I’m Jessica Yarmey, CEO of KickHouse and I would love to share how we launched KickHouse during the pandemic and quickly became a beloved fitness brand.
KickHouse is a modern kickboxing studio franchise that started in July 2020, right in the middle of the first year of the pandemic. In a year, when the media focus shifted to the popularity of at-home workouts, I knew there would be unique opportunities in the in-person fitness space. I’ve worked in the in-person fitness industry since 2012, first with Gold’s Gym, then You Fit Health Clubs, and then Club Pilates.
Working with three different brands, I saw the same amazing ability to impact people’s lives by helping them make real, sustainable changes to their health and wellness. Those years of seeing member results plus my own years of being on athletic teams have made me a lifelong believer in coach-led fitness.
Since I was building a brand from scratch and needed to build awareness quickly, I chose a literal name that would be easy to comprehend and remember. While the boutique fitness space is crowded with boxing brands, there aren’t many kickboxing brands, so I knew I wanted to incorporate “kicking” into our brand name.
Lucky for me, the “K Effect” is in full effect with the word “Kick”. The word is also active and could be used in different analogies. The word “House” is familiar and references family, adding approachability to the concept. I ran the name past a small focus group and then secured trademarks and social pages.
Fortune Favors the Brave
Starting a new business is challenging enough on its own, so starting a business during the pandemic could be perceived as downright insane! There is an old Latin proverb that says, “Fortune favors the brave.” and I believe that to be true, especially in entrepreneurship. The entrepreneurial opportunities are in the contrarian plays and the unexpected ideas. If it were easy, someone would have already done it. You must be brave. You must be fearless.
The most common question I get asked about starting KickHouse is, “wasn’t it risky to start a fitness business during the pandemic?” and the answer is YES! It was risky. It was scary. But with the COVID-19 pandemic turning so many things upside down, the bigger risk seemed to be sitting still and waiting for a return to normalcy.
The businesses that adapted and were quick to pivot emerged from 2020 with some bumps and bruises but largely intact. The businesses that waited for a return to normalcy were left behind, and many have closed. Launching during the pandemic had its challenges, but it was also a contrarian move that presented opportunities. From Day 1, we were not limited by the traditional playbooks and were able to think creatively about growth and our processes. We built a culture around being resilient and nimble through the waves of pandemic punches.
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Our Business Strategy
It is common for the KickHouse calendar to feature last-minute pivots to adjust to the evolving climate. Our strategy was to dig into the business and the operation and try to adjust to the new normal. If we could make it through the pandemic, we would emerge with operational processes and teams that we’re stronger than ever!
One special factor that made the KickHouse launch seem less daunting was working with equally passionate partners about the in-person fitness experience. The franchise owners and staff members of KickHouse are not just involved in their studio business, but many are heavily involved with the KickHouse concept. It does truly take a village to launch astart-up, and the KickHouse growth would not have been possible without great partners working together toward a common vision of thriving through the pandemic.
I see collaboration as a super-power within KickHouse. The first step in collaboration is admitting you need help and then feeling comfortable asking for the needed help. Working in a start-up is daunting as there aren’t existing playbooks for how the business flows. It’s inherent in our new business that employees wouldn’t have all the answers, so we’ve taken the stigma out of asking for help.
Our Mission at KickHouse
The KickHouse mission is to help our members and communities take their health and kick it up a level. With over 61% of adults reporting undesired weight loss or weight gain through the pandemic, there has never been a greater need for wellness solutions that deliver results. We have all the virtual tools and at-home workout programming at our fingertips, and most adults see negative changes in their weight.
As the world reopens and people get more comfortable returning to in-person experiences, we’re able to shine a spotlight on the importance of coach-led classes. Our coaches have helped hundreds of people drop weight and get back to healthier routines. The motivation and accountability of coach-led classes deliver on our mission and helps members achieve results.
In the fall of 2021, KickHouse hosted an 8-week transformation Challenge with over 600 members participating across the country. The top six transformations lost an average of 22.8 pounds and 8.3 inches! National Challenge winner Alyssa C. from the KickHouse studio in Yorba Linda, CA, joined the KickHouse Challenge to reset her lifestyle. “Once I joined this Challenge, my whole mindset changed, and now this is my lifestyle. I enjoy exercising and eating healthy,“ she said. Kickboxing at KickHouse has helped people get healthier, limiting the greatest comorbidity in the COVID-19 virus: obesity.
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Achievements of KickHouse
KickHouse has grown to 35 locations across the country and a nation of passionate brand fans. There are over 4,000 posts on Instagram using #kickhouse and over 750 posts using #kickhousenationwhich is how we refer to our family. Just as we’re helping our members kick it up a level, we’re also challenging ourselves internally to level up and be better than we were yesterday. We know we need to continue evolving and improving to stay relevant in the fast-moving fitness world, so we’re committed to learning and growing quickly.
We are keeping our nimble philosophy into 2022 and leaning into non-traditional promotions and brand extensions. The world is changing so fast, KickHouse must continue to evolve quickly and be unafraid of non-traditional plays. Our vision is for there to be 1,000 KickHouse locations across the country – a goal we get to one studio at a time.