Starting a Fitness System in Southwest Florida
Astro-Durance's bungee systems offer high-intensity, low-risk workouts.
Within a few weeks of launching a personal training business in July 2014, Patty Cummings had more than 30 clients—and a problem.
“I didn’t realize how many injuries were out there,” Cummings says.
About 90 percent of her clients, whom she trained in their homes and at a neighborhood gym, suffered from some type of pre-existing injury. She wanted them to stay in shape without re-injury, so she started experimenting with bungee cords. She strapped her clients into a series of suspended resistance bands that allowed them to hang weightless in the air.
After Cummings opened a brick-and-mortar location of P2 Personal Training in late 2016, other trainers asked her where they could buy a bungee rig. Cummings knew she was onto something.
Cummings sells the bungee systems she created and uses at her studio through Astro-Durance, her physical training and rehab company (it’s a separate company from P2 Personal Training). They range from $767 to $2,058.50 and are used by medical facilities, gyms and individuals.
The fitness systems, which include a harness, bungees, carabiners, chains and ceiling mounts, offer a combination of intense resistance and uninhibited mobility that sets it apart from competitors, she says. “You’re stretching new muscles and building them at the same time as you’re working with no pain on your joints,” Cummings says. “It’s unheard of.”
Even though the workouts are designed to prevent injury, Cummings says the routines are so intense that they last for only 30 minutes.
Cummings launched Astro-Durance in July 2017, working with business partner Brian Baird, who oversees its manufacturing and supply chain. When Cummings met Baird, he was using his 10,000-square-foot warehouse in Orlando to produce bungee systems for recreational trampoline parks.
When they introduced the product to the market, Cummings strayed from traditional tactics, instead choosing to spend just $20 on Facebook advertising. That investment resulted in sales totaling $10,000 the first week. Cummings continued investing in social media through promotional videos and photos, now spending about $2,000 a month, on average.
The systems have made their way into 12 countries and more than 40 states, and Cummings’ staff has expanded from two full-time employees in July 2017 to more than 20 in July 2018.
She also planned in August to expand her personal training gym from 1,500 square feet into a 5,000-square-foot space, next to the Astro-Durance headquarters, in the same Cape Coral strip mall.
Star power has played a role in the growth, with training icons like The Incredible Hulk star Lou Ferrigno and National Fitness Hall of Fame Institute founding partner David Lyons promoting the bungee systems.
She hopes to gain additional national exposure in a variety of ways. Cummings says Lyons has invited Astro-Durance to appear on his new TV show, a fitness-focused version of The Apprentice set to air on the Discovery Life network in 2019. Her 2018 book, Get Your Bungee On!, became available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble in July.
Moving forward, Cummings plans to make deals with fitness chains like Gold’s Gym and the YMCA, as well as partner with veterans associations and the U.S. military.
While some startups are slow to make money, Cummings says Astro-Durance was profitable in its first year (she would not disclose the amount). If certain agreements come through, she says Astro-Durance’s profits could reach $5 million by the end of 2018.
Cummings’ vision as a business owner has evolved from purely personal training to having Astro-Durance become a ubiquitous fitness brand in gyms and rehab facilities worldwide.
“This is the everyday product that I see in five to 10 years as being the norm, where people will know it immediately when they see it,” she says.