Tony Velasco: Building a Fitness Brand with Afterburn Fitness

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Afterburn Fitness is more than just a gym. It is a community of people, trainers, and members alike that believe a strong foundation in health and fitness is the foundation for almost everything else in your life.We believe that when you have the energy and the confidence that being fit can bring you, then anything else is possible. The strength of our community combined with our high level and intense classes is a recipe for success. The "Afterburn Effect" and the concept of muscle confusion creates a level of success for our members that is not seen at any other gym. The Afterburn Effect has long been a proven science in creating consistent and continous gains to a persons physique and fitness by not allowing the body to plateau. Afterburn Fitness has perfected this along all different types of workouts. We accomplish this by switching up various mechanics, rep ranges, exercises and intensities on a monthly basis. This provides constant progression as well as the variety both your mind and body require to keep those gains coming all while staying motivated. The energy at Afterburn Fitness is contagious. Our members inspire, help, and welcome all newcomers into our facility. The level of camaraderie is unmatched as is the knowledge and intensity that our trainers bring to each and every class. High level sound systems provide stadium quality music and energy to a class. A full range of industry leading equipment allows for an endless variety in training styles and exercises to constantly keep your body guessing. On this podcast episode we feature Tony Velasco, President of Afterburn Fitness.Dallin Nead : In this episode we featured Tony Velasco of Afterburn Fitness. Welcome to the content supply podcast. I’m Dallin Nead, and each episode we bring you an inspiring brands, creator or message, to help you discover how you can experience success in your business as we unpack stories and strategies about all things content, and growing a successful brand. So this is just a whole discovery process for all of us. We feature a variety different brands on the show from entrepreneurs, entertainers, copywriters, marketers, coaches, athletes, to designers, filmmakers, photographers and many more. All brand owners, all creators. So it’s my belief, as with many others, that every company is a content company. And has to be want to stay relevant and competitive. Because let’s be honest, the internet is so full of brands that it can be very easy to get lost in the crowd. So quality and effective content really separates you. That’s why Content Supply was created to supply brands with ongoing custom content so they can engage with their customers, by providing value, telling stories, and making more sales. And we say content, I’m talking about video, and audio, and written or image, and everything in between, all those. Content creation in building the business is really hard. You never finish the building and creating even after you experience some success, you have to keep going on the journey. Content Supply was created to be resource, a community, and a solution, to fill that large gap of content. So thanks for joining the show and now let’s get to the interview. I’m very excited to have Tony Velasco with me today. Tony is the founder of Afterburn Fitness. Afterburn Fitness is a high-intensity training facility, combining everything from olympic lifts, to classes, to kickboxing, to yoga, nutritional guidances, and really everything else roll into one. But Afterburn Fitness is more than a gym, it’s a community of people, trainers, and members alike, all with the belief, that there’s a foundation in fitness and health that can be build to improve our lives. The Afterburn Effect, in the concept of muscle confusion create a level of success for true members that is not seen at really any other gym. The energy of Afterburn Fitness is really contagious. The level of teamwork in community building, it’s pretty incredible and the local members in community, and the online members in community are pretty engaged. There’s a lot charitable events, there’s a lot of different training exercises, there’s a lot of transformation. So without further ado, Tony, thanks for joining us today. Tony Velasco : Yeah, of course man, definitely. Dallin Nead : So, tell me a little bit more about the story behind Afterburn Fitness. Why did you created it?Tony Velasco : I’ll try to give you the sped up, quick version, lot’s of resort, I mean, originally I played sport in highschool, and I’d always, you know, enjoyed working out and all of that stuff. But this, it’s not like a woke up as a kid and automatically dreamed of being a personal trainer owning the gym and all of that stuff. It kinda, honestly it just kinda all fall into my lap in terms of training thing. But once it did, and I kinda, sort of to go that route, I did kinda fall in love with that, and really as I started to get more into the training aspects, I fall in love with the business side of it and really just business in general. And so once I realize it could be something that I could grow and really kinda take off with, and that then become my main goal. It was, “Alright, I’m training, right now I’m packed in 60-70 hrs a week, whatever, like what’s the next, what else can I do”. Right, because I don’t, the whole idea of being stagnant drives me insane. So it was really one of things where I adjust as many as clients I could fit, I couldn’t work anymore hours, and the only logical step to go from there was “Alright, well I’ve gotta, right I saved a bunch of money, and you know