Sled Dog Strength and Conditioning

Sleg Dog Strength and Conditioning Setting Up for Success

Story by Nancy Saunders

During the confusion and uncertainty caused by COVID-19, Sled Dog Strength and Conditioning owner Bobby Kwasny was able to use the time during lockdown closures to obtain valuable new training and to hone in on ways to improve business.

“There was a lot of confusion when we initially had to close down in March 2020: with the virus, the lockdowns, the industry, everything. With the first lockdown, we just rode it out. When we reopened again in July—which is the worst time, the slowest time of year for the fitness industry because nobody goes to the gym—that didn’t really help us, either,” says Kwasny. Sled Dog posted workouts and videos in their private Facebook group, and Kwansy chose not to run Zoom classes or pivot in the same ways many other small gyms did. “I knew that it would be too labour intensive, and I didn’t jump on that in the beginning because I knew that if this stuff stretched out, it would be really hard to maintain. Especially with limited equipment and trying to train people with Zoom, it just didn’t seem like a viable option.”

Instead, Kwasny upgraded his education by taking a six-month fitness course that he describes as being the best in the industry. “It’s by far the best fitness education course you can take. It’s more of an educational system. I put myself to work there, finishing off that course. I’ve been keeping myself busy and trying to upgrade.” The Sled Dog team also took the time to take a close look at what the fitness industry is doing, analyze the information, and determine where they can be their best. “What we did was to scale-up, rather than pivot our business. We’re moving towards more of a prescriptive fitness model. We’re going to be integrating with some local doctors to provide medical oversight and guidance with some of our strength and conditioning clients, and we’re also moving to a different facility over the next couple of years. The lockdown provided us with these opportunities,” says Kwasny.

Sled Dog’s services are designed for optimal client success. “We’re not just giving you a program—we’re giving you a program that we want you to do, because we know it’s going to work for you. We’re going to do everything we can to remove all the roadblocks and barriers and excuses to make sure you keep moving forward.” The process begins with an assessment and a personalized program designed for the client. Clients are taken through each day of the program to ensure that they are comfortable and confident in performing each exercise. “There can be a lot of confusion, and a program is only as good as how it’s implemented. I take you through your program, we give you a key, and you can come and go as you want, no appointments necessary.” Coaches usually get to know clients’ schedules and are available to provide oversight and assistance. “Especially when you’re new, we want to keep an eye on you when you’re first developing virtuosity and movement. That way, you get coaching without having to pay for personal training.” In addition to personal training, Sled Dog also offers help with optimizing nutrition and lifestyle choices.

Kwasny will be using the Digital Main Street grant to get guidance on leveraging social media in new ways, and to create a website. “Those are our two big goals. Those are two big things we would like to check off. Everybody should have those things, so let’s start there.” While Sled Dog has active social media accounts, they don’t have a planned approach. Kwasny looks forward to getting guidance in this area. “We have great content but I don’t really have a strategy. We post content, and it works out okay. We would like to get social media help that tells us what to do, what to post, and gives us a more focused strategy.”

Kwasny predicts big changes to the fitness industry as a result of COVID-19. Part of Sled Dog’s future planning has involved looking critically at how they want to fit into their field—an industry Kwasny believes involves various forms of exploitation. “It’s very unscrupulous and full of scoundrels, it preys on emotion, and that’s the way that it has been. Hopefully post-COVID things will change.” Sled Dog is a small facility that is service-based, and focuses heavily on programming. “We see ourselves as a little bit different, in that we provide real actual services and things that are more sustainable. Hopefully we can be a part of re-establishing confidence in the industry again. I think it’s going to be very different, and that’s a good thing.”