We had a delightful conversation with the Fitness Brasil (1987) founder and chief executive Waldyr Soares. Seasoned leader in the fitness, health and wellness market in Brazil, Mr. Soares carried out pioneering events such as “Aeróbica Brasil” (1985), his very first project from his great trademark activity as well as responsible for the arrival of IHRSA in Brazil (2000). Founder of the “Fitness Brasil” brand (1987), the company has trained more than 200 thousand professionals of fitness, health and well-being in the last 40 years through educational content, events and fairs.
During his time as president of fitness Brasil, he received the president’s Award 2011 from IHRSA, in San Francisco, California, acknowledged for achieving his amazing professional milestone of dedicating forty years of leadership in the Brazilian and worldwide fitness market. In addition, he's a much sought-after lecturer on entrepreneurship. As a "8.0 entrepreneur" (as he jokingly called himself regarding his current age), Waldyr says that projects related to what he called "the wellness revolution" are in the making, so stick around for great news!
Indoor Informatics - Everyone knows how enormous the Brazilian Fitness industry is. It employs hundreds of thousands of business and health professionals thus it’s absolutely relevant for the country’s economy and society. Nevertheless, we know every place has their own obstacles. So, in your opinion what’s the biggest challenge a Fitness entrepreneur faces in Brazil? That sort of challenge that was already there before covid-19 outbreak.
Waldyr - I believe gyms in Brazil were pretty much labeled as a place for those seeking for the "perfect summer body" only, you know? but I believe that the covid-19 will change that perspective, so we'll be able to promote Gym more as a place for healthy exercising for everyone.
First-hand news: It came as a surprise for everyone here in Brazil when I decided to step down from Fitness Brasil board, my former company. I had 2 minor partners then I realized that time has come for that decision to be made. This pandemic has been providing me lots of self-reflecting about the fitness industry, family, and human relations. In the last 5 years, the sector was stagnant in Brazil, since 2016, due to the recession back then.
I'm often requested for Guest Lecturing at Universities all over Brazil, what is a good thing because it assists me to see what’s happening and how students have been prepared for the fitness ecosystem. A well-prepared professional is the most crucial asset in the whole Fitness Ecosystem. Gyms had become an elitist place and the pandemic has been showing that health is the most important thing. It still is necessary to make gyms affordable for everyone, regardless age, social class or ethnicity though. I have nothing against bodybuilders or anyone else who attend to gyms for any reason but wellness, but now it's time to look more at the gym as a place for wellness and health. I used to be obese, I am now 80 years old and burn 1000 calories per workout, and I am happy! Gym back then showed me the way for a healthier life, why can’t gyms deliver to society this kind of service delivered to me back then?
Indoor Informatics - We’ve been noticing how fast paced the changes in our societies and businesses worldwide are due to the current pandemic. In your view, what major changes Gym Businesses in Brazil are undergoing at the moment?
Waldyr - Number of gym businesses in Brazil were booming, but on the other hand the quality of services declined, a “poorly designed product”, which could have been better made. My brand new start up, with renewed energy and mentality, our goal is to transform the wellness market in Brazil.With that in mind, The Wellness Brasil, will offer a new holistic methodology for health professionals, maximum of 2 months length training, with various training modules and updates regarding massage therapy, training, spirituality and so on. It’ll be an e-learning service, however we’ll also include contact sessions and events (80% online, 20% face-to-face).
Indoor Informatics - Before covid-19 what were the main pain points a gym goer faces in a gym in Brazil? Has it changed with the Covid-19?
Waldyr - We don’t know where all this is heading at, gyms are opening at around 30% capacity. Even the most profitable gyms are facing challenges regarding revenue and budget, barely making ends meet. Lots of investments concerning safeness, but it became hard to get any cash flow.Yet, I see the Personal training market will get heated, as covid-19 will definitely trigger an increasing demand on individualized services for avoiding crowds or indoor areas.
Indoor Informatics - Is told that this pandemic has changed the way we live, has nurtured more technological and data driven business worldwide. Have you noticed or have you been using any tech that made your life easier and more efficient as a manager?
Waldyr - Sure. There's a meditation app that some friends of mine have been using. Yoga apps,Wearables,etc. Coteminas will sponsor us by launching a smart pillow with built-in sensors for tracking one's snoring or sleep quality.
Indoor Informatics - Have you ever employed any technology that substantially made your gym customers’ lives easier and happier? If not yet, what's holding you back?
Waldyr - Not yet, but we have trained more than 200 thousand fitness professionals, about 20 thousand out of it were gym owners and managers. We’ve mostly offered Strength Training courses (around 80% of our courses), that’s how I see us making customers happier: through education. There’s still a lot to cover, I see lots of demand in terms of gym management, not only management, but a more professional management approach of assets, human resources, branding and marketing management.
Indoor Informatics - What are your expectations, personally and professionally speaking, about the post-covid-19 in the country’s gym businesses?
Waldyr - One of my biggest dreams is to nurture a more “wellness kind of mindset” in the Fitness Industry in Brazil. I hope it will change the local market for better, in a happier, more sustainable and friendly way with our world and societies. May the society see health and well-being as an essential value for everyone. Health above all! Underpinned by the Universities.
Thank you very much Waldyr! for such a generous and priceless talk.
Interviewed by Marcos Vinicius, Sales Manager at Indoor Informatics.