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Sarah Hagman: Jess, I’ve seen gyms saying you don’t have to go to class. You can start whenever you want and just follow a screen in front of you…
Jess Fracalossi (Founder of The Handle Bar): People ask me often, “Are you concerned about Peloton?” I’ve heard that Flywheel is going to start offering online classes. I think Class Pass is starting to offer online class subscriptions that you can do from home. And I guess my answer is no because people are coming here for more than just the workout. Maybe they sign up for the workout, but when they leave they realize that they just had some genuine human interaction. They’ve met people, they’ve been stimulated by others with common interests. We focus so much on community engagement—and I want to always do that—that it’s just not something that those competitors, if you’re going to call it that, will be able to offer because it is online and it is isolated. Why would I want to look at a screen and workout when I could be next to somebody who’s sweating with me and high-five them at the end of class? That’s kind of what it’s all about.
Marie, we talk a lot about non-toxic ingredients and I think that’s more in the public conversation. Is that going to continually be something that people are increasingly thinking about?
Marie Aspling (founder of Balans): Without a doubt. I’ve seen a huge shift since I started Balans seven years ago. People’s awareness has definitely increased. The information is out there, and I think once you’ve opened that door, you can’t close it. People look into things and they are more critical and want answers, which I think is great. I see a huge demand for them. I think it’s only going to continue to move in that direction.
Marie Aspling (left), Jess Fracalossi (right)
Evan, do you find that players want to know more and more information about their performance?
Evan Allen (New England Revolution head athletic trainer): Definitely. It’s sifting through what is good and new and evidence-based versus what is the newest, latest trend. You can definitely spend a lot of time chasing around one fad to the other, so it’s seeing what actually has a sound basis for incorporating into your practices. Because information is so readily available, sometimes it can be tough staying in front [of it]. Some athletes will have ideas—a different thing I had to adjust to working with the Revs was the international players. They’re coming from all over the world, and they have different things that they’ve done that I was maybe never really exposed to. It’s a challenge to stay on top of that and see what is really going to be a benefit, and balancing giving the athlete what they want versus what they need.
Google searches for self-care are up 25 percent.
Marie: We’re craving it, right? It’s almost like desperation, because the way I look at it is that we are going through an epidemic of poor health. It’s peaking. Physical and mental health is really up there. We’re desperate to find ways to live differently because the way we’ve lived up to today has been very destructive and we have to find alternate ways.
So 10 years from now, you don’t think we’ll be so desperate?
Marie: I’m very positive to how the world is evolving. I see it in the corporate world. They’re spending more time and money toward preventive care, toward yoga and toward someone coming in and talking about nutrition. Can we go much further? Absolutely. We’ve only begun. There’s a lot to be done and that’s why I choose to do what I do, to raise these concerns and inspire. So we have a long way to go, but let’s celebrate that we’ve come a long way. The fact that we have a million different apps to search for meditation, that’s great. Twenty years ago, people struggling with mental health or anxiety and depression, they didn’t have the resources we have today.
Evan, do you pay attention to other sports teams’ training programs, even if it’s not soccer?
Evan: I think you have to, otherwise you might look like you don’t know what you’re talking about. You have to at least have an opinion on things. ESPN’s not the greatest place to get an idea of what other teams are doing just because usually it’s just a pretty basic overview of some of the details of what they’re doing or how they’re pulling it off or implementing different strategies. It can be a little challenging though, too, because if they’re doing something that they think is giving them an advantage, they’re not necessarily going to be the most forthcoming with it. Neither are we. That’s why you don’t see every team doing things exactly the same.
Have you been using data to track what services or classes are popular? Do you think that will influence you more as you go along and you have more information?
Jess: Always. I lean on that to make pricing decisions, scheduling decisions, hiring, performance, popularity of instructors. You can look at where people navigate through your site, what they’re clicking on, patterns that way. I try to use the data as much as possible. We’re talking with a company called Zenrez. They integrate fully with MindBody and they help with retention and recovery software for lost clients, and that previously is an area that even though the information is available, you would almost need a full-time sales person to be mining that data, creating content and outreach re-engagement campaigns on a full-time basis.
What excites you most about where you see things going in your industry in 2028?
Evan: I think on a bigger scale, I’m excited to see soccer is starting to get a little bit more of a foothold over here, which is kind of exciting. The reason I got into athletic training was I really liked athletics. I wasn’t good enough to play at a very competitive level, and I was also interested in the medical field. So being able to be part of team success or individual success, being able to keep somebody on the field and get them back to playing, or sometimes just being able to be a support and a resource in their day-to-day lives, that’s why I do it. So I think the more things progress and we get better at being able to do that, that’s exciting.
Jess: What I really love most about what I do is creating these environments where even somebody that just stops in for information—if everybody is doing their part and everybody that’s working feels good, and the music is set just right, and the vibe is set just right—will leave feeling a little bit more positive. And I think that that’s really powerful. And then all of our social media and newsletters and information and content that we send out there, I’m excited by the idea that it has a ripple effect. That it makes somebody’s day a little bit brighter just by consuming that, and then they are going to go out into the world and that’s going to have a ripple effect for the people that they touch. There’s so much negativity out there already that I’m so excited that I get to, for the foreseeable future, combat negativity full-time.
Boston 2028: FASHION | FOOD | FITNESS | PERFORMING ARTS
Shot on location at Convene Boston
Catering provided by Convene