Brrrn’s Pivot Into Connected Fitness

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Brrrn founders Jimmy Martin and Johnny Adamic seemingly only think outside the box, including the four walls of the brick and mortar flagship they opened less than two years before COVID-19 rocked the fitness industry.

But let’s start at the beginning. 

In 2013, Jimmy was training a client in a training space on a hot day where the air conditioning wasn’t working, and the client suddenly felt sick and faint. She told him – and he began to notice in others – that she got the most out of her fitness experience during the fall and winter months.

Not long after, Jimmy lost his wife to cancer, and in her honor knew dedicating his life to health and wellness was the direction in which he was meant to continue to go. In the same period, he connected with Johnny, an academic turned public health official, and the two synergized over their interest in and research around the idea of exercising in lower temperatures, and how that correlates with weight loss and overall health.

“Most fitness studios operate at or above 72 degrees Fahrenheit,” Jimmy explained, adding, 

But it’s an urban legend that if you’re not sweating, you’re not working out. Turns out that your athletic performance is significantly improved when heat doesn’t get in the way.”

The idea for Brrrn was sparked, and the two experimented with their concept: in Sixpoint’s beer fridge in Brooklyn (a brisk 38 degrees Fahrenheit), and in an ice factory fridge in Jimmy’s hometown of Forty-Fort, Pennsylvania, among other places, all of which eventually became the Brrrn of today: 50-minute workouts in a studio where the temperature reads 50 degrees Fahrenheit/10 degrees Celsius. The formats primarily use their proprietary slide board (the “Brrrn board”), but also incorporate other equipment like battle ropes, dumbbells and sand bags.

“We did over 300 pitches and were told no about as many times,” laughs Jimmy. He and Johnny had the last laugh, though, ultimately raising $1 million from friends and family. They opened the Brrrn studio in Manhattan’s Flatiron district on May 1, 2018 as a flagship and laboratory to continue to improve the science behind the concept of their cold workouts.

Pre-COVID-19, the Brrrn team was on a mission to expand their brick and mortar footprint. However, in a stroke of luck (or genius), they were already “future-proofing” their concept, planning all along to thread an at-home component into their in-studio offerings. 

In January of 2020, Johnny had what he describes as a “full-blown panic attack” about the impending COVID crisis. That “put the Kerosene on the proverbial fire,” he explains, and accelerated the Brrrn at-home vision. 

That consists, in part, of the Brrrn board, which can store easily (even in a Manhattan apartment), as well as glide mittens and booties. 

As COVID-19 landed in NYC, shutting the city down, Jimmy and Johnny wasted no time in getting online and cranking out professional-grade videos (with three cameras and other bells and whistles, a vestige of Jimmy’s days working for SNL) for their on-demand library of workouts, which fall across eight different categories, including recovery and breathwork.

They started selling Brrrn boards on July 1, 2020. 

“Really, there was no better way to make a lateral move or a pivot than on our slide board,” remarked Jimmy with a smile–a hallmark to his and Johnny’s approach to business and, seemingly, life.

But while Brrrn might be a humor-driven brand (and “a no-joke workout experience”!), the founders have relied more on hard work and humility to get to where they are, and where they’re certainly going.

Brrrn’s founders are just two regular guys–they don’t have a big board or institutional funding, and they didn’t do a capital raise for their current analog Brrrn board, which is sold on their website and through affiliates and other partners.

They simply have always made the decision(s) to move forward, and in the right way, leaning into their strengths and making the most of everything that comes their way, both good and bad. That has resulted so far in the sale of about 1,000 analog boards, and the inception of their newest creation: a “smart” (i.e., digitally connected and metrics-tracking) version of the board.

Jimmy and Johnny are now prepping for a 7-figure Series A round at the end of the year to scale their NYC-based health and lifestyle brand into a “click + mortar” company: continuing their development of a tech feature to the Brrrn Board, improving their domestic and international distribution channels of the current product,  revamping and revisioning their flagship studio to support their pivot, and to nurture other products in the pipeline that mimic the positive effects of being in the cold.

Ultimately, Brrrn - and its founders - are, as Johnny says proudly, “all about disruption,” adding, “This is just the beginning.”

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