On the way to the global expansion of her fitness brand, FitFighter founder Sarah Apgar first had to swim through a room full of "sharks" - but these sharks had huge checkbooks instead of a hammer head.
Their product, the Steelhose, an "all-in-one" training tool with the look and feel of a fire hose and the ability to imitate everything from dumbbells to kettlebells, had already attracted attention from top trainers and the largest American fire service. However, funding a much-needed $ 250,000 investment partnership with Kind Bar CEO Daniel Lubetzky during their presentation of ABC's Shark Tank was the financial backing Apgar needed to reach fitness crowds around the world.
Since the episode aired, the craze for steelhose has grown significantly, sales have skyrocketed, and FitFighter social media has received new attention, according to Apgar.
"We went from maybe 2,000 people knowing about FitFighter to millions about us after the episode," Apgar says. "Our customer service team has been working around the clock since (last week)."
According to Apgar, the name FitFighter symbolizes readiness for any situation, which could also apply to the background of the Maryland-born entrepreneur. The mother of two served in the army in Mosul during Operation Iraqi Freedom after graduating from Princeton, where she was an all-American rugby player.
Even after landing what she thought was a perfect job as new business director at prescription eyewear retailer Warby Parker, Apgar wasn't quite ready for civilian life after the military. She decided to volunteer with the Halesite Fire Department in Huntington, Long Island, NY to regain some of the army regime that was missing from her routine.
"I had a really challenging time transitioning out of the army because I liked the army lifestyle," Apgar says. “I liked the expectations that were set and being on a team all the time. I missed that camaraderie and the volunteer fire department felt like a way to have just a little bit of this community and lifestyle in my life. And that goal has definitely been achieved. "
When Apgar got a feel for how firefighters were training for their roles and saw some loopholes, she began using her garage to prototype steelhose, cut pieces of fire fighting equipment, and then fill them with sand. loaded fire hose behind you and dragging it up the stairs and around corners.
Her break came when a colleague introduced the FDNY Fire Academy product, the Fire Academy's largest training program in the United States. The academy demonstrated how to include the steel hose in the department's training program, and within three weeks began including the steel hose in their candidate training program.
"When it took the FDNY executive director 20 seconds to see what I was doing and getting the department's fitness and strength and conditioning instructors out, that was when I felt my idea was being validated. "
STEEL TROUSERS IN ACTION
Apgar soon discovered that the Steelhose, which come in sizes from 5 to 40 pounds, not only simulates firefighter-like movements, but can also serve as a full-body exercise device that can be used to repeat exercises that would normally be done with a dumbbell, or barbell a kettlebell, Bulgarian bag, medicine ball and even a sledge hammer.
t only was Apgar able to perform any type of push, pull and curling motion, but they also designed the steel hose to withstand constant slamming and pulling as well as pulling on all surfaces.
"FitFighter really came out of the idea that this wasn't just a fire department training tool," Apgar says. “This was a tool that is suitable for everyone, from everyday athletes to tactical athletes to couch surfers. Our roots are in firefighting, but the future is a long game that will transform fitness for everyone. "
The brand also recently launched FitFighter Live, which comes fully equipped with on-demand and live-streaming workouts. Apgar, who admits he is discovering new exercises by users almost every day, is continuously developing the FitFighter movement library in collaboration with celebrity trainer Jason Walsh.
"(Jason) has been like a mentor to me in the fitness business," Apgar says. "So when a person like Jason calls you and says," I think you've got something really interesting. "When you get endorsed by such an important industry influencer, you feel like you are at the top of the pyramid."
While growing within the fitness community remains their number one goal, staying with the military remains a priority for Apgar. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Steven Stiller Foundation, which aims to help wounded veterans get used to home life.
And since the Army recently revised their fitness test, Apgar wants FitFighter to be used in the military. The Army recently changed their fitness test by eliminating the traditional push-ups, sit-ups and 2-mile running tests and replacing them with special warrior and combat exercises to improve battlefield readiness. Apgar hopes that one day she can find a way for FitFighter to help our military stay ready.
"I would love to have a voice in providing strength training solutions for military personnel and soldiers," Apgar says. "It's really difficult to have gyms and performance centers and get people to them and you're in the field. I think we should hand over those who do a steel hose related to the military and then say that's cool . "