19 Jul Episode #280: Sadie Kurzban, CEO, 305 Fitness
Pete Moore: This is Pete more on HALO Talks NYC, I have the pleasure of bringing in the founder of 305 Fitness. We are on audio, but we are dancing like no one’s watching Sadie. Welcome to halo talks. Finally,
Sadie Kurzban: I’m so happy to be here. That was an incredible intro. No problem.
Pete Moore: No problem. I didn’t practice as much as I wanted to last night, but that’s the best it’s going to get the story. So look, you’ve you’ve made it through the pandemic. You’ve shifted your business model and did floats coming out the other side stronger and sweaty or that you were before. So give us a little background on why you got into this industry originally. We’ll talk about what you built and where it’s going.
Sadie Kurzban: Yeah, thanks so much. Well, 305 fitness is a dance cardio workout with the live DJ started it in 2012. I was teaching classes, kind of these Zoomba like classes on my college campus. And, you know, I was a talented instructor and I could fill the room and I could count the bodies room. And I knew that I was bringing the gym all this money. So I thought to myself, why not? You know, I don’t have equipment here. Why not rent a space and teach it myself. So very, just simple asset light model, you know, began with a lot of hustle. I was teaching out of rent, a dance studio space, a weird bodybuilding gym until we built this following and then opened the first studio in 2014.
The next few studios, we have seven studios in total now across Boston DC and New York, and got really interested in how to scale 305 beyond the four walls in 2019 when we started our instructor certification program. So that’s basically a business model. We’re taking a page out of zoom, buzz playbook, or CrossFits playbook. It’s a training, the trainer model, super lightweight franchise. And that is the business that in the time of the pandemic, when all of our seven studios were closed, that we decided to really push forward that and our, and our digital streaming like many boutiques dead.
Pete Moore: Yeah. That’s awesome. So when you first started your first studio did you feel like you were doing research and saying, Hey, there’s a space for me, if you kind of stack up all the brands or did you say, look, I’ve got personal experience. I know what I’m good at, you know, whatever data or research you’re going to show me. I’ve got something here there’s special sauce. And you know, there’s more than you think.
Sadie Kurzban: Yeah. I mean, I think 305, the white space, it comes from both gut and data. Of course. I mean, I knew that we were onto something because the classes were all selling out with wait lists and marketing expenses were zero and retention was really good. So I knew all of those things before we decided to open the first location, but also the gut instinct at the time when I started , I mean, I was 21 years old. I’m a female. I’m very in the demographic of the next generation, basically of consumers and the people who are making consumer and healthcare decisions we know are women. So it just didn’t really feel like there were a lot of brands that were serving people like me and I wanted to create something just from my gut that I knew what exists. I think the other thing that really gave me, you know, other than just knowing that, that the kind of new consumer and the new woman isn’t sold on an aspiration of exclusivity and sin at all costs and performance and leaderboards, she sold on the aspiration of inclusivity and confidence and owning her truth and feeling like there’s a place to love her body.
Sadie Kurzban: So that’s very much the aspiration or the cultural white space that we occupy is something that’s inclusive, not exclusive. But I think that the other thing that just gave me a lot of conviction and continues through all of the challenges continues to be the fact that I point back to is the IP. It’s the actual format. You so many fitness formats that they’re not really a format, they’re a brand, right? So it’s like, well, we do spinning, but we do it with the lights on, you know, like we do it with, you know, the instructors where we’re orange shirts, where we are in like all, all of that is cosmetic. But at the core of 305, we have the IP, we have a 45 minute format. That makes a lot of sense. And it’s the only format I’ve ever seen that actually takes dance, which is so variable.
Sadie Kurzban: It’s not like, you know, rowing boxing, cycling, running. There’s a couple of ways you can do those things forward, backwards. I decide dancing. There’s gotta be N there’s endless permutation and innovation in this category. And so most dance classes is just memorized choreography. And what I did at 305 was I created a format that is basically creating a language around dance. That’s where the train the trainer model came from. But at its core, it was wow. We’re onto something here. Product-Wise that no one else is doing well in fitness in terms of dance, we just really serve it so well.
Pete Moore: So, you know, for, for the listeners here that are working on new programs or, you know, have something inside their club that they’re trying to scale out to, to, to other clubs or studios, you know, how much time did you put in to really nailing the experience and nailing the format? Because I feel as if a lot of companies try to grow really fast and then they try and kind of fix the programming to make it scalable. So maybe give us like your entrepreneurial hat on, of take the time to do it right. Documented properly and then make it so you are personally scalable.
Sadie Kurzban: Yeah. I mean, in fitness it’s I think it’s all about the format. If not, then you got to go out and raise a lot of money. So you can just acquire customers off of a brand or you stay small, you know, and you have your local approach, which is fine. So the, the other levers to, to scale, like one of them is the actual product, right. And, and a winning product the end of the day is what wins. It just has to be. So the time that I took to develop the actual class, yes, it was years. I mean, years of both being in a low pressure, you know, me just teaching on college campus, dryness, drying that probably over thousands of classes, literally of just testing different things. And also interestingly at 305, it really came from collaborating with a DJ cause the whole class is music centered.