07 Dec Episode #302: Danielle Donovan, CHEERFIT, CEO
Pete Moore: This is your host, Pete Moore. And I am pleased and humbled to announce the launch of my one and only book, Time to win again, 52 takeaways from playing and watching team sports to ensure your business success.
Pete Moore: Those of you who know me personally, and then when it was listed as to halo talks for any length of time, know that I am an avid sports fan and a big believer in the value of team sports. What I’ve seen over the past 25 years, helping businesses grow raising capital, being an entrepreneur myself in coaching and mentoring executives in the sector. It’s the lessons learned on the field perfectly apply to business entrepreneurs, executives, managers, you name it. Every company that’s a strong company has got a good team. So quick read. There’s also illustrations in there from our good friend mark, and cruelty-free cartoons. You go to integrity, sq.com. Enter your email address, and we will send you information on the book and the entrepreneurs survival kit as well. Be great. Take names go halo.
Pete Moore: This is Pete Moore on halo talks NYC. I have the pleasure of welcoming the inaugural employee of integrity square, who is now running a really awesome company called CHEERFIT. Danielle, welcome finally to the podcast.
Danielle Donovan: Thanks so much for having me excited to be here.
Pete Moore: Awesome. So let’s talk about, you know, your collegiate cheerleading background and how you’ve always kind of had this in the back of your mind of turning this into a, a, this passion and into a profession and kind of where you you’ve taken it to now.
Danielle Donovan: Yeah, no, absolutely. So I’m always a big believer on turning a challenge into an opportunity. So I was a cheerleader for Syracuse university where I actually ended up tearing my ACL twice in my four years there. So I turned my freshman year, got surgery, went back toward again, my junior year. And instead of getting surgery, the second time I turned to fitness and rehab my need a full recovery through fitness instead of surgery. And that just opened up my eyes to the power of fitness. It was the first time I was really working out what to keep up with the competitive, competitive level of cheerleading with able to prevent injuring, go back to full recovery. So that just opened up my eyes to the power of fitness. I also went to Syracuse for marketing and entrepreneurship. So I always knew I wanted my own thing.
Danielle Donovan: Just not sure exactly what that was. So after graduating really just combine those passions together realizing in the trailing role that there’s not quite a fitness program to keep up at the level that cheerleading is today. And really just went in and initially started TripIt to be fitness solution for cheerleaders. Today we’ve grown and expanded to work with, you know, athletes, former athletes, busy moms across the board, but it really started with the challenge of tearing my ACL, rehabbing it through fitness, and then turning that opportunity that into an opportunity to create a fitness program for cheerleaders around the world.
Pete Moore: Awesome. So let’s just educate everybody who doesn’t know what cheerleading, you know, has turned into. Obviously it’s a, you know, it’s on ESPN, there’s cheerleading competitions. I don’t think when I was growing up that there was this level of competition directly, you know, turning cheerleader and kind of into its own sport on its own. It typically was just, Hey, we’re going to cheerlead for a team. And it’s, you know, part of like your high school and college, but, you know, give us a little bit of a, a timeline or chronology on, you know, what this has become.
Danielle Donovan: Yeah, no, I mean, truly today is so much different than it used to be. Everyone’s, I’m sure seeing the Netflix show cheer and really that just opened up the eyes to the elite level of athletes that your leaders are. And really, truly leading has evolved from cheering for sports to them becoming their own sport in general, competing against each other. And that’s really the market I started to focus on is this world of called all-star cheerleading where it’s very, you know, niche and specific, but the industry itself is pretty big on and has truly evolved from, you know, being on the sideline to now being of the most elite athletes in the world. They just announced that it’s going to be featured in the Olympics for a next Olympics. And so really it’s growing and evolving and being able to help athletes as the sport evolves, focus on the fitness aspect, not just to prevent injury, but also really to improve their confidence and improve their skills.
Pete Moore: Got you. So w what age do people start in cheerleading now? I guess probably back in the day was kind of more of a, a high school. You know, you have a lot of kids now, you know, starting out, you know, an early age and kind of using this as like, Hey, this is kind of my sports channel, if you will.
Danielle Donovan: Yeah. So initially when I started the program, as it was, you know, back as it was just fitness for true leaders, I thought I’d worked with the high school, the college aged kids. But what I really found is that they, you know, kids from another girls from eight about six to eight years old were diving right in, and really just getting started on this crazy competitive world of cheerleading. And then that brings you to, you know, about 18 years old. And then after that you devote your whole life to it. And then all of a sudden it’s gone. And that’s where now cheer that today we have the certification program. We had the workouts to really work with the, you know, girls and women who shared their whole life. And all of a sudden now they’re not doing it. And then still want to have something that they can reconnect to that cheer and dances. And then you get a real side business as well through the certification.
Pete Moore: Got you. So what’s been some of your experience in either, you know, convincing health club operators to kind of put this on their you know, on their calendar for, for group exercise or, you know, if they’ve got an extra room and you can say, Hey, look, this is, you know, an area that’s kind of an untapped potential, you know, how are those conversations going? And I would say, as a preamble, you know, shelling into the health club channel or into the studio channel, you know, the sales cycle might be longer than, you know, anybody wants. So, you know, perseverance obviously clearly important in any business, but especially in, you know, entering into the you know, the halo sector on bricks and mortar. So tell us how that’s gone.
Danielle Donovan: Yeah. So twofold with that one. There’s the health clubs and the studios who we, you know, it’s, it’s very different. We have top palms, it’s a fun, high energy workout. So it switches, you know, it’s not just the typical workout or so, you know, working out work out like a cheerleader is very markety and something that people want you back onto. We’ve been featured in everything from south magazine Teboda is the hottest new workout from NBC. So really just focusing on that, cheer inspired, fun, high energy workout. A lot of people are looking for that, something that’s different. And then also looking for that fun back there. And our whole philosophy is to help people to want to work out not, oh, I have to go to the gym today. I have to do my workout. I feel guilty if I don’t really using cheer fit to amp up the fun factor, which then in turn has that has them wanting to come back, which shows the consistency.
Danielle Donovan: And then in turn, they’re seeing the results. So that’s for the health club. But with that, we also have a unique model where we can also work with the tree leading jams. And that’s another whole world in itself. It’s not just a fitness gym, it’s a cheerleading gym and a cheerleading facility where for that facility, there is nothing quite like that. Maybe they run Zumba class here and there, but especially for the parents who drop their kids off at practice, and now they have nothing to do. They drive two hours to drive their kids to practice now for the cheer gyms, it is an opportunity to bring in additional revenue and then give something for the parents to do as well. So we work two certified coaches at cheer gyms to bring it into cheer gyms, to add that additional revenue line and then for health budgets. It’s about that. Something different, that fun fact there.
Pete Moore: Okay. So tell us about this whole cheer gym, you know, niche, are there a lot of them out there? You know, I haven’t seen any yet, but I’m probably not the target market, although I might be able to hold something over my head, but probably not,
Danielle Donovan: But yeah, no, the cheerleading world is a world in itself and they always, you know, the riches are in the niches and really niching into that cheer world where it’s called all-star cheerleading. And so it’s kind of the competition level of the highest level where people are paying money for their kids to be the best of the best. And there’s huge facilities. And the, you know, competitions you see on ESPN fostered through the gyms that are around the country around the world. But it’s definitely, once you start to like, hear about it, like now, after listening to this podcast, I bet you don’t see a ton pop up and see them as you drive by, but it’s definitely a big industry with that in itself.