I’m gonna risks it all put all on the table here and built Afterburn Fitness”. And, I just, I want to create something, that, you know, was kind of starkly in contrast to what was kind of the norm, in terms of like how gym would run, and really just want to kinda build things from like, the most foundational piece being, that community type thing, right, the one that you probably know from wrestling, and anyone who played sports, that community of brothers that you have, or sisters, or in whatever sport you’re playing, like being able to kind of be a part of something like that again. Look, also be, but also apply like proper business practices to it, and we evolve a lot. I mean we first open compared to what it is now, it’s a starkly different ball game to what it was back then, but that foundation piece, you know that community oriented, you know that feelings still remained that is definitely the main link. Dallin Nead : For sure. So with the community focused, how’d you go about building it? Like well obviously you already had some kind like client base as it was--Tony Velasco : Correct.Dallin Nead : How did you tap more into that community, that audience?Tony Velasco : I don't know if this exactly answer your questions or not. I’m a whole hearted believer in every sense of the world that like culture, is, like, massive. And I’m talking about whether it’s gym, or, you know, with a company, the employees, and so just creating a culture of kinda like this the light mindedness that you feel like when you walk in and feeling in a sense of like, in business, I think everybody wants a feeling like they are a part of something, right, like, you know, whatever that means, objectively for that company, that you no matter where your role is in the company, that you still plays some part, have some impact hitting that objective. And so we obviously do that from a business standpoint with our staff but creating that same concept, with the membership based that like everyone is kinda apart of the community and building that community, and helping everybody out. So when someone achieves X right, your a little bit part of that. So that’s kinda the main focused I guess. Dallin Nead : I like that a lot. Yeah because that’s one thing I mentioned before we started recording that I am a current member of Gold’s gym out of convenience. Tony Velasco : RightDallin Nead : Right next to my office. I mean it’s fun, you have obviously the typical functions of any gym, you’ve got the weights, you’ve got the cardio, I mean you got the room to exercise in, but it’s, I think each gym is kinda custom to the athlete or how you wanna work out. And I mentioned too, earlier too that I grew up wrestling, and so that kinda workout routine is familiar to me. I feel like it’s a, there’s more results to that for sure and I think across the gym is definitely intriguing. And it’s like community aspects too because when you’re in Gold’s gym, I mean you're exercising is very much like of a solo experience--Tony Velasco : Right.Dallin Nead : Foresee by trainer, where you got the community, you’re the team, that’s sounds like, that was kind of your competitive edge.Tony Velasco : Exactly. That’s it. I think people are looking for, prove me wrong, The Planet Fitness, that’s not going anywhere. For as much as the exact opposite of what we do, it’s a genius business model, and it works. But for what we do, what we’re trying to accomplish, that sense of, you know what I mean, like being a part of something, is so integral to like, you know, anything and everything that what we do.Dallin Nead : Hmm, well sounds more like a personal experience too. Where you got to know people on different level like I’ve seen on your website, you guys have different immense of going far beyond just your personality there--Tony Velasco : Yeah.Dallin Nead : You got stadiums, you do any other community events--Tony Velasco : I think it was, it’s kinda like a, it was a missing piece of that industry that, you know working out, be more of like a true experience, social experience, everything else, like no different than someone who’s a member to, you know, country club, right. So you were to TPC or whatever. There’s a sense of, like a cool sense of belonging, right. Like I’m a part of this. And obviously our, demographic is not the right word, but you know, what someone’s apart of is a little bit different than what someone in the country club apart of. You know, this is, the people here was kinda more like a work-hard-play-hard community type. But it works. Because it’s still that same concept, it’s that underlying concept.Dallin Nead : So then, with say, other brands who are trying to do what you do, is building a community, or tap into kinda that custom experience that’s more personable, what recommendation, like with your experience, with Afterburn Fitness, I’m sure you have a lot of insight to those who maybe wanting to do similar things to what you do, what are some insights you think?Tony Velasco : Well, since you, since you specifically mention across a couple of times, I think that, they can say that it’s geared towards everybody right. And I’m not saying it’s not, the problem is a lot of the perception with the games and all that kind of stuff like only for the lead athlete, I think a lot of the time it comes down, at least from across example like it’s really hard to market that to the everyday person. Like it just really really is. It would market to you, as a former athlete, it would market to me as a former athlete, I mean that’s 5-10% of the population, and I think a lot of those places that focused on that, those community orientated gyms, the biggest problem is that