Exploring a Licensing Business Model with Sadie Kurzban of 305 Fitness

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

 305 Fitness had been pivoting their business model into instructor training/licensing for well over a year before Covid-19 hit, but the crisis only served to solidify founder Sadie Kurzban’s impetus in that direction.

“Our goal has always been to be financially successful,” she says, “and have an impact that continues to grow and thrive.”

Kurzban’s unapologetic focus on a winning business model along with a proven concept to be inclusive and change lives for the better pushed her to think about the business model that made the most sense.

“As we all know, the boutique model is challenging financially,” notes Kurzban ruefully. “Even as we were opening more and more studios, so much money went to rent and overhead.”

Ultimately that, and even other avenues such a franchising or a digital/on-demand class model, are tough to monetize without a big budget, she says.

305 Fitness kept coming back to instructor certification because, Kurzban explains, “What really drives fitness is the human connection.” 

305 Fitness’ certification arm / licensing model began in early 2019 with in-person teacher trainings. The 305 team created an intensive program, setting a high bar for instructor trainings (which can run the gamut in quality), including pre-training, two full days of non-stop in-person training, a practical demo, and post-training (priced at $390).

Covid-19 in many ways only accelerated 305’s goals around certifying instructors. Through their in-person trainings over the last year they have certified 200 instructors (more than 300 have gone through the program but not everyone is certified at the end). 

After pivoting quickly to online instructor certification at the onslaught of the crisis, they’ve already certified 100 instructors with an ultimate goal of for this time period of certifying 1,000.

The decision to move to an online certification format was of course practical–IRL isn’t going to be happening anytime soon–but according to Kurzban, it was a move to democratize the accessibility of their training (making it more affordable to boot, as online certification is $190 and scholarships are available).

That’s because the core tenet to the 305 Fitness teacher training was, as she saw from day one, not just about a workout–it was central to the core mission of her company, which is fundamentally changing the lives of the trainees for the better, because they will then carry that out into the world, exponentially growing the 305 effect. 

“They’ve been identity transforming for the trainees,” marvels Kurzban. “We see person after person really tapping into their power” as a result of going through the 305 Fitness instructor training program.

And the virtual programming is just as intense and quality-focused as the in-person training:  it includes pre-training, then consists of one week of programming, with homework every day. Participants are matched with a 305 master instructor and a small group of fellow trainees. There is a main webinar and breakout rooms, where trainees receive real feedback and hands-on (so to speak) help from mentors. Virtual training culminates with a demo and post-training.

Once a 305 instructor has been certified, he, she, or they can teach independently or through an existing boutique studio anywhere they choose, and continuing education ($39 a month) under the 305 Fitness banner is robust. Newly minted instructors have access to a digital business toolkit including, of course, the licensed 305 Fitness name, a marketing package (posters, business cards, etc), photography and editing tutorials, help in getting an online presence up and running, a 10-hour business bootcamp (honing in on how to cultivate a presence in a niche market, pricing, packages, marketing, etc.), ongoing music mixes, and ongoing professional development. 

At the start of Covid-19, Kurzban fielded a lot of questions about why she was holding free 305 Fitness YouTube every day during quarantine. Of course, they serve as a funnel for her main business objective, instructor certification.

But she doesn’t even think of it that way, eschewing all thoughts of a money grab.

“I fundamentally care about people and making an impact for the better. 305 can really speak to the younger generation in ways that so many fitness or “wellness” businesses can’t or don’t,” she explains, passionate as always.

Thanks to foresight and a sharp business model (and perhaps even a little bit to Covid-19), this embodiment of inclusivity will soon have a global reach.

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