RiNo fitness entrepreneur takes classes online, sees boost in sale of weighted backpacks

Platform Strength moved classes online and offers two live workouts a day. (Photos courtesy Emily Schromm)

Fitness entrepreneur Emily Schromm doesn’t like to sit still. When Denver’s stay-at-home order forced her to close Platform Strength, her 24/7 gym in RiNo, she had no plans to stop working.

In March, she brought Platform Strength online, giving all her members access at a discounted rate.

Schromm said the pandemic also has resulted in an increase in sales for her weighted backpack line, EmPack.

Emily Schromm

“I tend to thrive in situations where things get really real; that’s always kind of been my personality as an entrepreneur,” Schromm said. “You get really impatient as a business owner, and then things like this happen, and you realize why it took so long to get there because you needed every experience and every failure.”

Platform Strength, which opened at 3198 Blake St. in 2018, is currently offering two live workouts a day for gym members, EmPack owners, and anyone who downloads Schromm’s $25 monthly publication, Empress.

Prior to the pandemic, gym members were paying one of three rates: $119 a month for unlimited open gym time, $149 for unlimited classes or $199 for both. Now, with the gym’s offerings limited, members can choose to pay between $49 and $149 a month.

Schromm said the fact that she’s still bringing in revenue from members has allowed her to continue to pay her six coaches and trainers at the same rate. She’s also brought in seven outside trainers and nutritionists that were idle. Members can take a dance class with Zumba instructor Rita Cohen or do yoga with Andrea Torres, who is normally at CorePower.

“I think it’s important for all of us to remember we can survive, but can we remember that there’s a lot more than just us that needs to survive?” Schromm said. “So, I wanted to get rid of all the competition and just collaborate.”

Schromm’s background in online personal training and podcasting quickly helped her build a virtual community for her gym.

“Nobody prepares for a pandemic, and one of the things I always wanted to do was bring Platform online,” Schromm said. “This has really forced us to go there before we thought we would, but in turn, it’s allowing us to see the potential outside of our brick-and-mortar gym. There is something we provide that’s nowhere else and we are translating that online.”

nomad backpack

The EmPack, and its sister products Nomad and Wander, can be filled with 15 to 60 pounds of water weight.

As for EmPack — Schromm’s line of weighted backpacks, which she launched in 2015 — March sales were double that of the company’s previous best month (excluding Kickstarter campaigns). She attributed that to the number of people working out at home amidst the pandemic.

The EmPack, and its sister products Nomad and Wander, can be filled with 15 to 60 pounds of water weight. Schromm said the backpacks are meant to be “an all-in-one at-home fitness tool,” used in the place of dumbbells, barbells or kettlebells, and “well over” 8,000 have been sold.

“I mean, it’s just pretty amazing to see something you thought of in a hotel five years ago being used exactly the way you want, and in a way that becomes even more important,” Schromm said. “It’s truly helping people stay sane right now, which is amazing to see that happen as a business owner.”

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