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Most people know what to expect from a gym membership. So when retired middleweight boxing champion Michael Olajide Jr. and former professional ballet dancer Leila Fazel opened Aerospace High Performance Center, a fitness studio that gets people in shape through boxing- and ballet-inspired training moves rather than exercise equipment, they had to change the public’s perception about what a fitness experience could be.
“Once people learn what we do, we have a high success rate in terms of taking them to a place they’ve never been before athletically,” says Olajide. Today a knockout success with fitness enthusiasts, Aerospace generated $1 million-plus in revenues last year.
Here are three ways the duo introduced their unique take on fitness to an unsuspecting public.
1. Create public events. When companies have a product or service that the world isn’t familiar with, they have to take the show on the road rather than wait for potential customers to come to them. To raise money for local schools, Olajide and Fazel held fundraisers in which they put on mock boxing shows. Not only did parents and school personnel learn about Aerospace’s version of fitness, “they brought their friends so they could see what we were doing,” Olajide says.
2. Focus on the everyman. Companies that offer a unique product or service must make it clear that the product or service doesn’t need a unique audience. When people first hear of Aerospace’s connection to professional athletes, they sometimes think the center is not suited to the less athletically inclined. To combat that thinking, Olajide and Fazel highlight the capabilities of everyday members, whether at public events or within the walls of the studio. For example, by featuring some of the center’s students in a jump rope competition, the crowd was excited “to see a non-athlete perform so well,” says Olajide. As a result, people believe they can become fit in this way, too.
3. Take advantage of technology. The number of people attending Aerospace’s public events is limited because of space, but the number who can experience the excitement is not, thanks to the Internet. By recording videos of the mock boxing shows as well as excerpts of Olajide’s routines and posting them on YouTube, the word about Aerospace’s unique approach to fitness has spread much faster. Olajide says, when people watch “they say, ‘Oh, this is cool, I’d like to do that.’”