Wednesday September 10th, 2014

Be afraid, personal trainers. Be very afraid.

A group of entrepreneurs from Bentley University, in Waltham, Mass.,​ has launched a product that allows athletes of all ages to simulate, to a T, the workouts of the professionals at the pinnacle of their chosen sport. Go Pro Workouts based in Nashua, N.H., has contracted with 20 or so professional athletes: from Pistons point guard Brandon Jennings to White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton to perennial WNBA all-star Maya Moore to NFL stars Jamaal Charles, Von Miller and Earl Thomas.

Subscriptions vary from $4.99 to $24.99 per month—not exactly a ruinous expense for parents accustomed to shelling out hundreds, if not thousands of dollars a year to pay for equipment, trainers and travel teams.

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Who's already in this market? Trainers and coaches at the high school level, and the $75-an-hour personal trainers who hector you through a gym workout (“GIMME ONE MORE ‘CAUSE YOU THOUGHT YOU WERE DONE!”), could be considered GPW’s competition, although the company’s disciples would argue that it’s not really a fair fight: It’s tough, if not impossible, for even very good trainers to match the unique exercises and advice available from each pro on the company’s roster.

Yahoo’s Stack TV, which regularly shows athletes performing exercises (“How Navorro Bowman Builds Bigger Arms”), could be considered a rival, in a loose sense. But Stack’s offerings are far less in-depth than GPW’s offerings.

These videos, available on a variety of mobile devices, are unique in their comprehensive detail and specialization: the drills and exercises for Miller, the Broncos sack master, diverge widely from those offered by Charles, let alone from the exercises featured in GPW’s other sports, ranging from hoops to hockey to lacrosse to rugby to snowboarding and mogul-skiing to soccer.

Fútbol was always going to be on the roster. The company’s co-founders, Joe Lamoureux and Jared Antista, played the sport together at Nashua’s Bishop Guertin High, and then as undergrads at Bentley. SI Edge talked to Antista this week, on the eve of GPW’s national TV ad campaign, which kicks off on September 15.

SI: Yes, so how did all this come about?

JARED ANTISTA: Having all been former high school and collegiate athletes, our team saw a void in the market place. There wasn’t really a company out there that was bringing elite, sports-specific training programs to the digital and mobile arena.

There are all these companies out there in the sports and fitness space, and they say, ‘Wear our sneakers, use our sports drink, and you’ll run faster and jump higher.’ And that’s not true. What makes an athlete better is, first, commitment to your sport and to your training; and second, access to the right information. And that’s how Go Pro Workouts was founded.

SI: You got a pretty impressive and wide-ranging roster of pros. How did you get started?

ANTISTA: We spent probably three to five hours on LinkedIn, every day, making connections, introducing our idea to people. One of the people I reached out to was [fellow Bentley alum and rum magnate] Joaquin Bacardi. He wrote me back a quick message to set up a phone call, and we started from there. [Bacardi, a graduate of MIT’s Sloan School of Management, became the company’s sole angel investor in the spring of 2012.]

Pro lacrosse player Kyle Hartzell
Go Pro Workouts

SI: Did his backing give you the boost you needed to get some athletes to commit to you?

ANTISTA: To be honest, we did a lot of the stuff, in terms of set-up and signing athletes, prior to getting an angel investor. I made a lot of connections with agencies, and agency reps, and I just started pitching. Once we got the first athletes signed on, it really snowballed from there, and became pretty easy. We signed like four or five in the first month.

SI: Who got on in the ground floor?

ANTISTA: One of the first was Hannah Kearney, the moguls skier and Olympic gold medalist. She’s from Vermont.

SI: What special torments does she have for us?

ANTISTA: Picture a flat bench. She basically pretends that’s a mogul, she’ll jump up, land on it quickly, jump up, land on the other side, jump back up—she’ll do that for a minute straight. I mean, try doing 10 of ’em. You’ll be dying. Hers is probably the hardest workout I’ve ever seen.

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SI: How would a pitch go? What are the athletes committing to?

ANTISTA: We ask them for a day in the gym. We bring in our team, to photograph and video them. All these athletes get endorsement deals for products they may or may not use, and what we tell them is: "This is your workout program. We want to make young athletes better and we’d like your help to do it." Plus we sell these programs, so there’s an opportunity there for them to make money.

SI: How’d you get your NFL guys? That’s a pretty big-time trio.

ANTISTA: We talked to one of the folks at [high profile sports agency] Athletes First, and they loved the idea. And it’s always the same story. They’ll pitch it to an athlete and the athlete will say, "This is something I wish I had when I was in high school and college." When they ask how much time we need, it’s less than a day, and that’s pretty much their overall commitment to it. We were shooting Jamaal Charles down in Texas, and he’s friends with Earl Thomas, who happened to be in the area. Earl wanted to get on board with us, so we were happy to stay an extra day.

We’ve had to turn down quite a few athletes recently. We don’t want to create too much competition.

Pro volleyball player Destinee Hooker
Go Pro Workouts

SI: So you’ve got the video in the bag, then what?

ANTISTA: Okay, so it’s not just one video, it’s hundreds of videos. You’re probably familiar with Stack TV. They’ll get three to five exercises and make it into a video. We get hundreds of exercise videos, 10- to 45-second clips. Then we go back, do the editing, and we’ll create a library for each athlete. When we started, it was 70. The last one we did had 170 exercises.

SI: Who did you shoot first?

ANTISTA: NBA Dancer Morgan Laskey. That one actually sells quite a bit. She’s got a lot of yoga and pilates in her program. Shape magazine did a story on her a year ago and we still get sales coming in from that.

SI: Who did you shoot most recently?

ANTISTA: Ryan O’Reilly. He plays for the Colorado Avalanche. He has a very nice gym at his house with a rink underneath it, which made things very very convenient for us.

SI: Are you comfortable with the number of athletes you have now?

ANTISTA: Once we launch Ryan’s hockey program, we’ll have all major sports covered. We have a male and female for most sports. We still need field hockey … Our long term goal is to not only get every sport covered, but to cover every position. We want to take it a step further.

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SI: It’s you and five other guys. What is this “backsite functionality” you’re so proud of?

ANTISTA: We’ve created an entire social fitness platform back there. That took a year. We’re talking everything from inviting your friends, connecting with other people, challenges, sharing your workout schedule, also accessing all the workouts that you purchased. That took a year to build. And 2013 was the year we travelled. Lately, with the ad campaign, I’ve been spending all day on the phone.

SI: You getting any exercise?

ANTISTA: Eight days in a row. I go at lunch, or at 8 pm.

SI: What video are you watching?

ANTISTA: I’m mixing it up right now with the GPW Agility Program. I’m playing every Sunday in something called the OTHSL.

SI: Which stands for …

ANTISTA: Over The Hill Soccer League.

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