they are not marketing enough to the general population. And there’s a lot of other things but I think that’s the biggest one, is that we try, you know, yeah you come in here, you know, even when we log in the facility, I mean, it can looked intimidating to a lot of people that’s coming, like this massive rigs and turf and tires and what is going on here. But at the end of the day, our marketing approach and our delivery, once people walk in, is one that still market to and appeals to the general population. So that would be my advise I guess. Dallin Nead : Yes and that’s cool too because not only to you consider like the athlete or the fitness professional, you consider the people who also wants to experience that team--Tony Velasco : Exactly.Dallin Nead : Yeah exactly. That happen before, who were like, actually I kinda miss that growing up, and athletics, so let’s try it out with this gym experience. At any age too.Tony Velasco : Exactly. Dallin Nead : You look at your website and social media, I mean you guys have, on Facebook I think it’s your biggest following I think like almost 15000 people inside. Tony Velasco : Yeah, yeah.Dallin Nead : And so, speaking to that, just your online presence is beyond just Yuotube facilities and Valencia, and Manhattan Beach. How have you guys grown that social based? I mean is it content, is it the fact that you involves people to help refer Afterburn Fitness? What’s kinda been your strategy there?Tony Velasco : I mean, it’s all the above. My biggest feel on just social media and all of that stuff in general, you know, we do our best in, going wrong, we could still do 100 times better, right, like anything we always trying to get better. But I think I believed that in this day and age, anybody, any company, actually we did just talk about this thing exactly. Dallin Nead : Cool.Tony Velasco : That I think you should be a media company. Whatever, it doesn’t matter who you are, what you are, like in terms of what industry you’re in, because at the end of the day, social media is not going anywhere right. I mean you and I both know--Dallin Nead : Really right.Tony Velasco : Yeah, it’s going to be in our lives for a very very long time.Dallin Nead : It’s only gonna grow. I mean now it was like the Facebook, the Youtube, the Twitter, Instagram, it’s gonna be, I mean, there’s a multiplicity of different platforms that are exist, and some of these maybe will exist for 20 years.Tony Velasco : Exactly. Dallin Nead : It will evolve, yeah.Tony Velasco : It’s gonna evolve and it’s gonna continue to grow, and I think the most underlying, you know, piece of all of it, is that all of us go to it right? Whether be in Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, to be entertained in some form or another right? Dallin Nead : Right.Tony Velasco : Be whether it something, you know, funny or there’s something of value to learn from it or you know someone goes to Pinterest because they want to find ideas of what to do for the home. At the end of the day we’re trying to get some kind of value or entertainment, out of those apps. And so, knowing that, creating content that does exactly that. Creating content that is you know either entertaining or providing value to our base to draw people in, so they have a reason, we are not just gonna sell someone 24/7 because that’s when people go on social media for. So by creating content, like especially videos that do that, I think GoPro, Red Bull, are some of the best at it right? Like GoPro sells cameras, right. Dallin Nead : Right.Tony Velasco : It’s not all they are selling, I mean, all they are is, there’s a picture of the camera, that has a price under it, and in a 60 seconds commercial, or 30 seconds commercial, and the 28 seconds before that, last clip is this cool-ass video of some guy surfing or skydiving or whatever right? They’re media company, Redbull does the same thing. Guys jumping out of the freaking--Dallin Nead : Totally, yeah, I mean Apple TV they have their own platform for content whether they’re Red Bull, whether they’re using GoPro, video camera, any kind of filmmaker, content creator, you know they tap into that drives for high-end sport, in experience--Tony Velasco : RightDallin Nead : And it gives people that’s experience, it’s entertaining--Tony Velasco : Yeah.Dallin Nead : Yeah, so I totally agree, it’s going nowhere. Do you think as, you guys would, scale or get to that point of higher amount of content? To build a community beyond just your facilities?Tony Velasco : For sure, yeah. I would absolutely love to, that’s obviously, definitely a goal, or something that we have our eyes set on. For sure. I think if your, to be honest I don’t think that if you really have any sort of big goal plans, with you know, the social media game as it is that, you can’t not have that on your agenda. Dallin Nead : Completely agree. Well, and it’s interesting too because with the evolution of what social media may look like, that would change, but the, I guess the content styles, won’t necessarily change. And what I mean by that is, with me in Content Supply, the concept I’m trying to focus on is content, really all content, falls into 4 different types of content types. There’s video, there’s audio, there’s image or still, and then there’s copy or written. And like there’s that kind of branches off into so many different forms, I mean you’ve got the VR, like the Virtual Reality, you’ve got the live experience, i don’t know, your business partner Adam likes to do, a lot of-- He does. You know and he loves, he’s got like a random moments with atom, youtube channel stuff, crazy, crazy guy. Tony Velasco : Oh yeah good dude.Dallin Nead : But I mean, it all kind of trickles back into content which kinda stays as that constant for businesses no matter how the platforms may evolve. And so, I think putting something in place in realising that, yes content has its place and that like you said, every company has to be a media content company to really survives, especially now. Or if you wanna grow, maybe there’s that mom pop shop that just wants to keep out of local like, minimum in that level that works through them, but you can already tell, I mean, with the presence you guys have online, part from your influences site, your 2 facilities in California is, there’s so much more and more growth. Because you guys just started how long ago? It’s been 5 years? Tony Velasco : Um, 6. 