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I'm Mickie. I run One Strong Southern Girl from Small Town, TN. I love what I do. I want you to remember me because I helped changed your life.
The U.S. home fitness equipment market size was valued at 4.43 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach a staggering 7.80 billion by 2029, showing the trend towards home fitness as a new permanent solution for many Americans. Beachbody has been creating innovative home workouts, nutrition solutions, and providing community support for its members for 20+ years. The company went public in June 2021, with a 3-way merger between Beachbody Company Group LLC, Myx Fitness Holdings LLC and Forest Road Acquisition Corp., and is now called The Beachbody Company Inc.
The Beachbody platform has over 1,400 unique streaming videos, over 3 million digital workout and nutrition subscriptions, and in 2022 was selected as a winner of the Good Housekeeping 2022 Fitness Award for one of the Top Fitness Apps with the Best Classes on Demand.
I recently chatted with Carl Daikeler, CEO and co-founder of Beachbody, for the podcast. This interview has been on my bucket list, so it was an honor to have him on the show to celebrate my 100th episode of Crunches and Cosmos.
This is the transcript from our interview…
Carl Daikeler, CEO, Beachbody:
I don’t think I am*. You’d have to give that to Jane Fonda, Richard Simmons, Jack LaLanne. My mom used to workout to Jack LaLanne in black and white on TV in the morning.
I think what Beachbody is, is the first one that took it so seriously that we felt that we could turn that 6 x 6 space in front of the spare bedroom TV into a world-class gym.
And we did it in a way that was unapologetic about how much work it would take and also combine the reality of needing to do something about your nutrition at the same time.
So, I think that’s where our innovation was.
I’m super proud of how the company’s evolved over the course of 23 years to try to keep moving it closer and closer to an experience that will ultimately be like any utility in your house. We think everybody should have Beachbody in their house.
*Carl is right, of course. Beachbody is the OG of the on-demand workout space, but the title of OG for home fitness has to go to Jane Fonda, Richard Simmons, Jack LaLanne etc.
Host (Mickie Carter, CEO, One Strong Southern Girl):
You’re an entrepreneur at heart, and didn’t start Beachbody as a labor of love because you were a fitness fanatic, but it was started as a business venture.
You’ve had a part in a lot of different companies during your career but Beachbody is the one that exploded (and put you on the map) and changes people’s lives every day. How cool is it that Beachbody was the idea that went on to be so successful?
I hope this doesn’t come off wrong, but I don’t consider myself a success.
We’re certainly headed in a good direction. But it’s nowhere near what my expectations are.
We’ve overcome obstacles along the way in 2 decades and that’s really been a factor of paying attention to how difficult it is to be consistent with a fitness and nutrition program.
Like you said, I’m not a fitness person, which makes me the perfect fitness entrenpreneur because I’m just trying to solve my own problem.
Where I got lucky, is that I’ve always wanted to be working with media in some way and I started very young. In fact, when I graduated from college, one of the first proposals that I wrote was an idea for a video that you would use if you were on a stationery rowing machine. So that it felt like you would be trying to race whoever was in the video, because I was a rower in college. I saw that when we were moving offices and was reminded that I got started early with this.
My point is, while I thought maybe I wanted to do sports or produce TV shows, I did a little of that when I graduated college, and what I found was that it was empty for me. And what really got me going was when I was solving a problem or influencing a behavior with media.
And it just so happened that it really clicked with fitness.
Starting first with a program called, ‘8 Minute Abs‘, and then with Beachbody. Like you said, using entrepreuneurial purpose and determination to take on this one issue which, to this day, has no brand leader.
It’s a stunning thing what you could say is a 1.4 to 1.5 trillion dollar market worldwide doesn’t really have a clear leader. Like, soda has Coca Cola and Pepsi, computers have Microsoft and Apple and here’s this category that affects everybody that people need so much and there’s not an automatic brand that comes to mind.
I think it’s been fun to work on building Beachbody toward being that brand. But it’s not an easy sell. And that’s why we have an opportunity because there are so many people like me have a much easier time blowing it off than staying consistent–and that’s the riddle that’s fun to solve.
I feel like we’re just getting started. It’s my job to run that continues to be innovative and is energetic and ambitious as the day we started it in 1998.
I’m the most proud of when I get success stories, when I see testimonials online and I meet people.
It’ll be these moments where someone will stop me when I’m at a Beachbody event to take a photo with me and they’ll stop for a moment and go deep in their story. And you listen to these stories, and people hand me cards that are filled with their story, and I’m blown away that this thing that was started as a business has transcended the motive of profit and loss into this thing that I think is a life saver.
I think it’s critical that Beachbody is successful by a factor 50…I think we need to reach 50x more people because people really need this.
