Matt Bogumil, Vice President of Sales & Marketing for our Northern Territory recently discussed his experience in the education market with us. Matt has been a valued member of our team since 2007. More than ten years later, he is known throughout our company as the go-to resource for industry knowledge and has a long track-record of leading others by example. We discussed everything from the recent trends he’s seeing in the education market in Upstate NY, to his advice for his customers and his favorite equipment.
What are some upcoming trends that you’re seeing in your market?
“I would say functional fitness. We saw it change the health club industry, but for the last few years with the popularity of CrossFit, it is now starting to take hold with school districts. High schools tend to move slower at times due to planning and budgets, and it can take a while for some trends to trickle down. I’m currently working with a school district where they are converting a gymnasium into a functional space with turf, rubber flooring, power racks, and a slew of functional tools. This is a groundbreaking program for high school PE, and the students are buying into it more and more. It’s a similar scenario for colleges, but there is more group training. It really depends on the school—the biggest limiting factor for both colleges and high schools is space. If they have space, they will do more.
We’re also seeing an uptick in interest for boxing, MMA-type sports and classes. Rob Anspach, our education market rep in New York City and Long Island, recently installed a Queenax functional rig with 3 punching bags thinking it was overkill. A month later the rec director at that facility called him to say they wished they had done 30 bags.”
What trends excite you the most?
“I’m happy with a lot of the technology that our vendors have been investing in as it relates to the end user experience. Specifically with Expresso adding the indoor cycling classes to the already popular GO Bike, Precor adding RunTV to their networked cardio stations, and Wellbeats’ digital classes and channels. Most people think that adding any technology will make a product better and easier to use. This is simply not true. But to add tech in an effective way with a simple user interface often has extremely positive results. Many people forget that the iPhone was not the first smartphone, not even close! It wasn’t even Apple’s first handheld touch product. But it was simple, it enhanced the user experience, and changed an industry. Precor’s focus on simplicity, in my opinion, is one of the main reasons their Preva interface is world-class.”
How has the industry changed in your experience?
“In my experience, there has been a big push toward free weights across all markets. I wouldn’t say people are doing any less circuit pieces, though. I think that CrossFit has contributed to this a little, but its also a cyclical thing. Kettlebells were big in the 70’s and 80’s. My first 3 years here I didn’t sell a single kettlebell, but now they’re a part of nearly every order. Where I would usually have put a fifteen-station circuit, I would probably only do twelve now and add extra free weight stations across the board. The only exception is an unsupervised res-life facility where you wouldn’t want anything heavier than 50lbs.
I always try to spend time with my customers in their facilities during peak hours to see what’s happening and where people are spending their time working out. For the FitSpace renovation in 2011 at Binghamton University, we initially started with 5 dumbbell benches (more than they had before their renovation) and today have 10 benches and at peak hours they are all getting used! In that instance, the only way to learn is by being there.”
What is your #1 piece of advice for customers in the industry?
“The best piece of advice I can give is to have an open mind and not be afraid of change. Don’t be scared by some of the new technology out there. See what other people in your industry are doing. You don’t have to fill up your space on day one. A lot of people try to do that and ultimately wish they didn’t.”
What are your personal best practices?
“I always spend as much time as I can beforehand so that the result is the best one for the customer given all of the circumstances. If someone calls me to say they’re doing a new fitness center and tells me exactly what they want, its critical to spend the time necessary to make sure that their equipment list is exactly what they need. Oftentimes, you get something in your head that you think is what you want, but in reality may not fit the needs of grades 8-12, athletic teams, and community/faculty use. On the flip side, there are times when what people are asking for is exactly what we would recommend. I also try to be open to new ideas and look at everything as an opportunity to learn, even if you disagree at first. New ideas ultimately lead to progress.
I also take every opportunity seriously, but I have fun doing it. At the end of the day, we recognize that school districts and colleges don’t often get large funding for fitness equipment, so we treat every decision very seriously, even if it’s just a yoga mat, because that could have a positive impact on a young person’s life. I was lucky enough to be attending a school that got a new weight room, and I carry those feelings of excitement and pride with me to this day. It’s one of the big reasons why I love this job. I get to relive that time with every new installation.”
What’s your favorite product to sell/use?
“There are a lot! But if I had to narrow it down I would start with the Expresso bike. It is the single most engaging product I have every been on, barre none. I don’t even like riding a bike, but I look forward to challenging my ghost every time I ride the Expresso.
Escape Functional Fitness Accessories—I feel they would have helped me a great deal when I was high school athlete. I wish could go back and train with the Corebags and Bulgarian bags.
Precor Half Rack & Power Rack — Precor hit a home run with their entire line of Discovery Strength products. The benches are built thoughtfully, and solid enough to be in a strength and conditioning center. They really put in the time on the design, and you can see that in amount of detail that they included. It speaks volumes to me the amount of time they spent on the smallest details.“