2011, we opened Valencia on 2011 and we opened up Manhattan Beach in very very end of 2015, and then we’re actually, I just got down looking at a piece of property yesterday, and have been looking for property for the last probably a month or two, and west side for our third location. Dallin Nead : Wow no way!Tony Velasco : YeahDallin Nead : That’s great.Tony Velasco : YeahDallin Nead : Yeah that’s growing right there. So you mention too, so as far as content with this growth, obviously as you want a third location, what ways you guys gonna use content more? I mean you guys gonna start a podcast or some kind of weekly show?Tony Velasco : Yup.Dallin Nead : What else do you have in mind?Tony Velasco : Well, I mean, we just put a guy, you know who Jeremy is? Dallin Nead : I met Jeremy, yeah, he’s doing you’re guys media.Tony Velasco : Yeah he’s our media director and so he, I mean, we’re started just work heavier into like just creating more videos again. Both from a value standpoint, also like we have some funny stuff, some entertaining type videos. Just the funny thing like a goof of a bunch of these different like movies. We did one, it was from our trainers and they all kinda get together and teamed up. One team did, oh God what is it, it’s Keanu Reeves movie with--Dallin Nead : Oh, Point Break?Tony Velasco : Point Break scene. And they did a scene from wedding crashers and just, so you know just a few to gets people to engage. But right now we’re really just starting with that, and really just starting to build our Youtube page. The one they, I actually wouldn’t mind getting your opinion on it, personally, obviously I see Facebook’s not going anywhere, Instagram’s not going anywhere, Youtube’s not going anywhere, what’s your thoughts on Twitter? Which that’s something we don’t really use the whole ounce, we don’t use a lot of, we don’t use at all, and then Snap Chat which came out was on fire it’s a big game, and then, like I wonder now, if that’s is something that’s going to kind of fall the way satisfaction Instagram Stories and that kinda thing. What’s your thought on those two?Dallin Nead : Yeah that’s a great questions. So Twitter, let’s start with Twitter. My thoughts on that is that it’s still has its audience, for sure. But they’re not, in my opinion, they’re not innovating enough like these other platforms like, you just named it, you know, Instagram, Facebook and Youtube, to stay as relevant, kinda like how we saw Vain which was thriving and kind of just died. I don't know if that happen to Twitter, I mean like Twitter still have its place but I think it goes back to the questions of where does your audience as a brand exist. You guys find most of your audience on Facebook, Youtube, I mean plenty of member’s there and as you grow you tap more that and Instagram. But Facebook is that primary source of you know content, same thing with Snapchat is, we see most of the younger generations, you know the teenagers right now using Snapchat, and so the question is like how that platform evolve to adapt to marketing to that audience because they’re not, they’re demographics not quite in maybe your demographic as you know, gym and fitness company but it’s hard to say for Snapchat more so than Twitter for me because you have most of young pre-20 years olds who are on Snapchat, and Instagram only, and who are not on Facebook. Tony Velasco : RightDallin Nead : And who are on Youtube but more so on Snapchat and Instagram. So it’s kind of like keeping up with the evolution of your community, your audience, what platforms they have preference for, and you just have to adapt your media, and your content to that. So that’s kinda my opinion there, I mean I don't see them going away anytime soon. But definitely with like Instagram for example, and Facebook, they both integrated new features that are very Snap Chat like, so it was like, is Snapchat gonna be, like what are you gonna do to change the game, to become more relevant. It’ll be interesting for sure, but like, you know, I mean on your website you have a Snapchat and a Twitter handle, but as you said you don’t really put much focus on Twitter or Snapchat. I mean I still think like Facebook, Youtube and Instagram, those are the main competitors for most audiences right now. Tony Velasco : YeahDallin Nead : Where, what do you see everything going? So you got, your adding your third place, you’re adding all this shows, like what is, in 10 years from now, what’s Afterburn Fitness gonna be like?Tony Velasco : I have 3, 5, 7, 10 year game plans. If all goes according to the plan, you know, we’ll have, in 10 years from now, we’ll have 30+ locations and you know, we’ll be completely be all over the west coast, and specified location in the east coast, but to be honest I want Afterburn to be a nationally recognised brand. When I first started, when we first opened up this one in 2011, it was probably like 8, 10.000 square feet and we expanded it