'We've all proven that we can move people digitally': EverybodyFights Founder George Foreman III

George Foreman III, founder of EverybodyFights, joined Yahoo Finance's Jen Rogers, Myles Udland, and Dan Roberts to discuss how EverybodyFights moved its classes to a digital platform in just 4 days and the future of the fitness industry.

Video Transcript

MYLES UDLAND: We are joined now by George Foreman III-- he is the founder of EverybodyFights-- to talk a little bit about what's happening in the boxing industry, what's happening in the fitness space during this time of COVID-19. George, thanks for joining the program today.

I guess, let's just start with an update on how you guys have handled the last couple of months, what things you've had to ramp up pretty quickly, what the uptake's been like, and I guess, how you've kept yourself and your staff and your users excited about, you know, staying in shape and doing something better than, you know, sitting at home and loathing one's self that we're stuck inside during this tough time.


GEORGE FOREMAN III: Thank you. Thank you. No, we're doing great. I mean, we took a big bet. We said, you know, instead of, you know, running Zoom classes for two or three weeks until the world comes back and just hoping it turned around in two or three weeks, we said, you know what? Let's swing hard, and let's just go right into building a platform that would help us recreate the experience we have with our members, which is a lot more than just our fitness classes. And it's about building that community.

And it seemed like a little too much work, and now we're really excited. We have over a quarter million streams of all our content so far, people consuming it in over 100 countries, and slowly chipping back away to get all my team back activated.

Because I said, look, we have 10,000 people who normally come to our gyms. They're out there at home. They want to move. I have 130-- 140 trainers and staff, over 800 that have been certified. But they're out there. They want to teach. Let's just get them connected. Let's start there. And so far, we've been really happy with the result.

DAN ROBERTS: George, Dan Roberts here. For years, boxing has become a very kind of in-trend type of workout. You know, you and I have talked about this. Young people like it because it's fun, but it's also a hard workout. It was definitely on the rise, and you were expanding your footprint. I've been to your EverybodyFights gym in Boston, as well as to the one in New York. That was before all this quarantine time.

And now when we have fitness CEOs on our shows over the last few weeks, we always like to ask, I mean, how different are things going to look when all this is over? Because a lot of people think that maybe people will no longer want to go to an in-person gym, or why do classes in person.

So, you know, you can beef up on the virtual side, but especially with boxing, in many ways, it's such a social group activity in person, and it's also something that's not always so easy to do at home. I mean, you can do the floor work, but even if you have your boxing gloves, what are you going to punch if you don't have bags at home? So how might this time permanently change boxing workouts, you think?

GEORGE FOREMAN III: Well, look, I think it's going to change the entire industry. I mean, look, you know, thank god, Muhammad Ali said it the best. You can train in a phone booth. All I need is a phone booth, and I can do what I need to do. But look, the reality is people are always going to want to touch each other. They're always going to want to do that. We know that.

But any business that-- like, business model that relies on cramming a bunch of people, as many people as possible into a small space, sweat flying everywhere, people breathing like race horses, that's over for the foreseeable future. You have to believe that if you want to survive in this game. One day, but for the foreseeable future, those businesses are dead.

And the good news is my father can train me virtually. He can pull up a camera. He actually always trained me from his seat with a cane he would carry around to hit me. He actually didn't need it.

But the point is you don't need to be in person to box-- to train someone the box, thank god. And those companies, Peloton, you've got to have your Peloton bike. You've got to have Ergatta, or there's another company, Hydrow, for your rower. You've got to have Daily Burn, [INAUDIBLE]. Like, we've all proven that we can move people digitally.

Now if you want to box, you need a company that focuses on the emotional health, how to get your mind right, how to make you a fighter [INAUDIBLE] where we play in the set. We think there's a big opportunity.

And then the gyms, people are going to want to come blow off some steam and hit the bags. That's always going to be there, but not 200 people per hour. Maybe 50.

JEN ROGERS: Maybe 50. I mean, that's-- I just think that's-- for people that love going to the gym-- and I don't know. I have a high school wrestler. It's like, it's really sad on some level, right, that this is going away. Do you think that-- I mean, if we get a vaccine, are you hopeful that we'll be able to go back to doing these, or do you think it's really kind of virtual forever and that people are going to just change their habits, and they're just going to say, you know what? Maybe I'll go, like, once a month, but I'm not going as much as I used to because I can just do it on my computer.

GEORGE FOREMAN III: Yeah, the habits are going to change. Look, if you're in the high end fitness industry, our customer is smart. That's how they got to where they can, can afford fitness in New York and Boston, et cetera. And they're careful about their health. You can't, you know, 6 feet apart.

I mean, our people are already afraid of getting the flu. And this is four times as contagious, 10 times as deadly, whatever the numbers are. Things are going to change, but we're hopeful. Like, when I said 50, my gyms' capacities were triple what most boutiques were. So if you take a 50-person classroom, it's now 15 to 20, the business model has to change.

You've got to be there for a different reason. I don't think that's ever coming back. I really don't. The idea that you wake up and say, you know what? I could go back home and hurt my child, just for taking this class, things are going to change. It will get better, and it will take time.

But digital, connecting people to a real community before and after the class, that's the wave of the future. We've already skipped-- I thought things would go into a transformation economy. I want to become something. Experience is old.

But now it's moving to emotional health. That is going to be the big business. And you do not need bricks and mortar to do that. And that's how you bet that everything else would just be a store, a place to come say hi and see the people that you see on TV. And that's been proven.

DAN ROBERTS: George, long before you got into the business of boxing as a workout, you were a boxer for a little while. You had 16 and 0. I'm not sure everyone knows that. I'd be curious your take on the future of the sport at the pro level, especially as we look at how every different sports league is handling things during quarantine. You know, the UFC, which, of course, is not boxing, mixed martial arts, but that came back and started holding fights.

And of course, combat sports have been very popular in the last few years. Boxing has had its ups and downs as a sport. What do you make of where things stand? And especially if you think a lot of people don't want to work out in crowded gyms anymore, well, will they want to go to a big marquee boxing fight?

GEORGE FOREMAN III: Yeah, I think in-person experiences are still going to be there. They're just going to be different. And I liken it to the gyms. I mean, look, a big part about being in the boutique fitness space which are personnel costs, your people, right? So if you're all digital, right, you use your stores for something different. You activate them outside.

Same thing for boxing-- most will know the boxing industry did not survive on ticket sales. It always survived on pay per view and so on and so forth. It's been an at-home business in the first place. Otherwise, it would have been dead many years ago.

So now you take away the overhead of the facility, which nobody wants to rent. You take away the overhead of managing all these people, hotels, per diem, all the things that fighters love. And you just play to a digital only crowd. It's a lot cheaper, and the fighters will make about the same thing. It's not going anywhere.

But now they have to say, look, this is a studio, and we're going to make this exciting without the crowd cheering. That's what's got to be figured out. It'll work. As long as there's a good fight to be made, as long as you can get two people safely in the ring to battle, that business is not going anywhere. In my opinion, it's going to be way more profitable.

MYLES UDLAND: All right, George Foreman III, founder of EverybodyFights, great to get your thoughts. I appreciate the honesty on the future of the business as well. Hopefully we can talk to you soon.

GEORGE FOREMAN III: Fight in a phone booth, remember that. Thank you, guys.

MYLES UDLAND: All right, thanks, George.