Startup Q&A is an interview series showcasing early-stage health, fitness, and wellness companies.
In this Q&A, we caught up with Shane Rogers, CEO of RPM Training Co., a fitness equipment company and developer of digital training platform Atom. Shane discusses how creating a better jump rope led to innovative home gym kits and a functional training app that does what connected cardio machines cannot.
Can you tell us about what you’re working on at RPM Training?
Shane Rogers: At RPM Training Co., we design and make innovative fitness equipment, training apparel, and functional swimwear, plus full home gym set-ups complete with virtual coaching.
We launched the company back in 2012 by creating the world’s fastest speed rope, which was quickly adopted by the CrossFit community. The rope’s success allowed us to develop our apparel and swimwear lines, most of which we make right at our headquarters in Northern California with our internal cut-and-sew team.
Atom, our new digital fitness platform, provides the lowest possible barrier of entry into functional training. We provide all the gear you need, help you choose the right home gym kit, and also deliver the workouts and world-class virtual coaching needed to put it to use through the Atom platform.
This solves a few major issues present in other options: With Atom, you’ll always know you have the gear you need for your workout; you won’t need to scour the internet to build a beautiful, cohesive, legitimate home gym; and you’ll be served a daily workout based on your skill level, always with the option to customize it as needed.
How did you come up with the idea? What key insight led you to pursue this opportunity?
SR: RPM was born out of our love for training and a recognition that speed ropes were kind of stuck in the Dark Ages. We knew we could make a better rope, especially as a tool for mastering the dreaded double-under, the most commonly programmed jump rope movement in functional training. And since a speed rope should be sized specifically for you, it’s really the most personal piece of gear someone might use — and the one item you actually need to buy for a functional training program.
Atom, our newest endeavor, came together when we combined our plan to look for other equipment that deserved a reboot. We saw that at-home functional training wasn’t being served by the booming connected fitness market. The result is what we believe to be the most effective solution for long-term at-home training ever created.
The methodology produces the fittest people on the planet at the highest level but is infinitely scalable in a way that makes it perfect for anyone willing to put in the effort.
How did you turn your idea into a company?
SR: Initially, we just compartmentalized the growth of the company into manageable pieces. Can we make a jump rope prototype? Sure. Can we make it better? Absolutely. Can we make enough to sell at a local event? Yep.
Little by little, we grew — we’d add another doable task to the list and do it. Pretty soon, we had a website and were selling enough product to fund bigger and better opportunities.
We focused heavily on event marketing in the early days. We knew that if we could get people to try the product, they would be sold. Then, they would return to their gym communities and tell everyone about their amazing new rope.
In some ways, we’re back to that phase now with Atom. We’re obviously a much bigger company—with more resources—but it’s once again up to us to show the world that we’ve created something truly unique and valuable, and we’re excited to do just that.
How big can this get? What’s the addressable market and how do you go about capturing it?
SR: Truthfully, we consider everyone with a true desire to be fit, and some willingness to work for it, a potential Atom user.
Unlike the monotony of riding an exercise bike every day or trying to follow a typical single-modality fitness app where it’s really easy to get burned out, Atom is built for long-term success at any level.
The variance in the workouts prevents boredom and plateaus, and the scalability of the program allows for anyone—from the mom with zero strength training experience to the professional athlete—to benefit from the program.
That said, we realize that hard work isn’t for everyone. There’s a bit of an ego check that has to happen when you take on a functional training program. But, in our estimation, Atom has a bigger, more lasting addressable market than a connected cardio machine.
Who is the core customer? How are you acquiring customers? And how will you grow the customer base?
SR: RPM was built with a mission to bridge the gap between our two biggest passions: training and adventure. We see Atom as the perfect tool for this.
The outdoor and action sports communities are full of people who are always looking to do more, ride harder, surf longer, etc. — and most of these folks don’t have a great training solution. Our strategy on how to win over those consumers is the same as it’s always been: Make the best product, provide something of real value, and support the athletes, events, and people who make their communities so great.
Even at the highest level, a lot of athletes struggle to find the right training program, especially when they’re spending so much time on the road. But now, our brand is becoming a meaningful part of many of our athletes’ training journeys. Hopefully, we can help them tell that story, which we think will resonate with their fans… who will actually be able to compete alongside them in Atom. That’s something we’re really excited to see take shape.
Looking at your road map, what are some of the milestones you’re targeting over the next 3-6 months?
SR: We’ll be laser-focused on two things for the next three to six months: improving the product and building the community.
We have some really exciting features that have yet to be revealed, but even in its current state, Atom is so beyond anything else on the market that there was really no reason to keep it under wraps any longer.
We’re excited to get feedback and implement ideas from the community as we go, as well as get our athletes more involved. Content-wise, expect to see some familiar faces training on the platform, sharing stories, challenging their communities, and more.
Training is always more fun with friends, so our next three to six months will be largely spent making it easier to do that.
Anything else you’d like to share with readers?
SR: The RPM 10k Challenge, an annual charitable event where we ask our global community to attempt 10,000 jump rope reps in 30 days, is running inside of Atom this year, giving thousands of participants a first look at the platform.
All proceeds from the 10k Challenge benefit our Iron Compass, which supports programs that provide low- to no-cost fitness, outdoor sports, and mentorship opportunities for underserved and at-risk youth.
The 2022 10k Challenge kicked off January 3 and is live until February 2, 2022, and it’s been great to see our global community coming together to support brighter futures for kids for the eighth year in a row. We’ve seen phenomenal growth in this event in recent years, with a crazy 28 million jumps logged and over $130,000 raised for charity in 2021 alone. In 2022, we’re proud to be supporting three incredible charities working to support youth in the functional training, board sports, and surf/lifeguard communities.
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