As I hear stories of people that go through hardships, and they talk about how this Beachbody community is what got them through it…I’m watching right now a situation play out where this woman lost her husband, he was a young guy in the military, and she was at a Beachbody event and she found out that he passed away, she’s got 2 young kids, and to watch this Beachbody community rally around her and show her support is an outrageous consequence of this entreprenueurial decision to build a business.
So, I’m super proud that that’s the effect that it has in the world. And humbled by it. And to some degree, intimidated to live up to that standard but that’s what’s fun about it.
But I get these success stories about how people’s lives have changed and it all transcends their waistline, and abs and their butts and their thighs–it all comes down to enhancing the human experience and relationship that people have with themselves, their own self-esteem and the improvement in their relationship with others and that’s very special.
I believe Beachbody leads the market in a specific style of on-demand workout library where you provide people with programs that give them a roadmap (a workout calendar) for 30, 60, 90+ days. And now with Beachbody on Demand Interactive (BODi) people have the option of one-off workouts, too.
You’ve always been ahead of the curve with new innovation and programs and Beachbody’s ability to crank out new programs that are fun and interesting is unmatched. So, how do you come up with ideas for new programs and workouts especially with the market now flooded with on-demand workout options?
There were free videos available with the introduction of YouTube. So, it’s not like we haven’t had free workout options for a long time.
The production value and testing that we put into a program when we create workouts–nobody else does it like us. We’ve had people join us from competitors and once they get into our process they’re blown away–they had no idea the rigor that goes into both testing the fitness programs and testing the nutrition programs and how they work with the fitness program–meaning you have to have enough energy to fuel the workout while supporting whatever your weightloss goals might be. So, we test all of that–and also see what role supplements can play. So, that’s a difference.
In terms of where the program ideas come from–that’s a mix of places. Sometimes I’ll have ideas from just observing the market and taking the temperature of where people’s heads are and where they might be going. And also by looking at our catalogue and saying, ‘we don’t have anything likes this…’.
For example, launching the 4-Week Gut Protocol with Autumn Calabrese we took the opportunity to combine a fitness program with the very specific goal of achieving gut health and created a no-impact 4-week program called 4-Weeks for Every Body.
And that’s 4 days a week about half an hour a day and so Beachbody now has a no-impact fitness program (in addition to our yoga routines).
But the point is, I’ll come up with the idea, a supertrainer will come up with an idea, our product develop team will put forth an idea, or we’ll all kind of contribute to an idea being born.
We just celebrated the 50-millionth-view milestone of 80-Day Obsession and 80-Day Obsession was this sort of collaboration of a program I wanted to do that would help people that had a specfic goal of having flatter abs and a bigger butt (wanted to build their glutes)–which is a difficult goal to achieve at the same time. You have to reduce calories to flatten the abs and burn off a layer of fat but you have to have enough calories to support adding muscle–especially to a large muscle group like the glutes. And Autumn Calabrese had this idea of timed-nutrition which she had used during competitions. And our team wanted to do a longer program that was similar to a P90X length. So all those ideas came together for that program.
We have another program coming out in May called Fire and Flow and that program came about from paying attention to the demeanor of the market place that wants to be healthy and wants to workout but also wants a break from stress and anxiety.
And so we said, ‘let’s create a hybrid program that takes Jericho McMatthews (Morning Meltdown 100) and Elise Joan (Barre Blend) and put them together, and create something entirely functional that burns a lot of calories and helps people get stronger each day but also be in a mindset so that one day you’ll be psyched up ready to go and the next day you know it’ll be a little more chill and Zen and you don’t have to get psyched up.
So, that’s a 4-week program where people can contend with the idea they just have to get psyched up 3 days a week and the other days will be more of a feel-good experience.
And this is just paying attention to the environment. Sometimes we get it right. Sometimes we miss it, but everything goes into our library and ultimately those programs are there for people to find at the right time for them.
It’s like what makes someone a Supermodel–there would be debates about what makes somebody a Supermodel.
We started with Tony Horton and Debbie Siebers who did our first programs for us. Tony did Power 90 and Debbie did Slim in 6. And they were both huge hits. And I was talking to somebody in an interview about our trainers and it was just something that I came up with–because I said, ‘there’s just something special about a person who can manage three dynamics at one time to deliver good training’.
There are incredible trainers who lead group fitness at an Equinox but just because you can lead that class with enthusiasm and good technique doesn’t mean that you can also be aware of cueing for the home audience in a way that is so complete and comprehensive–because you can’t count on them to be watching you the whole time–so you need to be able to provide explicit technical cues, which is very difficult to maintain over the course of a long program. You have to have charisma, you have to be able to co-exist with getting information either in your ear or visually about what camera you’re on and where you are in your workout so we hit the time we need, and also be aware of specific motivational points or other things we have in the agenda for that workout.
