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Obé Fitness Founders Discuss Coronavirus Success

After being a part of the home workout boom with states going into quarantine, Obé Fitness founders Ashley Mills and Mark Mullett detail their content-oriented approach to fitness.

The coronavirus pandemic saw masses of consumers nationwide put under shelter-in-place orders, much to the dismay of gyms and fitness studios. At-home fitness instructors and virtual workout providers, though, saw an instantaneous lift in business.

Obé Fitness, which has seen 70 percent growth month-over-month since the quarantine began, is one of them. Broadcasting 14 live classes and five on-demand classes daily, Obé quickly gained traction with consumers new to the market. At Beauty Inc’s first Virtual Wellness Summit, the cofounders discussed the brand’s success.

“In mid-March, we saw a monumental surge in signups,” said Mark Mullett, cofounder. He said he expects the effects to be long-lasting. “People are realizing their living room can be their fitness oasis if they have the right partner for that journey,” he said.

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Even as states start to open up, the founders see the at-home fitness business continuing to gain traction. “We’ve always had great engagement. The more time goes on, the more habits form. And I think a lot of people will stay at-home fitness users after this,” said cofounder Ashley Mills.

Mills and Mullett first met during their time in the entertainment industry, which they left two years ago to start Obé. “We met working at a large talent agency and selling TV shows in a quickly shifting content landscape. Now, we are a premium enter-trainment and broadcasting brand. We can promise our audience really great, effective, topical, fun experiences with us every day. It really is an extension of what we did in the entertainment business,” Mullett said.

Mark Mullett and Ashley Mills
Mark Mullett and Ashley Mills Courtesy Photo

Mills echoed Mullett’s emphasis on content creation, noting the company focuses on re-creating a boutique fitness studio experience at home via audio and editing. “There’s a lot of utilitarian content, [but] it’s not premium content. We wanted an experience that engaged us. We wanted to create a premium experience,” she said. “We look at Obé as a TV network. We program 14 live classes per day. The way we think about it is about having high-end production values, incredible audio and music, real-time editing, incredible instructors.”

In a sea of online options, including free ones on YouTube, it’s this approach to video that Mullett and Mills credit their success to. “There are a lot of people doing Zooms and YouTube videos, but the way we’re trained to digest content, we try to do something new and fresh. It’s also why variety is important, every day we feel a little different.

“Being able to put out 14 live classes a day, and four to five on-demand classes a day, is ultimately what our customers want,” Mills said. Obé also has 10-minute express classes to further vary the format.

In spite of the boom, though, filming and livestreaming classes had its own set of hiccups brought on by the pandemic. However, Mullett mentioned Obé’s status as an essential service as a key to capitalizing on the at-home boom. “Being forced to stay home presents a bunch of challenges. People forced from their routines and realizing they had to stay sane, and that’s why we were deemed an essential service.”

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