a couple of times. We take it from 10 to I believe 10 to 12 to 15 to now 26 or so. But in the beginning when it was just 10, not only was, not a 100% focused and concerned about, you know, the next 20 locations, but I wasn’t sure about like how big I wanted to get, like who I want to compete with necessarily, and at least initially competing with more like the boutique type facilities and studios and things like that. We are at the point now where besides the club we’re at we’ve kinda compete with everyone. Fortunately and unfortunately I guess. You know we compete with the big boys, the LA Fitnesses and The Gold and the Equinoxes and all of those because of the scale that we operate at. But we also compete with the boutique stuff that across the Orange Theories and all of those as well. But 10 years from now, I want to be that club that is known alongside, again, all of those. When you named in them, when you name it of LA Fitness and Equinox and Bay Club and all of those, that Afterburn is in that lists as well. Dallin Nead : For sure, franchise, franchise, franchise. Tony Velasco : Well you know, so ironically, it’s ironic that you bring that up, so that was one of the main, you know, fork in the roads that we came to and decided not to go the franchise route. Dallin Nead : OkayTony Velasco : Simply because, for what we do, I don’t believe, that is cut and paste business model. I don’t believe we can cut and paste like a Golds or a 24 Hour, or a Planet Fitness, all of those which is very, you know the business model is very straight forward, you know what I mean? All the other very minded details that we do, really needs to be constantly governed properly, any other way to do that is to keep everything under that one corporate umbrella and entity. And so we decided to take the route of, we’ll grow a little slower, you know we’re not gonna be like franchise and you know sell 12 tomorrow, and open up in all location. I mean we’ll do 1 here and 2 there, and 3 next year, you know what I mean?Dallin Nead : It got you overside and ownership the operations, the community, so it’s all kinda that one, you know it’s not Mcdonalds franchise--Tony Velasco : Exactly. Dallin Nead : You have the ownership. So one other kinda final thoughts I want to pick your brain on is, you see a lot of online fitness communities and brands, being built online, basically, specifically online, you know people are building their private Facebook Groups, their sales funnels to get people to join this paid program. Has that, have any of those online paid communities, or fitness programs ever been a consideration? For Afterburn Fitness?Tony Velasco : Like Paid online like training type stuff or--Dallin Nead : Right, right. So it’s like online training course to be like, “Learn how to get a six pack--” I’m just random--Tony Velasco : Yeah, yeahDallin Nead : “--six packs abs in 6 weeks for the summer. And here is 20 video exercise work out routine that cost $50, $150 to get into” And there’s this online sales funnel, I mean that’s such a popular model in many brands nowadays and it’s working for a lot who figured out the formula. Is that, was that ever a consideration though? Of focusing on online versus in person community?Tony Velasco : No, I mean we tried a couple of things to generate some more online presence in terms of actually turning it into profit like a business model, but to be quite honest, you know, the couple times that we’ve done it, and we’re really just did it from the sample that we had our challenges that we run couple times a year, 60 days, and you know, we try to do it some kind of online version where we did that, where they can signed up, they will have online guidance and videos and that kind of the thing. And it did okay, but to be honest we really haven’t put, you know since then, we haven’t really putting in a ton of effort into that so we could focus on the more ground floor stuff. It’s maybe something once we can get, you know, this next one’s up and running, we can get that next step over the ground floor stuff that’s going, we can then focus on it, but at least, up until now, haven’t put a lot of focus on it. Dallin Nead : Got you. Yeah I was just curious because obviously it’s a popular model right now, it’s not for everyone in that sense, but yet there’s, I’m sure there’s a great potential. Anyways, so where can people found you online?Tony Velasco : The two best place is definitely gonna be Facebook, so just Afterburn Fitness, on Facebook. Or just on the web. Dallin Nead : Perfect. Solid.Tony Velasco : I rather thank youDallin Nead : Yeah take care man, we’ll talk soon. Thanks for joining us today. Definitely make sure to check out Tony and Afterburn Fitness. Their brand will definitely keep your eyes on, especially as the continue grow and provide value to their community. And there’s some pretty cool plans in the work. Particularly when it comes to more and more content. But that’s seriously great and then inspired for my own business, especially with how Tony cares about his community, and always tries to get back from doing charity events, to different programs, all to help people to change their lives, with team activities, and fitness. So we mentioned content and brand and building throughout this episodes, so if you're overwhelmed with running your business, and you know you need more content, especially in ongoing constant supply of content, that’s custom, all in order to take your brand to the next level, then make sure to learn more, and check out our website of Content Supply at So thanks for listening everyone and we’ll see you on the next episode.

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