Managing these 3 sources of information is what’s different about our trainers.
I’d say we do get that with our BODi workouts (our live workouts) but it’s when you have to maintain that for the length of a program (like Liift 4 or 645), the stamina and focus required to do that is basically what makes our trainers Supertrainers.
It’s a bike that’s been sold in studios for the last 6-7 years so it’s a proven commercial grade bike designed to be able to handle 10-15 rides/day. That right there is the difference between the Beachbody Bike and other in-home bikes.
There are other brands that are designed for in-home use, ours is designed for in-studio use, which means it’s got a certain level of stability and adjustability that needs to be able to accommodate someone under 5 feet or over 6 feet. So, I think it goes 4′ 11 to 6′ 8″ and 350 lbs. And you don’t get that with a residential bike.
All of the Beachbody bike versions come with a huge 21.5″ touchscreen, high-grade speakers and high-definition camera (if you want to be a part of the Bodcast) and it’s based around a heart rate monitor that comes with all the bikes.
The real difference between the models is that the Pro version includes a dumbbell rack, a mat and a kettlebell (an accessory kit)–but the bike and screen are all the same.
Ultimately, the real difference between the Beachbody bike and everyone else is the experience on the screen and that’s what I’m super proud of.
We have a massive studio with a huge LED screen with beautiful colorful backgrounds where we bring in 50-100 participants to be in the cast who get to be cued by the trainer live in this immersive, interactive live experience that has no equal in this space.
It’s a combination of formats we created and rides we created. We never have people lift weights on the bike (which some of our competitors do and isn’t the best thing to do in my opinion), and so we do things on and off the bike and it’s a quality experience with this swivel screen that turns all the way around.
The reason we’re so excited about having the Beachbody bike, which isn’t a requirement for people to interact with Beachbody on Demand interactive (BODi) but I think what it represents is committment. Like I said before, I want Beachbody to be like a home utility–you got your electricity, your water, your internet and your Beachbody setup. Because the house should be the center of your wellness lifestyle. And I think the bike can be the epicenter which means that screen and the ability to swivel that huge screen (almost 2 feet across), gives you a place that’s dedicated to your fitness experience. It shows that you’re committed to consistency. And consistency can be 3 times a week, and that’s ok, because it’s consistency vs. doing one workout now and then again in a few weeks.
The fact you have that bike shows you’ve made a decision and committment to stay active and have variety in your life so that you take advantage of every year that you’ve got to be more mobile, to be agile and get more out of life. That’s what being a Beachbody means and I think that’s what the bike represents.
The Beachbody Bike is optional equipment for BODi workouts. And, in fact, you can use another bike to do the routines, but if you want the interactivity and the immersive experience then you’ll need a Beachbody Bike.
When we created BODi, what we wanted to do was serve people who were maybe motivated to workout without being locked into a program.
We wanted to give people the opportunity to pick and choose a workout and have the feeling and experience that’s truly a window into the relationship with a trainer vs the feeling of watching a TV series. So, that’s like our live concert.
Our trainers will do workouts from their programs but they’ll do them live on BODi. So, it’s like the extra experience for some people who would rather workout with that flexibility and variety, than be in a program with a committment over a period of time.
It’s a mix. I’m always testing stuff that we’re in production on.
I don’t do our programs from start to finish that often just because I’m always trying things that we’re producing. But if we have a new trainer then I’ll plug in because I want to see how that trainer does…so 3-4 workouts a week that come from our library, but I also love to be outside so I’ll swim laps in the pool and do things outside.
So, I typically workout 5-6 days of the week.
The hardest thing is that when we were growing up we didn’t have to deal with the perfection of the smartphone and the availability of every possible entertainment option being right in your home. I think the responsibility first is on the parents and you’ve got to set guidelines in terms of access to the phone and access to TV and that can’t be an entitlement, it has to be earned, I think with some level of activity.
That has to be balanced by the difficulties of going through quarantine, the difficulties of this day and age–I used to be able to ride my bike anywhere when I was 11-years old, but these days fear of what might happen to your kids–these are different times.
So, I think it does require some planning, discipline and creativity to help kids get out.
Not every kid is a sports kid. So, what do you if you don’t have a sports kid?
I think that comes down to helping the non-sports kid understand the joy of movement and experiencing your body outside in some way, whether it’s dance, hiking, running–something. It really can be intimidating at first, but once you understand the refreshing experience of what your body can do, your gonna try it again.
