Athletic Republic's roots are in innovation. While the cutting-edge sports performance science that powers Athletic Republic may make it seem like a modern marvel, its origins are more than 30 years old.
An athletic stance
In 1986, the Soviet Union opened up its borders to athletes for the Goodwill Games and its athletic training facilities to sports scientists for a conference designed to share sports performance science. One attendee, John Frappier, took his learnings back to the United States and began developing a science-based training program with specialized equipment designed to unlock athletic potential.
Over the next twenty years, the program gained popularity with elite athletes as Frappier Acceleration Sports Training (FAST). In 2007, Frappier sold his majority stake in the company to Charlie Graves, who stepped in as CEO, and rebranded FAST to Athletic Republic. The brand began expanding into new markets. It served its one-millionth athlete in 2015 and sits at 85 franchisees and licensees globally in 2020.
A brand for new seasons
In the thirty years that Athletic Republic has been in business, it’s survived trends, fads, and three recessions.
"To me, there's been not just the recessions, but more importantly, all the different changes of fads in fitness," Graves said. "We started before the ThighMaster did and have endured muscle confusion. I think the longevity of a company like this is proven the fact that it's grounded in the principles of exercise science and human physiology."
So when the COVID-19 canceled or postponed sports seasons across the world, ranging from the high school championships to the Olympics, athletes had to figure out where and how to train. Athletic Republic was the perfect solution—with its science-backed approach to sports performance, the brand was poised to provide these athletes with the training they needed while they couldn't compete.
"It's become an extra offseason most athletes don't usually have," Graves said. "They can work on a level of their development they haven't paid attention to."
What Athletic Republic didn’t expect was the number of adults who wanted to tap into their athletic potential, whether that was getting back to the links for a round of golf or finally finding time to run a marathon.
"We love to see that the former athlete in high school, who wants that same team experience, is finding it at Athletic Republic," Graves said. "We're more than a place to get your sweat on. We are a place where you're going to get better so that we can help you ride that metric century or run your first 10K."
Leaning into the future
Just like the influx of new customers to the business, Athletic Republic realized that there is no time like the present. It has onboarded new franchisees, encouraging new entrepreneurs to take advantage of a record amount of available capital and an influx of available real estate with 3,000 – 6,000 square-foot spaces to host its proprietary sports training equipment.
“We’ve seen an uptick in interest because of available real estate,” Graves said. “this is the best opportunity for people to get into our business.”
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The brand began working on strategies that had previously been planned for 2021 or later. According to Athletic Republic VP of Marketing, Lindsay Simpson, this is due to Graves's focus on maintaining operations for the good of franchisees and staff.
"There's a lot of companies taking a timeout on business operations," Simpson said. "But he's kept all of his staff employed, and we've accelerated projects that were in the works for the next one to two years."
One of those projects is to revamp Athletic Republic's marketing efforts, ranging from rebuilding its website to its marketing communications.
“We were hyper-focused over the last three months on the idea of having a complete end to end connected user experience in one place,” Simpson said. “It had a lot to do with Mindbody.”
With Mindbody, Athletic Republic provides a streamlined experience to athletes at all points of their training journey, from their intake appointment to virtual training appointments. The business can also build on top of Mindbody user data, creating a way of tracking athlete performance and improvements. This means that each of the 4,000 athletes that came to an Athletic Republic location for the first time between April and August 2020 is guaranteed a high-quality experience, from the first time they book through Mindbody to every training appointment they have.
"It starts with Mindbody, because that's the gateway into this process is," Graves said. "Without having that entry data that Mindbody starts with, we would never be able to filter into a layer in the additional data that are telling us how athletes are improving performance."
As Athletic Republic moves into its fourth decade in business, there is one thing for certain: the brand and its athletes have no plans of slowing down.