Dr. Jeremy James knows that striving for fitness and a healthy lifestyle should never stop, even during a global pandemic and economic troubles. As a “health and fitness visionary,” he saw that there was still an opportunity to promote physical fitness and a healthy lifestyle even when everybody is stuck at home. He was able to spend 2020 to “reexamine how he could help optimize the performance and physical activity of Americans everywhere,” and wonder how to fill “the demand for a safe and effective exercise program that people could utilize at home.” These questions helped him develop FITFOREVER, together with other experts on sports performance and joint and spine health.
At FITFOREVER, Dr. Jeremy James focuses on “’building a highly functional body that feels great.” He adds that “looking good is just a wonderful side effect.” If you join FITFOREVER, you’ll get a workout plan that’s “specifically designed to cater to [your] body type, physical capabilities and goals.” The program also considers whether you are suffering from “pre-existing pain and injuries,” as well as what type of exercise equipment you own at home.
FITFOREVER and Dr. Jeremy James shares daily guided workout videos for users to enjoy their “customized fitness plan.” Their plan should help them “begin their journey to building a strong foundation of physical activity and health,” which James wants all FITFOREVER members to enjoy.
Dr. Jeremy James also separates FITFOREVER from other fitness programs by focusing on and prioritizing “longevity and overall wellness” over the aesthetics of being physically fit.
Jerome Knyszewski: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Jeremy James: Even before COVID-19, we were a virtual company with all employees living in different cities, so we’ve always dealt with the physical distancing challenges many companies have faced since the pandemic hit. Despite that, we have been able to bond and feel more like a family than a company; a lot of it due to our collective mission and practicing what we preach. Everyone on our team is committed to bringing our products to the masses so we can truly change behavior and health on a worldwide scale. We have a company culture of elite fitness and health, and we’re committed to helping others live the same way.
Jerome Knyszewski: Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Jeremy James: The most important tip is that you MUST be passionate about your company’s mission and believe firmly in what you’re doing. Without that, burnout is highly likely. Secondly, make sure to take care of yourself, because you aren’t helping the company by putting your own health at risk. Exercise daily, eat well, spend time with family and friends whenever possible. Of course, you’re going to put in a tremendous amount of work and hours, but you have to commit to eating well and exercising every day, no matter what. Your performance at work will be dramatically improved by doing so.
Jerome Knyszewski: None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Jeremy James: One of our earliest investors, Bob Hurst, is a truly remarkable man who has been a tremendous help throughout the life of our company. He also happens to be the fittest 75-year-old I’ve ever encountered. Previously a patient of mine, Bob was former Vice Chairman for Goldman Sachs and his experience and insight has been instrumental to the growth of the business. He has been incredibly supportive and giving of his time, and I’ve learned so much from Bob along the way. We now use him as a model in many of our exercise videos, and people are astounded that a 75-year-old can do the things he does. Bob truly embodies the soul of our company, and I couldn’t ask for a better mentor and ambassador from all sides of it.
Jerome Knyszewski: Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The title of this series is “How to take your company from good to great”. Let’s start with defining our terms. How would you define a “good” company, what does that look like? How would you define a “great” company, what does that look like?
Jeremy James: I think a good company is one that does business ethically while making a profit and taking care of its employees and shareholders. A great company is one that does those things while providing a product or service which improves the lives of others and instills a passion in its employees for self-improvement and meaningful living. We strive every day to provide the latter from every member that joins FITFOREVER, BACKFOREVER or GOLFFOREVER, to every employee and contractor we work with.
Jerome Knyszewski: What would you advise to a business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?
Jeremy James: It’s easy to get tunnel vision on the end product and fail to take the time to step back and evaluate the larger picture, while considering other solutions to reach your objectives. What other angles, demographics, campaigns or products can we offer? With FITFOREVER, we identified a valuable opportunity for assisted living communities after getting questions on social media from people with specific pain or functional limitations, like not being able to safely get on the ground or being bound to a wheelchair. Because we develop personalized programs for our members, it was as natural segue to create an entire set of programming for those with pain, injuries, or a need to be standing or seated. Ultimately, this new segment of our business was a result of listening and stepping back to evaluate, thinking, “Who else can we help with our product?”
Jerome Knyszewski: Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?
