We had the good fortune of connecting with Jesse O’Brien and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jesse, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
With the fitness industry, there are a lot of fitness models that are driven by the consumer. What do consumers enjoy, what makes them most comfortable, etc.? My belief IS that this is a backward way of building a fitness company that provides massive long-term value to its customers. Fitness companies solve 3 problems: 1. – How to get someone to start exercising 2. – Make sure clients do not miss a training session 3. – Encourage clients to restart ASAP if they do miss a session. I was a fitness professional for about half a decade and from my experience, I felt like fitness companies were not guiding their consumers in a manner that led them towards long-term fulfillment. Central Athlete is the distillation of my personal education, experience, and attempts to plug the holes that I felt were not being addressed with current fitness models.
What should our readers know about your business?
As many people know, COVID wreaked havoc on the service industry. As a health and fitness company, operating a brick-and-mortar gym, we had some serious challenges when COVID hit and we were mandated to close the gym. In 2015, when we designed Central Athlete, we led with an anti-fragile model—A model that becomes stronger with stress. The month after COVID-19 closed our gym, we had record revenue for the month. This is in large part due to our model. We are not in the business of run-the-mill personal training or group training. We are an entity that exists in the middle, offering “personalized fitness,” wherein each of our clients has his/her own coach and an individualized training, nutrition and lifestyle plan. 50% of our clients are remote, so when we had to close the gym, we shifted all of our clients to our remote model. The coaches kept getting paid, the clients kept getting fitter, and the business kept growing!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We live in Austin, which is such a SUPERIOR place for being outdoors and active. Here are a few places we would suggest:
Barton Springs – a natural spring-fed pool in the middle of Austin;
Austin Bouldering Project – one of the US’ largest bouldering gyms—a terrific place for both beginners and advanced climbers; [SUP—what does this mean?]
Lady Bird Lake –fun weekend activity and a comprehensive way to see the city SCENE from the water;
Juiceland – Locally owneD smoothie place that dishes out healthy, locally-sourced smoothies;
Thai Fresh – if you love Thai food, there is no better place. If you have a sweet tooth, the restaurant has a dairy and gluten-free bakery as well.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have cultivated a group of peers who do not accept the status quo. They are driven to curate an intentional existence, increase their holistic knowledge, and help empower others. My social group has been instrumental in supporting my drive, supporting Central Athlete when needed, and expanding our vision. I am continually inspired to push the boundaries of how we serve our clients, coaches, and myself as business owner.