Mike and Tyler are two of the five Co-Founders of Alchemy 365. They began their fitness career in CrossFit but knew there was a less intimidating way to bring efficient fitness to the masses. They tell their story of leaving CrossFit and taking a leap of faith to us today.
Q: What made you decide to make the move from a well-known fitness brand, CrossFit, to making your own concept?
A: Tyler- we knew there was a gap in the market on intense and efficient workouts. CrossFit intimidated people and so did yoga so we worked with our partners, for over a year, to figure out exactly what that was and what athletes would love to flock to.
Q: Tell us a bit about your CrossFit background and the path to Alchemy:
A: Mike: Our first foray into the fitness world was by opening the first CrossFit gyms in St Paul and Minneapolis. Launching Union Fitness allowed us to learn the fundamentals of creating a great workout experience, along with a fitness program that allows long-term fitness improvements in a community-based environment.
Q: Alchemy 365 has helped redefine the boutique fitness category by offering a comprehensive fitness concept that most people had never seen or heard of before. What fears did you have of jumping ship from a very well-known and established brand and lifestyle to a totally unknown product that you invented with your team?
A: Tyler: In some ways, I’m really fortunate that I didn’t have an extensive background in business when we started our CrossFit gyms and even our first Alchemy studio. Not knowing what you don’t know can be a pitfall and a blessing. I went into the creation of Alchemy the exact same way I went into CrossFit – 100% confident that it would work without much fear or anxiety that we might miss the mark.
Q: When did you know starting Alchemy 365 was the right call? Were there moments of questioning yourself?
A: Tyler: There are always moments of doubt that creep in from time to time. But I remember hearing a quote from Reid Hoffman that said “if you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product then you launched it too late.” That concept allowed me to let go of perfectionism and focus on the good things we were accomplishing early in the journey.
A: Mike: Building a business from scratch leads to infinite doubts and failures that have to be worked through. We’re constantly working to improve our offering and grow our communities, and thus continually make mistakes, and working in a competitive consumer-facing business creates constant challenges.
Q: What is your advice being on the other side of inventing something, moving through the fear of the unknown, and going after your passion?
A: Tyler: Get comfortable with the worst-case scenario. Really do some thinking about what that might be. What happens if the whole thing explodes? Can you live with that? What I’ve found is that it’s rarely the best case, and rarely the worst case, so in terms of building confidence and going after something, I think if you can familiarize and get comfortable with the worst-case scenario then you become free to execute.
Q: What would you tell other fitness professionals who are seeking to move from perhaps a well-known brand into their own concept? What advice could you give them?
A: Mike: My honest answer is that it keeps getting harder and harder to create a differentiated brand in the fitness space. The players keep getting better at offering classes or workouts that people love, and their marketing and advertising keeps getting more and more sophisticated. With that being said, the industry is still extremely fragmented and people are willing to try new workout concepts, so focusing on having a great offering and building community, a well-run concept can still build a great business.
A: Tyler: Really agree with Mike’s sentiments above. It’s an extremely crowded space and branding and positioning are almost more important than the product itself. But, that said, I think if you can actually demonstrate a consistent ability to positively impact the individuals that work with you or your product, that’s the groundwork that you can build on.
Q: What has been your favorite part of embracing uncertainty and looking back, is there anything you wish you’d known?
A: Tyler: People make it happen. Understanding how to work with, motivate, inspire, listen to, coach, develop, receive feedback from your employees is critical. We tried hard early but we could have been better. We’ve improved a lot over the years but we’re still not good enough. I think this kind of work is ongoing.
A: Mike: Building something that markedly improves the lives of our customers has been so rewarding, I couldn’t even imagine staying with the path of working for a big company, personally. Life is short and being able to pursue my passions has been extremely fulfilling. Probably the primary thing I wish I would have known was the power of focus. Building a differentiated concept in any competitive environment requires laser focus on what you can be great at.
Q: COVID 19 has hit fitness hard. What has made you most proud of running your own brand and company through this challenging time?
A: Mike: Covid 19 has ravaged all retail service and hospitality businesses. From the moment we knew we were likely to close our locations down, the uncertainty of the future has made planning and operating extremely difficult. We’re all operating in an impossible environment, making the best decisions possible in real-time as the world evolves. I’m most proud of how our entire team reacted to the crisis. Every day our team has adapted to the demands of the environment, always putting our athletes first and asking how they can help keep us moving forward.
A: Tyler: I’m proud that we never sat around feeling sorry for ourselves. We’ve tried to be open and honest with staff and members about our plans and thinking from the get-go. Nobody’s been here before and COVID is obviously having a massive impact on our society and economy. The fact that so many of our members have stayed on with us to support the company, the fact that our staff has risen to every occasion and innovated on a dime, the fact that we’re still here kicking and screaming and working our way through this difficult time is something that I’m extremely proud of. I know we’ll get through this. I know there will be hiccups and hurdles along the way. But when all is said and done taking on and conquering new challenges is kind of what PYL is all about. So… I say Onward.