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What: Customized personal training DVDs
Who: Doug Levine and Dave Leyrer of Push.tv
Where: Miami Beach, Florida
When: Started in 2004
Startup: $3 million
Doug Levine and Dave Leyrer wanted to make personal training affordable for the average person. Levine, 49, founded and formerly owned the funky, urban Crunch Fitness chain that sold to Bally Total Fitness in 2002. Leyrer, 39, used to run a VC firm. "We [set out to] use technology to deliver 80 percent or 90 percent of the efficacy of a world-class personal trainer at literally pennies on the dollar," says Leyrer.
So the pair created a subscription-based business through their website, Push.tv. Consumers go to the site and answer a series of questions about their level of strength and flexibility and any injuries they have. Push films each of its nine renowned personal trainers, who are usually paid hundreds of dollars per hour, as they demonstrate close to 1,000 individual exercises. For a fee of $25 a month, subscribers are mailed a DVD version of the edited clips.
Push programmers have developed technology that selects a series of clips for each client, then auto-edits them together with animated transitions and music. The DVDs also incorporate equipment such as a resistance ball or a step (depending on what the customers report that they have) as well as any health changes (e.g., pregnancy) into the routine. Each month, a new DVD arrives that is gradually more difficult, with opportunities for the trainee to update their online profile and file electronic complaints if the exercises are too easy or too challenging.Rather than using conventional advertising, Push hired a well-known New York City PR agency to get its product out there. The company has been written up in Shape, The Wall Street Journal and O, Oprah Winfrey's magazine. Push, which also has a diet and nutrition component, now has more than 7,500 subscribers. It owns all its video programming and has reached a syndication deal with Comcast On Demand.