Published in Small Business
Grand Rapids-based Alpha Human Performance has embraced virtual workouts during the pandemic to help attract new customers. Grand Rapids-based Alpha Human Performance has embraced virtual workouts during the pandemic to help attract new customers. COURTESY PHOTO

Startup athletic facility adopts online and individualized training model

BY Sunday, November 22, 2020 05:00pm

When the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the opening of Daimond Dixon’s athlete training and recovery facility, he and his wife Regina decided they would still find a way to train athletes and fitness enthusiasts.

In doing so they unlocked a new component of their business — Alpha Human Performance, at 3233 Eastern Ave. in Wyoming — that Dixon believes will carry the new company through the industry’s uncertain times ahead.

While the April opening of the company’s 6,500-square-foot facility was delayed from a statewide shutdown of gyms and athletic complexes in March, Dixon and his wife launched what they call “Alpha Up,” making online training sessions available to the general public for free.

“If you’re a member here, all of the workouts we do here every single day are available on the app that we have,” said Dixon, who graduated from Grand Rapids Central High School before playing football for the University of Miami as a walk-on. “We said, ‘Let’s take that concept and initiate it now. We’ll just do at-home workout programs.’”

Response to the online component of the business surpassed Dixon’s expectations after more than 500 people signed up for the workouts.

While the lessons themselves didn’t generate any revenue, it did build awareness for Alpha Human, which distinguishes itself by catering to athletes and people who want to train like athletes. 

Alpha Human has also partnered with NovaCare Rehabilitation Corp. to provide recovery services for athletes. Members of Alpha Human can use its recovery lounge and NovaCare team members are available to come and assess injuries for free.

“We were able to build a good following for us in the summer leading into the fall when we could finally open,” Dixon said. “We had brand awareness in the sense that people in the community knew us online so now they know we have a brick-and-mortar place.”

Alpha Human eventually swung open its doors in the fall and now has around 90 registered members who take advantage of the facilities and programming.

The state’s latest orders that took effect Nov.18 and prohibit group activities in gyms will not have much of an effect on Alpha Human because of the individualized nature of the workouts.

“We initially developed the concept around having a class and you can sign up for a particular time and everyone works in the class. … It (has become) more of building a frame — a workout that you can separate and get after it (on your own).”

Still, Dixon said Alpha Up will remain as a valuable tool for the business — whether it faces additional shutdowns or to better serve members that don’t necessarily want to leave their homes during the pandemic. Based on 500 people signing up for the free program, Dixon said the company would likely create a paid online program.

“With a paid program online, we would get a small percentage of (existing Alpha Up members) that would pay for it, almost like a monthly membership deal,” he said.

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