And you have to try to be an example so they see that you’re not just work and TV, work-eat-TV (or look at the phone), this is a routine that’s hypnotic and very easy for people to fall into; and once the adult falls into it, it’s hard for you to impose anything else on your kids.
That’s why I say our job at Beachbody is to innovate in a way that makes it more exciting to spend 20 minutes with a Job 1 workout (or whatever workout might be your thing)–it has to be more gratifying–than staring at your phone or scrolling a feed.
I drink Shakeology every day.
I drink Chocolate Vegan flavor around 10 am every day. It’s a non-negotiable.
It literally is the healthiest moment of my day because I know exactly what’s in it, I know how we curate the contents and just how careful that formulation is. I add some of our fiber boost and greens boost.
I literally don’t think I’ve missed more than 3 days of Shakeology in 14 years.
I just started drinking Shakeology about a month ago. I’ve been drinking the Vanilla Whey flavor but people have told me they prefer the Vegan flavors.
Will you explain the difference between the whey and vegan options?
The Whey flavors come from a milk product. So, it’s still a mix of proteins but it’s got whey in the formula so that protein is absorbed a little differently and it makes some people feel more full.
I choose the Vegan flavors because I don’t have a protein problem, so I don’t need another source of dairy or animal protein.
That’s a great question.
Stop waiting. It will never be the perfect time.
First set an absolute firm commitment to yourself about how far you’re going to go before you can reconsider. A week? A month? 90 days? You’ve got to set some objective because the first 3 days are gonna suck. It will be awful. You’ll be sore. It probably won’t feel that great.
You’ll want to pick a program that’s appropriate to you but also is enough of a challenge that you don’t feel like you’re doing nothing.
And make sure you fuel yourself right because you can’t starve your way through a fitness program.
And you can’t expect to achieve results in the first week.
You’ve got to have a goal, commitment, and to pick the right program and then get to it.
It’s fun to have popular music and access playlists.
It’s fun to have more access to live programs at different times of the day and more choices in style (like we’re doing with BODi).
But otherwise fitness doesn’t need so much innovation. Fitness doesn’t need augmented reality. All I need is someone who’s good on screen telling me what I have to do. Keep moving fast. Don’t bore me. Be interesting.
The thing I think is perhaps the head fake that I think the whole industry suffers from is that there’s got to be some big innovation from a technology standpoint or something that’s expensive. And it just doesn’t have to be that hard. It’s just got to be good content.
I do think that community is really important. So the better that Beachbody can be at enhancing community, the bigger we’ll grow. Because I think that’s just as important as the quality of the content.
You do research and look at the statistics…I know what the downside is to inactivity, and eating wrong and too much sugar.
You can’t be in this environment every day and not be affected by it and not see people who suffer when they don’t do it.
So, honestly, that’s probably the gift of the business to me.
Like you said at the beginning, I’m an entrepreneur, a business person, and it is a stroke of luck that I chose this industry. Because if I’d have gone in on the pizza business, I’d have been all-in on pizza.
I’m lucky I chose this because it’s around me all the time and I know it’s benefits.
So, that’s how I live.
I read about many of your other entrepreneurial projects from the time before Beachbody and it must feel very cool and humbling (as you said before) that this is the business that worked and now the company that you co-founded helps change the lives of so many people every day.
Yes, but it’s also painful because I don’t think we’re reaching enough people.
I see the trend of obesity continues.
The candy industry did something like 37 billion in sales last year (a record). I’ve got a company that’s working it’s way towards a billion. And that’s not right. I should be double what the candy industry does. We use that as a kind of North star. We have to be relentless about finding ways to reach people that makes them feel good about what they’re doing and make them feel good about the time they’re spending taking care of themselves.
It’s my job to represent what I think is different and special about Beachbody. I hope people take the opportunity to check us out and know that everything has been so thoroughly tested.
The thing we want for everybody to know is that when they’re finally serious about making a change and feeling better in their own skin that the total solution is available to them at Beachbody.
We never want them to spend more than they have to on health and fitness but we also don’t want anyone to waste their money by not spending enough. That’s where supplements and a nutrition plan like 4-Week Gut Protocol, 2B Mindset or Portion Fix comes in.
Lifestyle change is lifestyle change, and it’s a comittment you make. It’s not a little experiment–it’s a commitment that you make.
I hope some people will hear this and realize it’s time to give it a shot and see what’s possible from the convenience of their own home. I think they’ll be impressed by what they see because a lot of people put a LOT of effort into making Beachbody special and interesting and I think once people feel welcomed into the Beachbody community they’ll see that it transcends a name and 2 decades of content and has become the place to go if you want a comprehensive solution for feeling great.
Thank you for the opportunity to be here.
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