Making sweat sexy and fitness fun is the mission of BodyRox – a business venture started by two best friends who share a passion for dance and fitness.
Each BodyRox class offers a 55-minute “intense workout,” wrote Sadie Kurzban ’12, who started the business with Brielle Friedman ’12, in an email to The Herald. The workout features “world dance styles … so our clients are dancing to music from all over the world and from their favorite pop and hip-hop artists,” Kurzban wrote.
The Brown Entrepreneurship Program startup competition recently awarded BodyRox about $30,000 in cash and client services to launch the program as a startup business venture. Using the prize money, Kurzban will travel to New York City after graduation to officially open her own studio. But the journey that jumpstarted Kurzban’s post-graduation pursuits began long before then.
The birth of BodyRox
In her first year at Brown, Kurzban introduced Zumba and other dance workouts to the Brown community by teaching fitness classes, Friedman said.
Kurzban and Friedman, a Herald staff writer, met at the Brown Outdoor Leadership Training program prior to their sophomore year. The trip marked the start of their friendship.
Once classes started, Friedman decided to attend one of her new friend’s workout classes. “I went to support Sadie, and I loved it,” she said.
Friedman was quickly drawn to the fun atmosphere and high-energy workout style, she said. “I had so much fun so I signed up for both her Zumba and body sculpting classes,” she added.
Friedman and Kurzban spent their junior fall semesters abroad, and Kurzban remained abroad for her spring semester. In her absence, Friedman took over Kurzban’s workout classes.
“We were always enthusiastic about fitness. We had this following,” Kurzban said. But the idea for BodyRox truly took form when Friedman went to visit Kurzban at her home in Miami just before their senior year. At a club, the two friends saw everyone was having a great time dancing.
“Why can’t we get kids at Brown to have this much fun working out?” Kurzban said she asked herself at the time.
So together, Kurzban and Friedman came up with a plan to “fuse fun and fitness,” Friedman said.
Their plan was more than “Zumba with a twist,” as Zumba only uses Latin music, does not necessarily offer as intense of a workout and does not always have the best instructors, Kurzban wrote in an email to The Herald.
“With a bad teacher, a class can really stink,” Kurzban wrote. “But BodyRox hand selects its instructors. We only want the most energetic, inspiring and hottest instructors so that our clients know they can come to a BodyRox class and will leave soaked in sweat.”
Clubbing in Hillel
BodyRox is a private enterprise, independent from Brown. After creating the business, Friedman and Kurzban moved their classes out of the Olney-Margolies Athletic Center and into the Brown/RISD Hillel building, where they were offered a private space for their classes. “Hillel has been so generous, and we wouldn’t have been able to accomplish this without their help,” Kurzban said.
They now teach classes on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights and have amassed a following of 200 to 300 clients from Brown, the Rhode Island School of Design and the broader East Providence community. In addition, Kurzban and Friedman said they see new faces at their classes every day.
Jeannie Witmer ’14 said she frequently attends the classes. A BodyRox workout is high energy and the fun atmosphere distinguishes it from other workouts, she said. “As a non-athlete, it is fun to do something different than going to the gym,” Witmer said.
She also praised Kurzban and Friedman for their leadership. “It doesn’t matter how good of a dancer you are because they make you feel really included,” she added.
Supreeti Sharma ’15 said she enjoys the BodyRox workout as well. After trying it for the first time two months ago, Sharma now attends classes every week. “I wanted something that would keep me motivated to work out,” she said. Sharma found BodyRox more involved and fun than simply going to the gym. At BodyRox, “you’re not just watching the meter on your treadmill. You are moving, being active and having fun, so you’re unaware of how much time has gone by,” Sharma said.
“I love it because it doesn’t feel like a workout,” wrote Brooke Dalury ’12, who has participated in Kurzban’s workouts since her freshman year, in an email to The Herald. She attributed the enjoyable experience to Kurzban’s high energy during her sessions.
Kurzban and Friedman aim to replicate a nightclub atmosphere for their workout classes. “Picture a DJ with lots of lights,” Kurzban said. “We try to make it very fun and sexy, where participants power through an awesome, highly intense workout with friends,” she added.
The instructors have successfully created this type of atmosphere, Sharma said. “The workout is a really fun time. Especially if you go with your friends – it’s like an all-girls dance party,” she said. Dalury also said BodyRox is “more like a dance party than a workout” because of the high energy and genuine excitement of the participants.
“I had one varsity basketball player take my class the other day partly as a joke,” Kurzban wrote in an email to The Herald. “After he came to me, panting and soaked in sweat, to tell me it was by far the hardest workout he had ever done.”
From startup to success
Kurzban and Friedman’s graduation in May will not mark the end of BodyRox. Friedman has not decided what she will do after graduation, but she will not pursue BodyRox. Friedman said she is excited for her best friend who will carry her passion beyond Brown.
The majority of the profits they have raised will go toward paying for Kurzban’s studio space and business in NYC. The rest will be used for events this semester along with advertising and marketing ventures, Friedman said.
“The hardest part of BodyRox was starting a business without prior experience,” Kurzban said. The friends enrolled in ENGN 1930X: “Entrepreneurship and New Ventures” taught by Danny Warshay ’87, entrepreneur and adjunct lecturer in engineering. Through the class, they learned how to develop their business and manage financial plans, they said.
Kurzban and Friedman have received resources at Brown through both mentoring and funding. They will use the cash and client services awarded to them by the Brown Entrepreneurship Program for winning its startup competition to launch BodyRox as a startup business venture.
In addition, BodyRox was selected to participate in the Brown Venture Labs Program, an entrepreneurship incubator program that offers mentorship, funding and feedback to startup businesses. All of these resources have allowed Kurzban and Friedman to transform their vision for BodyRox into a reality.