29 Jun Sara Kooperman, CEO, SCW Fitness Education
Pete Moore: This is Pete Moore on NYC. I have the pleasure of having Sarah Cooperman, a friend of mine in the industry for many years, not to date us, but we were here from the inception point when I got involved back in 99. Sarah, you were an evangelist for group X. It looks like you were correct. And coming in from Chicago, why don’t you give your background for the few people that don’t know it and welcome to the show?
Sara Kooperman: Well, I’ve been in the industry. Oh my gosh. It’s been like 40 years, although I’m still about 49 years.
Pete Moore: So I just turned 49. So I thought we were the
Sara Kooperman: Same age. And I did start a group X and I actually owned a small studio. When I finished graduating law school, I was in law school and I was trying to figure out a way to pay rent and just basically support myself. So I started teaching this thing that was back then called Earobics. And because I used to be a dancer and I’m a runner, I kind of squeezed it together and started teaching. And I was, it, it grew and grew to the point. I was having 50 people in a class Monday, Wednesday, Friday paying $3 each in $450 cash while I was in law school. And I thought, I kinda like this idea. I like working three hours a week and making money. And I thought aerobics was going to catch on. And so, yeah, when I graduated, I opened a studio.
Sara Kooperman: I sold my studio, close it after a year because I made more money in one day doing educational workshops than I made owning the studio. And it was my passion. I taught people how to teach low impact. It was right at the cusp of the low impact. Cause everybody thought, if you don’t jump around like a moron and ruin your knees and your hips and your lower back, which of course is all our secret mission is how much pain can we really endure? We can do low impact and engage more people in a fitness regime. That was my passion. So I started doing low impact training instructors, how to do this. And I decided one day I was going to do a conference in Chicago and we ended up with like 800 people who came and I thought, this is important. I like this.
Pete Moore: That’s great. Well, education David, I’ve been talking about this for years when we finally put our halo academy together. And I think if more operators spend time understanding the business that they are running and, and understand that best practices are actually the best. You know, you could, you, you know, everything does not need to be a fire drill. You know, you go into some companies and you feel like, wow, they’re running an operation and they’re not putting out fires left. And right. So a lot of that’s from understanding how to run the business and how to hire properly. And networking, I think, is key in this industry. So you were kind of at the inception of boutique fitness before they actually called it boutique fitness. So thank you for your efforts in turning it into a category. You know, as you’ve probably like us become somewhat of a entrepreneurial therapists for, for the last year, you know, w what are some of the advice you have for groups that are out there? Obviously you’ve got some conventions coming up later this year that we’ll talk about but what, what are some of the things that, that you’re focused on and helping people, you know, get to some kind of semblance of recovery?
Sara Kooperman: One of the, one of the things that’s really helped me this year is I’m on that talk show with Ursa, you know, with bill McBride and Blair McHaney and Brent Darden. And I love being the only woman in the room because somebody’s got to be, so I’m happy to be that target. But I really have enjoyed looking outside our industry because I think sometimes we get so absorbed with how we’re going to respond to, oh my gosh, am I going to do small group training? Am I going to do pods? Am I going to use bands or bars or both SUSE or whatever B word comes along. And I’ve looked at like, what is going on with transportation? What is going on with real estate? How are these going to influence our industry and really create a lasting impact? And one of the things that I’ve seen a lot of is these, the residential clubs and boutique studios tend to be doing better than our urban and our urban environments.
Sara Kooperman: Hello, there’s there are 16,000 empty apartments in New York city alone, because if it’s a one bedroom, you know, if it’s a, if it’s a little studio is like, I’m gonna, I’m gonna, I can work remotely. I’m going, I’m going back home. And I’ve got four kids and I’ve already had to have two of them, you know, live with me right now and I want them gone. Okay. So we have to work. You said they’re opening up July 1st. So kick them out on June 30th. I’m trying, man. I’m trying. So, but I look at that. I think real estate is really going to affect us. And that’s important for us to look at, and I look at where people do want to go back. They want to go back to the bar. They want to go back and I’m talking a ballet bar. I’m talking a bar bar with, with a good Chardonnay and, and and a nice beer. Okay. I want to go back to the bar. I want to go back to church. I need my community. And the facilities that tend to be accelerating or thriving are the ones that can attract a younger population because, you know, they still think they’re going to live forever. You know, they don’t think, you know,
Pete Moore: That way is also the right. I’ve only come to grips with my own mortality, you know, couple of weeks ago, I think when I hurt my knee so that I didn’t think anything could stop me.
Sara Kooperman: I have a glass I skied for a whole month of February. I come back, I played one pickle ball. I suck at pickleball in a pair of running shoes instead of court shoes. And I ended up with meniscus surgery, which I’ve recovered from. But anyway, I look at, I look at our industry and I, I see younger people coming back, but the people that we really do need to pull back in our active aging population, because they are, they’ve just become so sedentary during COVID. And I also very much worry about that. We’re bringing in some of our instructors and some of our trainers very slowly, and the others, I have quit the industry. We’re going to have a shortage of our frontlines of our group fitness instructors and our personal trainers, personal trainers on stupid they’ve started streaming, they, their personal, if they don’t need a gym and they can do it with, with an extra tube, you know, they’re out of there.