Jeremy James: We’re fortunate to have a product available that meets consumers needs at exactly this time. We are solving the problem of people having no access to gyms, their trainers, or their physical therapists. When I saw this coming, it was imperative to fast-track the FITFOREVER solution, because we don’t know how long COVID-19 will last and sway many people who may have been on the fence about at-home fitness to take the leap and try it. We have something that can really help people get through this time, and beyond, so it’s been vitally important for us to get FITFOREVER in the marketplace as soon as possible.
Jerome Knyszewski: In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
Dr. Jeremy James; Technology and data and systems management are the most complex elements, which has been especially true for developing a customized fitness program. In our minds, the concept is simple, deliver a personalized program to each member that joins. However, when based on 10+ different data points with several possible answers each including the members goals, equipment, fitness levels, pain or pre-existing injuries, the solution is very complicated from a development perspective.
So finding a development partner that was as driven to make this as successful as we are has been crucial to getting over speed bumps and long weekends to develop the right solutions. In addition, taking the time to evaluate every scenario, every use case, every edge case, and then poking holes in each of those meant that we were solving the major problems ahead of time. Many companies tend to settle on an MVP, but we had to get to a more refined product from the beginning which meant a lot of time dedicated to testing, focus group feedback, member feedback, and more testing. Never assume that edge case in your mind has been considered; if you haven’t seen it “on paper,” it likely hasn’t been.
Jerome Knyszewski: Great customer service and great customer experience are essential to build a beloved brand and essential to be successful in general. In your experience what are a few of the most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience?
Dr. Jeremy James:
- Be personal — not robotic. We are a small team and every member of our team does some level of customer service. We speak to members and potential members as individuals, answer their questions as individuals, and don’t deliver pre-scripted lines.
- Make exceptions — there’s no one-size-fits-all. The nature of our program is personalized, which means everything we do should have that consideration. If our members have special needs or requests, we do our best to offer them a solution versus an inflexible universal solution or response to everything.
- Ultimately, it’s about listening and responding accordingly. Our members are the reason we developed this program, so asking for input, listening, acknowledging feedback and concerns, and validating their input by implementing it into the program ensures we’re always evolving and providing the best product to our members possible.
Jerome Knyszewski: What are your thoughts about how a company should be engaged on Social Media? For example, the advisory firm EisnerAmper conducted 6 yearly surveys of United States corporate boards, and directors reported that one of their most pressing concerns was reputational risk as a result of social media. Do you share this concern? We’d love to hear your thoughts about this.
Dr. Jeremy James: Social media works for us in a few ways: It serves as an engagement tool to let our members know about new workouts and content, to educate members and the public via our blog content, and announce new features and news. It also works as a primary customer service tool to answer questions and offer member support. But, yes, in this day and age we have to be aware there is always someone around the corner to critique you, and always try to be sensitive as a brand, acting as a good humanitarian and leader in the community. And if people express concern about something, we try to address it publicly, Luckily, because we’re focused on making people’s lives better and stick to the foundation of our program, we’re perhaps not subject to as much risk in this space as some others out there.
Jerome Knyszewski: What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Dr. Jeremy James:
- Underestimating time to completion. A good rule of thumb is to always add at least 2 weeks for complicated problems, and adjust your expectations accordingly.
- Underestimating money to completion. Whatever you thought it might take, double it. There are many unexpected expenses that come up along the way and if you want to build the right product, it requires avoiding shortcuts.
- Hiring for potential vs actual. Vet any team hires, partners, consultants, and agencies thoroughly. With so many “digital” experts and “expert” consultants, it’s important to check every reference, review, case study, and culture fit. These people can become like family and everything from professionalism and communication, to actual work and work ethic, are important.
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Dr. Jeremy James: Move your body every day! It’s that simple. Do some sort of health physically activity just about every day of the week. Even 20 minutes a day can dramatically reduce your risk of the most common diseases affecting millions of Americans. It will also make you FEEL better — physically and mentally. I’ve seen this happen firsthand over and over again — once someone becomes consistently active and exercises regularly, they can’t believe how they legitimately feel 20 years younger and smarter, with more energy and less pain.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Dr. Jeremy James: You can find us at fitforever.com and on Facebook and Instagram at @fitforeverprogram.
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!