In the summer of 2014, co-founders of The AXLE Workout Andrew Page and Anuj Patel were discussing the limitations of gym equipment. They needed something to provide their clients with a full body workout that emphasized the random nature of real world human movement and mimicked the types of routines used by athletes. The fitness industry was saturated with complex machinery and expensive equipment that worked muscle groups in isolation. Very little attention was paid to equipment that would enhance total body performance and balance.
How did you get into the industry?
Andrew Page: I've been a personal trainer for over 10 years, focusing my attention on working with professional athletes and also with private clients here in New York City. I realized that there was an opportunity to take the programming and techniques used in training pro athletes and create something that could be used for everyone. I approached Anuj with the initial idea and after building out a concept together we realized we were onto something.
Anuj Patel: I've spent over a decade in the healthcare space, including stints working as a management consultant and in investing into emerging consumer health technologies. Health and wellness has always been a passion of mine and the opportunity to work with Andrew, whom I've known since first moving to New York years ago, was something that I jumped at. We were toying with the idea of creating a new type of workout and wanted to address the lack of what we consider "real human movements" in our day to day lives, which led to the Axle Workout being born.
Any emerging industry trends?
Anuj Patel: The boutique fitness niche is the fastest growing segment of the overall gym and fitness industry and you're seeing a growing array of different group classes for people who want to add variation to their gym routine. While this is an area we're definitely targeting with our Axle Workout group fitness class, we're also focusing on leveraging the growth of connected devices to create a more data driven workout tool that provides users with real time insights and feedback on their workout using our equipment.
Any industry opportunities or challenges?
Andrew Page: What we're noticing from the fitness community is a shift in focus to developing balance, flexibility and core muscle groups - basically a return to becoming the best athlete one can be, rather than simply focusing on so-called 'vanity' muscle groups. We started the Axle Workout back when there were only a few elite training facilities that shared this type of philosophy. These facilities cater specifically to professional athletes and less so ordinary populations. What we tried to do is take these principles and techniques and adapt them for everyone else with the idea that if you train like an athlete, you'll feel better, look better and most importantly live a healthier, fuller life.
Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?
Andrew Page: We were inspired by major sports science institutes like EXOS and P3, but another big one was watching nieces and nephews playing in a sandbox or playground. Their bodies are uninhibited by long-term effects of inactivity: office chairs, car commutes, elevators and escalators. We wanted to zero in on creating a product that is more than just a workout, but a philosophy and methodology rooted in sports science that transforms our bodies through enhanced joint flexibility and muscular strength.
Anuj Patel: The Axle Workout is just the beginning for us. If you were to step into a typical gym today, the 'big' equipment that covers most of the floorspace is based off an outdated understanding of the human body. We want to change that and leverage our experience to develop tools like the Axle that will create a feedback loop to the user and focus on real human movement. There is ample room for opportunity to bring the Axle Workout to group fitness, personal training settings and directly to consumers.
What's next for the Business in the near future?
Anuj Patel: We're exploring expansion opportunities in the metro New York region at the moment, with boutique and chain gyms. We'll likely be expanding to other cities both domestically and internationally beginning early next year and plan to develop a direct to consumer Axle Workout product by the first quarter of 2017.
Andrew Page: In terms of the product, we're building an ecosystem of the Axle which includes hosting Axle Workout certification courses to educate athletic trainers in our methodology and building relationships with fitness studios to launch their own the Axle Workout group fitness classes.
Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?
Andrew Page: The one thing we really focused on was getting the product right. The product includes the bar itself, the training program and educating trainers our instructor certification. We were never in the mindset to quickly push something out that we hadn't tested and refined.
Regarding the bar I think we ended up prototyping about 40 or 50 of different designs, ultimately landing on something that worked for populations of all sizes and athletic abilities. The design itself and the cutting edge materials we used were robust enough to earn a patent for the Axle. We then spent last year building out the structure of the Axle Workout and are now developing different classes to target specific movement patterns. Things are constantly evolving on this front and are heavily influenced by our trainers. Our investment into trainer education has been the most time-intense of all. Our trainers deliver the product, which makes them the most integral part of the system. We first take the time to find great people, and then we take the time to educate them on metabolic and tempo training using the Axle. When these three systems are working, our business is a success.
Anuj Patel: I think we've been also very selective with the partners we work with in terms of deploying the Axle Workout at premium locations and creating the very best environment for participants. Another key initiative for us moving forward is expanding beyond just the boutique fitness realm and into areas where the Axle and our techniques can be useful - think physical therapy, sports rehabilitation and partnerships with professional and collegiate sports teams.
Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)
Andrew Page: Our most difficult moment was in launching our Axle Workout class despite juggling full time jobs at the time - it really taught us both the importance of prioritizing the most important tasks for the day and leveraging the strength of your team.
Ideal experience for a customer/client?
Anuj Patel: Our experience starts with the a client signing up for our class through our site. The client then attends class at one of our partner studios and is blown away at the amenities - the locker rooms, the juice bars, everything. They experience an incredible workout, using muscles that they've rarely used before, yet somehow feel energized, empowered - the instructor knew their name, asked about their goals and helped to correct their form throughout the class. Soon after the class, the client receives a follow-up email with instructions on staying hydrated and eating healthy post the Axle Workout. They wake up the next day sitting up straighter, and walking up steps easier, having activated and lengthened those specific muscles in class the day before.
How do you motivate others?
Andrew Page: Our philosophy for unleashing your inner athlete extends to treating everyone we work with as part of a team. We listen to everyone, we focus on the development of our instructors first and make sure that they are engaged and empowered to motivate our clients.
Career advice to those in your industry?
For those in our industry, the best career advice would be to always have a thirst for knowledge. While this is advice that one could apply to any career, its especially relevant in this industry on the account of how rapidly our understanding of the human body is changing and technological innovations in the health and wellness space. Always invest in continued education for yourself- whether it's visiting elite training facilities around the country, or attending healthcare conferences to learn and to meet others who share that passion for learning.