Exciting news! We’ve been hard at work on a new partnership with SoulBody, a leader in boutique-style, mind-body programming . We’re thrilled to announce that SoulBody classes are instantly available to Fitness On Demand member clubs, and other fitness facilities – and we got the chance to sit down with founder and CEO Stacey Seward Vandiver this week to hear why clients love SoulBody and what’s coming next for the brand.
FOD: Stacey thanks for talking with us – tell us how did you get started in the fitness business?
It was about eight years ago now. Coming from the Pilates world, I was an early adopter and believer of barre as an incredible and very functional all-body strengthening workout – and to be honest, an alternative to the group fitness classes that the big box gyms offered and focused on. I loved the personalized, boutique-style format of the whole barre movement and started to teach it locally in my hometown. Classes grew and after a while a local gym reached out to ask if I could train their instructors in the way I taught my format. Looking back that was also an ah-ha moment as I learned there was very little programming with choreographed formats for instructors to follow and clubs to implement.
FOD: Ah-ha: in what way?
When that happened I realized barre, as well as other specialized modalities, were disrupting big box fitness – and people wanted more of it. I’d also always loved problem solving and running my own small business. As I looked around and saw the momentum of barre classes growing, I realized that the traditional clubs and gyms – that were great at the other things they were doing – were not competing with what was happening in the boutique studio space. Also, there was not much to choose from in terms of certifications and programming content, so I decided to launch my own teaching program, which started as a one-time training course with certification and a subscription to fresh, quarterly content which we produced. It grew quickly from there.
FOD: so where is SoulBody at today – where’s your focus?
Well that was around 2015. We kept adding content, new ideas and inspirations for instructors. And our business grew. Today we’re very focused on a holistic, 360-degree mind, body and soul wellness experience. We, of course, offer barre, but also yoga sculpt for conditioning with yoga infused movements, and we realized pretty early that recovery and rehabilitation is essential for fitness and all-over wellness, so we created a recovery class that focuses on stretching and SMR. We also offer LIIT (low impact interval training) which is another example of the way we think about exercise and workouts: being kind and respectful to your body – moving smarter, not harder.
FOD: has SoulBody grown since those early days?
Oh yes! The industry is catching up to the trends we’ve embraced. We’re now in over 250 clubs worldwide and a hefty member subscription base that is growing fast.
FOD: a lot has changed in the past decade – was it difficult being a woman business owner as you launched?
A lot of fitness clubs and associations – the more traditional kind – were
owned and managed by men (not all but a lot). Barre was very much a movement by and for women – although we have many men who practice and love barre too. My experience in business was the same. I’ve been incredibly lucky to meet, work and even be mentored by dynamic women business owners as well as smart, ambitious young talent getting into the industry. Currently the SoulBody team are all amazing, passionate and dedicated women who understand our mission to inspire through movement. I’ve also learned a lot
from everyone I’ve met at IHRSA and other industry conferences and I’m very focused on helping others where I can: sharing experiences and bringing others along on the ride. I believe the more you give, the more you can receive.
FOD: if you had any advice for entrepreneurs – women or men – getting into the business, what would it be?
Two things. You have to have persistence, and you need determination. Most people aren’t naturally wired for entrepreneurship but they have ideas they’re passionate about. If you feel you have what it takes, you have to decide to really go for it and commit. This isn’t for everyone and being an entrepreneur can be a very lonely, scary place. But there is so much opportunity to build your critical network now for collaboration and to learn from others through conventions, industry groups and online tools to partner with – like Fitness On Demand, of course. I also say “give first, and then take”. See how you can help others and share collaboratively before you find yourself needing to ask for help or advice. It’s an amazing industry for sharing.
FOD: How did you get involved with Fitness On Demand and how is it helping you succeed?
We met at IHRSA and I immediately saw how the combination of Fitness On Demand’s technology platform and vast reach across so many clubs could help bring SoulBody to new clubs and their members. I like to think my team are experts at what we do, and I look for the same level of excellence in partners, so Fitness On Demand has been a really great fit for our brand and business goals, bringing our content to people whether they’re trying us for the first time or devoted followers – and wherever they work out at home, in the club or on the go.
FOD: What’s next for SoulBody?
Funny you should ask! A few things. And they’re all important. Over the past 8 years, SoulBody has introduced successful and very addictive programming, so we are now opening brick and mortar facilities with our first location in Fort Myers, Florida. The studio concept will combine mind body classes and recovery therapies all under one roof! I’ve been thinking about it for a while and timing was just right especially when Jeff Skeen, a very accomplished business owner in the fitness industry, approached me to merge his medical wellness services with the studio.
We have also partnered with Total Gym and will be offering classes on the Encompass apparatus. The space will be the first of a new ecosystem where movement, strength and recovery all come together in a calm, welcoming environment. It’s full circle to where we started and how we always have thought about fitness – caring for every aspect of our members’ fitness, wellness and mental health goals in one.