Babson Grads Hustle to Fill Home Fitness Need

ANCORE Health & Fitness co-founders Isaac Lewis MSEL’19 (left) and Nathaniel Herring MSEL’19

A functional cable training system that can be mounted to a pole, door, or wall. A home-based boxing subscription service with classes led by some of the world’s top athletes.

Two very different businesses, both founded by Babson graduates, but with the same goal in mind: offer a convenient, portable, home-based fitness option for exercise-hungry athletes, as the pandemic has forced closures of training facilities around the country and world.

“We really hit it off from the get-go,” said Nathaniel Herring MSEL’19, co-founder of newly established ANCORE Health & Fitness. “Babson helped us develop the product initially, and turn these napkin sketches into potential business opportunities. That allowed us to really take it and run after graduation.”

‘A Space Where We Could Fit’

Between January and March in the United States, online orders for fitness equipment, such as kettlebells, dumbbells, stationary bikes, and treadmills, rose 55%. Home fitness retailer Nautilus Inc. described its second quarter as one of its strongest ever, while demand for bicycles over 2020 also had soared.

So, this year has been a well-timed launch for ANCORE, which had a limited release in late spring and went to market during the summer. Initial lead times for the product, which is offered in three packages with varying levels of resistance for everything from physical therapy to strength training, have been reduced in recent months as the business has met demand.

Influenced by similar shoulder injuries Herring and co-founder Isaac Lewis MSEL’19 suffered while mountain biking and playing baseball, respectively, ANCORE was cultivated while the two were earning their Master of Science in Management in Entrepreneurial Leadership degrees at Babson.

“On the home basis, we presented a product that could be used in a garage or basement,” Lewis said. “That was the space we identified where we could fit in.”

Since launching, ANCORE has partnered with professional sports teams such as MLB’s Los Angeles Dodgers and the NHL’s New York Rangers. “A lot of the teams we’ve worked with to this point have been training in some kind of bubble or at home which has been an excellent proving ground for our product,” Lewis said.

If the past few months are any indication, the rise in athletes exercising from home could remain constant for the near future. ANCORE is exploring all opportunities to capitalize on that trend.

“We’re thinking about new products all the time,” Herring said. “Our favorite thing is talking to customers, people in the field, about the products they want to use … offering products that not only can adapt, but also meet the high standard of performance required by athletes and trainers, is incredibly important to us.”

Bringing the Gym Home

According to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, about 20% of Americans are members of some form of a fitness club. And, a handful of chains, such as Gold’s Gym and 24 Hour Fitness, have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after the pandemic upended their businesses.

Tommy Duquette’s solution to the disruption caused by these closures? Offer athletes a boxing bag and gloves, and bring the gym home.

FightCamp, an online home boxing gym co-founded by Duquette ’12, has thousands of users with unlimited boxing workouts available to members at any time.

“At FightCamp, we are applying the lessons, experience, and credibility gained by working with the world’s top athletes to empower everyday people to get into the best shape of their lives from the comfort of their home,” Duquette said on LinkedIn.

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