my way to an incredible role at Equinox right before the pandemic hit and shut everything down. I immediately took my personal training clients online, and I bought a bike for home. A few weeks in, I taught my first indoor cycling class online and while I had zero expectation that it would be good, it was cathartic. We all needed the connection and our community and because we were together, even when we were apart, it was magic. I stayed up all night after that class, put together a booking platform, and launched 12 classes per week the next day.
What happened in that first class- the magic and the support of everyone who showed up- gave me faith and confidence in myself that I could do this. I also HAD to make it work. As a mother of two kids and the primary breadwinner in my family, we were in survival mode. My husband works in the retail industry, so between fitness and retail, we knew our livelihood was at risk due to COVID.
The past experiences I had in my work life (both positive and negative) set me up for success as an entrepreneur. And, I love what I do.
Take us through your entrepreneurial journey. How did you go from day 1 to today?
Before sweatconnected was born, I was teaching on my own under the name DDB Fitness, the same name as my personal training business. As time went on, it became clear to me that not only was this platform viable, but I also wanted it to be bigger than me.
Very soon after I launched my full virtual schedule, my best friend and former colleague Wendy started teaching with me. Wendy and I had spoken for years about doing something together, but there was never the right opportunity. With the virtual platform, we could essentially get started right away without the cost of a brick-and-mortar build-out.
Working together, we bring out the best in one another and also have each other’s backs when we get stressed. Our vision was to create a group fitness platform that focuses on the community while making sure our instructors are valued at the highest level.
We recruited an amazing team, put our website together, and launched on August 1, 2020.
Since we launched, we’ve continued to build out our team, refined our programming, hired an amazing marketing partner, grew our community, upgraded our booking platform, launched an on-demand library, and managed this business on our own while being moms and wives. It has been quite the year!
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
We just launched our full-on-demand library this week, which has been the focus for the past few weeks. Now that we are launched, we are taking a few days to breathe! I think that’s important. When you own your own business, it never stops. So, for me, it is important to allow a moment for a lull before diving back in.
That said, everyday operations include teaching classes (my favorite!), payroll, customer service, and scheduling.
We also just launched a summer line for our merch which we are super excited about.
We have BIG plans for the future, but I am going to keep them under wraps for now. I will say, that whatever is next for sweatconnected, the culture is the most important thing. We keep it simple- great instructors who love what they do and care about who you are, with a focus on building a strong and supportive community.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
One major thing I’ve learned is the importance of a great partner. Wendy and I take care of each other every day. I can not imagine this journey without her. I trust her, and we are razor-sharp in our mutual vision for sweatconnected.
If you have a great idea and enough passion, you are already ahead of the game.
I would also say that I’ve learned so much about what NOT to do from past experiences. Thinking back, I am grateful for parts of my career that at the time felt negative because they help guide me now.
Lastly, it is important to set boundaries. I could work and work, and my brain will not shut down. This isn’t healthy. I’ve found that keeping daily lists of to-dos works for me. Once it is crossed off, it is done. Tomorrow’s work is for tomorrow. Otherwise, I think I’d drive myself crazy and burn out.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
sweatconnected is pretty self-sufficient. We use a booking platform, Instagram and Facebook to connect with our community, Planoly to organize our social media, Mailchimp for emails, and WooCommerce for merch on our site.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
While we were launching sweatconnected, I listened to the podcast Startup. It follows the founders of Gimlet Media as they look to launch, and it was great to hear that they had similar challenges and was valuable to hear about how they solved them.
I also make sure to take classes from my teammates regularly. As an instructor, you are always changing and improving. I learn the most from the brilliance of my peers.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
The best advice I have is to do it! If you have a great idea and enough passion, you are already ahead of the game. I am such a big thinker. The fact that COVID in many ways forced me into leaping was a huge blessing. Once I got started, it felt natural. The first step is the toughest.
Also, do what you love. I love teaching, I still get nervous and excited before every class I teach. I love bringing fitness to people. I love the community we are building. I love my business partner. All of these things create joy. And that is good for everyone. I am a better wife and better mother because I love what I do.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Right now we are not looking to hire but are always interested in connecting with people who are excited about what we are doing! If that’s you, shoot Wendy and me a note at [email protected]!
Where can we go to learn more?
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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