Industrial Athletics

Industrial Athletics shares engaging ads on social media with help from Digital Main Street grant.

By Nancy Saunders

It’s not surprising that Industrial Athletics in Thunder Bay is continuously releasing great ads. Co-owners and brothers Matt and Jarret Popowich are highly skilled creatives: Matt owns Westfort Productions, and Jarret is chief operating officer at Shout Media. 

“We've found short, relatable humorous videos get the most engagement on social media. One spot we made this winter, completely on the fly, gained 16M views on Tiktok—and we just did it for fun,” says Matt Popowich. 

Having video creation down to an art, Industrial Athletics jumped at the chance to increase its audience reach through social media advertising. To date, Industrial Athletics has accessed two rounds of Digital Main Street’s $2,500 Digital Transformation Grant. The first round was used to hire a photographer to archive a massive library of content, with the photos being used in ads. “We use a mix of high quality, well-produced material, as well as images and clips captured from phones. Each serves its own purpose, but our messaging is always concise and intentional,” explains Popowich. 

Industrial Athletics received its second Digital Transformation Grant in the the fall of 2022. The second grant was put toward ads that achieved almost instant results through Facebook, Instagram and Google Ads. “We used the Digital TBay grant to run ads, and we’ve seen results that are ridiculous! We’d spend a week running ads at a time when memberships were down, and we’d get six to 10 inquiries almost immediately,” says Popowich. 

Matt and Jarret Popowich’s brother Jordan, a police officer, started Industrial Athletics in 2017 in Westfort. The gym expanded once before outgrowing the spot by 2019, which is when Matt got involved. Their parents, Dan and Cathy, are also owners. “We bought a building on Frederica, renovated it and moved in, and have just been trying to grow it ever since,” says Popowich. 

“It's a little bit of everything; it's a 24-hour gym. So you get a key and you have access whenever you want. There are classes, there are personal trainers. I think the bulk of our members just kind of do their own thing though,” Popowich explains.

Many of these members can be seen in Industrial Athletics’s ads. “Our members are really cool about being featured in ads. We can walk into the gym at any time, ask anyone in there if they're interested in being on camera, and always get a ‘yes!’! We've shot members dressed up in costumes, singing Christmas carols, running out in the snow. They're down for almost anything,” says Popowich. “We also run ads with trainer profiles, as well as promos and teasers for the clinics and group sessions we offer.” 

A particular video showcasing yet another family member turned out to be Industrial Athletics’s most successful ad yet. “It’s a video profile on our 93-year-old grandfather, Jerry. It wasn't focused on talking about Industrial Athletics specifically; instead, it was advocating a healthy, active lifestyle in general. It proved to us that people want to hear stories. It's inspiring,” says Popowich.

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