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Exclusive: Kickoff scores $7M for remote fitness

Illustration of a woman doing yoga on mat that is half a cellphone

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Remote fitness startup Kickoff scored $7 million in seed funding, co-founder and CEO John Gardner tells Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: Exercise is one of the most powerful tools for combatting mental and metabolic illness, but in-person gyms and training sessions may not be a reasonable option for those facing heightened risks from COVID.

  • By contrast, Kickoff is fully remote. It's also lower-cost (starting at $95 per month) than the average personal trainer who charges $60 an hour.
  • That's important to Gardner, who says he grew accustomed to seeing plenty of "solutions for high-income, fairly fit people" but "nothing for people who want to go from nothing to something."

Of note: New York-based Kickoff isn't just for people looking to get more fit. It's also for people who want to become personal trainers, and for existing trainers who want a different approach to their business.

  • In that way, Kickoff is only the latest example of a series of new entrepreneur-enabling startups that help practitioners hone their trade.

One fit thing: Gardener's first user was his mom, who had long struggled with keeping a consistent fitness and nutrition regimen.

How it works: Users get matched with a coach based on their schedule, injuries and goals and start with a free consultation.

  • From there, users choose the level of coaching they want and pick a plan ranging from $95 to $365 a month (yearly plans include a discount).
  • For coaches, Kickoff helps beginners get certified as personal trainers. The company's algorithms help all coaches, regardless of experience level, to build personalized fitness and nutrition plans for clients.
  • "There are a million ways for influencers to make money," says Gardner. "They are not our target. We’re looking for people who are enthusiastic and excited, and we use tech to further enable them."

Details: 645 Ventures shepherded Kickoff's funding round with support from FJ Labs and Expa, tipping Kickoff's total funding to $11 million.

Be smart: Gardner says more than 20,000 coaches have signed up for the service since the company was founded in 2019.

  • For each of the last three years, the company has tripled its year-over-year revenue growth, he adds.
  • "With Kickoff, it’s the trainers bringing in people they know, and that creates long term clients," Nnamdi Okike, 645 Ventures managing partner and co-founder, tells Axios.

What's next: Gardner sees a future in which Kickoff could work more closely with medical practitioners to help people meet their fitness goals.

  • "I think there’s huge potential to leverage the kick-in-the-butt you get when a doctor tells you you need to make a big change," says Gardner.
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