JED Athletes: The Beginning

JED Athletes: The Beginning

JED Athletes: The Beginning

When James Davis approached me with his idea for a startup, it didn’t have a name, it didn’t have a business model, it didn’t have a purpose. What it had was the promise of a more flexible work schedule and the prospect of exceeding the income cap Davis had reached working 60 plus hours each seven-day workweek as the head personal trainer at the local neighborhood tennis and swim club.

He hadn’t taken more than two days off each year for Christmas since he started at the club, he’d maxed out his schedule, and thus, five years into his career, had reached his income limit. After all, there are only so many hours in a day, and once you fill them with clients, there’s no more upward mobility.

Davis’s solution: online personal training.

Unsure how or where to start, he reached out to me. Together, we started fleshing out his goals for the business: what he really wanted to get out of it, who his ideal clients would be, what infrastructure would be required, what his niche would be, etc.

After a few iterations, what would eventually end up being JED Athletes (an acronym of his first, middle, and last name that would double as the name of the brand personality) started out on a very different path. The first option we pursued was Half-Ass Fitness.

Half-Ass Fitness would be the 1-on-1 online personal training that targeted people who wanted to improve their health and fitness without flipping their entire lives upside down and becoming super fitness fanatics. These clients didn’t want to spend hours at the gym every day or give up their favorite treats. Instead, they wanted easy, approachable, and attainable lifestyle swaps that they could gradually adopt. Slowly, as they accumulated more and more techniques to apply to their everyday life, they would see the results of their work in incremental but meaningful changes in numbers like their cholesterol, blood pressure, and weight.

That was back in October.

Now, after further exploration of not only Davis’s talents, but also his passions, the startup has morphed into a different kind of service with a very different kind of niche. Once Davis expressed that his favorite kinds of clients to work for in-person were motivated student athletes, it seemed clear to me that we could build a business not only around what Davis actually enjoyed doing, but around a hole in the marketplace. Every other big online personal training company focuses on helping the average person improve their overall fitness, lose weight, and offer motivation to keep with it. With our new insights, we built a program that targets one specific niche of clients, and by offering it online, we save money in operating costs which means more savings that are passed on to the clients. This allows us to offer personal training tailored for student athletes to clients who couldn’t otherwise afford one-on-one attention in an in-person training setting (where rates start at $75 per session).

Additionally, we set up a unique and efficient automated feedback loop that will be managed through a smartphone app. This means we save time with each client. Instead of spending an hour with each client individually and then another 30 minutes or more of designing their personalized training outside of the gym, we’ve shaved off a big chunk of time that would be spent in the gym. That translates into more savings for the client and more upward mobility for the trainer.

With our niche and specialty nailed down, we went to work researching competitor offerings, rates, and software options. Once the bare bones of the business model were set up, I started building our online presence. I registered our domain name, set up social media accounts, designed the logo, and began building the website and filling it with copy.

Next, I dedicated my time to defining our imagery and finding photographers who matched our style and content. I wanted the brand to resonate with high school athletes, but I didn’t want to compete with (or, more likely, resemble a sad copycat of) established health and fitness brands already out there (ahem, Nike).

To avoid the cliche, I’m looking to move the brand personality away from rugged and toward exciting. Our target market is high school students. While our ideal clients should be (and ideally are) motivated and determined to perform well in their sport, they’re also teenagers. They’re young, energetic, sociable, and connected.

Because of our specific audience, JED’s brand personality needs to resemble a kind of athletic mentor. JED is the ex-college athlete who’s been successful in his sport, knows the ins and outs of building functional strength, and has chosen to spend his post-career giving back. He’s a relatable yet aspirational figure. He has a conversational tone of voice but is straight forward and direct.

His decision to position himself as a mentor for young athletes specifically speaks to the spirit of JED. JED isn’t about being the best at all costs. instead, JED represents inclusion, collaboration, and goodwill. It’s about offering a metaphorical hand. Everyone is welcome on the JED field. And that’s what JED Athletes is about, offering the opportunity to any student to be the best athlete they can be regardless of scheduling or financial restrictions.

The secondary brand personality trait I want JED to embody is competence. JED isn’t a program to build brawn. It’s a program for athletes who want increased performance where it matters: on the field. To do that, the training has to focus on the individual metrics and body type of each client, the sport and position they play, and their personal goals. To succeed, JED training needs to rely on science. So, with that in mind, we want to develop a brand personality that elicits confidence in its competence. We need to build trust and assure real results.

Combining these top two brand personality traits, JED imagery needs to be bright, colorful, relatable, and intriguing. Exciting, yet down-to-Earth. Informative and direct, yet conversational and casual. As we move forward with our photography, I want to focus on images that feature young athletes, strong color blocking, eye contact, and a little bit of humor. Most of our photos so far feature very serious-looking athletes, but I want JED to have more dimension and personality than that. JED needs to be relatable.

I’ve roughly outlined a lot of the JED brand in this post, but I’m putting together a JED Athletes Brand Guide Book that includes all of the wonderful, fleshed-out details. I’ll be sharing it here shortly, so be sure to keep an eye out for it by following me on LinkedIn!

As I wrap up the JED Athletes Brand Guide Book, I’ll begin putting our social media strategy to work: sourcing photos and working with photographers on direction, putting together a content calendar, and creating strategic copy that helps us move toward our main business goals of establishing the JED brand and building a strong JED community.

Until then, you can also check out the completed JED website at

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